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Thread: R5396 Johnny Carson Avanti

  1. #1
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    R5396 Johnny Carson Avanti

    I got the serial # from the Avanti that is supposed to
    be the one Johnny Carson had. Anyway, it had his name
    on the plaque on the dash. It is serial # R5396.

    Is there anyway we could have this checked without having to
    buy a production order. The car was totaled and only pieces
    of it remain. This would be for historical purposes. I just
    think it would be interesting to see what if anything special
    was noted.

    fstst56

  2. #2
    President Member Gunslinger's Avatar
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    I doubt if the production order would help beyond what dealer the car was scheduled to go...that could possibly be a clue, but not definitive. To find more documentation one would have to check either a dealer's sales records (probably not available or even still existing), or state motor vehicle records. Back then Johnny Carson was still doing the Tonight Show from New York City, so I'm guessing NY registration archives could be checked, or possibly Connecticut or NJ if he lived out of the city. He certainly could have maintained a home elsewhere, like California, where he certainly lived later, and the car could have been kept there.

    I would think the production order would be the first place to check. It's possible it could be a special with his name attached, but seeing what dealer the car was to be shipped to and that dealer's location would be a hint on what state's registration records could be checked...if that state has an archive service available.




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    Avanti serial number R-5396 was originally delivered to Shawnee, Oklahoma. It was a white R1 with Turquoise interior, Powershift, AC, silent mufflers, electric windows, radio, seat belts, and a few other minor options. Apparently, it was an ordered car, not just one built for "stock", because at the bottom of the production order it says "SOLD RUSH". Final assembly date was October 3rd, 1963.

    That's all the significant info on the production order, so if it ever was Johnny Carson's car, we would need more information to prove it.

    George

    george krem

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    Silver Hawk Member JBOYLE's Avatar
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    Don't a lot of Avanti POs say "Sold Rush"?
    I know mine does...

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    Golden Hawk Member StudeRich's Avatar
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    quote:Originally posted by JBOYLE

    Don't a lot of Avanti POs say "Sold Rush"?
    I know mine does...
    Sure, there would be more Avantis than Lark/Hawks ORDERED rather than for stock, because they were so far behind in production because of fiberglass body issues.

    Obviously not all Avantis were sold before built.

    You have a DUP to delete! You did not look first, before hitting the "post" button the SECOND time during a "500" timeout.

    StudeRich

  6. #6
    Silver Hawk Member JBOYLE's Avatar
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    I didn't press the send button twice, it came up the first time as a "500 Error" which I know means there is probably a double post, and then wouldn't let me back in to fix it.
    So I went away for a couple of minutes...

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    President Member Gunslinger's Avatar
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    Johnny Carson was from Nebraska, so it's conceivable he might buy a car in that area, but it would take much more documentation to show it was his than just a name plate on the console. It's always possible he could have bought it used as well...but again...it will take documentation.




    Poet...Mystic...Soldier of Fortune. As always...self-absorbed, adversarial, cocky and in general a malcontent.

  8. #8
    Silver Hawk Member JBOYLE's Avatar
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    I'd be interested in learning whatever you find.



    63 Avanti R1 2788
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    Thanks for all the help so far, especially to R3 challenger.

    I'm going to be busy the rest of the week so it may be awhile
    before i get any more info.

    George Krem, I have a body number of RQ4319. Does that match.
    I believe I also have the engine number. I'll try to find it.

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    Your Avanti, serial 5396 was delivered to J M Carson, 3202 N Broadway, Shawnee, Oklahoma on 10/28/63.
    Looks like it is the real thing.

  11. #11
    President Member Gunslinger's Avatar
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    Johnny Carson's full name was John William Carson. The JM Carson could be an error or it could simply be for a different John Carson.




    Poet...Mystic...Soldier of Fortune. As always...self-absorbed, adversarial, cocky and in general a malcontent.

