The Avanti II is an American performance sports coupe based on the Studebaker Avanti and marketed through a succession of five different ownership arrangements subsequent to Studebaker's discontinuation of the model. After the closure of Studebaker's South Bend factory on December 20, 1963, cars carrying the Avanti nameplate were initially produced from left-over Studebaker components and later, by the Avanti Motor Company from General Motors and Ford chassis and engines. Very few cars were made before all production ceased in 2006.
After Studebaker ended 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 a small number 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 1965/66, along with ambitious plans for rebadging an Isuzu Bellett as an entry level Studebaker, and combining with Canadian Motor Industries.
The Altman brothers introduced a slightly modified version of the car in 1965 under the brand name "Avanti II". which initially had a 327 cu in Chevrolet Corvette engine. This evolved to the 400, then the small-block 350, and then the 305 for 1981. The 305 cu in V8 had electronic engine controls, 155 hp, and GM's Turbo 350 automatic transmission with lock-up. Building one of the 1980s Avanti IIs required 10 to 12 weeks, depending on special color or upholstery orders.The last Avanti II made came off the line with a V6 engine from Roush and only one was made. After Nate Altman's death, Arnold Altman ran the company until it was sold in 1982 to real-estate developer Stephen H. Blake. Modifications were introduced to the car, which had remained unchanged since the production of the Avanti II model began in the mid-1960s. A new convertible body style along with an all-new and lighter backbone chassis that was designed by Herb Adams, a former Pontiac engineer, using a torque tube with a 1985 Chevrolet Corvette aluminum rear end and independent suspension. Rectangular headlight openings and plastic body-colored bumpers were introduced. The "II" was dropped from the car's name and all subsequent cars were called the "Avanti". Blake's company declared bankruptcy and he resigned in February 1986.
From 1963 to 1985, Avanti IIs were built on the Studebaker-designed chassis, then the Chevrolet Monte Carlo chassis was used; Chevy discontinued the Monte Carlo in 1987, and Avanti switched to the Chevrolet Caprice
Since the Avanti was essentially Studebaker's answer to the Corvette, its only appopriate that the cars second owner-who purchased the car in 1995 with only 38,000 milers recorded-decided to upgrade the drivetrain with a Corvette LS3 Engine and Turbo 400 Transmission. This was reportedly done to make the car capable of higher speeds for his annual trek to Florida for the winter. He also added stiffer mag wheels as the wires were wobbly at above 80 MPH. We recently acquired the car from his estate, and have performed the usual fluid changes and tune up, but have really found this to be an excellent driving car that really needs nothing. Everything works perfectly in the car and the AC blows nice and cold. Finished in a striking and desirable color combination and with a nice throaty exhaust note, this is one fast and exciting car to drive.