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First 200 MPH Studebaker headed to MCACN

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Photo courtesy Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals.

Andy Granatelli couldn’t do it. Though he named his twin-supercharged Avanti the Due Cento for his 200 MPH goal, all he could muster at Bonneville in 1963 was 196 and some hundredths. The goal seemed even further out of sight when Studebaker exited the car business, but one Studebaker enthusiast made the goal reality 30 years later, and now the Avanti Ron Hall used to run 200 MPH will go on display at this year’s Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals.

Hall, by most accounts, was just an ordinary guy with an extraordinary ambition. A Studebaker enthusiast and father of two who worked for Gabriel shocks outside of Chicago, Hall certainly knew of Granatelli’s shortfall and believed he could do what the famed racer couldn’t. He just needed money and time and a team.

As Studebaker racer Ted Harbit recalled, Hall always seemed to have health issues to battle, but he also made time to raise funds for his mission by working overtime, selling T-shirts, and calling up potential sponsors. Hall’s health, Harbit wrote, “didn’t keep him from accomplishing more in his short life than many of us do in twice the years he had on this earth.”

Hall also called on his friends and fellow Studebaker enthusiasts. And despite Gabriel’s move to the Detroit area, which took Hall with it, Hall and his team managed to put together a 1963 Avanti powered by a Studebaker V-8 built by Jet City Studebaker in Tacoma, Washington. Topped with one Paxton SN92 supercharger, the V-8 was good for up to 630 horsepower, exactly eight less than Granatelli’s Due Cento.

The team first made it out to Bonneville in 1988, notching a top speed of 172 MPH. A year later, 185 MPH. In 1992, 188 MPH. By his fourth attempt in 1993, he had competition: Another Avanti, powered by a Hilborn-injected twin-turbocharged 664-hp Studebaker V-8, had joined him on the salt. As John Shanahan reported, however, horsepower wasn’t everything: A last-minute gear change helped Hall’s Avanti run above 190 MPH, then top 200 MPH (specifically 200.426 MPH) on the return run for an average of 195.640 MPH.

While the average qualified Hall for a class record in D/PS, driving the Studebaker-powered Studebaker beyond 200 MPH satisfied Hall and everybody involved. Not long afterward, the Avanti went on permanent display at the Studebaker Museum in South Bend, Indiana. Three years later, Hall died at the age of 46.


Photo by Michael Barera.

Later this fall, Hall’s wife, Luanne, will display the Avanti as part of a Studebaker performance display at the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals. Along with the Ron Hall Avanti, the display will include both the first and last R3-powered Avantis, three of the Granatelli record-attempt cars, and a recently discovered R2 Lark Daytona. In addition to the Studebakers, the show will also feature first-generation big-blocks, Boss 351 Mustangs and Day 2 cars.

The Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals will take place November 19-20 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois. For more information, visit