Buying my Avanti was a harrowing experience. When I decided on the silver one, I was also evaluating a really nice 1983 Avanti in red with tan interior. It had a new 350ci crate motor and the whole car was in fantastic condition. But there was just something about the color combination that wasn’t resonating with me. I didn’t feel anything when I looked at it, not like I felt when I ogled pictures of the silver car on the eBay auction.
I had never bought a car on eBay before, nor had I paid to ship a car, nor had I ever bought a car I had never driven. But here we were. The auction didn’t end with a winning bid–the reserve was set too high, in my opinion–but I was able to make a deal with the seller in a second chance bid scenario and after a long, long email exchange. The decision became very easy for me when I went to Lemay’s American Car Museum down in Tacoma and saw a 1963 Avanti R1, so with my excitement in tow I wired him the money, he sent me the bill of sale and title, and the deal was done. I had my Avanti!
Wait. No I didn’t. It was resting in a warehouse thousands of miles away. I live in Seattle and my new baby was growing older in Massachusetts. I was going to have to ship it home.
Wait. Let me give you some backstory about the car. It had been originally purchased in July of 1976 (two days after the bicentennial) and delivered to its owner in Chicago in September. The owner was a famous person, not famous like a celebrity but famous for some stuff that happened in Chicago in the 1980s. I like to think that he drove the Avanti around Chicago, gold chains rustling in his chest hair, mustache sidling into a smirk, mirrored sunglasses reflecting the interest of all the foxy chicks watching him drive by. I imagine he was so overcome with patriotic pride on July 4 that two days later, he bought the Avanti, his pride swollen by pure American engineering and craftsmanship. (He would have bought it on July 5 but that was a holiday.)
The car went through a couple of more owners. I think the original owner sold it to a dealer in Evanston, who sold it to a couple in Ohio. They owned it through the 1990s, and then sold it to the person who owned it before me. He passed away in 2008 and the car went into storage. Based on the documentation that came with the car and conversations with the previous owner’s son, he loved this car. There were all kinds of notes and print outs and such that the previous owner had made that showed just how much time and attention he put into meticulously restoring the car, a restoration he did not get to complete.
I’m not sure if that’s exactly the story, but that’s how I put it together from the details I have, and it’s good enough for me.
As I mulled over how to get the car home, I wished I could fly to Massachusetts and drive it to Seattle, but it had been sitting for five years after all, and I didn’t want to risk a 3000 mile journey in a nearly 40 year old car that wasn’t restored, so I decided to ship it. After much hand-wringing and negotiation, it was picked up, loaded on an enclosed carrier, and very slowly transported to my home.
While I waited for my car to arrive, I devoured every bit of Avanti information I could find. I bought books and magazines to complement the car at shows, including an original copy of the July 1976 Car & Driver issue that, you guessed it, featured the Avanti. I bought a copy of the build sheet for my car, revealing fantastic details about the car that brought me closer to it, like all the stuff you find out on a second date. I put together a binder of information, including the build sheet, an order form, magazine clippings, and more. I was ready.
And after two unbearable weeks, my car was finally delivered.
Unfortunately, the driver ruined my shot, but I had my car. It didn’t have license plates and it was almost completely out of gas, and I still had to drive it up the hill to my house, so I got behind the wheel and began my journey.