In 1982, Stephen H. Blake bought the rights to Avanti II, and the state of Indiana guaranteed it $1.9 million in loans as part of the financial package offered to Blake when purchasing the company. Modifications were made to the new model, which remained unchanged since the start of production of the II in the mid-1960s.
Source: Auto Vercity
The independent automaker’s road had been bumpy and challenging, with a struggle to survive. The constant battle with the Big Three, which began production of their innovative models in the early 60s, led to the introduction of the legendary Avanti, which in turn became the company’s hallmark.
Source: Wallpaper Flare
Although this automobile was called the brainchild of world-renowned industrial designer Raymond Loewy and Studebaker Corporation President Sherwood Egbert, their employees carried out the main design work – Robert Andrews, John Ebstein, and Tom Kellogg. Lowey, as a motivator and project coordinator, isolated the team in a specially rented house in Palm Springs and made a mood board with photos of Lincoln Continental, Jaguar E-Type, and his exclusive coupes on the chassis of Lancia, Jaguar, and BMW. Initially, two alternatives were considered: a two-seater sports car and a four-seater GT class coupe, of which Sherwood Egbert chose the second. The designers met the deadline and, on April 27, 1961, submitted the layout to the Studebaker board of directors for consideration. Exactly one year later, the prototype Studebaker Avanti (Italian for “forward”) debuted at the New York Auto Show. In 1963, two prototypes, a notchback, and a fastback arrived at South Bend for testing, with two doors on one side and four on the other. Studebaker simply did not have enough money to develop the project further, and Sherwood Egbert resigned when he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. By the time the South Bend plant closed on December 20, 1963, 1,600 had been sold. However, the model was too essential to disappear with the Corporation. In 1964, the closed company’s dealers Nate and Arnold Altman, together with their partner Leo Newman, bought the rights to manufacture it, all the necessary equipment, the remaining components, and part of the South Bend plant. They registered the Avanti Motor Corporation, hired former Studebaker workers, and resumed production of the model as early as 1965, designating it as the Avanti II. The company later changed several owners until, in 1982, the new owner Stephen Blake decided to restart the model’s production with new ideas and designs.
Source: Mecum Auctions
During its existence, the company changed several owners. From 1965-1976 it belonged to Nate Altman, 1976-1982 – to his brother Arnold, in 1982-1986 – to a real estate broker Steven Blake, who received a $1.9 million loan from the State of Indiana to modernize the company. The efforts invested were not in vain for the company, although it lived for another nine years. Blake designed new Touring Coupe and Convertible bodies with smoother contours and plastic bumpers for the model, then hired former Pontiac engineer Herb Adams to build a lightweight backbone frame with independent rear suspension from the Corvette C4. By the beginning of the 80s, the engines of American cars were more likely the remnants of former might: the newly resurrected automobile did not pass it either, and the 5-liter V8 became the base one, which was aggregated with a 4-speed automatic transmission. So instead of metal bumpers, plastic ones were installed, the optics were replaced, the interior was more like a Detroit sedan, and the optics were also modernized. The car’s name was changed along the way, and the Roman deuce disappeared from the title, becoming just Avanti.
Knight Rider (1982-1986)
A 1982 Avanti appeared in the cult sci-fi series Knight Rider, about a resurrected police officer, Michael Long, tasked with fighting evil in all its manifestations.
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