Do you know the name Milt Brown? If not, that’s no big deal and we will help you to fill this gap in the next few minutes. Brown was an engineer and designer in the USA and started thinking about an own sports car in the late 1950s (as many others did as well). He followed his dreams and started working on his own ladder frame with technical components and a 3.5 litre V8 from Buick. This was simply the lightest V8 available in the USA back in those days with just 160 kilograms. Brakes came from the Chevrolet Corvair, the steering was taken from Corvette C1.
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For the design of the bodywork Browns close friend Ron Plesca draw a nice sketch inspired by European sports cars of the time. The final car shows round headlights, a long bonnet with far back passenger cabin, falling lines at the sides and small rear lights which make it look much like a Jaguar E-Type (XKE). Brown met Frank Reisner who led Construzione Automobili Intermeccanica in Torino/Italy and offered him to build the sports cars there. The first prototype however was built at Carrozzerria Sargiotto in Italy and didn’t show side windows behind the doors. This design was modified by Franco Scaglione at the end of 1962 for the production model which was called the Apollo GT and sold via the newly founded company International Motor Cars (IMC).
The very expensive production process, where the chassis and bodywork was built in Italy at Intermeccanica, fitted with an interior and shipped over to Oakland/California to be finished with its powertrain also led to high prices for the cars. Even the extension of the model line with a Convertible version and another, bigger V8 (which led to the names 3500 GT and 5000 GT although the big V8 only had 4.9 liters) didn’t help the company to sell more Apollo GTs. Between 1962 and 1965 only 90 Coupés and 11 Convertibles left the factory. Today it isn’t possible to tell the exact number of 3500 and 5000 versions anymore. There even was a modified bodywork in production with sharper front and sedan like notchback. One of the rare early 5000 GT with hatchback is for sale at Hyman Ltd at the moment with an asking price of 195,000 US$. This car is also visible in our gallery.
To get his company out of financial troubles, Milt Brown got into contact with Vanguard Motors from Texas. They financed the production of about 15 more cars that were sold as Vetta Ventura, before Vanguard also went into bankruptcy. All rights for the sports car were bought by Californian lawyer Robert Stevens, who founded the new company Apollo International in Pasadena/California and managed to build about a hand full of cars, again named Apollo GT. Next the car was built at the east coast of the USA in New York with Griffith Motors who were known for modified TVRs. They sold the car as Griffith GT with a 4.6 litre V8 from the Plymouth Barracuda, but due to financial problems only built 14 of them. After that another short episode of this cars interesting history has been added by Suspension International, a company that built the car with a 4.7 litre Ford engine as the Omega GT, but stopped to do so after about 30 examples. All the time Intermeccanica built chassis and bodywork for these different companies and then went on to do so under their own name, so the car changed names once again to become the Intermeccanica Torino and later the Intermeccanica Italia. On a side note: movie fans might know the early Apollo GT as the ‘Thorndyke Special’ from 1968 Disney movie ‘The Love Bug’.
Images: Hyman Ltd