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    Its from a computer punch card and listed as jm carson. I sometimes have trouble figuring out the first two letters, ie, if they are initials. With the address I imagine it can be authenticated. I'd say chances are pretty good that it is Johnny Carson's car.

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    I am continually amazed at how fast you guys come up with information. WHAT A PLACE! By the way many thanks to Klifton1 and Mr Quinn for the help with the Speedster info. Jack

  14. #14
    Silver Hawk Member JBOYLE's Avatar
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    quote:Originally posted by nels

    Your Avanti, serial 5396 was delivered to J M Carson, 3202 N Broadway, Shawnee, Oklahoma on 10/28/63.
    Looks like it is the real thing.
    ???
    Am I yto assume you're making a joke?
    Otherwise, I don't know what THE Johnny Carson would have to do with Shawnee, Oklahoma.

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    John, No joke. I don't know what Johnny Carson has to do with Shawnee, Ok either but it may have been the only Stude dealer that was able to order that Avanti. Possibly closer to his home town or down the road from a relative or something.

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    quote:Originally posted by nels

    John, No joke. I don't know what Johnny Carson has to do with Shawnee, Ok either but it may have been the only Stude dealer that was able to order that Avanti. Possibly closer to his home town or down the road from a relative or something.
    That is interesting! But I wonder if there was just a regular guy named J.M. Carson that bought the Avanti new. I'm reminded of Seinfeld's 'George' where he bought "John" Voight's LeBaron convertible! He'd walk around his apartment singing, "Everybody's talking at me, I can't hear a word they're saying...."!

    Bill Pressler
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    '63 Lark Daytona Skytop R1 (sold new by Cordell Motors, Moorhead, MN)
    '64 Daytona Hardtop (sold new by Carl E. Filer Co., Greenville, PA)



  17. #17
    Silver Hawk Member JBOYLE's Avatar
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    I dunno.
    I could see Nebraska (his home state), but Shawnee, Oklahoma?

    I really hope you're right, it would be really neat.
    But Shawnee...?

    Please keep researching, this is a great story.

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  18. #18
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    In the past in order to make a sale and take care of my special customers, I have reached out to my local competitors to source specific products that I did not currently have in stock.

    This type of service courtesy was probably more common back in the day and might serve as an explanation as to how someone from Nebraska would have ended up with an Avanti that had originally been delivered to Oklahoma.

    It's unlikely it happened in this case, but it is the kind of thing that could have happened in certain situations.



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    I'm thinking that this Avanti probably belonged to another
    Johnny Carson.

    According to wikipedia, Carson was born in Corning, Iowa
    and grew up in Norfolk< Nebraska.

    His name was John William Carson as Gunslinger pointed out,
    and R5396 was sold to J M Carson as nels pointed out.

    However, my Grandmother, who was born in 1903, always wrote
    her W's and M's upside down to what most of us were taught.
    So it is conceivable that John M could actually be John W,
    if someone my Grandmother's age was filling out the paper
    work at that time. Many people her age would have still
    been working in 1963.

  20. #20
    President Member woodysrods's Avatar
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    any of you guys ever hear the term "Grasping for straws"[}]
    Brian

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  21. #21
    President Member woodysrods's Avatar
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    brings a whole new meaning to the words "Wishful Thinking"
    Brian

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  22. #22
    President Member Lothar's Avatar
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    I can claim to have met Johnny Carson (1982). We share the same hometown (Norfolk NE). In fact, my mom graduated from high school with him (1943). He was very generous to his hometown, sponsoring a theatre, a hospital cancer center, a big, well-done exhibit in the local museum and other improvements. He was a good man. I hope that this is his car, but it doesn't seem likely. He lived in California in 1960-62 and 1962-72 in New York City, as host of the Tonight Show. He lived in CA after 1972. I don't have any direct information about whether he owned any Avantis. I did just see a photo of him with a 1939 Chrysler that belonged to his father in Norfolk.

