Avanti R2, 1963, refresh

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September 30, 2009.

Refresh, I hope. Thought I would start a thread of my latest project to be. I have just completed a total three year restoration of a 1923 McLaughlin Buick, Model 45, Export; and have an original 1928 Buick, model 29, Town Brougham. So decided that it was my wife's turn for her favorite car. She said Avanti. So have been looking for about 6 months and finally found a car in RI. I am in VA. So we reached a deal, and we are heading up to pick it up and trailer it home on October 1st. It will take us a couple of days to get it home, about 1,200 round trip.

Here is what I know about the car now. Two owner car, in same family for the past 37 years; has had a repaint from maroon to misty blue; seats were maroon now vinyl painted black; 44K original miles; no modifications done; auto with the Paxton Supercharger. Current owner is 73, and does not have any time to spend on the car and realized that he was never going to get it going.

Now for the issues. Not running due to dead battery, fuel leaks around carb, a leaking radiator, and little brakes. Not run in at least two years.

Have only seen pictures on Craig's list, and he does not have a digital camera; so we agreed that no money would change hands until we actually saw it, including a deposit. So we have a bit of final negotiations to due when we get there, but if the car is half of what he describes over the phone, then we have a deal and will load her up and take her home. If not, then it was a nice ride with the wife and our dog.

Will post pictures when we get back from the trip and will keep everyone updated.

It is my goal to get the car running and stopping; and to give it a good cleaning. Then we will figure out what needs and should be done to make us a good, presentable, reliable, original driver.

This will be my first 60s car since high school. Should be lots of fun.


Edited by unimogjohn (see edit history)

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October 3rd. Made it home. 1,100 miles with a drive time of 23 hours in two days. We bought the 63 R2 Avanti. Not as good as I had hoped, but better than I feared. It is a 46 year old car, and still all original. So we dickered a bit on price, struck a deal, and the old girl is ours. Original owner is now 90 and second owner 77. Color is a dark green, repaint from Maroon/Red. Interior has been resprayed black from Maroon.

The good: Complete, no missing parts from what I can see from a visual inspection. No frame or rail rust except the rear cross brace. 44K showing on the odometer. No body damage, bumpers are all in great condition, except missing one rubber on the front bumper corner. Interior looks great, but driver's seat torn due to age, everything is there including two good visors.

The bad: Does not run due to leak in cooling system and fuel disconnected. Did run three years ago before fuel leak. Has not been out of the garage for at least ten years. Missing only the front parking light lenses, cut out clear plastic as replacements. Supercharger disconnected as has different carb, supercharger has disconnected for 30 years. Have original carb for supercharger. Brakes non functional. Will need a re-paint. Some trim and hood off the car as previous owner decided to make some repairs, and then lost interest. Tires are new, but age cracking, will need to be replaced. Brakes are a big unknown, but really not an issue in the short term.

My current plan is really a short term one, get her running under her own power and drive her off the trailer.

Things to do first:

Driver's side window is off the track and will not go up, so that has to be immediately addressed.

Trunk does not latch, maybe just a stuck cable. Will investigate.

Determine location of coolant and fuel leaks. Repair as needed.

Put in a new battery, turn the key, see if she will start.

Then on to brakes.

Well that is it for this first real report, I am sure that I will find many other things over the next few days. Will keep you all posted. My goal is get a great mechanical driver before we tackle the paint and interior. Actually, she looks great as a survivor, but I doubt that we will keep her in such a condition. She deserves to be all cleaned up and looking good.







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First day at home, got started around 10 AM, quit around 5 PM.

Got the driver's side window up, an arm is bent and is catching the bottom of the window channel mounting when you put the window all the way down, so going up it catches. The arm is really beefy so how it got bent escapes me. I will have to take out the mechanism anyway to replace seals, etc. At least I know what it is and the window is up. Until fixed we will just not put it all the way down.

Oh, the original color is not maroon like the seller said. It is Avanti Red with red interior. The seats were upgraded as they have the perforations in the center panels.

The serial number is 63R2502. It was therefore built in January of 63, one of 592 that month. The total run for the car by Studebaker was 4647, so ours was the 1,501 built the total production run.

