The Avanti is a sports coupe based on the Studebaker Avanti and produced by a series of entrepreneurs. After the closure of Studebaker's South Bend factory on December 20, 1963, cars with the name Avanti were initially produced from left-over Studebaker components and later from General Motors and Ford chassis and engines. These are not replica cars, for they were made by Avanti Motor Company. They have created a following by some enthusiasts and collectors.
Altman and Newman
After Studebaker had ceased production at South Bend, the "Avanti" model name, tooling, Studebaker truck production rights and parts and plant space were bought by local Studebaker dealers, Nate and Arnold Altman and Leo Newman, who incorporated as Avanti Motor Corporation and hand-built small numbers of cars. Leo Newman ran the Studebaker truck parts division which enabled the company to be profitable at its outset. According to Stu Chapman, Studebaker Director of Advertising & Public Relations 1964-1966, in his book 'My Father The Car: Memoirs Of My Life With Studebaker', there was talk with Studebaker of reintroducing the Avanti to Studebaker showrooms in 65/66, along with ambitious plans for rebadging an Isuzu Bellet as an entry level Studebaker, and combining with Canadian Motor Industries. This would have taken control and production away from the South Bend board who at the time was determined to discontinue auto production no matter that Studebaker was the only car company in history to discontinue a make that was still profitable. The Altman brothers introduced a slightly modified version of the car in 1965 under the brand name "Avanti II". which initially had a 327-in³ (5.4 L) Chevrolet Corvette engine. This evolved to the 350, the 400, 305 the last Avanti made came off the line with V-6 from Roush and only one was made. All Avanti IIs and their successors were built on Studebaker chassis from 1963 to 1987. After Nate Altman's death, Arnold Altman ran the company until it was sold in 1982.
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Stephen H. Blake
On October 1, 1982, real-estate developer Stephen H. Blake bought the rights to the Avanti II. The state of Indiana guaranteed $1.9 million in loans to Avanti, as part of the financial package offered Blake when he bought the company. He made modifications to the car, which had remained unchanged since the production of the Avanti II model began in the mid-1960s. Rectangular headlights and modern plastic body-colored bumpers were introduced. He also dropped the "II" in the car's name. All subsequent cars would be simply called the "Avanti". Blake's company declared bankruptcy and he resigned in February 1986.
Michael E. Kelly
The Avanti Motor Company was re-purchased by Michael Eugene Kelly. He moved the production to Ohio in 1987.
The company had the second-generation Avanti's styling originated by Tom Kellogg, the youngest member of the original Avanti Studebaker design team, at first called the AVX in the mid 90's. Tom Kellogg was fatally injured in a car accident in California on August 14, 2003.
John J. Cafaro, a real estate man, picked up the rights to Avanti Motor Company and with the help of the State of Ohio moved all Avanti production from South Bend, its birthplace to the Rust Belt area of Youngstown, Ohio in 1988. In 1988 and 1989 Avanti made two door models and a convertible. The 1988 Avanti were called the Silver year models marking 25 years of Avanti. The 1989 Avanti were given the rally ground effects updates.
Cafaro was noted for making the four door Avanti in 1990, an idea from the original designer, Raymond Loewy. Cafaro concentrated on the four door to the detriment of the original coupe, the company's bread and butter vehicle. Only 90 were made at the Youngstown plant, making them very rare in the marketplace. In 1991 Cafaro went back to building the convertible before the plant was closed later that year.
Michael E. Kelly returns
M. E. Kelly came back in the picture and moved Avanti from Ohio to Georgia in 1999 and produced redesigned Avanti automobiles in Villa Rica, Georgia from 2000 to 2005, before moving to Cancun, Mexico. From 2004, Ford chassis and engines were used. In October 2005 an internet report stated that "Avanti Motors" had "recently announced a new relationship with Ford Motor Company and was planning a big comeback". An internet report in 2006 said Kelly had sold the company in 1988 and repurchased it in 1999 from Cafaro of Ohio; and that the company had established a new factory and showroom in Villa Rica, Georgia. In early 2006, Kelly moved Avanti production to a new plant in Cancun, Mexico, but the company floundered after M. E. Kelly was arrested in December 2006 on fraud counts related to an alleged ponzi scheme in the United States.
The last Avanti to date rolled off the line in Cancun, Mexico in March of 2006. All the Mustang-based Avantis used V-8 engines, with the option of a Ford V-6. Only one 2006 Avanti was built with a Ford V-6 engine. The factory and showroom were emptied in 2011 and have been sold. Many extremely rare Studebaker and Avanti concepts and racing vehicles that were on the second floor of the building in Cancun have been moved elsewhere and/or sold.
- Langworth, Richard M (3rd Quarter, 1972). "Avanti II: Nate Altman can make you a car that you will love". Automobile Quarterly (New Albany, IN) X: 276–281. Check date values in:
- Langworth, p. 278
- Langworth, p. 257
- "Avanti: 1965 Avanti II Brochure". Oldcarbrochures.com. 1965. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
- "Manual 8 - 14". Avantisource.com. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
- Springfield Union, January 27, 1985, Page 34.
- Oregonian, October 14, 1983, Page 75.
- Plain Dealer, February 27, 1986, Page 109.
- Martin, Douglas (2003-08-19). "Thomas W. Kellogg, 71; A Studebaker Avanti Designer - The New York Times". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2009-05-20.
- Spinelli M, Game On: Avanti Motors Hopes to Survive and Thrive in 2006 at jalopnik.com, October 11, 2005
- "Avanti Motors future plans in flux after arrest of chairman". Motortrend press report. January 30, 2007. Retrieved 2008-11-20.
- "SEC Charges Twenty-Six Defendants in $428 Million Securities Fraud That Targeted Senior Citizens and Retirement Savings". Securities Exchange Commission. September 5, 2007. Archived from the original on September 22, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-21.
- "SEC Press Release". Securities Exchange Commission. September 5, 2007. Archived from the original on January 21, 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-27.
- "SEC vs. Michael E Kelly, Michael P Kelly, Donald L Kelly and 23 others" (PDF). Securities Exchange Commission. September 5, 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-27.
- The Unlikely Studebaker: Raymond Loewy and the Birth (and Rebirth) of the Avanti at 'Ate up with Motor'
- Avanti Owners Association International homepage Association for owners of both Studebaker and non-Studebaker Avanti cars
- Avanti Motors homepage Link to last known Avanti Company website with pictures of 2007 models