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1963 Thunderbird vs Buick Riviera vs Studebaker Avanti

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  • 1963 Thunderbird vs Buick Riviera vs Studebaker Avanti

    Put out by Ford Motor Company as a sales training movie. 2 parts

    1963 Thunderbird vs Riviera and Avanti Sales Film Pt 1 - YouTube

    1963 Thunderbird vs Riviera and Avanti Sales Film Pt 2 - YouTube

    The Avanti is at the end of the first part and is in the second part. The film uses certain buzz words describing the Avanti; foreign instead of import. Foreign used in this context seems to be on the negative side.

    Trying to look up sales figures for 1963, I could only find Buick total as listed for 1963-1965 which was around 112,000. The TBird had listed 63,000 plus. Avanti was around 4,000.

    Bob Miles

  • #2
    Having owned at least one example of all three, I pick the Riv first by a long shot, then the 'Bird, with the Avanti a distant third. To each, their own.
    Last edited by Bob Andrews; 03-12-2021, 12:22 PM.
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    • #3
      Thanks for posting the very cool nostalgic videos! An interesting statistic would be to see the built/sold to cars on the road today ratio of all three cars. I would guess Studebaker wins huge in that category!
      1963 Studebaker GT Hawk R1 63V-33867
      1964 Studebaker Avanti R1 R-5364
      1970 Avanti II RQA-0385
      1981 Avanti II RQB-3304

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Bob Andrews View Post
        Having owned at least one example of all three, I pick the Riv first by a long shot, then the 'Bird, with the Avanti a distant third. To each, their own.
        My family had a Riviera (I think 1964) when I was in my teens, and it was one the best designed cars I ever rode in. I still want to have one someday. Studebaker did a great job with the money they had, but the overall effect (at least in the interior) doesn't feel as refined, nor the materials as high in quality as the Riviera. They did real wood accents better than in any other car I've ever seen.

        I can't really comment on the Ford. The film makes some reasonable selling points, but the Ford seems stuck in the late 1950s, while the Buick and the Avanti are much more modern (to me).
        "Madness...is the exception in individuals, but the rule in groups" - Nietzsche.

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        • #5
          There was not much negative they could say about the Avanti styling. In fact, it sounded like they were conceding that the Avanti was a much more modern design. Personally, I have always preferred the Avanti interior for it's modern appointments and styling.
          Admittedly, I have never owned either a Riviera or a Thunderbird, however, I drove plenty of them when I was parking cars at upscale restaurants in Hollywood in the late 60s. They all had their negatives so there was something to like and dislike about all cars. Even Mercedes, Jaguar, Rolls and Bentley. I think one of the worst was the mid and late 60s Lincolns. The build quality on them was awful and they leaked oil in the worst way. When a luxury car light switch knob comes off in your hand when you turn on the lights it is a real downer.
          Ed Sallia
          Dundee, OR

          Sol Lucet Omnibus

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          • #6
            Judged just as a car, the Avanti didn't stack up well against anything in comfort, build quality or value for the dollar. As a uniquely styled supercharged performance car with disc brakes, it was ahead of everything else.

            jack vines
            PackardV8

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            • #7
              I find it interesting that Ford compared the Riviera styling with the 1963 Chrysler 2 door. Not even close in my opinion. Bill Mitchell said he wanted styling ques from Rolls Royce and Ferrari. The Thunderbird was built along the lines of the Lincoln Continental and both were assembled on the same line. The 1963 Thunderbird was not much different in overall design from the 1961.

              The mechanicals were massaged by Andy Granatelli but the styling was overseen by Raymond Loewy and the fabulous 4 in Palm Springs.

              Not ever having owned any of the three, I guess I have to go on my 12 year old self with the Avanti when it came out. I also had an Avanti slot car which in my spare time took to a local hobby shop track and spent my earned allowance to race against all the other cars.

              Bob Miles

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              • #8
                Thanks - interesting.
                I have owned 1963 and 1964 Avantis and worked on, drove, rode in many others. My sister considered buying a new 1963 Avanti and ended up buying a new 1963 Thunderbird.
                Gary L.
                Wappinger, NY

                SDC member since 1968
                Studebaker enthusiast much longer

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                • #9
                  I always thought the GT Hawk was the Thunderbird competitor from Studebaker. My Dad had a '62 GT Hawk and our next door neighbor had a '61 Thunderbird. Very similar cars...

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by calntvs View Post
                    I always thought the GT Hawk was the Thunderbird competitor from Studebaker. My Dad had a '62 GT Hawk and our next door neighbor had a '61 Thunderbird. Very similar cars...
                    Funny you should mention that. See this 1962 advertisement from the Studebaker National Museum.

                    Gran Turismo Advertisement - YouTube

                    This had been posted before on the forum.
                    With a few options, the GT would be priced around $3,500 almost a thousand less than the Thunderbird and you might be able to buy a GT Hawk and a Lark for the price of the Cadillac and Lincoln. The GT was the high level offering in 1962, but that would change in 1963

                    Bob Miles

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                    • #11
                      Back in the day, my roommate had a 64 Riviera, and I drove it a lot when he was away at sea for months at a time. I agree with some of the above comments that it was not only beautiful, but fast and refined. But then I'm partial to almost anything styled by Bill Mitchell.
                      Skip Lackie

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                      • #12
                        My all-time favorite Riviera is the 1965, especially with the Gran Sport package, followed closely by the 1966 & '67 models.

                        The absolute height of ugliness came with the 1974-'76 Rivieras, especially from the rear.

                        Craig

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by 8E45E View Post
                          My all-time favorite Riviera is the 1965, especially with the Gran Sport package, followed closely by the 1966 & '67 models.

                          The absolute height of ugliness came with the 1974-'76 Rivieras, especially from the rear.

                          Craig
                          Some of you may remember my white 1968 Riviera GS. I drove it to several SDC and Milestone events. I liked the car. I sold it to a real Buick enthusiast.
                          Gary L.
                          Wappinger, NY

                          SDC member since 1968
                          Studebaker enthusiast much longer

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                          • #14
                            I’ve had experience with all three.. I’ve owned the T Bird and my buddy had and probably still does, a 65 dual quad Riviera. I’ve owned many Avantis. All three are nice cars and you could easily say the Avanti was a competitor of each but I don’t think directly. When they called the Avanti a foreign hotrod they weren’t far off. The Avanti was certainly not plush and cushy like the Riv or the Tbird but way more typical of Raymond Lowey’s mind set. The Buick I always thought was aimed at successful old people and the Thunderbird at the same but maybe a little younger. The Avanti fit in age 15 yrs old to about 60 yrs old. My biggest problem with the Avanti is the hot interior which was and is still a problem. As for air noise, rattles etc., when they were all new they were all about the same. I do remember, even at thirteen years old, they were the coolest car I’d ever seen. I still remember how impressed I was when I would open and shut the door of an Avanti on the show room floor. So, even at 70 I’m still 13 when I drive one of my Avantis.

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                            • #15
                              In 1963 we had both a 63 Riviera and a 64 Avanti in our family. From my experience the Buick was a better car, the Avanti be it air conditioned or supercharged was hot and loud.
                              I have attached a photo from November of 1963 showing my Avanti and in the garage you can see the tail of the Riviera. The Riviera made it to 1964 and was traded in for a new Cadillac.

                              I still own the Avanti and always will.
                              Attached Files
                              mrbobinc

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