The Avanti II was what was left of Studebaker car company (called Studebaker-Packard by that time) in the 1960′s . By that time all the car production for Studebaker-Packard was being done in Canada and South Bend factories were closed down. Nathanial Altman and Leo Newman (two South Bend Studebaker dealership owners) purchased the rights and the dies/tooling for the Avanti, after failing to get the financial backing to reopen the plant in South Bend and continued production.
Of course Studebaker wasn’t making its own engine and the two dealers that pulled together enough funds to purchase the Avanti rights and dies/tools were in no position to start full blown engine production. So what’s next? Make a deal with a company to purchase engines.
The Altman/Newman team Avanti turned to GM for the power plant. So for 1965 – 1968 they opted for none other than the Corvette 327 cubic inch iron!!! Purchasing the previous year engines for placing in their new models – Now that explains why I often see the Avanti and the local drag strip during Test and Tunes!!! The 327 was an overhead valved, iron block that came with the stock bore and stroke of 4.00″ x 3.25″ and a compression ratio of 10.5:1.
Combined with hydraulic lifters, 5 main bearings and topped with a Carter (model 3846247) (for 1965) 4bbl carb produced 300 bhp at 5000 rpms. All that in a light fiberglass body!!!!!
The difference between 1965 thur 1970 327′s were the carburetors that were available. For 1966 it was a Holley 4bbl (model 3884505) , the remainder of production the hard working 327 was topped with various models of Rochester 4bbl carbs. ( 1967 it was Rochester 4bbl (model 3096631); 1968 a Rochester 4bbl (model 7028207); 1969 Rochester (model 7929203)
In 1969 Avanti II was blessed with an additional engine option. It was the Corvette’s 350 CID. This was an iron block overhead valve engine. 4.00″ x 3.48″ bore and stroke with hydraulic lifters and five main bearings. With a compression ratio of 10.5:1 and breathing through a Rochester 4bb carb the lightweight was but 300 bhp. (Same as the 327 – but there a lot you can do now with a 350 – again this may be the reason we still see them at the drag strips.
By 1971 the 350 was the only engine in the Avanti II and it’s configuration remained unchanged except the compression ratio was dropped to 10.25:1 and the horse power suffered to the tune of -30 hp, dropping to 270.
In 1973 the engine was changed to the generic GM 400 CID, but before you get too excited, it had 4.13″ bore and 3.75″ stroke but it was strangulated by a compression ratio of 8.5:1 and even the 4bbl Rochester could not help much as it produced only 245 bhp.
For 1974 and 1975 fompression was dropped and the Avanti II struggled to produce only 180 horses. But you could still get the 4 speed manual Hurst shifter….so there’s that.
The first time I saw an Avanti II in person was at my local drag strip, during a charity race that I had entered by 1970 Mustang in (300 HP). The Avanti was a 1970 and mostly stock as far as I could tell and it looked great and sounded even better at the tree.
The Avanti continued on through various owners and still using the Studebaker chassis until 1987 and the GM’s 305 was used for a time. The Avanti continued on through 2006…but that is for another post.
Thanks for reading.