Studebaker Avanti [1961]

Raymond Loewy and Associates

Century-old vehicle marque Studebaker found itself in crisis in the second half of the twentieth century, having lost market share to the ‘big three’ of Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. The solution was simple: hire the world’s premier industrial designer, design the best vehicle, recapture the market. Enter the Avanti – an idiosyncratic personal luxury coupe with a radical fibreglass body. As Aaron Severson notes: ‘Loewy envisioned a low-slung, long-hood/short-deck semi-fastback coupe with a grilleless nose and a wasp-waisted curvature to the rear fenders, suggesting a supersonic aircraft. It would have crisp but not rigid lines — he insisted the car have no straight lines at all — and complex compound curves.’ Developed under direction of company president Sherwood Egbert, the Avanti was developed by Raymond Loewy and his team in just 40 days and introduced in April 1962 to positive reviews. An endearing vehicle, the manufacture of the model caused challenges and ultimately sold only 1200 in its first year, with conservative projections of 20 000. With production coming to a halt by the end of the following year – the Avanti endures, with rights bought to the Avanti name leading to its redevelopment and small-number relaunch over the years to come.

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