2012 was not only the year that the Mayan prophecy came true (the one about New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys combining to battle the forces of good), but it was also the year that the Momo Mirage emerged from relative anonymity from one of the dustier pages of automotive history. Specifically, it was the chapter on late 1960s hybrids that made a big splash early on but then quickly fizzled for various reasons. And it is perhaps one of the best cars to begin our preview of Greenwich Concours, as this is the type of machine you’re likely to come across while wandering the field at the 2013 edition of the event.
Like many mid-century hybrids, the Mirage was the result of a collaboration between many different companies and people. As the story goes, Peter Kalikow was shopping for a DBS but was talked out of buying one by Alfredo Momo, who had a Jaguar dealership in New York City at the time. Disappointed with the DBS (cause who wouldn’t be?) Kalikow and Momo decided to create their own grand tourer, with Kalikow providing the funding and Momo providing his contacts in the automotive business. What resulted was a striking car, but one whose life was cut short very early on.
The exterior of the Mirage was designed by Gene Garfinkle at Frua, with Pietro Frua overseeing the final design, while the chassis itself was engineered by Stanguellini. Power in the Mirage came from specially tuned Chevy 350 engine mated either to 5-speed or automatic transmission. It is unclear just how many of these ended up with which transmission, though that hardly matters now.
There is some debate as to just how many of these were assembled at the time, and how many are in assembled state now. A completed prototype was shown at the 1972 New York International Auto Show, where it was well received, and Kalikow ordered parts for the next 25 examples before doom arrived in the form of labor disputes in Italy and a general economic downturn at home. A total of two cars had been completed by that point, and at least three more shells existed in half-completed states. And right now there appear to be at least three completed Mirages, including this blue example which may or may not be the third car (not the third car off the line, but a third completed example).
A silver Mirage with chassis number 00102 appeared at Villa d’Este in 2009, and a couple years later this blue example emerged at Amelia in March of 2012. And just a few months later I had the opportunity to see it up close at Greenwich (where I was the sole visitor, as these photos prove).
If you absolutely must have something like this, might I suggest an early De Tomaso Longchamp? While the De Tomaso was penned by a different design house, namely Ghia, the proportions are vaguely the same, and it also has American power underhood. Ultimately, the Momo Mirage is one of those cars that inevitably invites discussions of what two or three cars’ designs were mixed together to create it.
Each person at the concours had their own theories, and some of them actually made quite a bit of sense. I’ll open it up to you hoons, what cars do you see in the design of the Mirage?
Full gallery from Greenwich Concours 2012 below: