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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Ever since I was a kid, I've liked the Avanti. For those who haven't heard of it, the Avanti was a dramatically styled sports coupe made by Studebaker. When they went bust in 1963, the rights to the name and design were sold, and the car has since been manufactured off and on by a series of small companies. The latest of them is in Villa Rica, GA. Since I was in the Atlanta area this weekend, I decided to stop by the place and check it out. I phoned ahead and spoke to the company president, who spoke glowingly of the car and its Corvette engine. He said there would be a few guys in the plant getting one of the first production models ready for a customer, and I was welcome to visit. So today I went over there.

What a disappointment.

The new Avanti has been aggressively restyled; it's still recognizably an Avanti but it has a strong GM influence. From the side, the back half looks like a Corvette, the front half like a Firebird. This is not really surprising, since the more I found out about the car, the more I kept hearing the words "Trans Am." The engine and transmission are from a Trans Am (not a Corvette engine as I'd been told). The chassis is Trans Am. The inner body panels are Trans Am. The windshield and roofline looks like they came from one too. Even the interior, aside from the custom Avanti logo sewn into the seats, is pure GM, complete with grey plastic switches and knobs, GM dash, and a radio that says Pontiac. The front overhang is REALLY excessive - I'd say there is easily 22" of car forward of the front wheel wells. The outer body panels are fiberglass.

I'm not impressed. The body redesign looks like the main goal was to adapt an Avanti-like shape to a Trans Am platform, with a lot of compromises along the way, especially that outsized overhang. The result is essentially a cosmetically altered Trans Am, costing $70,000 to $80,000. Here's what it looks like:



It's a shame, really. The young guys who showed me around the shop seemed enthusiastic and dedicated to their goal and their product. But I don't know who would spend 70 large for a Firebird in new clothes; would you?
 
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