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I know that some readers were interested in the 1963 Studebaker Avanti that currently sits in a winter auto-cocoon in my garage. I thought that I'd share some of the reasons that made me choose the Avanti over any other classic car on the market. The Avanti was far ahead of its time in safety, style and features. Raymond Loewy, the man behind the design, made it imperative that the Avanti not only shine in style but also keep its occupants safe.
Unlike many other cars at the time whose fuel fillers were directly around the rear bumper, the Avanti?s is placed up high on the driver?s side c-pillar. A major advancement was the placement of the gas tank from the rear of the car to above the rear wheels. Loewy knew that many accidents were rear-end collisions and wanted to move the gas tank. Today, a new car must be designed with the fuel tank right where the Avanti has it. (The picture above is of the fuel tank when the rear seat is removed and inset is the fuel filler door)
Interior switchgear was inspired by aircraft toggles (for headlights/heat - located on the roof) and sliders (for ventilation ? located on the console). The rear package shelf incorporated a trunk pass through so you can get smaller items from inside the car (fourth picture below) . Seat belts were not standard equipment but anchors are located under the carpeting so they could be added at the dealer if wished. The bucket seats are very comfortable even by today?s standards and are Italian in their inspiration. The Avanti had a complete set of gauges, and I mean complete; speedo, tach, fuel, volts, oil pressure, temp, vacuum pressure and a clock.
A piece of trim reaches from b-pillar to b-pillar inside, visually separating the front seats from the rear. Under this piece of trim is a factory-installed roll bar.
Think about dashboards in the 50?s and 60?s: chrome everywhere, hard lines and hard, pointy surfaces sitting right in front of you, just waiting to cause injury in an accident. Lowey rounded all the corners and padded the dashboard so that the chances of injury were greatly reduced. The design for the dash was so far ahead of its time, it was still within federal regulations up into the 90?s. Inside the glove compartment was a vanity tray and mirror so that your ?lady passenger? could do her makeup (this is the early 60?s here).
Lowey spoke against the use of tons of chrome, huge front grilles and tailfins. The Avanti showcased his idea of what a modern car should look like. Liberal uses of chrome in the body consisted of bumpers, flat hood ornament that followed the driver-side hood bulge (which followed through inside to the dashboard), door handles and light surrounds.
Probably the most controversial focal point of the car is the grille-less front end and fender blades. Air is taken in front under the car. Early Avantis like mine just had an opening, while later cars actually had a chrome grille. The rear flanks sport a small edge that gives an effect of a ?fin? that blends in perfectly with the trunk lid.
Steering is power, but operated by old-school king-pins (not rack and pinion). The Avanti was the first American car with front disc brakes standard. It was the same setup that were outfitted on Jaguars at the time.
Of course I could write novels on the Avanti and its innovative features and options, including one mine doesn?t have ? the supercharger. If anyone has any questions or wants to see more detailed photos of the car, add them in the comments and I?ll oblige.
UPDATE - Here is a front and side profile pic that was requested. I appologise for the quality of the pics. I had to use older photos taken with my old digital camera since I?ll never get long shots from in the garage.