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1965 Apollo 5000GT Spyder

Exquisitly restored and Tastefully Updated. A Rare Slice of American Sports Car History!

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sold

VIN 381038150AK
Exterior Color Dark Silver Metallic
Interior Color Black Leather
Mileage 53643 Miles TMU
Engine 5.0 Litre 8-Cylinder
Transmission 5-Speed
Status Sold
Stock FJ2015

Comments

1965 Apollo 5000GT Spyder
California issued VIN: 381038150AK
Apollo Serial No. 1037, Apollo Eng No. CJ 1038
Anthracite with Black Leather

The Apollo GT was manufactured in Oakland, California from 1962 to 1965 under the direction of engineer Milt Brown, and his partner Newt Davis. The two youthful entrepreneurs made plans to build their own sports car with GT styling and performance in mind. Bringing together classic Italian coachwork with American power and reliability, the Apollo GT was poised to win the hearts of American enthusiasts eager for an affordable and reliable alternative to costly European sports cars. Soon after, Frank Reisner, founder of the Turin-based “Intermeccanica”, met Milt Brown at the 1960 Monaco grand prix. The two enthusiasts shook hands, making Intermeccanica the coachbuilder for the Apollo. Brown enlisted his friend designer Ron Plescia to sketch out initial concepts, which Intermeccanica would fabricate in aluminum over the Milt Brown designed chassis. However when the prototype was completed, the nose was deemed too long and rear visibility was found to be too limited. Reisner, concerned about these issues called on former Bertone designer Franco Scaglione to refine the design. Scaglione’s refined Plescia design went into production in early 1963 as the Apollo 3500GT. Intermeccanica produced all Apollos in hand formed steel, fabricated in Turin, and shipped to Oakland, California where the drivetrains were installed and prepared for display at Brown’s dealership, International Motorcars of Oakland.

With a claimed top speed of 130 mph and a starting price of $6,000, the Apollo 3500GT was well-received by the automotive press. The lightweight Buick aluminum engine and various suspension components suited Brown’s original design and were readily available from GM. Apollo 3500GTs began selling at a good rate and business seemed to be humming along, but neither Brown nor Davis had run a car business before. The financials appeared to be fine but they were losing money. At $6,000, the selling price was simply too low to make enough profit to sustain the business. The company struggled, halting production and then revitalized with new investors, announced the 5000GT using the newer five-liter motor and leveraging the convertible platform.

But by mid 1965, the writing was on the wall and the business was closed. In four years, Brown’s International Motorcars sold 76 Apollo GT coupes (in combination with a range of partners and sometimes incomplete cars including, for a short period, Vanguard Industries, an automotive aftermarket supplier in Dallas, Texas, who rebranded the Apollo as the Vetta Ventura, but completed only 11 cars before also closing up shop), 11 convertibles (in total, but with a few sold unfinished) and a prototype 2+2. A total of 88 Intermeccanica-bodied Apollos (several of which were incomplete bodies shipped from Intermeccanica and later completed by independent shops) were built and shipped to the US.

This Apollo 5000GT, serial number 1037 (also California VIN 381038150AK) was delivered as a coupe, from Intermeccanica with the later series five-liter engine, automatic transmission, and finished in silver metallic paint. It is one of the last “Milt Brown” Intermeccanica cars delivered to International Motors. The first owner took delivery in California and sold it to the second owner shortly thereafter. In 2000, the current owner purchased the car from the second owner, making this a three-owner car. The original engine and transmission were still in the car when the current owner began doing research on Apollo and Intermeccanica. Along the way, he became aware of plans for the development of a 5000GT convertible in Spyder configuration using a five-speed transmission, slightly more horsepower, and mild modifications to the convertible design. Although this car was never built, it became the inspiration for the current owner to design and build the Apollo that never was. Continuing his research and working with accounts from various Apollo experts, the theme for the car was established and detailed specifications were determined. The current owner then commissioned Glenn Vaughn Restorations (of Hill & Vaughn fame) to build this Apollo 5000GT Spyder. Over a ten-year period (finishing in 2015), the owner and Glenn Vaughn painstakingly detailed original features and authenticated components to the highest possible level, resulting in the beautifully restored car seen here today. When the car was completed, the receipts totaled over $350,000.00, further supporting the dedication and craft committed to this 5000GT Spyder.
Finished in dark silver metallic with dove grey interior, this Apollo GT is both elegant and muscular. The body was carefully fabricated with changes to the front fender to make the side vent openings. The hood scoop trim and grille surround trim were removed, the door vent glass and trim were removed and new side glass was custom made. The entire rear section of the car was fabricated from steel to allow for a smooth cowl and disappearing fold-down top. The trunk line was tucked inboard and the rear fenders were sculpted to create a single smooth transition from the front of the car all the way back to the rear, without interruption. The results are stunning in this configuration, offering open road touring with one-off body styling.

