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Thread: Avanti Restoration

  1. #1
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    Avanti Restoration

    Since retiring, I have restored 7 hawk types ranging from 1954 to 63. As soon as more space becomes available, the plan is to tackle a later model Avanti. The thinking is, it would have better suspension, brakes, and availability of mechanical parts than an original Avanti. I do not know alot about Avantis (except I want one) and even less about fiberglass and hog trough replacement. I looked at one Avanti II whereby the door fell about an inch as the door opened, the fix was, reportedly, to cut the door open and reglass the hinge holes. I would like to hear from those with more experience about which way to go, keeping mind I typically replace or rebuild just about everything and, for a later model Avanti, would use a crate motor and transmission and, should be goal be to use a Caprice frame model. Ken Deltaville, Va.
    Last edited by ken-renda; 10-15-2010 at 09:25 AM.

  2. #2
    President Member Gunslinger's Avatar
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    My opinions are my opinions, so you have to take that with a grain of salt. I can tell you my reasonings for buying the Avanti I did, which may or may not be relevant to what you want.

    I used to own a '63 R1...sold it maybe twenty years ago. I loved the car and spent lots of time rebuilding over the about fifteen years I owned it. I rebuilt the car to original specs...which is probably the hardest way to do a car...lots of research and looking for correct parts. When I decided to get another, I purposely set out to find an Altman Avanti II...an early one for several reasons:

    The engine bay won't be cluttered by lots of add-ons and mandated emissions equipment like later cars.

    No sun roof as in later cars...less leak problems to be concerned with and wiring if the run roof even works.

    Reputation for superior build quality, though realistically after all these years that wouldn't be an issue anymore as most cars by this time have either been rebuilt or sorely need it, regardless of how well they were originally assembled.

    Ease of parts availability...outside of the GM engine (very easy on parts), the rest of the car is leftover Studebaker which are usually widely available. After the mid-'70s, Avanti Motors began running out of original parts and starting adapting more and more parts from who knows what sources and that complicates replacement parts.

    Avanti's built in the late '70s and early '80s allegedly used thinner gauge frames and more prone to rust issues, though they were stiffened.

    Avanti II's were generally built to order, so there was really no "correct" spec to rebuild one to...I could change whatever I liked and personalize the car without hurting it's originality if that means anything to you.

    The downsides to an Avanti...NOTHING comes easy on rebuilding one, though the end result is quite satisfying once done. Many trim parts are difficult to find, but can be found with a bit of looking, or doing something creative...another advantage of an Avanti II. By and large, a later Avanti will never have the market value of an original Studebaker version.

    The worst thing I've found with an Avanti? Getting the doors lined up and the windows adjusted. There are so many different ways the glass has to line up...adjust one and you put two other adjustments haywire. It really takes someone who knows these cars to do it...and even then it's tedious and aggravating. When Avanti Motors advertised that if it takes thirty minutes to hang one door and several hours for the other that's how it got done, they knew what they were saying...because that's a fact with these cars.

    As far as the late '80s Avanti's on the Chevy chassis goes...I have no personal experience with them. Chassis-wise you should have no problems with parts or performance parts. There's no hog troughs to deal with. There is lots of non-standard parts used throughout the car otherwise. I don't know if anyone has been able to catalog or even determine where to get replacement parts as they wear out. Even the brake master cylinder is not GM from what some have reported.

    The late '80s cars are very nice cars but finding replacement parts (at least in my opinion) isn't as simple as earlier cars. Depending on the laws of the state you live in, they probably don't qualify as "Historic", allowing less expensive title and registration fees, and not allowing some modifications to the drive train and exhaust that can affect emissions.

    As I said...these were my rationalizations and won't mean anything to many others. I don't mean to step on anyone's toes as we all have our own reasons for choosing the cars we do. I feel that any Avanti that can be saved should be saved and rebuilt, but I also am quite aware it takes donor cars to keep the rest on the road. That's simply a fact of life. The reproduction parts market for Avanti's is, while not insignificant, not anything like for Camaro's Mustangs, Corvettes, etc. In those cases all you need is a VIN plate and you can order just about everything to build a car around it from a catalog.

    Good luck on finding the Avanti you want. There's lots of help here and on the AOAI website with lots of us who have gone through rebuilding an Avanti.
    Poet...Mystic...Soldier of Fortune. As always...self-absorbed, adversarial, cocky and in general a malcontent.

