Apollo 5000 GT by Intermeccanica 1965
2019 Antwerp Concours - Wijnegem (B)
Apollo was a short-lived American manufacturer of sports cars. They made one model simply named the GT which was available as a coupe and a convertible. Engine and chassis were made in America and the bodywork in Italy by Costruzione Automobili Intermeccanica (though the actual metalwork was subcontracted to Carrozzeria Sargiotto and later Gosso e Vece). Its styling was reminiscent of contemporary Ferrari models but designed in the US and later revised by Franco Scaglione.
The first production car was delivered in 1962, powered by a 3.5 liter Buick V8 (the lightweight alloy engine design later acquired by Rover) and known as the Apollo 3500 GT. In March 1964 the performance was upgraded by fitting the 5.0 liter version of the Buick engine, creating the Apollo 5000 GT. Unfortunately by August 1964 money ran out after only 39 coupes and 4 convertibles were manufactured. The Apollo concept however proved to be popular and the project was sold to Vanguard Motors who renamed the model into Vetta Ventura and moved production from California to Texas. After a production of up to 28 coupes, 7 convertibles and 1 2+2 the project was sold again, now to a company named Apollo International which moved production back to California. After only another 7 cars the production of the Apollo GT finally ended in 1966.
With evolving designs and updated mechanicals Intermeccanica continued to produce the bodies however, selling the cars under different names depending on who financed the production: it became the Griffith coupe, the Omega GT, the Torino and ultimately the Intermeccanica Italia. This last, quite different looking, model was the most produced version. In 1973 came the definitive end for this line of American sports cars with Italian bodies.
The car shown here is a bit of an odd one even in this convoluted history. It's the only factory-built Apollo powered by a Chevrolet Corvette (327 ci) engine. Apparently meant as a prototype for a more powerful engine option, made towards the end of the original Apollo production in California but before the 5.0 liter Buick engine became available. Also it was fitted with side pipes, now removed from the car (leaving small grills in the fenders behind the front wheels, not seen on other Apollos). Provenance is a bit hazy though with a serial (JN7691011) not really fitting in and a first registration date quite a while after the closure of the original Californian plant.