AMT 1/25 Studebaker Avanti Kit First Look
By Phil Cooley, Front Range Auto Modelers (FRAM)
|Date of Review||September 2012||Manufacturer||AMT/Round 2|
|Kit Number||0780||Primary Media||White and Clear Styrene|
|Pros||Re-release of a classic sporty vehicle in it's original 1960s guise||Cons||No-name whitewalls and lack of red lenses for the taillights|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$24.95|
The Studebaker Corporation was a family owned business, established in 1852 in South Bend, Indiana. The company built some of the Conestoga covered wagons used to help settle the west. In 1902 Studebaker introduced its first automobile, an electric car, followed by a gas powered vehicle in 1905.
As an independent automaker, Studebaker's market share and fortune ebbed and flowed. By the late 50s, however, the company was floundering. In 1961, Studebaker's president hired Raymond Loewy, a famous industrial designer, to revitalize the company's public image and attract younger buyers. Loewry hired a design team and sequestered them in a house in Palm Springs, CA where they designed the Avanti.
In 6 weeks a full scale clay model was complete and ready for viewing. It was unlike any other Studebaker—it had minimal chrome, an asymmetric hood, an overhead instrument panel, a fastback roofline, and a fiberglass body. It was enthusiastically approved and introduced in April of 1962 as a 1963 model. An R-1 289 cu in, 240 hp V-8 engine came standard, with either a 3-speed automatic or a 4 speed manual. And if the standard engine didn't have enough performance, you could order an R-2 289 cu in engine with a Paxton Supercharger that was rated at 290 hp and in the 1964 model an R-3, also with a Paxton Supercharger that put out 335 hp. To bring all that horsepower to a stop, Studebaker installed Bendix disc brakes in the front. It was the first American car with them!
One of the R-3s was put through its paces at the Bonneville Salt Flats late in 1962, where it broke 29 records and became the fastest American production car. However, that wasn't enough to keep Studebaker's American factory in business and it ceased production in Dec of 1963.
Despite fairly slow sales (around 5000 sold between the '63s and '64s), Studebaker made numerous detail changes to the Avanti beginning as early as July 1962. Officially the car was "not designated by model year, but incorporated changes whenever appropriate." The only determination of dating was the registration date, which designates 809 Avantis as 1964 models. A rule of thumb, though not exactly accurate, is the square-bezel headlamp style, which appeared along with most detail changes in August 1963 for the "1964" models. But Studebaker's first announcement was that these were optional, and some round headlight cars were registered as '64s.
When Studebaker abandoned the Avanti, two partners in a Studebaker dealership, Leo Newman and Nathan Altman, purchased the manufacturing rights. They formed the Avanti Motor Corporation and resumed building the car in an abandoned plant, thus reviving one of the decade's great designs. (This information was gleaned from the Avanti brochure in the AMT kit, Wikipedia, and HowStuffWorks.com).
The AMT Avanti is a re-release of the 3 in 1 Trophy Series kit from the 1960s. In 2012 guise, it celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Avanti. It has box art, decals, an instruction sheet and decals almost identical to the original, which really tweaks my nostalgia gene! And while it doesn't stack up very well against today's new-tool, highly detailed AMT, Revell, or Tamiya kits, it was advanced for the 60s (like the real car) with opening doors and steerable front wheels; it's going to be fun to build!
The kit offers 2 engine options, the R-2 or what appears to be the experimental Studebaker dual supercharged R-5, that reportedly put out nearly 600 hp! The R-2 is carbureted, while the R-5 has fuel injection. Both engines have the manual transmission.
The chassis is well done for the 60s—with a separate exhaust system (duals of course), springs, lower A Arms, driveshaft and a 3 piece tie rod. There are two tire options—no name whitewalls from the 60s and Goodyear Blue Streak Stock Car Specials, and 4 sets of wheels/hubcaps—the stock wheel covers, a set of Moon Racing Discs, a set of 60s style 5 spoke mag wheels with spinners and what appears to be a newly tooled set of Halibrands!
The interior is a platform type and can be built as a stock or racing version. Both versions feature the stock bucket seats and a console and the stock version has a manual type shifter. The racing version adds a full roll cage, a tachometer, seat belts with racing style shoulder harnesses and a custom shifter, which is appropriate for an automatic transmission, but not a manual.
As stated earlier, the body features opening doors and also has a front hinged hood. The kit gives you the option of the round '63 style headlamps or the squared off ones of the '64. Other options fender mirrors and antenna for the stock version, a drag racing parachute, grille filler, hhhod straps and rear window straps for the (Bonneville) racing version, or the squared off headlamps, front and rear Nerf Bumpers, a custom grille and the aforementioned antenna and mirrors.
Oh, before I forget, the kit includes a brochure which gives the history of the car and includes many preliminary sketches of the car along with photos of it in production and photos from the factory dealer's brochure. That alone is almost worth the price of admission!
This kit is not a good one beginners, but I'd say an intermediate or higher skill level modeler should be able to build a very nice model from this kit.
I highly recommend it!
My sincere thanks to Round2 Models for this review sample