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    quote:Originally posted by nels

    Its from a computer punch card and listed as jm carson. I sometimes have trouble figuring out the first two letters, ie, if they are initials. With the address I imagine it can be authenticated. I'd say chances are pretty good that it is Johnny Carson's car.
    Take another look at the punch card - about half way down and to the right of the salesman's name. The card for my car lists the buyer's social security number. That is how I found the original owner of my Avanti. If the SSN is there, plug it into the social security "death index" and it will identify the person if he is dead and where he died and the date of death.

  24. #24
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    quote:Originally posted by Silent Bob

    quote:Originally posted by nels

    Its from a computer punch card and listed as jm carson. I sometimes have trouble figuring out the first two letters, ie, if they are initials. With the address I imagine it can be authenticated. I'd say chances are pretty good that it is Johnny Carson's car.
    Take another look at the punch card - about half way down and to the right of the salesman's name. The card for my car lists the buyer's social security number. That is how I found the original owner of my Avanti. If the SSN is there, plug it into the social security "death index" and it will identify the person if he is dead and where he died and the date of death.
    On the cards I've seen from the SNM, that S.S. number is the salesman's, not the customer's. Now if you get them (copies) from the SNM, those are (rightly) blacked out!

    Bill Pressler
    Kent, OH
    '63 Lark Daytona Skytop R1 (sold new by Cordell Motors, Moorhead, MN)
    '64 Daytona Hardtop (sold new by Carl E. Filer Co., Greenville, PA)



  25. #25
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    This is probably the Johnny Carson who owned the Avanti.

    Name Birth Death Last Residence Last Benefit SSN

    JOHN M CARSON 22 Sep 1910 08 Mar 1989 74801 (Shawnee, Pottawatomie, OK) (none specified) 443-46-5467 Oklahoma


  26. #26
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    quote:Originally posted by jnormanh

    This is probably the Johnny Carson who owned the Avanti.

    Name Birth Death Last Residence Last Benefit SSN

    JOHN M CARSON 22 Sep 1910 08 Mar 1989 74801 (Shawnee, Pottawatomie, OK) (none specified) 443-46-5467 Oklahoma

    It looks like this mystery has been solved!

    Bill Pressler
    Kent, OH
    '63 Lark Daytona Skytop R1 (sold new by Cordell Motors, Moorhead, MN)
    '64 Daytona Hardtop (sold new by Carl E. Filer Co., Greenville, PA)



  27. #27
    Silver Hawk Member JBOYLE's Avatar
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    Oh well... it was worth chasing down.

    However, it would be interesting to see a city directory of Shawnee to see what Mr. Carson did for a living.

    He was 53 when he bought his car...about the average age (?) I'd guess for an Avanti owner considering their cost.
    I'd love to learn moere about the demographics (age, income, professions, education) of original Avanti owners. It would help me talk about the car at cars shows.
    People are usually floored when I tell them my cars original price.

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  28. #28
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    Using the retail delivery card , I was able to contact the original owner on one of my Avanti's.

    I bought the car in 1982 from some one who bought it in 1967 at a Plymouth dealer.
    When I asked the original owner what did he buy after the Avanti, he answered a Barracuda. Bingo !
    I had strong suspicions that I was the third owner.
    In my conversation he was trying to recall the salesman's name, and when I told him that I had it , he was speechless.

    I had the same feeling when calling Richard Quinn to get this information and he read me my mothers name, address and dealer activity from a car that was built 40 odd years ago off of a punch car



    mrbobinc

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    Bump....was the Johnny Carson ownership ever confirmed,or car restored,etc.?

