Even though only 4,643 Studebaker Avanti sports cars were ever produced by the financially struggling Studebaker Corporation back between June 1962 and December 1963, the cars have continued to be a popular car of the stars. Originally designed by industrial designer Raymond Loewy, who was also responsible for a Coke bottle design as well as some of the dresses for First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, Lowey had a real following among many trendsetters in Hollywood. To own a car designed by someone who designed dresses for the popular first lady was considered real prestige among Hollywood's powerful.
While the original Studebaker produced cars had only a very short model run before Studebaker could not afford to continue to build them, they were still considered to be one of the most perfect automobile designs ever produced. The nearly timeless styling loaned itself to the cult following of the car where several attempts to revive the car by small independent car makers have been undertaken.
Some of the many Hollywood greats and other celebrities attracted to the Avanti were:
Popular UK singer, Shirley Bassey, who performed the GOLDFINGER theme song among other UK chart hits, owned a 1963 Avanti.
Late night TV legend, Johnny Carson, owned a 1964 Avanti.
Richard Carpenter, of the pop singing duo, The Carpenters, was the proud owner of 1963 Avanti.
Alice Cooper, the popular 1970's era shock rocker who something like the White man's Screaming Jay Hawkins, owned a 1963 Avanti.
Jimmy Dean, the popular folksy country styled performer who later became known for breakfast sausage, was proud to own a 1963 Avanti.
Dick Van Dyke, another great talented performer on TV and screen, owned a 1963 model Avanti. Today, you can find it on display at the Peterson Automobile Museum.
Although Fremont F. Ellis, isn't a household name to all persons, this impressionist painter owned both a 1963 model Avanti and even reportedly traded someone one of his paintings in exchange for one of the 1967 Avanti II models produced by another company who revived the cars.
NBA basketball legend, Dr. J., Julius Irving, the Philadelphia 76ers great, reported owned a Studebaker Avanti, however the exact year is not known.
Al Jardine, a member of the legendary 1960's pop surf music group, The Beach Boys, owned a 1989 model Avanti, which was a reproduction produced by a modern company of the original designs.
Deforest Kelly, "Dr. Bones" to all you STAR TREK fans out there was so proud of his 1973 Avanti II, that he managed to slip in into the STAR TREK film, THE VOYAGE HOME.
Ian Fleming, the author of the JAMES BOND series of books as well as the children's classic CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG, was a huge car lover, and was proud to add a black 1963 Avanti to his collection of fine British automobiles.
Andy Granatelli was not only a racing legend, but he also was main pitchman for STP which was another Studebaker product for many years. When Studebaker ceased building cars in the mid60's, STP became all that was left of the company. Granatelli was proud to own a 1963 Avanti as his own car.
Sandy Koufax, who was the L.A. Dodgers great pitcher, and also one of the greatest Jewish American professional athletes of all time, owned an unspecified year 1960's vintage Avanti.
Michael Landon, who was one of the most popular TV actors of all time, despite starting his early career with real 50's shlock like I'm A TEENAGE WEREWOLF, owned a 1988 Avanti.
Barry Morrow, best known for his Oscar winning RAINMAN screenplay was proud to own a 1986 vintage Avanti.
Ricky Nelson, the teen idol offspring of OZZY AND HARRIET fame, who once had many hit singles by recording restrained energy rock and roll singles, owned a 1963 model Avanti that is now on permanent display at Colorado's Classical Gas auto museum.
Rod Sterling, was far more than just the creator of the legendary TWILIGHT ZONE TV series. Sterling was also a huge automobile fan, and just loved his 1964 model Avanti which was proudly passed on to two other owners since.
Herb Shriner, was a popular 1950's television performer. However, Shriner suffered the terrible fate of being killed in a serious accident involving his 1963 Avanti.
Frank Sinatra, the great music and film legend, owned a 1963 Avanti. Perhaps Sinatra was the biggest stars of all time to own of these great legendary automobiles.
Gene Siskell, the late great film critic not only knew great films, but he knew great cars. Siskell owned a 1963 Avanti.
Barabra Walters, the interview legend over at ABC, and on the cast of THE VIEW, owned an Avanti of an unknown year.
Roger Ward, not only won the Indy 500 race one year, but he managed to win the race to become the first ever Avanti owner of a brand new 1963 model.
Dwight Yokam, who self-describes his own music as "White trash music" rather than country music, and repulsed audiences as the very mean and nasty brother in SLINGBLADE, owns an unspecfied vintage Avanti.
Even though less than 5,000 original Avanti cars ever rolled off the Studebaker production line, it is simply amazing that so many of the cars were sold to celebrities. French born design genius Raymond Lowey had many design milestones in his career including the design for Lucky Strike red and white package, 1940's Harley Davidson parts, Greyhound double deck buses as well as the Zippo lighter. The Studebaker Avanti probably stands as one of his greatest achievements, with so much star power acclaim for the design. For someone who started his career as a fashion designer, neatly everone in the Western world has either owned or used a product designed by Lowey, including drinking a cold Coke from one of those classic glass bottles.