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First Avanti Owner
About 20 Avanti celebrity owners are listed – Some are authenticated, others are not. For example Richard Carpenter 's Avanti is one of many cars displayed in his collection and Ricky Nelson was photographed sitting in his Avanti. Author Ian Fleming was also photographed with his Avanti though the status of the car is currently unknown. One of the best documented cars is that of actor Dick Van Dyke which was displayed in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art exhibition, California Design, 1930–1965: "Living in a Modern Way." Johnny Carson's Avanti is not authenticated and the claim that he was an owner might be the result of his association with Andy Granatelli and racing in general. Similarly, Frank Sinatra owned several exotic cars including the Ford Thunderbird he was photographed in and the orange Lamborghini Miura 400S, but his ownership of an Avanti is not proven. Those owners who were reported to be Avanti owners by contributors, but which remain unauthenticated are labeled with an (*) asterisk. The search for authentification of these continues.
Celebrity Avanti Owners
Year Celebrity Description
1963 Shirley Bassey Shirley Bassey - Originally bought by the singer and shipped to England.*
1963 Richard Carpenter Avanti Richard Carpenter - Member of the 1970's singing duo the "Carpenters." R2 4-speed
1964 Johnny Carson Johnny Carson - The "Tonight Show" host. Shown with Andy Granatelli and the stp race car.*
1963 Alice CooperAlice Cooper Alice Cooper - Alice Cooper is an American singer, songwriter, and actor whose career spans over five decades. His stage show features guillotines, electric chairs, fake blood, deadly snakes, baby dolls, and dueling swords. His 1964 Studebaker Avanti R5203 has a Corvette LT-1 engine that produces 320-hp and an automatic overdrive transmission. It also has functioning A/C, along with a nice digital screen display audio system. Power windows were added and Autometer gauges.
1963 Jimmy Ray Dean Jimmy Dean - The "Jimmy Dean" of pork sausage fame, was also a popular entertainer in the 1950s. "Big Bad John" is a country song originally performed by Jimmy Dean and composed by Dean and Roy Acuff. Released in September 1961, by the beginning of November it went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and won Dean the 1962 Grammy Award for Best Country & Western Recording.*
1989 Micky Dolenz Micky Dolenz - Convertible Rally/Sport. One of five built, red with tan interior. Celebrity Micky Dolenz of the Monkees was the first owner. Kevlar body with full ground effects package and rally sport package. 5.0 liter V-8 power, automatic, tan convertible top, burl wood dash, air-conditioning, power windows + locks, front power disc brakes, P/S, electronic cruise control & ignition. Automatic overdrive trans, full instrumentation including tachometer & vacuum gauge.
1963 and 1967 Fremont Ellis Fremont Ellis - American Impressionist painter. The 1963 Studebaker and one of his paintings were traded for the 1967 Avanti II.
1963 Ian Fleming Ian Fleming - Author of the James Bond novels. 1963 black Studebaker R2 with British tags 8 EYR. Though super agent 007 is associated with Aston Martins and Bentleys, author Fleming drove an early sixties Ford Thunderbird which he traded in for the Studebaker Avanti.
1963 Andy Granatelli Andy Granatelli - Avanti test driver, Indy 500 legend, and STP pitchman. Mobil publicity photo shows Andy Granatelli's Avanti fueling up for its record breaking performance.
1989 Jardine Beach Boy, Al Jardine - Red 1989 convertible with tan interior. VIN 12AAV2223K1000534. V-8 automatic, built on a GM Camaro chassis and powered by a 305 V-8 engine.10 disc cd player, power leather seats, tilt steering, mahogany dash, power windows, Vand wire wheels and power convertible top.
196X Sandy Koufax Sandy Koufax - The LA Dodgers pitching legend. Shown in the "other plastic car."*
1988 Michael Landon Michael Landon - TV actor who starred in Little House on the Prairie and Bonanza. Red 1988 Avanti convertible later owned by Richard James.*
1963 Ricky Nelson Ricky Nelson - Ricky's 1963 Studebaker Avanti is probably serial number R1431 shown here with Nelson in the car. R1431 was Avanti gold with black vinyl trim, automatic, PS, electric windows, and air conditioning.
1964 Rod Serling Rod Serling - Film and television writer best known as the creator and host of the "Twilight Zone." Serling owned a red 1964 R1 Avanti serial R5209, part of his large collection. He sold the car to another writer, Martin Stern, of Beverly Hills, CA. Mr. Stern then sold the Avanti to Norman Cattell.*
1963 Frank Sinatra Thunderbird Frank Sinatra - Pop singer of the 30's, 40's, 50's, and 60's who also appeared in many big Hollywood musicals of the 40's and 50's. Shown in his classic 1955 Ford Thunderbird.*
1963 Dick Van Dyke Dick Van Dyke - In the Petersen Auto Museum in Los Angeles, California. Van Dyke's 1963 Avanti was displayed in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art exhibition, California Design, 1930–1965: "Living in a Modern Way" from October 1, 2011 until June 3, 2012.
1963 Rodger Ward Rodger Ward - Studebaker Avanti R1034 was presented to Rodger Ward, the American auto racing icon, for winning the 1962 Indianapolis 500. Studebaker also declared Ward the first official Avanti owner.
    *Not authenticated.
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