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SeventhSon

Avanti Rescue

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When I was a young lad of about 12 my brother Brian bought a 1964 Studebaker Avanti R2. We came from a Studebaker family, my father having owned several throughout my life up to that point. In fact, one of my earliest memories is of the day my father, my mother and 2 or 3 of my brothers traveled to American Service Center in Arlington, Virginia to pick up the '62 Hawk my father had purchased. The Hawk was nearly new and us kids were excited about the 'new car!" I was about three years old and excited too. Imagine my disappointment when I was relegated to return home with my mother in her car, following the '62 Hawk. My brothers were with my father. We didn't get far, because I pitched such a fit that my mother pulled alongside my father's car and told him to please take this child with him. I clambered in the back seat, my tears turning to happiness. Of course, my brothers teased me without mercy for being a crybaby. I didn't care - I was with Dad, in his new car. Nothing could bother me at that point. I spent a lot of time in the coming years fetching wrenches for my Dad as he lay under that Hawk working on one thing or another.

So, here I was at 12, traveling "around the Beltway" with my father and 3 brothers to pick up Brian's Avanti. This time I got to ride in the new acquisition, in the back seat perch looking over Brian's shoulder. Back "around the Beltway" we came. Fast. Really fast. Looking over Brian's shoulder at the speedometer I saw how effortlessly the Avanti reached 100, the power building as the supercharger screamed. We hit 120 and I felt no fear, only excitement. Would he try for more? My brother Kevin, always an instigator, goaded Brian to go for more. See if it would do 140! 160! At one point, briefly, very briefly, the speedometer touched 130. Then Brian brought her back down. Seems the 18 year old male brain does have some sense after all. I was never the same after that. I had never felt such power and speed!

Before you knew it I was wearing Big Daddy Rat silk screen shirts to school like the one pictured below. Except mine had an Avanti pictured, all jumped up in a stance with a huge stick shift sticking up out of the roof and the "Rat" drooling in anticipation of a race. The text on the shirt read "Studebaker Power". Someday I would have one. Someday.

Looks like someday has arrived. I really caught the "GetanAvanti" flu about 6 months ago. Midlife crisis? Maybe. No young blonde involved - just the car. I started my search locally, where one sits outside a business. I first saw it about 7 years ago and asked the business owner about it. He said he couldn't get out of it what he had in it, etc. No luck. I returned there from time to time over the years, only to see the car sitting in the same spot, deteriorating. I tried again recently. I thought I sensed some movement, but again, no luck. I expanded my search, online sites, classifieds, Ebay. I came close a couple of times only to see them slip through my fingers. After the last one slipped away I was perusing the online sites and came across the one I would end up calling Texas Belle. Or maybe that should be The Beast (shhhh, don't tell her). When I first saw the car that would become mine I almost couldn't look. She was, to borrow a term I had seen on the Avanti registry, "Down on Her Heels".

I ignored her at first and kept looking at others. Avantis with 4 speeds, 3 thousand miles away, for $25,000. Nice, but out of reach. I kept returning to the site that had Belle. She was still there, no surprise there. Too rough, needs too much. I'd go away, only to return. I lost sleep. My wife asked me what was wrong - I brushed it off. She wouldn't understand. I contacted the dealer via email. We talked, back and forth, sort of courting by proxy. Finally, after the fourth Avanti didn't work out, I sat down at my computer late on a Saturday and began to type, "Mark, if you still have that Avanti...."

Tomorrow: I get the girl! (or car)

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Great story and purchase. My oh my, another Avanti being put back on the road. Can hardly wait to see pics. Congratulations and good luck. Keep us all posted.

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I'm glad I'm not the only one with that fantasy. Unfortunately - or fortunately, it depends, I stayed with a 1:12 model. But anyway, it was also a long story.

I hope to read more about your "new" car!

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The Avanti I signed up to rescue arrived in Virginia at 10 PM on a Tuesday night. I was waiting for her, along with my brother Don. When the truck pulled in to the drop-off spot I couldn't see my Avanti at first. I was told she had been put in the belly of the carrier when loaded. I looked along the lower row and didn't see her. I scanned the other cars. Nope. Then I saw her, up high, my rough girl over top of the Acura SUV, the Beamer and others, King of the Hill.

We had to roll her down off the truck because she wouldn't start. I put gas in, ran and got starting fluid, came back and I heard her start. A throaty rumble, announcing her arrival. She cut off. I slid in behind the wheel and fired her back up. Pulling around to the storage unit I understood what it's all about. Take a sled, put on wheels and a race car engine and you're pretty close.

I got out to open the storage unit, hesitating to see if she would cut off. She idled. Like a race car. I backed her in the unit with Don's guidance. The powerful engine noise boomed against the walls of the unit and throughout the complex. I reluctantly shut her down and, flashlights in hand, we examined her engine compartment. I fetched a piece of paper and pen, scanned the serial number location. 63R 2710. Good, matches the title. I wrote down the body tag number. We wiped away the grime covering the engine number. "What's that say?", I asked Don. "RS One seven, one seven," he said. "I like that number", I said. "Me too".

We tucked her in and I left, tired and content. I had my Avanti, at last.

Next: What's next?

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That's a beautiful car, no where near the rough condition I was imagining by the earlier write up. I see lots of great potential in that gem.

