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Personal Finance > Autos

Avanti car company for sale
Long, winding history of famous "mouthless" car takes another turn.
August 18, 2004: 3:55 PM EDT
By Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNN/Money Staff Writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - The company that makes the iconic Avanti sports car is for sale... again. Whether the car itself will survive remains to be seen.

2005 Avanti convertible  
2005 Avanti convertible

Avanti Motor Corp., based in Villa Rica, Ga., announced today that the company will be sold to the highest bidder on Oct. 1, 2004. The company's president CEO and current owner, Michael Kelly, Sr., is retiring.

The company will continue to build and sell cars during the sales process. The company's production facility in Villa Rica is set up to produce the Avanti as well as the Beck Lister and Beck 904 Porsche replica cars and the Dodge Truck Step Side conversion. An SUV, called the Studebaker XUV, had been designed and planned for the facility but production had not yet begun.

The original Avanti, introduced in 1962, was a product of the Studebaker car company of South Bend, Ind. The car's squared-off grill-less design has remained famous ever since.

The design team for the original Avanti was lead by influential industrial designer Raymond Loewy, known for his spare, streamlined designs.

Studebaker stopped producing the Avanti in December 1963. In 1964, the Avanti name and the machinery to build the cars were purchased by two South Bend Studebaker dealers. Their version of the car, the Avanti II, was produced from 1965 until 1982, when the company was sold for a second time.

The current owner, Kelly, purchased Avanti in 1986. He sold his interest in the company in 1988, and the company ceased production in 1991. The company was sold again in 1998, and Kelly re-joined the operation as a partner in 1999. He became sole owner in 2001.

The factory currently produces fewer than 150 cars a year. Suggested retail prices for Avantis generally fall between $75,000 and $125,000, a spokewoman for the company said.

"The continuation of the manufacturing will be the new owner's choice," the company said in its announcement.  Top of page

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