Monday, October 19, 2009

1968 Intermeccanica Italia

The picture above is not of the car being offered on eBay. That one is pictured below. The picture above is from the Intermeccania Enthusiasts Club. I'm using it to show what a complete Intermeccania Italia looks like. This is one of the most beautiful cars ever built.

Founded by Frank and Paula Reisner (How cool must it have been to have a wife who not only helps you start a car company, but then runs it with you for the rest of your life? I don't even have dreams that good.), Construzione Automobili Intermeccanica has a long and rich history. Besides the Italia, they have been involved with several cars I admire, including the Apollo GT and John Fitch's one-off Fitch Phoenix. (A car that still exists and that Fitch, now 92, has brought to the Vintage Fall Festival at Lime Rock - The last time I saw Fitch and his car was 2007. The friend I was with was encouraging me to ask Fitch if I could have my picture taken with him and the car. Fitch has long been one of my idols and I was too intimidated / shy / or whatever to ask him. I'm still pissed off at myself about that as I haven't seen him or his car there the last two years.) The Apollo GT was a car built by Intermeccanica and sold by a west coast company. It used the aluminum Buick V8 found in the Oldsmobile Jetfire, Buick Skylark and until recently, a number Land Rover / Rover vehicles (among others). It too, is a drop-dead gorgeous car. They also built the Opel based Indra, another stunning looking car.

But back to the Italia...

The idea for the Italia came from Jack Griffith, the man who was putting V8s into TVRs and creating the Griffith. Griffith's enterprise folded before he could ever sell the car and Intermeccanica started selling the car themselves, first under the name "Torino" (Ford objected to that) and finally Italia. The chassis and body were built by Intermeccanica, the V8 was supplied by Ford.

With the big Ford V8, the Italia could hit 60 MPH in 6.5 seconds. The suspension consisted of unequal wishbones in the front and a Ford Mustang live axle with coil springs and radius rods in the rear. Less than 600 Italias were made from 1967 until 1973.

The car being offered on eBay needs total restoration. The listing gives very little information, which is odd, given the rarity of this car. It's not a weekend project, nor is it a cheap project. But if you have the time and the money, you'll end up a car that will turn heads like few other cars can.

Intermeccanica still exists, although it's now located in Canada and is building Porsche replicas. You can find their website here. Be sure to check out the "History" page, which has videos of Paula Reisner discussing the 50 year history of the company.

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