Intermeccanica first ever car was built between 1961-63 with the steel bodies wrought in Turin – the final design receiving a makeover from former Bertone stylist France Scaglione – before being shipped to the U.S. for assembly. Dubbed the ‘Apollo GT’ and fitted with a Buick V8 and running gear, the American-backed project very quickly failed and then changed hands several times but each time only small numbers were built. Around a hundred units were eventually made, with a soft top later joining the mix; however this project would open the doors to the rise of the Italia coupé and convertible.
The story of the Italia Spyder is somewhat convoluted. Initially it was commissioned by Jack Griffith of New York in the mid-1960s as the 'Griffin' sportscar, in coupé format, but the project foundered after just over a dozen cars had been built and then Steve Wilder took over the programme and had a stab at assembling it from CKD kits in North Carolina – with the car now dubbed as the 'Omega' – but this also failed after little more than thirty had been built.
Intermeccanica – with financing in place from an Italian bank and having appointed Genser Forman of New Jersey as its North American distributor – then took over the project in its entirety with final assembly being relocated back to Turin. The cars were sent to North America in CBU format and around 500 units of the car, now equipped with a Ford V8 engine, would eventually be built between 1967 and 1972.
Intermeccanica first attempted to rename it as the ‘Torino’, but Ford’s rights to the nametag meant they settled on ‘Italia’. A more successful convertible was added to the line-up, called the Italia Spyder.
The end of Intermeccanica as an Italian-based carmaker came in the mid-1970s once Italia production had ceased as Reisner upped sticks and moved his entire operation to California.
Prices are now starting to edge up for this uniquely styled car with RM Sotheby’s estimating this example will fetch around US$160,000-200,000 when it hits the auction block in ten days’ time at the company's Arizona sale as today collectors are starting to recognise the Intermeccanica Italia and its siblings as some of the finest examples of the Italian-American 'hybrid' formula and its values continue to grow.
This 1971 Italia Spyder appears to be a well sorted example. Finished in a striking shade of dark metallic red, this Italia Spyder once belonged to the famed Jeopardy! host, Alex Trebek.
According to the auctioneers, the steel body is in excellent order, with excellent paintwork. The delicate chrome bumpers and rocker trims are in very good condition, with good quality plating and fine details such as period Marchal headlamps and properly finished Magnum 500 wheels – one of several factory options available – wrapped in fresh, period-correct Pirelli Cinturato CN36 tires. The interior trim remains excellent, with what appears to be the original upholstery covering the seats and door panels.
Under the forward-hinged bonnet is the period-original Ford 351-cu. in. Windsor V8. The car has however been modified away from the original, the auctioneers admit, with some discreet enhancements including high-performance valvetrain components, Bilstein dampers and firmer bushings.