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I love your enthusiasm and your excitement. You are a terrific writer. I don't even like Avantis, but you may have changed my mind...:eek: It might be that I love the condition that your car is in. It looks as if it's saying, "Drive it like you hate it!"

Nice car!

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West, wow, thanks! It is the greatest compliment to hear "You are a terrific writer" from an editor. Thank you, and you will love Avantis before this is over!

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When I first saw the Avanti that was to become mine I called Courtney, a mechanic friend of mine. I wanted to see if he would be available to put the car in his shop and get her sorted out mechanically. I hadn't talked to him in nearly 5 years, since my brother Steve, his good friend, had passed away. I said, "I'm thinking about buying an old car and I was wondering if you could do some work on it."

"What kind of car is it?"

"A 1963 Studebaker Avanti."

"Oh, man...."

Since he runs a one man shop he would have to work on it some, take care of other customers, work on it some. He asked if the car could be viewed online. Yes. "Send me the link, got any pictures?" A whole bunch of the underside. "Ok, I'll look it over."

I received an email the next day. "I don't know, that's a whole lotta rust for a Southwest car. Personally, I wouldn't buy it", came the reply.

"That's what I was thinking", I answered back.

Nearly a month passed. I hadn't talked to Courtney. I bought the car, then called him.

"Hey Courtney, it's Chris."

Hey, how's it going, did you buy that?"

"Yeah."

"You idiot", he joked.

I think he was joking.

I met him at the storage unit. He approached the car smiling, "Oh, man I haven't seen one of these in years..."

We talked it over for an hour or more as we looked the car over. It was the first time I had seen the car in the light of day. I kept thinking, "Oh my God, what have I done?"

Every piece of rubber on the car inside and out was petrified. Hoses turned into earthenware. Bushings cracked and shriveled, like they had been put in a toaster oven. Even the seats had turned to stone.

As he got ready to leave it was apparent that there was no place at his Inn for my girl, and I would have to find my own work space. He offered his help, which I am sure I will take him up on. He said, "You have a decent space here, put her up on stands and start on it."

Good advice - put her up on stands and get to it.

Next: Decision time.

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I agree with Roger, if you think that is rusty you have never lived in the rust belt! That car looks great! Good luck, looking forward to the rest of the story.

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Thanks Roger and Don, I appreciate you checking out what I'm doing. Roger, I had a '58 Cadillac Coupe De Ville that I bought in Arizona. It was almost the same color as yours! I didn't finish mine, basically gave it away. Oh well, I hope it got a good home!

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Why are you on the computer? You should remove the parts from the Avanti!

Your '58 Cadillac was probablx "Somerset Blue metallic, code 24; it's similar to the Bahama Blue from the '56 Biarritz.

An unfinished car has a small value compared to the one when it's finished. I hope you will bite the bullet and rescue that Avanti! As an encouragement a picture of a blue one.

OK, it's a bad game, it's my model!

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Hey Roger, I gotta work to finance this project! My Cadillac was originally Buckskin, but I think some hippies had gotten ahold of it and painted it purplish-blue. Maybe that was an original Cadillac color - I had never seen another one that color until I saw yours today! I am going to rescue that Avanti - if it's the last thing I do! Wow, that model is nice - I need your talents on mine!

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I agree. That car doesn't have rust. You'll need to remove the oxidation before painting, though. But, once again, I wouldn't restore it right away. Just get it running and drive it like you hate it. You'll fall in love with it, then you won't feel so bad about the amount of time it's apart when you decide to finally jump in and restore. I think the car looks too good to restore, myself.

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That's not rust. That's character.;)

Up here in the northwest we call it "Mother nature's patina".

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I must admit - I've been holding a couple of pictures back. I was going to post those when I went to fix the problem areas. A couple of gaping holes in those darn hog troughs! What fun that's gonna be! West, I think you're right - I'm gonna enjoy her before tearing her apart!

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Well, it's decision time. Actually, the decision has been made. I'm bringing the Avanti home, where I can really get after it. I had originally thought I could store it an hour+ away from my home and work on it every couple of weeks. Right. Nothing kills motivation like something that's not in your way. Outta sight, outta mind. So, I'm gonna displace my daily driver and put my Avanti in the home garage. Life's a series of trade-offs....sigh.

Also, it's time to check the budget. How much do I want to spend? What do I want to accomplish? That one is easy. I want to get the car mechanically sound, through state inspection, a driver. Then, drive it. Maybe not even paint it - change her name to the Maroon Marauder and drive around scaring the general public. Ha, who am I kidding, she's gonna be my baby. And look like it too.

I hope to have her here soon, like in the next few days, so I can start the process. And have lots of pics to share.

I want to shout out a big thanks to John Feser (unimogjohn) for his gracious help and advice. It is greatly appreciated.

A couple of pics of the Avanti's new, temporary home. Sorry Sonata....

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P.S. Roger, you have any after pics of that Cadillac? I'm looking for some old pics of mine.

Klick on my name, then go to public profile and, down right, to album. Some pictures of my cars are there.

It seems that the hog troughs are a problem in those cars. And, as this is a structural member of the body, they must be in good shape if you desire to have the doors correctly aligned...This is also the reason why these parts are reproduced.

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Thanks Roger - yeah, the old "hog trough" problem. I'm not sure to what extent the damage is - doesn't look too, too bad. Whatever it is I'll just have to fix it.

Now, let's see if I can copy this link to the youtube video that Tractor824 sent me, with my thanks to him:

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