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dcj64

Early 64 build date mystery

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dcj64    0

I have a 1964 Avanti R4959 that has engine number RH36. This is the original engine, and the number matches the build sheet. Some of the references I am finding say that this engine number format was first used on August 20, 1963 for Avanti’s built on or after that date. My build sheet is stamped August 20 1963, so is that the official “built date”? The factory inspection sheets are dated 8/12/1963 body and 8/14/1963 chassis. The car was invoiced 8/23/1963 showing R Q 4370 Avanti in P 6431 Avanti White. Body number is RQ 3873 which also matches the build sheet. Would inspections have normally started before the engine number was stamped? This is a round headlight car.

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dcj64    0

Update

I found another 1964 Avanti that has a completed date of August 16, 1963 and has engine RSH37. It is R4670 which is an R2, and the RSH37 decodes that the engine was built August 7, 1963. My R1 car R4959 has engine RH36, which decodes to August 6, 1963. So the implication is that the new engine number system was being used prior to August 20, 1963. Perhaps as of August 20, 1963, the convention switched to the 3 digit date, so that an engine built on Sept 9. 1963 would have been RJ309. So perhaps the August 20th "change" was not the change of no longer doing a serial number for the engine, but simply a notification that in the future all would have 3 digits after the month letter????

Does anyone else have a car with the 2 digit date code from August 1963?

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Rob Dudley    0

I have a 1964 Avanti R4959 that has engine number RH36. This is the original engine, and the number matches the build sheet. Some of the references I am finding say that this engine number format was first used on August 20, 1963 for Avanti’s built on or after that date. My build sheet is stamped August 20 1963, so is that the official “built date”? The factory inspection sheets are dated 8/12/1963 body and 8/14/1963 chassis. The car was invoiced 8/23/1963 showing R Q 4370 Avanti in P 6431 Avanti White. Body number is RQ 3873 which also matches the build sheet. Would inspections have normally started before the engine number was stamped? This is a round headlight car.

I just bought R4935 which has engine RS H 31. I have ordered the production order to see if it coincides with the car. The car was rebuilt as a round headlight car after a serious accident. It appears from the paperwork I got with the car that it was originally an executive car and was sold in April of '64.

Rob

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dcj64    0

That is very helpful as it decodes that your engine was built on August 1, 1963. That confirms that this engine number format was used as of August 1. The only real question now is if any engines from July used this format, or was the format change to a date code from a serial number done for all Avanti engines built on or after August 1, 1963.

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Rob Dudley    0

I received my production order today and the engine number is listed as RS H 36. The final assembly date is August 14, 1963.

Rob

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dcj64    0

Thank you for the update. It confirms that the new number format was indeed in use prior to August 20, so I think it is fairly safe to assume that the note about the number change on August 20 was indeed only referring to using a 3 digit date code from that point on instead of just 2 digits for single digit months. So that an engine built on Sept 9. 1963 would now be RJ309 instead of RJ39 as it would have been if they hadn't changed the date format on August 20, 1963.

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Skip Lackie    0

Good data. The sources that I had available to me when I prepared the the V8 engine number table just said that Hawks, Larks, and trucks built after August 20, 1963, plus 1964 Avantis used the new numbering system. The implication was that production of 1964 Avanti engines began on that date. I will add a note to the engine number table, but it would be nice to get some more confirmatory data.

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dcj64    0

Skip

Do you know if they used 3 digits or 2 digits dates for Avanti engines built in early Sept 1963. For example, would an engine built on Sept 9, 1963 have been stamped RJ39 or RJ309? Obviously once it was the 10th of the month, it automatically had to be 3 digits.

Dave

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Skip Lackie    0

I assume the change to the 3-digit format described in the parts books occurred on August 20, since that is the date that Stude specified for Hawks, Larks, and trucks -- so it should be RJ309. As far as I know, the company did use the leading zero for dates under 10.

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avantifred    0

I've been reading this line for a while & I figured I'd put my info in for vin #5255 built on Sept 4th '63........the engine # is RS J309

that's also the number on the block. 72K miles never out & running VERY strong on no-ethanol 93 octane fuel. The difference after 3 tank fills is VERY noticeable!.......I hope this sheds some light on the matter!

Fred

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avantifred    0

I'm sorry it got posted twice !! & I don't know how to delete it !

