It’s a weird addiction. Each time I declare that I’m done buying cars, like a “Whack-A-Mole” game something new pops up and catches my attention.

In a previous blog, I commented on how a lucky missed phone call saved me from buying a Jensen Interceptor. (It also kept Editor-In-Chief Jeff Sabatini around, as he vowed in no uncertain terms that he was out the door if I bought the Jensen.)

I recently was drawn into the world of Avanti fanatics. SCMers Jack Baldwin, Martin Button, Randy Simon, Mark Hyman and Dave Kinney have all contributed to my current intense but perhaps short-lived interest.

I’ve learned enough to know that an R1 is my model of choice, as the supercharged R2 could not be had with A/C, which is a must for me in this coddled phase of my life.

Baldwin is a long-time friend; Bradley and I visited him in Key West when we were on a cruise to Cuba some years ago. He recently had his R1 for sale on Hemmings, which is how this all started.

Button is enthusiastic about his four-speed R2, and has strongly urged me to pick one up.

Simon is another long time SCMer, who we first met at Barrett-Jackson when he used to be handing out his list of cars for sale to those gathered around the block in pre-social media days. His current fascination is good Avantis that can be made into great ones without spending too much.

Kinney is recognized as “the godfather of Avantis,” and you might even still be able to pick up an Avanti hubcap clock from him. Hyman, dealer of high-end exotics, recently listed one of Kinney’s cars.

Through all of this, the phrase “hog troughs” has now become a part of my collector-car lexicon.

There are no logical reasons for me to get an Avanti except for the best two – I’ve never owned one and I can afford it.

The Interceptor, of course, also passes those same two tests.

If you were me, which one would you choose? What would you be willing to pay?


  1. Jonathan Schofield

    I already had a Jensen, loved the old brute, so I would got Avanti just for the experience. Plus it is so unique looking.

  2. We attended Modernism Week in Palm Springs this year. From appearances, half the Avanti Owners Club must live there.

  3. Buy the Avanti..this mark been disrespected for far too long. Good luck.

  4. I am sure there are good Avantis out there and you should be very careful to find the very best one. My own experience, with an Avanti II bought sight unseen a few years ago, was particularly bad. Hog trough rust-out was just the beginning of a litany of problems. I won’t bore you with all of that, but at the end of the day I concluded that the car was just not worth investing money to repair it/restore it to its potential glory. The design of the car was obviously rushed and ergonomically it falls far short of expectations. The chassis is vintage Studebaker and nothing more. Yes, AC can be had, but it is no better than an add-on system that you might find on an early 70s import car. I have no basis to compare an Avanti with a Jensen, however, if I had to choose between an Avanti and a Citroen SM, I would take the French car any day of the week, despite the misgivings some have about the SM’s complexity. At least the SM was a properly-developed machine from the get-go. The Avanti merely looks like it was ahead of its time.

  5. The English cars of the discussed era all appear to be jobbed-out kit cars. Not unattractive, but all the charm a committee can achieve.

    The Avanti was…. Raymond Loewy. His inspired ideas are all coalesced into a symphony of perfection.

    Yeah, I’ve nearly bought an interceptor a time or two, and always glad I thought better of it. I got sidetracked by Alfas, for 50 years, or I’d have an Avanti now.

  6. It would be the Avanti for me. I am old enough to remember when the Avanti came out and how thrilled I was to see my first one on the street. Since then I have been a “closet” Studebaker fan. My trouble is that I am also a “closet” fan of so many other Marques too, Lancia being just one of them.

  7. Keith. you will not like my answer. I do not know your financial situation but why not both? If both cars are in superior condition it may be difficult to find other examples in their condition. Granted. I do not travel in the circles you do so I do not know what is available to you.

  8. Buy both in 1/8th scale and get your fix. No transport fees. No registration fees. No repair fees. No fuel fees.

    • Great response. Both choices are iffy to me. The Jensen is from the dead era of the mid 70s when regulators overwhelmed existing technology. The Advanti had interesting coach work covering the end years of Studebaker; later owners tinkered with the concept but never hah a breakthrough.

      But my current classic at is a 2015 NC Miata so you should reflect on my opinion.

  9. I had a 71 Avanti II as my daily driver until 1979. I sold it with 111,000 miles, it was a wonderful car. Whenever stopped, people always ask questions about it.

  10. Victor Van Tress

    My first road trip has a teenager in 1969 was in a 63 Avanti. It made from Los Angeles to San Francisco and back via Coast highway 1.
    That it made it both directions is about the only reflection I’ve got on it. However a friend of mine, his father had a Jensen interceptor at that time. I never got to drive that one but I did ride in it a couple of times.
    I have a tendency to look at cars from the bottom up rather than the top down. I think the Jensen would be a better driving car and the engine would certainly be easier to deal with. All that said I don’t think I’d want to get a late model Jensen. So I’m not giving you much direction on which way to go in this other than to say that the Jensen, I would imagine is a more sophisticated chassis under it then the fiberglass Studebaker. IMHO

    • Hi Keith.
      Personally, I would choose the Avanti. The only reason being, when I worked at Athens Coney Island on Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak, Michigan back in the, well I hate to say when, the owner had a white R2. I was very impressionable at that time of life, and I fell in love with it. As you mentioned , A/C is a must at this time of life, so I would find the best R1 that I could and go with that. Best of luck with your search.
      Kim (Sweep) Smith

      • I’ve seen both cars on Woodward. There’s always an example of one or the other during the Dream Cruise.

