Here’s some fun Bonneville video but it ain’t from speed week! Nope this video was made in 1963 by Studebaker to promote the safety and performance of the beautiful Avanti model. The company sent Andy Granatelli to the salt flats with three cars, the USAC timing crew, and enough tools and parts to run that junk as hard and as fast as it would go. In this case, about 170-mph on a 10 mile long course. Bonneville is still a place where OEM manufacturers come and test their stuff. Heck, this year VW was supposed to have a car at Speed Week. Back in the 1960s it was way more common for people to rent the salt for their own personal use like you’ll see here. If you are wondering who else was using the salt when these guys were out there the answer is…no one.
The car in question has a (claimed) 299ci supercharged Studebaker V8 engine. You’ll see Granatelli putting his helmet on and the Paxton name is painted across the front. Paxton was the manufacturer of the superchargers used on these cars and yes, the blower was a factory option. There is not much technical information given on the car but let’s surmise a few things. It likely had some freaky non-factory available gearing, and the engine while the same displacement and packing the same blower was definitely not some sort of production line piece. To get this car to nearly 170mph and to destroy the vast majority of production car speed records circa 1963, this baby had some oats.
The video is a fun watch. There is some campy 1960s camera work there trying to simulate speed. While it falls short, the content and overall scene of this triumph makes it worth the watch. You’ll be smiling for sure.