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Ride Of The Week 12/07/2020: Leonard Hoffman's 1964 Studebaker Avanti

Updated: Feb 22, 2021


There are those dates that are emblazoned in our collective consciousness, like today’s date, December 7th. Franklin D. Roosevelt described it in his speech to Congress and the nation after the bombing of Pearl Harbor as a “date which will live in infamy”.

As with national and world events, we all have personal dates of infamy, a graduation day, a wedding day, the day we bring a child into the world or see a parent leave it. For Leonard Hoffman of Mill Hall, PA, one of the dates of infamy in his life is January 1st, 1973. On that New Year’s Day, he purchased this 1964 Studebaker Avanti.

The Avanti is such a cool car from a design perspective. It was a radical departure from the Lark & Hawk models that still evoked late 1950s styling. The jet age was a key inspiration, from the layout of gauges and controls, to the low-slung/aerodynamic shape to the design of the Avanti badging itself.

The Avanti was fast. In stock form with the optional Paxton Supercharger, it could reach speeds of up to 178 mph and broke 29 speed records on the Bonneville Salt Flats. In addition to its speed, the Avanti could stop as well, as it was the first American car to come equipped with front disc brakes.

Avanti was Studebaker’s answer to the Thunderbird, which had recently become a four-seater. It also rivaled Chevrolet’s Corvette with its lightweight fiberglass body, which was the material of choice to bring the unusual design language to life cost-effectively.

As for this Avanti, its not completely original but it does retain some of its original paint. Leonard sold it to his brother in 1988. But as fate would have it, when his brother passed away in 2013, another date of infamy, it was willed back to him. Leonard notes that the engine has been rebuilt and retains that optional Paxton Supercharger. The front seats, bumpers, door handles and suspension have all received attention to keep the car in tip-top cruising shape.

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