Hooniverse Fastback Friday – Two 1963 Fiberglass Wonders; A Corvette and an Avanti

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Hooniverse Fastback Friday – Two 1963 Fiberglass Wonders; A Corvette and an Avanti


Here is another Hooniverse Fastback Friday, and today I thought it would be ideal to compare two very exciting Sports Cars, marketed by two very different companies for 1963. The 1963 Chevrolet Corvette was designed by Larry Shinoda under the direction of Billy Mitchell over at GM, and is one of the most breathtaking designs ever to come out of the General. The 1963 Studebaker Avanti design came about under the direction of Raymond Lowey, and is equally breathtaking, for different reasons. One was from the prominent car maker of the decade, while one was a quick “Hail Mary” desperation move in order to buy more time. Which one of these beauties would you like to call your own.


The 1963 Corvette was the first year for a dedicated coupe model and it featured a distinctive tapering rear deck with, for 1963 only, a split rear window. Both the Coupe and the Roadster featured hidden headlamps, non-functional hood vents, and an independent rear suspension. Although some people within the GM hierarchy didn’t like the distinctive split rear window, Mitchell thought it was a key part of the entire design. It was modified for the subsequent versions where the split window became a single pane of glass.

Here is a 1963 Corvette currently for sale on Autotrader Classics. It shows 46,000 miles, and comes equipped with the 327 CID V-8 producing 250hp, matched to an M20 4-Speed Manual Transmission. It looks like it rolls on vintage Bias Ply tires, and a new set of “Knock Off” wheel covers.

The White exterior compliments the Buckskin interior, and it looks rather classy. Asking price for this Corvette is $58,000 which doesn’t sound off base. See the listing here.

Designed by Raymond Loewy’s team of Tom Kellogg, Bob Andrews and John Ebstein on a 40-day crash program, the Avanti featured a radical fiberglass body design mounted on a modified Studebaker Lark Daytona 109-inch convertible chassis with a modified 289 Hawk engine. The car was fitted with front disc-brakes which were British Dunlop designed units, made under license by Bendix, and a Paxton supercharger was offered as an option. All of the original Studebaker Avanti models were built in 1962 and 1963 as 63 and 64 model years. Fewer that 6,000 were ever produced, which is in stark contrast to the Corvette, which produced over 23,600 units for 1963 alone. This design did live on with various entrepreneurs producing the iconic coupes through 2006.

Here is a 1963 Avanti Coupe showing only 29,000 miles. The car is finished in its original Black paint (no respray here), and has factory Power Steering, Power Brakes (remember, these are front discs!), and factory A/C! The tan leather interior looks spectacular, and you can fit two more passengers in the rear, unlike the Corvette.

The engine is a 289 CID V-8 that is said to produce 240HP, with a three speed Automatic. Asking price for this car is a reasonable $24,500. See the listing here.
[poll id=”88″]

By |2011-09-30T09:00:25+00:00September 30th, 2011|For Sale, Hooniverse Fastback Friday|25 Comments

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25 Comments

  1. tonyola September 30, 2011 at 9:14 am - Reply

    I know the split-window Corvette is a classic but it's also my least favorite of the Stingray generation. First of all, there's the messy detailing – fake fender vents in the fenders and roof and the ugly brightwork on the hood. It was Zora Arkus-Duntov himself who objected to the split window because he thought it was a gimmick that spoiled the rear vision. Second, the '63-'64 models had drum brakes all around. If I'm going to spend big money on a Stingray, it'll be a cleaner and more-developed '66-'67 model.
    Same thing in principle applies to the Avanti. Gorgeous car, but it was somewhat underdeveloped because of constraints imposed by the dying Studebaker company. It took Nate Altman and the Avanti II with Corvette engines to get the car right, and a pre-malaise Avanti II would be the way to go.
    I'll pick the Avanti for novelty value, but neither of these particular cars would be the examples I want.

    • craigsu September 30, 2011 at 10:36 pm - Reply

      The split window doesn't do it for me either. I'd prefer a '67. I know the divider for the split window was supposed to represent the stinger tail of the Stingray, but they couldn't properly taper it and make it thin enough for safety reasons, so it wound up like it did.

  2. muthalovin September 30, 2011 at 9:17 am - Reply

    For my money, I would pick up the split rear window. I absolutely love the Vette.

  3. salguod September 30, 2011 at 9:20 am - Reply

    Both unique and very desirable. If money were no object, I'd take the 'Vette, but I have a hard time imagining living in a world where money was no object, so at less than half price, the Avanti gets the win.

  4. $kaycog September 30, 2011 at 9:31 am - Reply

    I'd pick the Avanti, due to its uniqueness. Somebunny else likes it too.
    <img src="http://media.motortopia.com/files/20367/vehicle/4a6a151b6ee91/63Avanti_and_bunny.jpg"width="500"/&gt;

    • BlackIce_GTS September 30, 2011 at 4:22 pm - Reply

      How do you catch a unique bunny?
      (Warning: terrible joke)
      unique up on it.

      • $kaycog September 30, 2011 at 4:33 pm - Reply

        Yes, that was pretty bad. (But I laughed.)

  5. OA5599 September 30, 2011 at 9:55 am - Reply

    Between these two particular cars, I think the Avanti would make a fun and funky daily driver, having A/C, discs, and the slushbox, along with a more moderate price tag.
    1963 is the best year of Vette to buy if you want to stare at it in the garage all the time and aren't into hoonery. It will probably end up being purchased by somebody who will drive it 500 miles per year.