Edited by avantifred

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dcj64    0

Fred,

Thank you for the additional information. It certainly matches what I would have expected for an engine built on Sept 9, 1963, but then you state that your car was "built" on Sept 4th, which leaves me puzzled. I wonder if there is a difference between "built" and "completed"? For my car, the factory inspection sheets are dated 8/12/1963 for the body, and the chassis sheets are dated 8//14/1963. My build sheet is stamped August 20, 1963, which I assumed was the official build/completed date, but perhaps the built date is assigned before the car is actually completed? I'm sure that when the factory was doing all of these things in 1963, it never occurred to anyone that 52 years later, anyone would be looking that closely! With a matching build sheet and engine block, you know yours is original, so it's hard to say why the "build" date was listed as Sept 4, unless then meant to set it to Sept 14th??????

Dave

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Gunslinger    0

Don't take this to the bank, but if Studebaker did some things like other carmakers (that's a dangerous assumption!), the date on the production sheet may not be entirely accurate. It may be a scheduled assembly date, but the finished vehicle might actually vary by a day or so for a variety of reasons...holidays, bad weather shutting the plant, waiting for specific parts for an individual car. The chassis might be completed a day ahead of the finished body before they get mated...the chassis could wait for an R2 engine not yet assembled or not yet in line for installation.

I don't think it's surprising questions like these crop up. In the Corvette world it's common for actual final assembly dates to vary a day or so from the ID plate riveted to the car...and many Corvette owners are far more adamant and argumentative than Studebaker people on such things.

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avantifred    0

OK.....You guys really got me digging now. I have a copy of the "vehicle inspection check off" it is dated Sept 11th '63. Seven days after the build date.

Now for a new number in the fray of things....the "line #432", in the case of my car, vin #5255, this number is grease pen painted painted on the left end of the dash panel under the stainless steel close-out plate. This car was then delivered to the dealer in Arlington Heights,Illinois as a car just for stock. Marvin Bradley did NOT personally order this Avanti. He traded a 1962 Hawk GT and took delivery on Dec 23rd 1963.I believe that's the date the last Avanti was built !.... Right??

I don't know if this clears things up or muddies things up even more BUT...... after more than a half-century we are the care-takers now .........and let's face it ......we love it !!

AvantiFred

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Gunslinger    0

I don't have a copy of it, but I've seen a photo of an Avanti being inspected after assembly. The inspector put strips of tape all over the body wherever he found a flaw in the finish. The car would go back for all the touchups to be taken care of before final sign off on the car. That could be the reason for the delay between the build date and the date on the sign off sheet.

Cars were not always built in sequential order...special, rush orders could be put at the head of the line, etc. That could put cars already in production back further in line. The Avanti line wasn't so busy that such things couldn't happen. In today's world that likely wouldn't happen...car specs were entered in a computer and all the needed items were computer selected and arrive at the appropriate time. Avanti's were so manpower intensive compared to most cars it's easy to see how things could be done in an out of order fashion.

Things like this make for great conjecture absent documentation or first-hand knowledge. It's just another facet of the Avanti mystique.

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dcj64    0

Fred

On your build sheet, is your build date written in the box label "Final Assy. Date" or is it a stamp with the Month abbreviated, the day, and then a 4 digit year. The date code for your engine is also after the build date, so given the inspection sheet, I think the most likely explanation is that they wrote/stamped the wrong build date - i.e. Sept 4, 1963 should have been Sept 14, 1963. If written, it could be a human error. If the stamp date is wrong, it would be very easy for the "1" to disappear if they were using settable stamps, and the setting wheel got bumped a little. While I'm new to Avanti's, I've seen a lot of factory errors from the 50's and 60's on paperwork, and other anomalies that have popped up over the years. At the time, the car companies were much more concerned with getting product out the door, and not that fussy about "minor" issues or variations.

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avantifred    0

Hey dc64.....the date is in the box "date written" the date is stamped 9 04 63 I would say that the possibility of the 04 being 14 is nill !

Fred

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dcj64    0

Fred,

Interesting. So the stamp format on your car is all numbers. My date stamp is AUG 20 1963, with the month abbreviation in all caps. I am surprised that they were using two different kinds of stamps over such a relatively short period of time, but obviously they were. Hopefully there are some other examples out there that might shed more light on this. It's certainly puzzling and we may never know why they did things with so much variations. Thanks for the information.

Dave

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