In 1962, two young entrepreneurs from California decided they could build a world-class sports car to take on the best that England and Italy had to offer. Recent engineering graduate Milt Brown teamed up with his friend Ron Plescia, himself a graduate of the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, to form International Motors of Oakland. Their first (and what became their only) model, was the Apollo GT. The Apollo was based on a ladder type chassis with a welded Buick-sourced front subframe and front suspension, with a solid rear axle also sourced from Buick that was kept in place by a proven four-link setup. Disc brakes and optional Borrani wheels rounded out the seriously sporting chassis. For the powerplant, Brown again turned to Buick, specifically for their new, lightweight 215 cubic inch aluminum V8. The chassis was skinned in a handsome body designed by Ron Plescia and built by Carrozzeria Intermeccanica of Turin, Italy. The bodies, complete with trimmed interiors were then returned to California for final fitting. In period, the Apollo received very positive reviews for its attractive style and 150mph performance. Unfortunately, after fewer than 100 cars were built, the curtain came down as the cost of shipping bodies from Italy and a lack of a proper dealer network put an end to the project. Intermeccanica continued with a handful of more Apollo-based cars, and went on to build some of its own models. While the Apollo may be little known, it is no less a genuine, high quality and collectible period GT car with the excellent performance and proper Italian coachwork. Ease of serviceability is an added bonus thanks to its American V8 and humble, robust underpinnings.
This early production 1963 3500 GT, number 1027, has had just three owners from new according to the Apollo registry. It features Buick’s brilliant all-aluminum 215 cubic inch V8 engine mated to an automatic transmission from new, one of just three such examples. It is presented in classic Rosso paint over charcoal leather and fitted with optional Borrani wire wheels. Restored to a high standard with very good paint and straight body lines, this is a very well presented example that is ideally suited for show or regular use. Panel fit and finish are excellent, and the minimalist chrome trim is all in very good order. Gorgeous Borrani wire wheels are wrapped in period-correct Michelin Radial tires, giving a great road presence to this highly correct car.
The simple but elegant cockpit is trimmed in beautiful charcoal leather and carpet, and presents extremely well. The seats show some light creasing from use, making them very attractive and inviting. The correct wood steering wheel graces the leather-covered dash which features original Jaeger instrumentation, excepting a replacement fuel gauge. A large luggage area behind the seats gives room for your bags for a long weekend getaway, and a modern stereo has been added discreetly under the dash. The 215 Buick V8 and automatic transmission mean you’ll get to your destination relaxed and worry free.
With its lightweight drivetrain and well-sorted chassis, the Apollo GT was a genuine competitor to the likes of Aston and Jaguar, receiving praise from members of the press such as Denise McCluggage who declared it on par with Ferrari, the Corvette Sting Ray and Aston DB-4: High praise for a small, independent American manufacturer. While it is unfortunate that International Motors did not survive any longer, the short production run does make the Apollo GT a true rarity that is highly collectible as well as a very thrilling drive.