Palm Springs: Designing the Avanti

This sketch was drawn in Palm Springs as the designers figured out what the Avanti would be. There are notes scrawled all around the car sketch with Raymond Loewy's signature in the corner.

To meet Studebaker’s deadline, Loewy and his design team set up shop in a rented bungalow in Palm Springs, California, not far from one of Loewy’s homes. The team consisted of John Ebstein, a longtime Loewy lieutenant who served as the Avanti’s project coordinator, Bob Andrews another Loewy veteran whose resume included work on the 1948 “Step-Down” Hudson and Tom Kellogg, a recent graduate of southern California’s Art Center College of Design.

Loewy sketched out the Avanti’s basic design concepts: No radiator grille, as he felt it dated a car’s design, a coke-bottle silhouette and a fastback-like tail. Some themes were borrowed from previous Loewy design exercises performed on a BMW 507, a Lancia, and ’59 Cadillac Eldorado.

Kellogg sketched design ideas and Bob Andrews translated those ideas into clay. Ebstein helmed the studio between Loewy’s daily visits. Twelve-hour days were common. As weeks progressed, Loewy began meeting with Studebaker personnel in South Bend with models and sketches for initial feedback. Five weeks after they began, Loewy and his crew completed an eighth scale model and shipped it to South Bend. It was now up to Studebaker’s designers and engineers to turn this loaf-of-bread sized model into a functioning production autumnal.

About this Series

Studebaker’s Last Dance: The Avanti was on display at the Museum in 2012.  This series of articles comes for the displays from that exhibition.

About the Story

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