Window motors/regulators

Since I bought 4245 in late summer of 2012, it was plain that there was something wrong with the power windows. The drivers side would only go down haltingly and only go up with a lot of help by pulling on the glass itself. The passenger side was marginally better.

About the time I decided I would have to do something with it, issue #161 of the Avanti Owners Association magazine arrived at my door, with an excellent article on how to remove the windows, window regulator and get (almost) everything back in good order again. I say “almost” everything as a critical part of my problem (and easy to fix while you’re in there) was not covered in this article, which is what I’ll focus on here.

After removing the window regulator mechanism and window per the parts manual and following along with the aforementioned article, I noticed that window motors themselves seemed to be rather “gunked up” with old grease. I then removed the motors from the mechanisms (watch that winder spring!) and removed the cover that goes over the gears on the motor itself.

The gears appeared to  be in fairly good shape, but there were literally hundreds of small shards of plastic mixed in with the grease.  A bit of judicious searching on the web identified these shredded pieces as having been “impact absorbers” (for lack of a better term) nested inside the gear housing that, as I understand it,  act to soften the impact as the gears moved back and forth while going up and down.

gears3 gears1 gears2

Through more web searching, I was able to identify a replacement for just the gears and these little absorbers. This part crossed over to a number of different cars from the late 1960s to the late 1980s. I was able to obtain it from RockAuto under Cardone Part #8294 for $12.47.

gears4 gears5

Since I already had the window motors apart, replacement was easy – cleaning out the old grease and making sure I got each little bit of the former gears out was time-consuming, but not difficult. Occasionally I used some toothpicks to get into tight places.

Re-assembly was straightforward, and now the windows with this fix along with the rest of the maintenance performed as described in the AOAI article including cleaning and lubricating the tracks, regulators and replacing the outer wipe seal have made a phenomenal difference in how the windows perform. Up and down quickly, quietly and smoothly!


Build Sheets for 4245 (and 4238)

As I mentioned last year, when I first got the car the stereo bezel was in the glovebox (the original Blaupunkt Sacramento had been replaced with a Pioneer unit) and I found the number 4238 handwritten on what would be the “inside” or non-visible when installed side. I presumed that this was another RQB or last four of a different VIN.


In the past several months, as I have removed more interior panels as part of repairing the window motors/regulators and fitting Dynamat to the car, I have found more instances of the “4238” number on the back sides of the door panels and “4237” on the back sides of the rear seat bottom and rear seat back.



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Earlier this year I bought the build sheets from Dan and Betty Booth at Nostalgic Motors in Wixom, Michigan. Along with what is the largest stock of NOS Avanti parts, they also have original build sheets of almost all the Avanti production up to 1985 (and factory inspection sheets for Studebaker Avantis, as well). They will kindly make a copy of build sheets for you for anywhere from $25 (for Studebaker Avantis) or $35 (for 1966-1985 Avantis). Is it steep for a piece of paper? Yes. John Hull, a former Avanti exec from the 80s/90s also has a less complete (I’m told) set of these, and I think his rate may be more reasonable. I went with the Nostalgic as John Hull did not have build sheets for either of these two cars, 4238 or 4245.

All that said, here are scans of the copies I received – I received a total of five copies as there were multiple, different sheets with my production number.

This is the Build Sheet for the VIN for which I found written on the backs of several parts of 4245.

This is one of the four copies I received for my car, 4245. Note that nothing appears to be selected, and the exterior color is a “Light Chestnut Metallic” and the interior “Creme”. Followers of this blog know that my car is light blue metallic with midnight blue interior.


Virtually identical, save for the circled “line number” of 4245 and the misspelled word “CANCELL” written across the top.


Hmmm – yet another for 4245. This one says “Void 9/11/85”  – odd since my car shows a build date in the door jamb VIN plate of May 1985.


Also, what appears to be the initials “R-something” – of “where are you know, Mr/Mrs/Ms R-something” – I’d sure like to ask you some questions!


Another? Yes, I’m afraid so. This one has a few things underlined, and then, of course, the giant “X” through the middle of the sheet.


Well, this helps – a bit. This is the build sheet for 4238, the number I found on the back of several of my panels. It’s build specification seems to match my car in every respect.

  • Paint Silver Blue Metallic 85 AMC 4L S-W 34-33874 – seems to match the touchup offered in this link and offically called Adriatic Blue by AMC. From an 85 AMC Encore (the Renault version was called the Alliance) – the Avanti is probably the best car this paint ever touched!
  • All seat, door, headliner, visors, etc trim is Midnight Blue Leather/Vinyl
  • Kick Panels and Carpets are “Navy” blue
  • Steering Wheel is wood
  • Dash and console panels are “Elm”

Note that this build sheet doesn’t have any options check off on it, either. 4245 does have the electric moonroof, came with wire wheels in the trunk, wood steering wheel, leather interior and wood trim package.

The absence of other details, like key codes, engine #, ship date, etc are disappointing, but not so much that I wish I hadn’t bought these. Knowing the correct paint code was worth it to me – plus I have all the service history and purchase documents from the original owner.

Now, for me, the next I had was what happened to 4238 – was it even ever built? A quick look at Bob Johnstone’s excellent registry skips right over it, from 4237 to 4240. So I then ran an “Autocheck” on the VIN and found that the car apparently was built and DOES still exist.

So the car has been registered annually in Mount Vernon, Georgia since 2002. But 4238 has never been listed as a member of the Avanti Owners Association International (AOAI) nor do they have any current or former members in Mount Vernon, Georgia.


So in that regard, I’m still at a bit of dead-end. Mt. Vernon is a small town of about 2500 people, so if someone in this town owns an Avanti, it’s likely that it is well-known. I guess at some point if I’m ever in the area, I’ll cruise around and see if I can find it.

And the other car whose numbers I found on mine, #4237? That car is listed in Bob Johnstone’s aforementioned registry as owned by an AOAI member in Derby, KS with no other details. Next I’ll try to contact them.

1984/1985 Owners Manual

Finally got around to scanning and cleaning up a copy of the manual that came with RQB-4245. Technically a 1985 model, this copy has only “1984” references in it. One can imagine that a leftover 1984 book was used as they didn’t bother to reprint for 1985, what with all the other problems going on at the time.

I edited this version to remove all “model year” references, which makes it useful for 1984 and 1985 owners, but I don’t know enough about 1983 (and prior) years to know how relevant this will be for those cars.

For those that have access to a printer that will print two-sides, the blank pages are there so you can use the “Booklet” printing feature within Adobe Acrobat Reader to print it like an actual book, then fold and staple like the original was made. If you have an original manual, put it away and use this printed one in the car. You can always print another if it gets dirty/damaged.

Download it: 84-85OwnersManual

Build Sheets

Called up Nostalgic Motors last week seeing if they had a build sheet for RQB-4245. Betty emailed me a few days later saying they had one, but it was marked “VOID” with a date of September, 1985. The paint and interior colors on it didn’t match my car (which is believed to be original), either.

Later, while going through the glove box, I found the original radio bezel (the Blaupunkt Sacramento having been replaced with a Pioneer in November 1998) that had a hand-written number on it, 4238.

I emailed Betty back asking if she had anything on that car, and she did, though it was crossed out with a large “X”. The colors on it, however, did match mine exactly. Light blue metallic, blue leather Recaro seats, dark blue carpet.

Weird. I’m open to hearing from anyone who might know why this would happen, or knows the whereabouts of RQB-4238.

Once I get the copies of them both, I’ll scan and post them here.

And so it begins…

I first visited the Avanti factory in the summer of 1984. Living in suburban St. Louis at time and between my junior and senior year in high school, I told my mom I was going to stay at a friend’s house for a few days. I loaded up my Pontiac Sunbird with a cooler and set off on the more or less 400 mile drive to South Bend, Indiana.

I don’t remember much about the drive itself other than getting run off the road and into the median by a semi-truck somewhere in Illinois and a guy passing me on the highway, only slowing down long enough to shout out the window asking if I had any “speed”. In hindsight, I can see how foolish this whole trip was, but it was a helluva trip and really got me “stuck” on Avanti’s from that point “forward.” No pun intended.

I seem to recall just walking in to the factory offices when I got there and asking if I could look around. Some of the photos I took that day still exist, and they are posted below.

Yesterday, September 16, 2012, after several years of searching off and on, I bought a 1985 Avanti (RQB-4245). I always preferred the body color bumpers, the smooth, non-lined dash panel and the Recaro seats.This one – as near as I can tell – came originally with wire wheels but is now fitted with steel wheels and hubcaps, as the photos show.

I say “as near as I can tell” as while the car is very well documented, going back to the original sales contract when the car was purchased in July 1985 from David Taylor Cadillac in Houston, but no window sticker or build sheet.The car came with a set of Tru-Spoke wire heels – in severe need of clean-up and replating in the trunk.

My plan is to document what I do with and to this car during the time I own it – first on the list is a good cleaning. Next I’m going to see about tending to the deferred maintenance that is due.