You don’t often see rare exotic cars get modified as extensively as has today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Intermeccanica Italia. That’s mostly because you rarely see Italias at all! Let’s see if unfamiliarity, and its price, breeds contempt.
Everybody’s looking for a deal, and on occasion you see a used car listed as being a ‘mechanic’s special’ which indicates that there’s something wrong with it—typically a mechanical issue—that results in a lower than expected price.
I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t really like to see this become habitual in other businesses. I can’t fathom that I’d want to eat something a restaurant describes as a ‘cook’s special’ that needs bones picked out of it or something. Also, stay away from anything called a ‘dentist’s special.’
Yesterday we looked at a 2001 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T wagon, and while the seller didn’t use the phrase ‘mechanic’s special’ there was plenty of forewarning about future maintenance needs in the ad that it was fairly well implied. Of course, buying a car in need of maintenance is a whole ‘nother mosh pit from buying one needing repair right now. That factor, along with an appropriate for its condition and situation $1,200 price tag, meant that VW took home a sweet 68 percent Nice Price win.
I don’t know about you, but I consider the 1960s to truly be the Sports Car Decade®. If you think about it, this was the high era of the sports car aesthetic, and you can count more two-seat coupes and convertibles introduced during that decade than in any other after WWII. Many of those were from established manufacturers—MG, Triumph, Afla Romeo, Ferrari, etc.—while others, such as TVR, Lotus, Bizzarrini, and Iso rose to the occasion during the decade.
One of the latter companies was Construzione Automobili Intermeccanica an Italian company with a long and impressively Italian sounding name founded by a married couple from Canada. Frank and Paula Reisner moved to Turin, Italy in 1959 with the intention of building tuning kits for small race cars. This quickly led to the introduction of the Apollo GT sports car, a truly international hybrid that was designed in Oakland, California, constructed in Turin, Italy, and powered by an American V8. Intermeccanica built about 88 Apollos before financial issues with key partners brought that project to a close.
The company picked up after that with Jack Griffith, the New York Ford dealer who had previously worked with TVR on the 289-powered Griffith hot rod. Reisner and Griffith commissioned former BRM chassis man John Crosthwaite to design a new sports car platform, and Robert Cumberford (R.I.P. Automobile magazine) to pen a sexy body.
The long and short of it is that Griffith too ran into financial trouble, abandoning the project after about a dozen cars had been delivered to his company. Reisner found funding to continue the development and production of the car which would evolve from the original Griffith GT to the Omega and finally the Italia name. In total, about 400 Italias would be produced making Intermeccanica more than just a bug on the windscreen of the ‘60s sports car scene.
The company would continue on long after, manufacturing kit and component cars, including one of the nicest Porsche Speedster replicas on the market.
We’re not interested in those, however. No, we’re going to look at one of those original Italias, although one that’s about as far from original as you could imagine.
It seems that someone didn’t like the Cumberford design the car carried from the factory. Now, admittedly, it is very much a sixties design, with soft flowing lines and sugar scoop headlamps. There’s a lot of Ferrari 275GT in the profile and for most, that would be a good thing. Also somewhat aping Ferrari, as well as Lamborghini, the Italia’s mascot is a ‘prancing bull.’
This car has been modernized in every and all ways, and while the work looks to have a significant amount of polish, it’s hard to still see the Italia living beneath. Yes, those are Nissan Z32 headlamps up front—just like on the later Lamborghini Diablos! Out back, the Nissan theme keeps playing with a pair of smoked S13 Silvia tail lamps. A huge—and I mean like crazy tall—wing tops the tail and makes you wonder if the boot can be opened more than just a few inches. In case you wanted to compare and contrast, you can see an example of what the car most likely originally looked like here.
The mods extend to the wheels, the original Magnum rollers having been replaced with some chrome and gold affairs that look like the automotive equivalent of AXE body spray.
Why would someone take a rare and desirable sports car and change it so radically? Well, it could have been because of an issue with the car itself. These were low production and parts for the bodywork are non-existent today. If there had been damage, it’s possible that the owner said the hell with originality and went with a fix that was logistically easier and more to their taste. whatever the reason, it’s all seemingly well put together, at least.
The interior sports what looks to be Recaro buckets and a wood panel on the dash. Very ‘60s switchgear fills the center of the dash right above the shifter for the four-speed gearbox. It’s all very tidy and the car does have amenities like A/C and power windows.
Power for this custom Italia comes from a Ford 351 Windsor drinking through a four-barrel carb. An alarm system is evident under the hood as is the presence of power brakes. Here too it all looks clean and perfectly serviceable if a bit kludged together.
A fabric top is shown both stowed and erect and seems to be without issue as well. There’s 55K listed on the odo and the seller describes the car as being in excellent condition. Remarkably, the car is offered by its original owner.
Now, unmodified Italias in this sort of condition typically trade well north of $100K. This one is a lot less than that, however, before we start to decide whether it’s worth its asking, we’ll need to determine exactly what that is. You see, while the ad states the price as $35,000 in two places, the body lists it at $55,500. As I noted, either of those is substantially lower than what most other Italia’s go for, but seeing as the weight is on the side of the lower price, we’ll go with $35,000.
With all that in mind, what’s your take on this wildly customized Italia and that $35K price? Does that make it worth learning how to spell Intermeccanica? Or, is this Italia just too far buried under its custom body to be worth even that?
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