Avanti


2003-05-24                                                    

"Life Goes In Circles"

I will try to break the story up a bit with pictures, but it started in 1951.  I was 3 years old and Dad bought a 1951 Studebaker.  My hereditary destiny continues in 1953.  Dad purchases a 1953 salmon and yellow colored Studebaker.  In 1957 my hereditary genes are finally fully established as my Father purchased a 1957 lavender colored Packard Clipper station wagon.  This car had the 289 supercharged engine.  I would ask my Father to drive the Packard and you could see his concern.  Every so often he would say yes to letting me drive it, but that he would ride along.  This is the Packard!

 

Then the day came.  It was 1963 and my Dad took my brother and I to the Studebaker dealership in Anaheim, California (on Anaheim Boulevard).  And there it sat on the showroom floor.  A brand new burgundy 1963 Studebaker Avanti.  At 15 years old I told myself I would have an Avanti someday.  The car was the most modern thing I had ever seen.  A "cockpit type" wrap around dash.  Switches on the ceiling of the car.  Bucket seats.  It would have looked great next to the "House of the Future" at Disneyland!

House of the Future

This was one of my favorite things to visit, when we went to Disneyland.


I have wanted an Avanti since 1963.  Yes, for 40 years!

I can guarantee you that this is no "Mid Life Crisis"!

I have "documentation" since 1976 showing my interest in Avanti's!

After 40 years of wanting an Avanti, I got one!

If you believe in destiny, it came true for me.

Studebaker made 4,647 Avanti's. 

Avanti Motors made an additional 3,473 Avanti's after Studebaker stopped building the automobile.

The total build was only 8,120 cars!

But I did not want "ANY" Avanti. 

I could not afford "Any" Avanti, but I told myself that I would like a convertible. 

That would limit it to one of only 228 cars built!

Then I decided that if I had to have a convertible, it had to be a RED Avanti.

Now that cut my choices down to 1 of only 50 cars built.

Standing next to the Avanti is Sandy, my wife, not Vanna White.

Then, to further minimize the chances of finding my dream car, I limited my choice to the 1989 model. 

This was the only year the convertible had the ground effects package.

The final "requirement" was that the red 1989 convertible Avanti had to have tan or beige interior!  Black interior would be too hot.

Based on conversations I had with the factory approximately 14 years ago, there were 12 cars built, which met my requirements.

Well........

What are the chances of finding that 1 in 12 car!

In 1995 I found one.  It had only 14,000 miles.  It was like new.

Could not afford it.

Was my dream of owning the car of my dreams completely over?

At the time, it seemed so.

Then in 1996 the wife, daughter and son-in-law visited Palm Springs.

As we drove down the boulevard I noticed a Red Avanti convertible.  I went into the business where the car was parked.

I yelled out "Is the owner of the Avanti here?".

A gentleman raised his hand and stated that it belong to him.

I express my love for the car and asked if it was for sale.  His answer was that it was not for sale, but if he decided to sell he would call me.  Sure.

Then much to my surprise he tossed me the keys and stated that I was welcome to take it for a drive!

Are AVANTI owners great?

Every week since that weekend in 1996 in Palm Springs, I have gone to Google and done a search for "1989 Red Avanti Convertible"!

Over the years I must have searched Google at least 500 times.  I felt pretty safe that this was just a hobby.  I was pretending like I would someday find one!  I would never actually find the car of my dreams.  This was JUST a way to spend a few minutes every week.

  What was the chance of finding a "1 of 12 cars built", which was for sale, that was in a reasonable condition, and at a price I could afford? 

NO CHANCE EVER, RIGHT!

Then it happened.  On May 1st, 2003, I turned 55!  Older then the hills.  Signed up to retire from Hughes Aircraft/Boeing Satellites.  I got the "Studebaker/Avanti" gene from my Dad.  Also got the "Work in Aerospace until you retire" recessive gene from him.  Then on May 12th I sit down at the computer and, again, played that stupid Google search game.  I entered "Red 1989 convertible Avanti".  Then there is a hit. 

OH NO! 

What do I do now?  I found one!  It can't be.  This is just a game.  That's all it was suppose to be.  A childhood dream.  JUST A GAME!  I did not want to find one, because that would cause me to make a decision.  A decision I never thought I would have to make.  The realization that this is only a dream, or did I want to actually make it a reality!    For 40 years I have told myself I have wanted one.  Can I now tell myself that it was merely a stupid on going day dreaming waste of time?  I call the owner, Rusty, to discuss the car.  I will ask him the mileage of the car.  That will surely relieve me of having to make a decision.  Damn him!  He stated that it only had 9,100 miles.  My excuses for "NOT TAKING ACTION" were disappearing!  THERE WHERE NO EXCUSES FOR NOT PURCHASING THIS AVANTI!