  11. I had a 64 R1 with 135,000 miles owned by the same person for 41 years. Not as much fun as my alfas but a good cruiser. Enjoy comfortable driving and easy to repair.

    • I’d go with the Studebaker…
      As the local chapter of the Studebaker club is very active here in the PNW. They actually drive their cars on monthly tours!
      Keith, I’m guessing you’ve been to the “Orphan car show” the club puts on every summer, at some point over the years.
      Along with the great camaraderie the club offers. The added bonus is the willingness to share information and source(s) of parts (at reasonable price$)

  12. Keith,

    This is a hard question, as I have fond memories of a friend of my fathers Jensen and how they would go back in forth in between street lights (my dad in his 69 427 vette).

    However, growing up we had a back up car, which a 61 Lark. My Sr. year I decided to strip the paint off my 67 Mustang, resulting for me to drive the Lark on a very frequent basis.

    My friends hated all of the attention it would get and it was not uncommon to see 2 bench seats loaded with fun.

    During this time I really grew fond of Studebaker’s and love the details found in the early Avanti.

    So, like the shredded wheat Ad the muscle car guy in me says Jensen, but the refine guy says Avanti.

    So, I say go with the Avanti.


  13. anatoly arutunoff

    avanti!! jensens are kinda british buicks of the period. lumps.

  14. I bought a new “left-over” Jensen, a 1974, in 1976. Owned it for nearly 4 years and 50,000 miles. It had its quirks, but it was a stunning vehicle. Mine was the Coupe, and I later had a 1976 Convertible. The top mechanism is far from the best.
    If you see this as a design statement, while I appreciate the Avanti, the Interceptor is so handsome and extremely well built. Parts and maintaining either may be an issue.
    For the right example, I’d opt for the Jensen.

  15. Hi Keith.

    I have had a Jenson, 3 x SM’s and now as you know have an Avanti, which is a much more fun car to drive and much easier to maintain than a Citroen. So my vote…. go for the Avanti.

  16. Thanks Martin. I’m learning about Avantis and thanks for your help. I have to decide what to sell first to make room.

  17. B.Mitchell Carlson

    Methinks that the staff is biased towards the Avanti, as I wrote up that POS Interceptor (note the miss-matched tires – among other things) in the stock photo.
    Only the Brit’s could screw up a Mopar.
    Get the Avanti, so it’ll be easier for me to dump a Corvair on you later.

  18. With my first introduction to a Jensen Interceptor in ‘73 thought it had a lot going for it. British coach work and American Engine. What could go wrong? Famous last words. It seemed regardless, anything British had the electrical curse of the Dark Ages brought to you by Smith Lucas. The demo we had at the dealer I worked at was later wholesaled after a no-sale to Augie Pabst of the brewery family. The Jensen-Healey cars didn’t fare any better. With that in mind I’d throw my hat into the Avanti ring as an endorsement. No prior experience except for a Studebaker Lark Convertible we had in 1962. Good luck Keith. Hope you find what you are looking for.

  19. Gabriel Hernández

    Go for the supercharged R2; it is an interesting and rather rare machine which should be nice to drive. Just do not use it in summer.

  20. Definitely the Avanti, Studebaker was the pace car for my first Indy 500 in 1962. Rodger Ward won after an exciting dual with Len Sutton. One of his prizes was a then new Avanti which as I remember was surrounded by some controversy over the one he was awarded being “new”. As a 12 year old I fell in love and have been ever since. I missed my big opportunity at Mecum Monterey in 2010 when a beautiful black highly original 4 speed sold for around 15k. Buy the Avanti Keith, please!

  21. Anatoly A. gave you a clue: You’d be better off with a Buick Riviera. Really. Jensen heavy and ugly, Avanti a fair fiberglass shell on a poor chassis.

  22. A prototype Avanti was the honorary Pace Car at the 1962 Indianapolis 500. Regular Pace Car duties were handled by Lark Convertibles. The Avanti looked and sounded great as it accelerated out of the pit lane but as it got up to speed big clouds of blue smoke started billowing out of its dual pipes. Not a great way to debut a new model to 300,000+ car enthusiasts.

  23. Mine is still available on Hemmings Marketplace Asking Price

  24. The votes are in, and the Godfather says, “Buy the Avanti”.
    Now, find a deal you can’t refuse.

  25. My antennae are up!

  26. Neither. 😩👎🏻