  3. #3
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    Ken

    It sounds like you are looking for an late 80's Avanti because they are the ones with the GM frame.

    I went through a similar process to you before I bought my 83. I wanted everything you do except I wanted mine to look like the classic Avanti. The bumper and interior change led me away from the 84 up models.

    The question you need to answer to yourself and the forum is how much and what type of work do you/can you do?

    I love engine building and mechanical work and killed my self on the body work on the 54K. I also wanted a drive that would hold up in shows but probably from 10 feet.

    Therefore, I found an 83 with bad engine and tranny but a decent interior and body. You can see most of what I did but looking at my posts for the last year.

    Keep asking and, I'm sure, you will get plenty of help.

    Bob
    , ,

  4. #4
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    I think it was 1990 when the Caprice frames were used. Sedan and Convertibles but I don't think there was a coupe. The 87-89 cars were built on The Monte Carlo chassis.

    As far as parts go, the original 63-64 cars are easy to get parts for and will give you the most return on investment but don't expect a profit. The ease of maintenance on the generic Chevy drivetrain is offset by the oddball electrical and HVAC systems that were used in the 87-89's assuming they are not any different than my '88. Everything that isn't factory built Chevy is IMHO poorly engineered and haphazardly thrown together. Wiring underdash is a joke, window switches etc are cheap generics. If you get a car with a sunroof expect it to leak.

    Anything earlier than 87 is still a Stude chassis with only a Chevy engine and transmission ( some early cars used the BW trans ) and a well cared for Stude engine is as reliable as a Chevy. Easier to work on also as more and more emmission stuff got crammed into the engine compartment.

    Bruce ( Gunslinger ) summed it up nicely and having experience with both I will say that if you want to go the crate motor route than buy a pre-1975 so you don't have to deal with catalyctic converters, inspect the frame very carefully, find one with no sunroof and crank windows (you will have far less aggravation) and perform a brake upgrade from a respected vendor so the car will stop just like the newer Monte chassis cars (because they will have the same pads and calipers), stick in a 700 or 200 GM overdive and drive the daylights out of it.

    ErnieR

  5. #5
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    thanks that's the kind of information I'm looking for Ken Deltaville
    Quote Originally Posted by Gunslinger View Post
    My opinions are my opinions, so you have to take that with a grain of salt. I can tell you my reasonings for buying the Avanti I did, which may or may not be relevant to what you want.

    I used to own a '63 R1...sold it maybe twenty years ago. I loved the car and spent lots of time rebuilding over the about fifteen years I owned it. I rebuilt the car to original specs...which is probably the hardest way to do a car...lots of research and looking for correct parts. When I decided to get another, I purposely set out to find an Altman Avanti II...an early one for several reasons:

    The engine bay won't be cluttered by lots of add-ons and mandated emissions equipment like later cars.

    No sun roof as in later cars...less leak problems to be concerned with and wiring if the run roof even works.

    Reputation for superior build quality, though realistically after all these years that wouldn't be an issue anymore as most cars by this time have either been rebuilt or sorely need it, regardless of how well they were originally assembled.

    Ease of parts availability...outside of the GM engine (very easy on parts), the rest of the car is leftover Studebaker which are usually widely available. After the mid-'70s, Avanti Motors began running out of original parts and starting adapting more and more parts from who knows what sources and that complicates replacement parts.

    Avanti's built in the late '70s and early '80s allegedly used thinner gauge frames and more prone to rust issues, though they were stiffened.

    Avanti II's were generally built to order, so there was really no "correct" spec to rebuild one to...I could change whatever I liked and personalize the car without hurting it's originality if that means anything to you.

    The downsides to an Avanti...NOTHING comes easy on rebuilding one, though the end result is quite satisfying once done. Many trim parts are difficult to find, but can be found with a bit of looking, or doing something creative...another advantage of an Avanti II. By and large, a later Avanti will never have the market value of an original Studebaker version.

    The worst thing I've found with an Avanti? Getting the doors lined up and the windows adjusted. There are so many different ways the glass has to line up...adjust one and you put two other adjustments haywire. It really takes someone who knows these cars to do it...and even then it's tedious and aggravating. When Avanti Motors advertised that if it takes thirty minutes to hang one door and several hours for the other that's how it got done, they knew what they were saying...because that's a fact with these cars.