It was RED!

It was a 1989!

It was LOW mileage!

It was like new!

It was perfect...............................................

I never asked Rusty to send pictures.  He seemed honest and trustworthy.  I just had the feeling that this car was mine, and meant to be.  He was clear and concise regarding the condition of the car.  It had always been in an "environmentally controlled" location.  It had never been driven in the rain!  Damn him!  I had NO excuses.  I kept telling myself that this was no Mid Life Crisis (or Late Life Crisis), as I have thought of buying an Avanti since I was 15 years old.  We bought one way tickets to fly to Phoenix on a holiday weekend.  No tickets to fly home.  No car rental.  No room reservations.  What do I do if the car is not the right car?

I had put myself into the position of "HAVING TO BUY THE CAR TO RETURN HOME!

About 50 miles out from Phoenix it hit me.  I am crazy!  I have surely gone loony!  Flying to see an Avanti, with a cashiers check in hand.  I repeatedly asked myself questions about "Why didn't I have Rusty send me pictures".  Maybe it is my newly acquired age that is causing me to lose all logical thought patterns.  I am in the airplane and completely ashamed of myself.  I actually started shaking, thinking about my complete loss of sanity.  Everything my Father did always seemed logical and well thought-out.  I always respected my Father, although I have never told him, for his stable, non emotional decision process.  I am asking myself, "Why can't I be more like Dad".  He would never do this.  He is too smart to put himself in this stupid position. 

We land, knowing that I am a complete idiot! 

Rusty was at the airport with the car.  It was perfect!  It was EXACTLY the car I had been dreaming of during all those Google searches.  It was like waking up from a great dream.  The car was right there in front of me!

On the way home from Phoenix, we went through Palm Springs.

This is the house where Raymond Loewy designed the car over 40 years ago.

The owner did give me permission to park in the front yard (front gravel),

  At the airport I knew that if I said no to buying the Avanti, I would never buy one.  It would take another 20 years of looking.  Would I actually be interested in purchasing one at 75 years of age.  I finally had to face reality.  I said yes, and we bought the car.
It is amazing to me that a car designed in the early 60's can still look modern today.

Does the fact that I want to park one of the last built Avanti's on the property where it was first designed confirm my insanity?

The clay model of the Avanti in the back yard of the same home. (1962?)

 

 

 

 

 

One of the original Avanti's.

  My reasons for wanting the Avanti are numerous.

1) I believed the car was beautiful 40 years ago and remains so today.

2) While driving the car, it reminds me of my Dad and his liking of Studebakers and Packard's.

3) The car is my reminder of how fast life flies by and how quickly things change.

4) The car is a huge tribute to Raymond Loewy.  Probably the best Industrial Designer of the 20th century.  Loewy contributions were on par with Frank Lloyd Wright's contributions as an architect during the 20th Century.

5) And finally, at 55 years old, the car seems to make me feel like 15 again!  I need that!

 

Here is my Father, Jean, Sandy and I.

It may have been my imagination, but my Dad's eyes seemed to be pleased with our new purchase.  Just a courtesy?  I hope not.   I am not going to ask.

This car will be our daughters problem.  She knows that I will keep it until the day I die.

Therefore, getting rid of it will be her problem some day.  Maybe our Grandson, Jacob, might own it someday.

Did Jacob get the Studebaker/Avanti gene passed from my dad, to myself, to our daughter, to our grandson?

We had 9,903 miles on the car when we arrived in Palm Springs.
  The history of the car is as follows:

1) In 1989 the Avanti was purchased by the opera singer, Enzo Stuarti.

2) In 1990 Wayne Francisco added this car to his collection.  It was registered as non operational at this time.

3) In 1999 Rusty Oft purchased and street registered the car with approximately 7,000 miles.  Rusty put less than 2,000 miles on the car during his 4 years of ownership.

4) On May 23rd, 2003, I purchased the car with only 9,127 miles on the car!

 

Doesn't my Father look great in the Avanti!

If I could find another Avanti for him, I wonder if he would be interested?

Should I start doing more Google searches?

I think not.  That could be dangerous!

But now I have a new problem. 

I find myself letting the answering machine screen my calls.  Why?

What do I do if Dad calls and wants to borrow the car?

After everything he has done for me (and that includes the recessive Studebaker/Avanti gene) how could I say no!

I now have the answer if he calls.  It will be "SURE DAD, BUT DO YOU MIND IF I RIDE ALONG"!

He used that line with me 39 years ago, when I wanted to drive the Packard.  It only seems fair.

Is this the Grandson which will own the car someday.

He seems to love it today.  Will he love it in 20 or 30 years?

I think so.

Well now, I better go.  Time to work on my "Living Trust". 

At least I know where the car is going!

"Life Goes In Circles"


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