The paint is very well done with smooth application and no significant flaws or notable chips in the presentation. The anthracite body color is accented by rare aluminum Boranni wire wheels, dated 3/64, 4/64, 6/64, 6/64 and stamped 5½ k – 400 – RW 3796 RECORD on all four wheels. The wire wheels and knock offs were sent to Boranni for comprehensive repair and restoration, and thus show beautifully along with very rare, period correct Michelin 185 R 400 X tires. The remaining exterior chrome and trim are in excellent condition overall, with very nice plating on the front and rear bumpers, showing fit and finish that surpass the original build quality of these cars.
The interior is finished with elegant black leather seats and door panels. The condition is very nice with just a hint of use softening the seating surfaces. The carpeting and matching floor mats are in excellent condition with no significant wear. The dash displays a full array of beautifully finished correct instruments that were reconditioned and rebuilt by Palo Alto Speedometer to original specifications. The lightly hued Nardi wood steering wheel feels just right and bears the Apollo emblem inset in the polished aluminum hub. All finishes on the interior are in very good to excellent condition overall.

The engine compartment has been beautifully restored with proper finishes reflecting the original production and featuring some mild upgrades to reflect the 5000GT Spyder objectives. The original five-liter engine was rebuilt to slightly higher performance specifications resulting in 310hp when tested on the dyno. Fit and finish under the hood continues to a high level when inspecting the undercarriage. The drivetrain and suspension are all in excellent visual condition. The car was further upgraded with the addition of a rare original aluminum casing five-speed transmission, specially developed by a New Zealand race components supplier shortly after the original Buick Aluminum engine was sold to Rover for use in their production cars. During the build, Penske was consulted to make a series of adjustable shocks for the car to improve on the suspension. Four shocks were developed initially with the rear shocks being installed in this car. The front shocks were replaced with new standard types but new springs were sources with stiffer ratings. The combination proved to be very successful using this race-inspired configuration.

Driving this Apollo GT one is reminded of the heyday of sports car manufacturing in the 1960’s. The engine starts with a quick burst and little hesitation, roaring to life all eight cylinders of raspy and ready combustion. The rare aluminum casing five-speed transmission is easily engaged in first gear and the clutch depresses smoothly. First gear pulls strong off the line and second comes along very smoothly with all gears moving in and out effortlessly. Healthy doses of torque and power are ample in any gear without hesitation once the car is warmed up. Accelerating harder on up-shifts, the car exhibits a detectible amount of torque-steer, typical of cars with gobs of available horsepower. Braking and steering is consistent with cars of this period, asking for a bit more pedal pressure on harder stops. The steering is best managed in smaller bites on sweeping corners, but the car noses out nicely under exit. If you’ve driven an Apollo before, you know these cars can be representative of the period, often jostling and shuddering even on smooth roads. This one is nicely set up and performs to a far higher standard than when first delivered. In all the car performs better than when new, benefiting from these thoughtful improvements.

Rare when built and coveted today by collectors and enthusiasts internationally, this Apollo 5000GT exhibits all the wonderful features of the most desirable convertible cars, further enhanced by a stunning restoration and one-off Spyder design, inspired by the original coachbuilders of these fine automobiles.

 


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