By the end of the 1950's Studebaker sales were in serious decline. Studebaker President Sherwood Egbert had been hired to turn around the company, and in his initial discussions with the board about the president's job, he had proposed a radical new car. On March 9th 1961, he contacted Raymond Loewy and asked him to design a new car for Studebaker.
Within ten days Raymond Loewy, John Ebstein, Thomas Kellogg and Robert Andrews were working together on the design at a rented house in Palm Springs, California. Within two weeks they had finished the 1/8th scale clay model. On April 2nd, Egbert flew out to Palm Springs to view the final clay model and the final drawings. With only a few minor changes, he toasted the new car with a soft drink, and said, "Let's go!"
The top of the line Studebaker 289 was tuned up to deliver 240 horsepower. Studebaker had just acquired Paxton, and with it came a belt-driven centrifugal supercharger good for 300 horsepower. Paxton President was racing legend Andy Granatelli, who added his own ideas on to further promote the Avanti's performance image.
Many names were considered for the Avanti including revivals of the name Packard and Pierce-Arrow. No one knows who first came up with the name Avanti. Some credit the D'Arcy Advertising Agency and some credit Sherwood Egbert. Whoever thought of the name, it was Raymond Loewy who designed the final Avanti script nameplate.
The Century 21 Exposition is better known as the Seattle World's Fair. The highlights of the fair where the Space Needle and the Alweg Monorail. The fair opened in early 1962 and the production model Studebaker Avanti made its first public appearance in April at the New York Auto Show.
LeMay-America's Car Museum car is confirmed by Avanti documentation as being #1001- the first Avanti sold. The Engine number [#1002] matches the build data on file with the Studebaker Museum.
The car was donated to the museum from the collection of Dr. Daniel Cook of Lakewood, Washington.
Little is known at the current time how or why the car came to be painted the current "psychedelic" colors. We think it was the artistic fancy of the car’s owner at the time. LeMay-America's Car Museum is currently working to bring the car back to look as it did when it was presented in 1963. In 2011 the museum launched the Avanti 1001 Rescue Project.