  6. Mike_the_Dog September 30, 2011 at 10:03 am - Reply

    Definitely the Stude. I probably see twenty different C-2 'Vettes at Cruise night over the course of a summer. I see three different Avantis in the same time frame, including the Orphan Car Show.

  7. Van Sarockin September 30, 2011 at 10:07 am - Reply

    And just where is the All Of The Above voting button? Seriously, they're both great cars to have, perfect period pieces. And the 356 and XK-E are fairly tolerable too. The performance envelopes aren't all that impressive any more, but the way you'll feel driving them is a whole other dimension.

  8. pj134 September 30, 2011 at 10:19 am - Reply

    Too clean for my blood. I want a 53-69 vette that is absolutely shot to make into a purists nightmare. The ratrod vette with an LS3 in it.

    • Mad_Science September 30, 2011 at 4:56 pm - Reply

      6.5 detroit diesel c3 in matte green, or maybe brown.

      • pj134 September 30, 2011 at 5:04 pm - Reply

        Yeah… Maybe even a new powerstroke in a c1. That'll piss people off. Matte green and matte black for the swoopy accent and rich brown, think aviator goggle leather seats. Black powder coated side pipes.

  9. scroggzilla September 30, 2011 at 10:26 am - Reply

    This Avanti speaks to my inner contrarian….but, the R3 and R4 Avanti yells at my inner contrarian.

    • mdharrell September 30, 2011 at 12:34 pm - Reply

      My inner contrarian keeps telling me to buy something that was mass-produced within the last quarter-century, but I figure I'll just keep dragging home more of the same old junk as usual until it finally gives up in despair. Even if it never stops nagging, I still win.
      Oh, and of these two definitely the Avanti. I've owned a Chevy ('65 Corvair) but not yet a Studebaker.

  10. Lotte September 30, 2011 at 11:05 am - Reply

    There seems to be a pretty big patch of overspray on the headers in the Corvette? Anyway, I think the rear section of the Avanti after the doors isn't taut enough, like the clay model melted or something. The front doesn't match the back. It's just not resolved enough. The Corvette is a more cohesive, better-proportioned design, and a sexy one at that. Never mind the rareness/quirky factor, I want the Vette!

    • Smells_Homeless September 30, 2011 at 11:52 am - Reply

      The overspray is an example of the classic overrestoration that Corvettes typically receive. In other words, it's sloppy on purpose.

  11. facelvega September 30, 2011 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    The great American sports car versus the great American GT car, both in sub-optimal examples. The rarer, weirder, and thus slightly cooler one is less than half the price. Avanti it is!
    by the way, anyone who hasn't seen the old C and T review of the Avanti is in for a treat. Try a couple of the other old reviews to see just how shockingly well the Avanti handled compared to virtually every other performance car on the road when that show was on the air.
    [youtube g85RbmNkKqA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g85RbmNkKqA youtube]

    • MrHowser September 30, 2011 at 4:37 pm - Reply

      Man, that thing sounds just like I'd want my vintage V8 machine to sound. Guess I'd better put a 327 on my yes-list.
      Also, for having a "Twin-Traction" differential, it's sure burning one tire quite a lot.

    • Mad_Science September 30, 2011 at 5:04 pm - Reply

      Wow…I've got that running the background while trying to do work, and the combination of the music, engine note and the reviewer just have me grinning like an idiot.

  12. sport_wagon September 30, 2011 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    Avanti all the way. Simply a gorgeous car. And it's a Studebaker.
    The Vette is gorgeous, too, but everybody wants a Vette.

  13. dukeisduke September 30, 2011 at 8:42 pm - Reply

    The 250HP 327 was the base engine in '63, so this is a pretty basic Corvette. It looks like that one just has radio and heater. For me, it would have to be the Avanti. My old book, "Automobiles: How They Work" has a picture of one of the Bendix-made Avanti "disk brakes" in it.

  14. Peter Crisitello June 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm - Reply

    That picture with bunny Cathy above was from the 1979 SDC Atlantic Zone Meet at the Playboy Club in NJ. Member Bob Hoffsommer hired her for the day and took many pictures with almost all the vehicles to attend that show using his german Hasselblad camera. However my Black Hole has over 300K from driving her all over the country.
    <img src="http://rci.rutgers.edu/~crisitel/Studebaker/99-14_18.jpg"&gt;

  15. pwind June 23, 2012 at 8:11 pm - Reply

    I saw the Avanti at a Farm Progress Show @ Morton IL in the
    fall of 62 as a freshman in high school and immediately fell in love with it. I bought a black 64 R1 a couple of months before graduating high school in June 66. I had that car 3 years before getting a 67 Chevelle SS396. I never forgot that car and in Jan 2011, bought a 76 Avanti II. The Avanti II was much improved in quality over the 64. I rebuilt the 400 to put out 360 hp, added a 200 R4 automatic overdrive and it is a great machine for driving today. I did part of the Hot Rod Power Tour this year with it. That car always gets looks and thumbs up from people looking at it. Its great design and good looks always stands out in the crowd. I am very happy that I came back to the Avanti. Its a keeper, I might decide to be buried in it!

  16. Fran June 27, 2012 at 9:15 am - Reply

    For the pure joy of driving and just an all around fun car to drive I'd take the Avanti. I don't know how safe you'd be in an accident with the Vette but my '80 Avanti has a roll bar and excellent protection surrounding its passengers.
    Avanti's were truly ahead of their time. I wouldn't trade my "Big Red" for any year Vette.

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