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Lot 217: Avanti II Coupe

The Monaco Sale, Bonhams (11 May 2012)

In receivership in 1933, Studebaker had been revitalised by 1939 and in May 1946 became the first major American manufacturer to announce an all-new design with the introduction of its 1947 range. Created by two of the greatest automobile stylists of all time - Raymond Loewy and Virgil Exner - the sensational new Studebakers featured a straight-through front wing line, lowered bonnets and, in the case of the Starlight Coupé, an astonishing wrap-around rear window. For 1950 Loewy's studio came up with another landmark of automotive styling in the form of the 'Bullet Nose' Studebakers that had clearly been influenced by the coming of the 'Jet Age'. Born in France in 1893, Raymond Loewy served in the French Army in WWI and was awarded the Croix de Guerre. After the war he moved to the USA to pursue a career in industrial design. His first clients included Gestetner, Westinghouse, the Hupp Motor Company (Hupmobile) and department store Sears-Roebuck, for whom he designed the Coldspot refrigerator. The latter established his reputation and led to important commissions from major corporations and the US government, for whom he designed the livery of Air Force One. Highlights of a career that spanned seven decades include the Shell, BP and Lucky Strike logos, the Greyhound bus and streamlined locomotives for the Pennsylvania Railroad. In 1949 he became the first industrial designer to appear on the cover of Time magazine. Called back to Studebaker in 1961, Loewy and his team were charged with developing a new range for 1963 and in a miraculous 40 days produced an instant classic: the Avanti. A glassfibre bodied, two-door coupé, the controversially styled Avanti arrived too late to save the ailing company and fewer than 5,000 had been made when production at Studebaker's South Bend, Indiana plant ceased in 1964. This was not the end of the Avanti story though. Two local Studebaker dealers - Nathaniel Altman and Leo Newman  bought the tooling and recommenced production in part of the old Studebaker factory in 1965. Bodies were supplied by Molded Fiber-Glass of Ashtabula, Ohio (makers of the Chevrolet Corvette body for General Motors) and Messrs Altman and Newman used the Corvette engine initially, calling their new version 'Avanti II'. There would be many changes of ownership, specification and place of manufacture before the last Avanti rolled off production lines in Cancun, Mexico only a few years ago. Raymond Loewy personally ordered this Avanti II for use in Paris during his stays in France (see letter to Nate Altman on file). A copy of the factory build sheet is on file also, listing the car's specification, which included a 400ci (6.6-litre) engine, automatic transmission, power steering, air conditioning, electric windows and Blaupunkt AM/FM stereo. At some time during his ten years of ownership Loewy changed the colour from silver to black, as mentioned in an article published in Le Fanatique de l'Automobile in February 1982. Loewy sold the Avanti to the second owner (Pierre-Yves Schulz) soon after it was featured in that article. The current owner bought the car from Mr Schulz in 1995. Over the last 10,000 kilometres a sum of ¬20,000 has been spent on various works including body restoration; new interior leather trim, dashboard and headlining; and refurbishment of the brakes, brightwork, air conditioning, etc. We are advised that parts are readily available in the USA. The substantial history file contains Cartes Grises in the names of Loewy, Schulz and the current vendor. This beautiful Avanti represents the opportunity to own a car designed and driven by the incomparable Raymond Loewy, possessing impeccable provenance.

Lot Details
Auction The Monaco Sale
Bonhams, Monaco
TypeCar
Lot Number217
Estimate€35000-€50000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price€35000
Hammer Price (inc premium)€40250
Year1972
Condition rating1
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis numberRQB 1829
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors2