Avantis, Fairchild C-82 reunite decades after airlift

July 2, 2014

The sleek, sexy 1960s-era Studebaker Avanti and powerful but boxy Fairchild C-82 reunited June 28 in Maryland, just over five decades after an airlift to deliver some of the cars to dealers.

The Avanti was the brainchild of Sherwood Egbert, then CEO of Studebaker, and designer Raymond Loewy. “Egbert dashed out a few lines on paper that embodied his idea of a sports car to revive Studebaker’s image,” while on an airline flight in 1961, according to a New York Times report.

By the spring of 1962, the completed car made its debut at the New York Auto Show, according to the Avanti Owners Association. Studebaker then chartered a Fairchild C-82 to deliver some of the sports cars to dealers.

According to Bruce Blum, who helped organize the reunion of car and airplane, the actual Fairchild C-82 that was chartered is owned by the Hagerstown Aviation Museum in Hagerstown, Md., and is being refurbished. The museum used another C-82 as a stand-in for the group of Avanti owners who gathered on their way to the fiftieth anniversary Studebaker Drivers Club International Meet at Dover Downs in Dover, Del. The meet, which is open to the public for the first time this year, takes place June 29 to July 5.

“All generations of Avantis were represented as it turned out,” Blum told AOPA in an email after the event, which attracted 11 Avantis. “That’s Woodstock numbers for the Avanti world.”

Blum said attendees came from as far away as California and Denver, and that models including an original supercharged 1963 Studebaker Avanti, a 1964 Studebaker Avanti, 1965 to 1985 Avanti Motor Corp. models, a 1990 Avanti four-door sedan, and a 2002 Avanti convertible.

“The folks at the Hagerstown Aviation Museum opened their [hangar] and were so generous with their time and allowing us to have this tribute to the original Studebaker Avanti airlift in 1962,” Blum said.

“One rarely gets to see Avantis together…to have eleven is a rare event indeed.”

Alyssa J. Miller

Alyssa J. Miller | AOPA Director of eMedia and Online Managing Editor

AOPA Director of eMedia and Online Managing Editor Alyssa J. Miller has worked at AOPA since 2004 and is an active flight instructor.

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