Q: Hi Greg and thanks for your nostalgia articles. When did the Studebaker Avanti produce its last car and was it built in Canada after Studebaker ceased making cars in America? Thanks again.

— Bill H., Franklin, New Hampshire

A: Bill, every year I receive at least three letters or emails dealing with the Studebaker Avanti. My most recent article dealt with Studebaker collector Henry Mann from Pennsylvania. Mann is rebuilding a famous Avanti from the 1960s that was owned by the Granatelli family. You can find this article online if you have a computer. In summary, Mann purchased gold in the 1964 Avanti with a 429 V8 Cadillac engine and special Recaro seats. He was told it was owned by Joe Granatelli of the famous Andy Granatelli family and he is completing a frame-off restoration to exact Joe Granatelli-custom Avanti standards.

It turns out the Avanti was indeed owned by Joe Granatelli and when Henry is finished (see photos from January of 2017), we’ll let our readers see his Avanti close up.

To answer your question, Studebaker did move to Canada in December 1963 and built Studebakers there until 1966. However, and contrary to popular belief, the Avanti was never built in Canada. Through its history, the Avanti has been an America-made production car until assembly went to Mexico very late in its production life.

In particular, the Avanti name, tooling and plant space was sold in December 1963 to South Bend, Indiana, auto executives and Studebaker dealers Nate Altman and Leo Newman. They continued to build what they called the Avanti II in South Bend from 1966 through 1991. They even purchased a portion of the original Studebaker South Bend plant, which they upgraded for Avanti only production. The duo hoped to build 350 Avantis a year, but never reached 200.

Low production, however, didn’t mean low quality. All Avanti II models were pretty much handmade and featured fiberglass bodies and even a Corvette engine for a few years. Newman and Altman produced the new Avanti from 1965 to 1982 when Avanti was sold to Stephen Blake. Blake dropped the “II” nomenclature, and marketed his Avanti until 1985, when he closed after only 3 years.

In April 1986, Michael E, Kelly became the new owner of Avanti, and re-named the company The New Avanti Corporation. He built a convertible, coupe, and a new luxury stretch coupe. Kelly’s Avanti’s also utilized technology from General Motors platforms starting in 1987. Thus, the new Avanti discarded the old Studebaker frames that dated all the way back to 1958-1959 at Studebaker. Kelly’s Avanti could also have its drivetrain serviced by any GM dealer in America.

After Kelly and partner J.J. Cafaro moved the Avanti operation in 1988 to Youngstown, Ohio, financial problems arose and Cafaro took over in August 1988. Sales approached 350 for 1989, the highest ever for the post-Studebaker Avanti, but by 1991, the company filed for bankruptcy after its last 15 cars were sold.

Later, Kelly again got involved and built an Avanti on the Firebird F-Body chassis, with all Firebird mechanicals. The company built these “new” Avantis through 2004 but Kelly got himself into trouble and the FBI arrested him on fraud charges. Dave Sharples took over the company and then built the Avanti on a Mustang chassis in Mexico.

The final Avanti to my recall was a Ford based V6 available in 2006 as a 2007 model. By 2011, the Avanti factory in Mexico was empty and no further activity ensued.

As to the future and another Avanti re-appearing, never say never as kit cars and replicas are big business nowadays.

Thanks for your letter and kind words Bill and hope this all helps.

— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other GateHouse Media publications. He welcomes reader questions at greg@gregzyla.com.