Car: Avanti II Sports Coupe
What makes it special: Avanti II was a performance sports coupe based on the Studebaker Avanti and marketed through a succession of five different ownership arrangements subsequent to Studebaker‘s discontinuation of the model. After the closure of Studebaker’s South Bend factory on December 20, 1963, cars carrying the Avanti nameplate were initially produced from left-over Studebaker components and later, by the Avanti Motor Company from General Motors and Ford chassis and engines.
What made it famous: The Altman brothers introduced a slightly modified version of the car in 1965 under the brand name “Avanti II,” which initially had a 327 cu in Chevrolet Corvette engine. This evolved to the 400, then the small-block 350, and then the 305 V8 for 1981. The 305 cu in V8 had electronic engine controls, 155 hp, and GM’s Turbo 350 automatic transmission with lock-up. Building one of the 1980’s Avanti IIs required 10 to 12 weeks, depending on special color or upholstery orders. The last Avanti II made came off the line with a V6 engine from Roush and only one was made. 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.
Why I would want one: It’s different, and a decent performer.
Fun fact: Very few cars were made before all production ceased in 2006.