Opened the hood, thought that the hinge was just disconnected, NOT. They cut out the entire mechanism, why I have no idea. So have some fiberglass work to do to make a new mounting point. At least I have the hinge. We have removed the entire hood until I get it fixed. That is OK as it makes the engine access easier for now

The engine bay is crap, hoses to no where, disconnected wires, old rubber, nasty carb with manual choke (not standard). Oh well, I expected it. Going to drain the old fuel out, looks like orange pee, and put in some new fuel before we try to start it. It has what looks to be a new battery, but dead. Have it on the charger to see what happens. It is a long 12 volt. Supercharger turns, but rough, but really do not know how good it is at this point. The special sealed supercharger carb will go to a specialist rebuilder. For now I will run with the carb now on it now until we can get it ready for the supercharger. The rear end is posi-traction.

Rear brace under the tire well is about half eaten away from rust, will have to be replaced at some point. The leaf springs are flat, I think that they should have a concave curve, they may need to be replaced. Will have to do more research.

Got the trunk latch working. A good cleaning and a little new great was all it took.

Filled the radiator with water, thought it would leak like a fire hose. Nothing, holds water fine for now.

Reconnected the fuel lines with new hose and filter. Will put in 5 gallons of fresh gas tomorrow, and then will see if it will START.

Should be an interesting day.

If anyone wants a pic of something in particular, just email me at unimogjohn@aol.com








Edited by unimogjohn
production numbers began with 1001 (see edit history)

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OK, it is the second work day, still excited, ready to go. Planned on trying to start it today.

Here is the recap of today's activities. Started at 10 AM, quit at 5 PM.

Progress: Ordered all new drive belts to include the supercharger; ordered the molded hoses for upper and lower radiator/engine.

Changed oil and filter. The old oil was a black as night.

Flushed the lines of old fuel, and made sure that good clean fuel was getting to the carb through a new filter. Lots of crap came out, but it is now clean.

Installed the battery as it showed that it was charged. Lights work, interior lights work, brake lights OK, turn signals, NOT. Radio, NOT. Horn NOT.

The bad and the ugly: battery immediately went to a discharge, so jumped the car with van battery. Nothing when the ignition key is turned, bad ignition, you have to push on the key to get it to make contact, slowly the engine started to turn. it coughed once. that was it. Fuel pouring into the carb, no way would it start.

So I opened up the carb, worse I have never seen, total crapola. To make matters worse they jammed the second set of butterflies and bent the rod so they would never open. trying to make a two barrel carb during the fuel shortage of the 70s I guess. So the carb is really junk, I do not think that it is worth even trying to get it clean and working as it is just mechanically broken.

Going to order a new special battery, rectangle and long. Have not decided what to do about the carb yet. Will sleep on it and make a decision tomorrow.

Here are pics of the carb.








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I have seen a LOT of carbs dirtier than that one. Some of the ones I have restored were actually corroded. That one you have looks like an easy fix. I LOVE that car.....you scored!!

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Taking the day off today to do farm and chores. Have contacted an Avanti carb and supercharger re-builder so will see what he says about my sealed carb. Will order a correct size Interstate Battery from my local shop today too. I do have an offer for a "loaner" carb until mine is rebuilt. Will make that decision is a couple of days. Still lots of cleaning to do inside the car, has not been touched in many years.

On an interesting note, just received a comment on the Stude forum that he remembers the car in RI in 1977. He gave me the name of the owner at that time. Small word indeed.

Heading to Hershey on Wednesday, hope to find some parts for all my cars. Always an adventure. Only one day this year, next year it will be the usual three. Should be some Avanti parts to find.

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Do not attempt to run the engine with the supercharger on it without going through it. At a minimum, it needs cleaning and new oil, it is probably much worse off. Good cores are going in the $500 range, so it is a valuable piece.

I would also check with NAPA, a local farm dealership (perhaps Tractor Supply) or the ones on Rt. 29 for a battery. While my '64 takes a regular battery, the early cars take ones that looked like what my IH 806 used.

Good luck!


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Not much going on today.

Ordered the correct size and type battery from Interstate Battery. It will be delivered to the local shop on Thursday, cost around $115.

Also talked to Dave Thibeault in MA. We talked about the carb, and he validated that I had the correct carb, but that it is missing parts. He said that he had the parts and would rebuild the carb next week. We will deliver the carb to him on Wednesday.

We also discussed the supercharger and the condition of mine. He recommended that I change the oil and run it at low speed to see if any noise or play in the assembly. So we will do that after we get the engine running with the rebuilt carb.

Tomorrow have to get parts ready to go to Hershey, but hope to remove the two rad/engine hoses to get ready for their replacements to arrive.

Here are pics of the carb to be rebuilt.






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Reading your story with interest, a few notes to consider from my past experience with 4 Avanti's. The battery for your car was called the "3EE" and there are some similar BUT NOT CORRECT HEIGHT types for tractors and lift trucks, check height carefully, if too tall left front hood hinge can short terminals when hood is lowered.