    As far as the late '80s Avanti's on the Chevy chassis goes...I have no personal experience with them. Chassis-wise you should have no problems with parts or performance parts. There's no hog troughs to deal with. There is lots of non-standard parts used throughout the car otherwise. I don't know if anyone has been able to catalog or even determine where to get replacement parts as they wear out. Even the brake master cylinder is not GM from what some have reported.

    The late '80s cars are very nice cars but finding replacement parts (at least in my opinion) isn't as simple as earlier cars. Depending on the laws of the state you live in, they probably don't qualify as "Historic", allowing less expensive title and registration fees, and not allowing some modifications to the drive train and exhaust that can affect emissions.

    As I said...these were my rationalizations and won't mean anything to many others. I don't mean to step on anyone's toes as we all have our own reasons for choosing the cars we do. I feel that any Avanti that can be saved should be saved and rebuilt, but I also am quite aware it takes donor cars to keep the rest on the road. That's simply a fact of life. The reproduction parts market for Avanti's is, while not insignificant, not anything like for Camaro's Mustangs, Corvettes, etc. In those cases all you need is a VIN plate and you can order just about everything to build a car around it from a catalog.

    Good luck on finding the Avanti you want. There's lots of help here and on the AOAI website with lots of us who have gone through rebuilding an Avanti.

  6. #6
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    thanks, As to what work i do, it's everything except engine and and trans rebuilt and often going to extreme, two examples are on a blog my son set up google "Studebaker Forever", the 63 was sold because i can not shift gears anymore and the 56 is up for sale to make room for the avanti. I have 11 garage spaces and cant' build anymore. ken Deltaville va
    Quote Originally Posted by sweetolbob View Post
    Ken

    It sounds like you are looking for an late 80's Avanti because they are the ones with the GM frame.

    I went through a similar process to you before I bought my 83. I wanted everything you do except I wanted mine to look like the classic Avanti. The bumper and interior change led me away from the 84 up models.

    The question you need to answer to yourself and the forum is how much and what type of work do you/can you do?

    I love engine building and mechanical work and killed my self on the body work on the 54K. I also wanted a drive that would hold up in shows but probably from 10 feet.

    Therefore, I found an 83 with bad engine and tranny but a decent interior and body. You can see most of what I did but looking at my posts for the last year.

    Keep asking and, I'm sure, you will get plenty of help.

    Bob

  7. #7
    Golden Hawk Member
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    I have owned Studebaker Avantis and purchased a new Chevrolet chassis Avanti. The information given already is excellent. A lot depends on what you want to spend, how much work you want to do, what kind of work you are capable of, what you want to end up with, etc.

    A little clarification, 1963-1985 Avantis are on the Studebaker frame. 1987-1989 Avantis are on the Monte Carlo frame. 1990 Avantis are all four door sedans and are on a Caprice frame. 1991 Avantis are all convertibles and are on Caprice frames. 2001-2004 are Firebird based. 2005-2007 are Mustang based.

    Next, I want a 2001-2007 Avanti.
    Gary L.
    Wappinger, NY

    SDC member since 1968
    Studebaker enthusiast much longer

  8. #8
    President Member Gunslinger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by studegary View Post

    Next, I want a 2001-2007 Avanti.
    I have an '02 Avanti and it's a great car...far superior to earlier models, but with several generations of improvements in automotive technology, it should be. The downside to these models...the interior is not as roomy as the original design, negligible trunk space (especially in a convertible), and when some people have called post-Studebaker Avanti's factory assembled kit cars, it is a pretty accurate description in this case. Some modifications done to the platform it's on, but essentially a re-bodied TransAm or Mustang.

    Still...they are great cars and very satisfying to own and drive. With less than one hundred built...even less chance of passing yourself on the road. The only time I've seen others was at Lancaster in '08.
    Poet...Mystic...Soldier of Fortune. As always...self-absorbed, adversarial, cocky and in general a malcontent.

  9. #9
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    Ah .. the MonteAvanti ...

    Tom
    '63 Avanti R1, zinc plated drilled & slotted 03 Mustang Cobra 13" front disc/98 GT rear brakes, 03 Cobra 17" wheels, GM alt, 97 Z28 leather seats, TKO 5-spd, Ported heads w/SST full flow valves.
    Check out my disc brake adapters to install 1994-2004 Mustang disc brakes on your Studebaker!!
    http://forum.studebakerdriversclub.c...kets-available
    I have also written many TECH how to articles, do a search for my Forum name to find them

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