1965 Apollo 5000 GT Coupe

International Motors was founded in Oakland, California in 1962 by engineer Milt Brown and stylist Ron Plescia, a graduate of the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Their first and only model, the Apollo, was built using a ladder-type chassis that consisted of Buick-sourced front suspension and modified Buick four-link rear suspension. The chassis was skinned in a handsome and well-integrated body designed by Plescia and built in Italy by Carrozzeria Intermeccanica of Turin. Upon completion, the bodies were then shipped to Oakland where they received final fitting and were mated with aluminum Buick engines of either 3.5 or 5 liter displacement. High quality leather, Borranni wire wheels, Dunlop disc brakes and Jaeger instruments rounded out this well-built and high quality grand touring car. The Apollo returned 150 mph performance in combination with excellent road manners thanks to the independent front end and well-planted rear axle, garnering praise from the press and drawing comparisons with the likes of Jaguar, Aston Martin and even Ferrari. But sadly, with no dealer network to speak of, the burden of building bodies in Italy and shipping them all the way to California was too much for the fledgling firm and the rights were sold off in late 1965 after just 88 cars were produced. Further examples were built by Intermecchanica and badged as the Vetta Ventura, but it is the original Apollos that are most sought after by today’s enthusiasts.

This 1965 Apollo 5000 GT is one of those original run of 88 cars. It is currently presented in rough but very restorable condition and is a very complete car with interesting history. For the past several decades, this example was in the care of the same family. Service records show the car was regularly cared for prior to being placed in long term storage, from which it now comes.

In its current state, this Apollo is fitted with a 260 cubic inch Ford V8 engine and Borg Warner transmission, however we are in the process of acquiring a correct specification 5-liter Buick V8 to return it to correct, original spec. The body shows some corrosion on the lower sections but is otherwise straight and complete, including the bumpers, grille, window trims, lamps and lenses. It is in fine order, free of major accident damage and would make for a very straight forward restoration. This is a very high-spec example, as it was originally fitted with the larger engine, optional Borranni wheels and ArtiKar air conditioning, the last two of which have remained with the car from new.

The black glove-leather interior has survived in remarkably good condition. Carrozzeria Intermeccanica built the bodies and trimmed the interiors in Italy, ensuring they were beautifully crafted using high quality materials. The driver’s seat shows a split seam, however the rest of the leather is good enough to be carefully preserved if desired. Likewise, the aircraft-inspired dash features the complete array of Jaeger instruments in fair condition and the original air-con unit is nestled below.

The Apollo was never built in the numbers the founders dreamed; but is far from being a homebuilt kit car. It is a well-sorted, well-engineered and attractive sports car with outstanding performance for its day and the cachet of proper Italian coachwork. It remains a very collectible piece of automotive history; while this example would make for an easy restoration for the dedicated enthusiast.

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