Welcome to Thursday Trivia where we offer up a historical automotive trivia question and you try and solve it before seeing the answer after the jump. It’s like a history test, with cars!
This week’s question: What car served as the base (engine, suspension) for the 1962-65 IMC Apollo 5000 GT?
If you think you know the answer, make the jump and see if you’re right.
When you think of Italian exotic cars your first thought is that it’s the Canadians that build those, right? Well, maybe not, but one such marque—one of the more obscure to come out of that Latin country—was in fact founded by a pair of Canadians, Frank Reisner and his wife Paula. Construzione Automobili Intermeccanica was started by the Hungarian-born Reiser and his bride in Torino Italy in 1959.
The company initially built tuning equipment for a plethora of small cars from companies like Simca, Renault, and Peugeot, but they soon expanded into the construction of Formula Junior racers under the Intermeccanica name. In 1960 the company built a small run of small coupes, based on the Puch 500, which itself was a Fiat 500 built under license and sporting a Puch-designed hemi-head flat twin.
The bodywork of the IMP 700 GT was inspired by that of the contemporary Fiat Abarth coupes, and it ended up being a threat from Carlos Abarth that he would demand Fiat stop sending cars to Steyr-Puch that ended the IMP’s run at a mere 21 cars.
That didn’t stop Reiser and Intermeccanica however, and for their next effort they went big. In 1963, the company was commissioned by an Oakland California-based upstart going by the name of International Motor Cars to provide bodies for a new sports car to be called the Apollo GT. The car would be a hybrid in the ’60’s sense, meaning it would have a European body and build, and an American engine, and IMC’s founders, Newt Davis and Milt Brown, had some unexpected ideas about those mechanical underpinnings.
From Hemmings Motor News:
Brown and Davis had some curious sourcing ideas for their new creation, starting with the engine. The aluminum 215-cu.in. OHV V-8 was designed, and ultimately dropped, by Buick, with 200hp (“It was so European in specification,” Brown said at the time) and mated to a Borg-Warner manual transmission. Buick also provided the Apollo GT’s front and rear suspension pieces. They were very sophisticated for their time, with bronze bushings up front and a four-link live axle at the rear, the same system used by Vauxhall and later on the Jensen Healey. Intermeccanica was tapped to build the bodies on ladder-frame chassis. They were based on an original design by Ron Plescia and fine-tuned by Turin coachbuilder Franco Scaglione (whose curriculum vitae included penning the trio of Alfa Romeo B.A.T. coupes for Bertone). But lack of financing, in spite of two attempted production starts, ended the Apollo in 1966. The first attempt was a deal with Vanguard air conditioning of Dallas to unload 19 body/chassis units from Intermeccanica while Brown and Davis were in Oakland, trying to line up new investment capital. These 19, still employing the Buick powertrain and chassis pieces, only upgraded with Bendix disc/drum brakes, would be sold as Vetta Venturas.
Intermeccanica would go on to work with Jack Griffith, he of the V8 TVR Griffith fame, to build another short run of sports cars, the Italia. The company still exists to this day, run by the Reisner’s son, Henry, and building well respected replicas of the Porsche Speedster, 356 and VW Kubelwagens.
Source: Intermeccanica: The Story of the Prancing Bull