- A rare Italian-American sports car with striking coachwork and remarkable performance
- The second of 41 examples built by International Motor Cars, the original Apollo manufacturing concern
- Renowned for its exceptional build quality and easy serviceability
- Wears an older, but well-presented and nicely kept, restoration
- “The American Ferrari”; currently experiencing ascendant marque interest
Apollo was a short-lived marque brought to life by Milt Brown, an ambitious Californian engineer seeking to create an American grand tourer to compete with the likes of Aston Martin, Ferrari, and Jaguar. In applying Italian bodies to American powertrains, Apollo offered domestic customers exotic styling with the most appealing (and affordable) mechanicals. Unfortunately, Apollo’s first model, the GT, also proved their last.
Underneath its handsome skin, the Apollo GT utilizes an exceptionally rigid ladder-type tubular steel frame and custom suspension derived from the Buick Special, with additional Chevrolet components, a Borg-Warner close-ratio four-speed transmission, and 3.5-liter all-aluminum Buick V-8 engine. Better yet, the Apollo is a true lightweight at approximately 2,300 pounds—nearly 500 pounds lighter than an E-Type!
The car’s stunning, cosmopolitan design was penned by Ron Plescia—an art student friend of Milt Brown—and finalized by the legendary stylist Franco Scaglione. Coachwork was supplied by Frank Reisner’s Intermeccanica in Turin, Italy, with final assembly at Brown’s International Motor Cars of Oakland, California.
This 1963 Apollo 3500 GT, chassis number 1004, is just the second example built and is believed to have been sold new by Phil Hill Buick of Hollywood, California. Finished in a handsome dark red exterior over sumptuous black upholstery, 1004 wears a nicely kept older restoration which adds much to its vintage allure. It correctly maintains an aluminum hood, doors, and trunk—a feature reportedly exclusive to the earliest GT examples.
The car rides on gorgeous, polished Borrani wheels wrapped in period-correct Michelin X radial tires. It is correctly powered by an all-aluminum Buick 3.5-liter V-8 engine mated to a four-speed manual gearbox and is very well presented under the hood. The consignor notes that the engine is numbers-matching to the unit listed on the car’s chassis tag.
A remarkably comfortable cabin—with room for two and generous luggage capacity— remains faithful to the original, with door cards, interior panels, and headlining upholstered in the factory-correct heavy-grain vinyl. The dashboard and seats are trimmed in black leather, while the cabin floors are covered with Wilton carpet. The Jaeger tachometer and speedometer are ideally situated ahead of the driver, while auxiliary dials are arranged neatly in the center of the dash, giving it a classic layout. Since entering the consignor’s noted collection of Apollo GTs, 1004 has been regularly exercised and carefully stored.
Lauded in-period by Automobile Quarterly, major collectors have recently taken an increasing interest in this fascinating mid-century hybrid, with an Apollo 3500 GT Spyder having just claimed first place in the Postwar Touring Open (O-2) class at the prestigious 2022 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Though the Apollo company was a failure, the Apollo car was a resounding success. This 3500 GT is an outstanding grand tourer, one absolutely worthy of taking on its thoroughbred contemporaries from Europe.