I would remove supercharger belts for the test start operation, the blower internals must be surgically clean before spinning it over, remember the shaft spins 4.6 times engine crankshaft speed and any dirt or debris from previous drive failures will destroy everything beyond repair $$$$. It has an internal piston type oil pump if hung up it will fail rapidly from no lube. Preserve what you have religiously, talk with Jon Myer, Duncan Falls, OH about blower overhaul first 740-674-4897.

Thibeault is the best guy for carb work so you are on the right trail there.


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Stude8, will do on the start-up and the supercharger. The Interstate Battery is a 3EE-VHD(Commercial) per their specs. I will check clearances. Thanks for all the advice. I appreciate it. I did check the oil in the supercharger and it is nice and red, but will drain it out and refill. TX again.

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Stud8 and others, at your urging I took off the supercharger and talked to Jon Myer. This afternoon I boxed it up, and it is now off to Jon for a service/rebuild. I feel much better, and I know you all do too.

Heading to Hershey tomorrow and will drop off the carb with Dave T. to be rebuilt. For now I will be just content with cleaning and scrubbing both the engine bay and interior until they both get back.

I did find the serial number of the engine. It is RS1669. The color of the block is Red, the same as the intake. I have no idea as to the significance of the color, was just asked.

Here are some pics of the supercharger and serial number. Note the rust in the pulleys, they have not turned a belt in many a year.









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The RS engine would be correct for a R-2 Avanti. You can order the build sheet for your car for $40 from the Studebaker National Museum which will confirm that it was built with the engine you have now..

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Glad you listened to the advice about the blower, it looks in decent shape but is too valuable to risk a dirty start with. The pulley will need a glass bead or power wire wheel cleanup before use. In the old days the blower belts were sold in matched pairs to equalize the load between them.

Have you ever driven a supercharged car? You are in for an exciting experience if you haven't. Blown engines only get more powerful the higher the RPM they crank.

A 4 speed R2 is a thriller coming out of 2nd gear with positive pressure in the manifold. You will learn why they invented "Intercoolers" for newer turbo charged cars. The compressed intake air gets hot, REAL HOT. You don't want to keep the blower RPM high for long periods, the internal lube gets over heated easily.

At one time I added a remote blower oil cooler (ala Lark heater core) to help. Eventually I converted it to a remote electric fuel pump lube system because we had shimmed the inner race clutch cage to get higher boost for drag racing. The inner races only lasted 6 or 8 months but it was a lot of fun during that time. Paxton sold the kits for $19.95 in 1966, it was cheap if you did the work yourself.

You will enjoy this car more than any other you have ever driven.


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John as many will tell you I also own not one but two Avantis and possibly a third one soon. If you see this I will be in Hershey starting tomorrow, possibly late Friday and all day Saturday and will attempt to look you up. If no one has said so there are two very important books you need to purchase. One is an Avanti Service Manual and the other which is just as important as the first is by Stan Gundy as is called "What the Shop Manual Won't Tell You." It is all Avanti tips and will save you time effort and grief. The other ting you need to do is join the Avanti Owners Association International (AOAI). You can find an application at Avanti Owners Association International - Home Page. If I can help you please let me know. I currently serve on the AACA's 2nd Generation Collector Vehicle Committee and am President of The Lehigh Valley Region AACA

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Don, thanks, will look for the Stan Gundy book, have the factory service manual and looking for the illustrated parts book. They are on Ebay, but pricey.

We drove three and a half hours to Hershey, PA; and dropped off the carb to be rebuilt. Did not find any parts that I could use. We had a good time looking at all the stuff and all the cars for sale. The wind really kicked up and everyone ran for cover. We left around 3 PM and headed for home.

Our package from StudebakerParts came so now I have all new belts and radiator hoses. The hoses will go on tomorrow. Cut the old ones off yesterday, and they were well used and nasty. Also got a call that the battery is in, so will head to town tomorrow and pick that up along with a J hook, gear oil for the rear end, and new battery cables.

With the battery in I will be able to at least see what is working or not. I have noticed that the wires to the parking/turn signal lights are cut, why? No clue. Also the wires to the horn and brake light were also disconnected. Will give a report tomorrow.

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Typically Studebaker parts are hard to find at the larger swap meets. There is an all Studebaker swap meet in Reedsville, PA on November 20 & 21. If you can hold out until March 4-6, there is a large swap meet in York, PA.


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I am all done for a few days, waiting for parts, and have to get a 23 Buick ready for a show.

