Tag Archives: Avanti

Land Yachts – Danville Concours d’Elegance

Once again today’s photographs from the recent Danville Concours d’Elegance come courtesy of ‘California Streets‘ blogger Jay Wollenweber.

Packard One-Twenty, Danville Concours d'Elegance

To get through the Great Depression Packard decided to produce a midsize vehicle known as the One Twenty, many think it was a mistake to use the Packard reputation for excellence for the venture instead of coming up with a new brand.

REO Speedwagon, Danville Concours d'Elegance

I mistakenly identified this pick up as a Terraplane, Jay pointed out that it is actually a rare REO Speedwagon. While it looks totally stock on the outside the motor axles and air conditioning are a mix of Chevrolet and Ford parts that allow this pick up to travel comfortably faster than the 35 mph it would have achieved when new in 1935.

Buick Caballero, Danville Concours d'Elegance

First of today’s genuine land yachts is this low riding 1957 Buick Century Caballero Station Wagon. high production costs of this car featuring unusual, for an estate / station wagon, pillarless styling stymied production after just two years with the Caballero name remaining dormant since 1958.

Ford Thunderbird, Danville Concours d'Elegance

Not quite in the land yacht category is this ’57 Ford Thunderbird, with the first series, last year of production, heavily restyled front bumpers.

Cadillac Eldorado Brougham, Danville Concours d'Elegance

If your in the market for a rare Cadillac then a 1957 Series 70 Eldorado Brougham might be a great place to start. Only 400 of these hand built cars were built in 1957, they cost more than a contemporary Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud.

Pontiac Bonneville, Danville Concours d'Elegance

1958 saw the Pontiac Bonneville launched as a separate model, with a standard electric clock, priced at less than US$3,000. The 300 hp Bonneville Convertible was chosen as the 1958 Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500.

Studebaker Avanti, Danville Concours d'Elegance

The ‘aerodynamically different’ Avanti by Studebaker also got an early airing at Indianapolis in 1962, as the “Honorary Pace Car alongside the Studebaker Skylark Convertible ‘Official Pace Car’. Production of the Avanti was shut down in December 1963 with 2,500 vehicles still in the dealer chain this particular model above appears to have been one of those 2,500.

Pontiac Tempest LeMans GTO, Danville Concours d'Elegance

Pontiac Sales Manager Frank Bridge insisted on limiting production of the GTO option package for the 1964 Pontiac Tempest to 5000, by the beginning of 1964 10,000 had already been sold and the vehicle above is one of the 32,450 total first year sales. Surprisingly despite all the performance upgrades the GTO option offered it retained the standard Tempest drum brakes.

Chevrolet Corvette, Danville Concours d'Elegance

Jay tells me this 1965 Chevrolet Corvette C2 was equipped as an SCCA racer in the 1970’s and is fitted with a 5358 cc / 327 cui small block V8.

Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396, Danville Concours d'Elegance

Last of today’s featured vehicles from Danville Concours d’Elegance is this understated, sports stripe option deleted, 1970 Fathom Blue Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396 which packed a 350 hp Turbo Jet big block V8 when it left the factory.

My thanks again to Jay Wollenweber for sharing his photographs with us.

Thanks for joining me on this “Land Yachts” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for a Danville Concours d’Elegance Ferrari Friday edition tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Aerodramatically Different – Avanti by Studebaker

Thirty seven days after becoming President of Studebaker Sherwood Egbert stepped of a flight from Chicago with some doodles, drawn in flight, for a vehicle that was to be marketed as America’s most advanced automobile and handed them to Raymond Lowery and his team and sent them to Palm Springs for 40 days where they were to turn the doodles into a design featuring a fiberglass body mounted on a 109″ Studebaker Lark Convertible chassis.

The finalised design was launched in New York on the 28th of April 1962 and one would be sent to the Indy 500 the following month to act as Honorary Pace Car alongside a fleet of Studebaker Sky Lark Convertible Official Pace Cars.

Studebaker Avanti, Indianapolis

According to the period Avanti promotional film linked here, the “Aerodramatically Different” automobile feature a Jet Thrust V8 engine, available with a Paxton supercharger, coupled to a Power Shift automatic transmission that put ‘traction at the point of action’ and for the first time on an American production model front disc brakes to bring this symbol of elegance to a safe rest.

The Avanti was in fact powered by an uprated 240 hp 4.7 litre / 289 cui Hawk V8, production of the elegant fiberglass body was outsourced to Molded Fibreglass Body Co who had been responsible for manufacturing the first Chevrolet Corvette bodies in 1953.

Studebaker Avanti, Indianapolis

Sherwood Egbert hoped to manufacture and sell 20,000 Avanti’s in the first year however despite plenty of interest in the new car Molded Fibreglass Body Co had problems manufacturing the bodies and only 1,200 Avanti’s were built causing orders to be cancelled.

Studebaker closed down completely in December 1963 with around 1,600 Avanti’s sold and 2500 in the dealer supply chain. The story of the Avanti did not end there. A succession of entrepreneurs managed to build further models up until 2006, using initially the original stock of parts, then switching to first GM and then Ford floor pans and running gear. For a while a short while 4 door model was in production but the very last, built in Mexico, was a one off powered by a Roush Racing V6.

Ed Arnaudin’s photo’s show the Avanti being driven around Indy on race day, top, and during one of the qualifying days bottom, this car was part of race winner Roger Wards prize package making him the first person to become a private owner of an Avanti.

My thanks to Ed’s son Steve for scanning and sending his Dad’s photo’s.

Thanks for joining me on this ‘Aerodramatically Different’ edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres’ I hope you will join me again tomorrow for Ferrari Friday. Don’t forget to come back now !