Cloaked Camaro: 1984 Avanti II – Sold?

by | Oct 2022 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Malaise Monday

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November 28, 2022, Update – We just confirmed the listing for this “Classifind” expired, so with no replacement found, we’re assuming this ride is “Sold?” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

Designed by Raymond Lowey in the early 1960s, the Studebaker Avanti was a timeless design that continued in production for over forty years.  Following the demise of Studebaker in 1966, two local South Bend dealers purchased the rights to continue being the fiberglass-bodied personal luxury car. By the early 1980s, the Avanti II featured square headlights and molded bumpers that quickly updated the cars.  Under the hood, the early 1980s versions featured the same 190 horsepower L69 5.0 Liter V8 sourced from Chevrolet’s Z/28.

One example from this period of Avanti II production is this dark blue over tan leather 1984 model we spotted in October 2022 on Craigslist in Hot Springs, South Dakota. The seller reports their Avanti II features only 70K original miles and is equipped with all of the options offered that year, including the moon roof.

Currently offered for $28,000, Classic.com, the analytics and search engine for the collector car market, confirms the ask is in line with sales of similar condition models over the past five years.  As a second data point, the Hagerty Insurance Online Valuation Tool reveals the seller’s ask falls between this guide’s #2 “Excellent” estimate of $24,500 and its #1 “Concours” appraisal of $37,900.

Already on life support and in need of a new model quickly, Studebaker management commissioned a design by Raymond Loewy’s team of Tom Kellogg, Bob Andrews, and John Ebstein on a 40-day crash program out in a rented house out in the desert. The result was the Avanti featuring a radical fiberglass body mounted on a modified Studebaker Lark 109-inch convertible chassis and powered by a modified 289 Hawk engine.  So advanced was the car’s shape and design that Studebaker elected to make the Avanti’s body out of fiberglass.

When introduced to the public at the New York Auto show on April 26, 1962, it was an instant hit.  Finally having a potential sales success on their hands, production problems, and delays primarily due to the complexity of the fiberglass body led to canceled orders and lost sales. It was the final straw that broke Stubebaker’s back and with it came the closure of the company’s South Bend, Indiana manufacturing plant on December 20, 1963.

Two local South Bend Studebaker dealers bought the tooling and rights to build the car and by 1965 they launched the Avanti II and continued to produce the car similar to the one featured here through the early eighties. The Altman brothers introduced a slightly modified version of the car in 1965 under the brand name “Avanti II”, which initially featured a 327 cubic inch Chevrolet Corvette engine. This evolved to the 400, then the small-block 350, and then the 305 in 1981.  The 305 cubic inch V8 featured electronic engine controls, 155 horsepower, and GM’s Turbo 350 automatic transmission equipped with a lock-up torque converter. Building one of the 1980s Avanti IIs required 10 to 12 weeks, depending on special color or upholstery orders.

After Nate Altman’s death, Arnold Altman ran the company until it was sold in 1982.  From 1963 to 1985, Avanti IIs were built on the Studebaker-designed chassis, then the Chevrolet Monte Carlo chassis was used; Chevy discontinued the Monte Carlo in 1987, and Avanti switched to the Chevrolet Caprice chassis.

The MotorWeek Retro Review YouTube Channel features this 1985 video road test of a 1985 Avanti II:

With only 70K original miles and a fiberglass body, this 1984 Avanti II for sale appears to be in excellent condition.  The 5.0L Chevrolet small block V8 and automatic transmission can be serviced by just about any mechanic with readily available parts.

Here’s the seller’s description:

“Nice example of 1984 Avanti with all options, including tan leather interior, sunroof, and chrome wire wheels. Drive train is built on a 1984 Z28 Camaro.

Show or go: What would you do with this 1984 Avanti II?  Please comment below and let us know!

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