But here is what I did today:

Picked up and put in the new Interstate Battery and cables, fit perfect.

Installed the two radiator hoses to include new clamps, refilled with water, no leaks.

Drained and refilled the rear axle.

Installed new vacuum lines to distributer and supercharger.

Ordered many more parts to include new spark plugs.

Ordered new KBR shocks, front and rear.

With the new battery was able to test out the electrics. Everything is working except:

Radio, has light, no sound.

Horn, (well it works when you depress the turn signal to turn left)

Turn signals

Brake light

Instrument lights

Fuel gauge


Now I know why the turn signal wires were cut, because of the horn. It must be the connection inside the steering wheel. Will investigate, but everything else is good, but they all need cleaning and adjusting.

Decided to check the spark plug wiring, found one wire off and also a plug loose. Pulled it and it looks terrible so ordered some Autolite AP85s. I have a receipt for the wires, distributer cap, and rotor. They are new, err well five years ago, but they have seen little running time. So will leave them for now.

Here are a couple of pics to include the parts installed today. Used some Goof Off to take off a bit of the black paint from the seat to see the original red. Why they changed red to black is a mystery to me. At some point next year we will have the car repainted and a new interior made. Right now we do not have an ideas what it will be. I am leaning to Avanti Red and red interior as original, but then it is the bride's car, it will be her choice.

At some point I will tally up what I have spent in getting the car started and rolling under her own power, and post it here. Just to give everyone an idea as to what to expect in bringing a car back to life.

Any recommendations for a radio repair shop?




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John, I spent all day yesterday at Hershey and like Gary says while there are parts there for Studebakers you really have to look for them. I know Dave T was there and he always has Studeparts with him. Craig Piper was also there and while he generlly has no parts he has them at home. As for for a parts manual, look me up in the AACA roster (Lehigh Valley Region president) call me and we will talk about parts manuals. I have three I think and will either loan you one or possibly sell you one. Studebaker International has them for approx $35.00 but they are reproduced, Original ones are available but you need to look for them. Mine are original. I will be back at Hershey tomorrow on the show field however I will also be in Flea market area and can look for one if you want me too. If you call me I will give you address for Gundy's book which is a must for an Avanti redo. Sure does make life a lot easier.

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Once you get enrolled in AOAI and SDC clubs you will see from their publications who all the Avanti and Studebaker mechanical suppliers are. Most anything the Avanti will need is available from several sources. The interior should be available from www.phantomstudebakers.com to fit OEM seating as long as that is what is still in your car.

The brake stop light circuit is probably related to the severed wires in the steering column area BUT the Wagner hydraulic stop light switch on the end of the master cylinder is almost guaranteed to be defective at this age. You can test it with an ohm meter for continuity with someone stepping on the brake pedal assuming your hydraulic system is up to par.

Keep posting where you are along the restoration work and we all can prompt you who to seek help from. I have been through total Avanti rehab several times myself.




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Returned home from our weekend in the mountains of PA. Had a dusting of snow in the morning !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We did have a package delivery on Saturday so now I have more parts to install. Took off the glass headlight covers as am going to replace the gaskets as they are all checked and torn. Boy, they were sure dirty inside. Look fine now with a quick wash. Also installed one of the new brackets for the battery. The back one as no attachment point for the back J hook as it has been cut out.

I do think that the car has a replacement nose, I can see now a slight ripple in the fender glass on both sides where it has been cut and redone. Must have been done many years ago.

Also, I am more and more certain that the car probably has more than 44K on the odometer, probably more like 144K. No biggie in the grand scheme of things.

We have also decided to take off the black vinyl paint on the seats/interior to bring back the red. The black is nasty, ugly, etc. Anything would be better.

Here are the parts that arrived yesterday. Will probably replace the ignition switch next.

No news on the rebuilding of the carb and supercharger. I figure that it will be a couple of weeks before I hear anything.



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Had to do farm and other car chores (rear brakes and an oil change on our Chev Trailblazer) so did not get a lot accomplished today.

But the new front and rear KBR shocks arrived today. They will go on sometime over the next few weeks.

And then took the opportunity to try some "Goof Off" on a door panel. I tried several little different attempts to see what worked best before I invest in several bottles of the remover. So after about an hour of trial and error this is how far I got today. Figure that I will have many hours of investment in the process over the next few months. I am pleased at how it came out. It did not seem to damage the original vinyl, and I used a vinyl condition and polish after I used the Goof Off. What do you all think?

A couple of the pics show the "before" to include the bubbling black paint.






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