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    I wonder if there's any chance this is the Avanti that I have "chunks" of at my house.....the story sounds familiar. My good friend Art Nielsen, whom I purchased our '70 from, also gave me a lot of parts from a destroyed car. He told me had purchased it as a 2nd Avanti & had heard that it may have belonged to the famous Carson, but found out that it was another Carson. Unfortunately, a financial crisis came up & he sold it to a local who had a lead foot. One day he blew thru an intersection at hi speed & got T-boned by a truck...what didn't explode from the impact did when he slammed into the ditch. Art wound up buying the left over debris later on, and now I have it. The crash was so bad the rear half of the transmission was torn off. I think I even have the chunk that the body tag is attached to....I'll have to look again.
    Mike Sal

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    President Member ddub's Avatar
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    See post 25
    Don Wilson, Centralia, WA

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    Hmmm....I knew I could access the drivers door from the wrecked white car without much trouble so went out to take a look. A portion of the A pillar is still attached to the door. The VIN tag is not there. How were the VIN tags attached to the 63/64 cars? The one on my RQA0330 has 2 pop rivets.
    Mike Sal

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Sal View Post
    Hmmm....I knew I could access the drivers door from the wrecked white car without much trouble so went out to take a look. A portion of the A pillar is still attached to the door. The VIN tag is not there. How were the VIN tags attached to the 63/64 cars? The one on my RQA0330 has 2 pop rivets.
    Mike Sal
    What you call a "VIN" which was the Serial Number tag was attached to the frame on 1963-1964 Avantis.
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  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Sal View Post
    Hmmm....I knew I could access the drivers door from the wrecked white car without much trouble so went out to take a look. A portion of the A pillar is still attached to the door. The VIN tag is not there. How were the VIN tags attached to the 63/64 cars? The one on my RQA0330 has 2 pop rivets.
    Mike Sal

    The pop riveted tag on the passenger side hood latch was the body number, not the chassis. That would still be a help however. What is it?
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    I'm originally from Norfolk, Nebraska as well. I seriously doubt that it was that Johnny Carson

    Denny

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    Maybe I missed something (probably) but have we established with a reasonable degree of certainty that the Johnny Carson of Tonight Show fame ever actually owned an Avanti? Does anyone have a photo or other credible evidence?
    Richard Quinn
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  37. #37
    Golden Hawk Member StudeRich's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jnormanh View Post
    This is probably the Johnny Carson who owned the Avanti.

    Name Birth Death Last Residence Last Benefit SSN

    JOHN M CARSON 22 Sep 1910 08 Mar 1989 74801 (Shawnee, Pottawatomie, OK) (none specified) 443-46-5467 Oklahoma
    Quote Originally Posted by nels View Post
    Your Avanti, serial 5396 was delivered to J M Carson, 3202 N Broadway, Shawnee, Oklahoma on 10/28/63.
    Looks like it is the real thing.
    Quote Originally Posted by Studebaker Wheel View Post
    Maybe I missed something (probably) but have we established with a reasonable degree of certainty that the Johnny Carson of Tonight Show fame ever actually owned an Avanti? Does anyone have a photo or other credible evidence?
    Post #11 says: Johnny Carson's full name was John William Carson. The JM Carson could be an error or it could simply be for a different John Carson.

    This pretty much ends the mystery, it was NOT THE Johnny Carson Car.

    Odd though, this Johnny Thiele (fstst56) posted this 03/22/2010 but Mike Sal owns the "remains"!
    Last edited by StudeRich; 10-29-2017 at 12:20 AM.
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  38. #38
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    Johnny and I live less than 2 hours apart & both know the previous owner Art. Johnny may have gotten the VIN from Art back in the day. I bought Art's '70 Avanti II last year & it came with all the parts from the wrecked car (he sold the engine 2 or 3 years ago).

    I remember Art telling me the back window had survived the crash, but when he went to pick up the parts from the guy who wrecked it (who had stored some of the parts behind a barn), they heard some noises coming from the barn.....when they got around the building, they found the fellow's kids had been throwing rocks at the window & had just broken it.....

    Sunday is go visit mom day, & I have a business trip this week, so will try to dig out the body tag when I get a chance.
    Mike Sal

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