1-of-77: 1965 Apollo 5000 GT

It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and to me, this Apollo 5000 GT is a thing of absolute beauty. The gorgeous sweeping lines, originally penned by Ron Plescia, and then refined and reworked by the legendary Franco Scaglione, result in a truly breathtaking car that would look completely at home on the roads of Europe. Barn Finder Pat L referred this stunning car to us, so thank you for that Pat. The Apollo, which is located in Grants Pass, Oregon, is not a cheap project car. However, given the fact that this Coupe is 1-of-77 that eventually rolled out of the factory, the asking price of $77,000 would seem to be well justified. If the Apollo grabs you as much as it does me, you will find it listed for sale here on Craigslist.

As with so many similar new vehicles and ventures, the Apollo promised so much, and while it definitely delivered as a driver’s car, low production volumes and high prices killed it when it really deserved to be a success. The Apollo was the brainchild of a Californian gentleman by the name of Milt Brown, who developed the basic idea for an Italian-styled sports car. He wanted a car that would utilize an American drive-train, would be relatively easy to build, would be exclusive, and have the performance to match its good looks. His path crossed that of Frank Reisner, the man who formed an Italian company called Intermeccanica. After the Scaglione designs had been finalized, Intermeccanica was contracted to build the all-steel bodies, and then ship them to Oakland, California, where the final assembly took place. While the car was extremely well received, actual solid orders sat somewhere in that uncomfortable region between not very many, and none at all. Brown persisted with his dream, building and selling the 5000 GT between 1962 and the end of 1964 when a lack of funds saw the whole project fall over. This particular 5000 GT will need a lot of restoration work, but it is a complete car with a lot of new parts that will help the next owner to achieve their dreams. The body is solid, and the panel gaps are incredibly tight and consistent. There is some damage to the front valance, but this should be able to be repaired by a good panel-beater. The only item that is missing is the original grille, and apart from panel work, the only other item that will require restoration is the original Borrani wire wheels. Virtually every other piece of external trim and chrome is either new or has already been refurbished. The original windshield has started to delaminate, but a new replacement is sitting in its box just waiting to be installed.

With an eye to costs and reliability, this Italian/American sports car was outfitted with enough power to provide impressive performance. A 250hp Buick 300ci V8 nestled in the engine bay, and the buyer could choose to have the car equipped with a manual or automatic transmission. This car still retains its original Buick engine, along with the original T10 4-speed manual transmission. This 5000 GT was a relative lightweight, tipping the scales at a mere 2,470lbs. Couple that with 250hp, and you had a car that would rip through the ¼ mile in 14.6 seconds, and on to a confirmed top speed of 150mph. This put its performance in line with the Jaguar E-Type, which was very much the benchmark of that era. The owner doesn’t indicate the health of the engine and transmission, but I would at least subject both to a pretty thorough inspection before they found their way back into the car.

The owner doesn’t mention anything about the interior trim and upholstery, but there is a good chance that it started life fitted with black upholstery, with the seats upholstered in a combination of black cloth and black leatherette. Carpet would have been black loop-pile, while the one thing that I can see is that the original Nardi steering wheel does appear to be present. The dash in a 5000 GT is simple, elegant, and functional. Directly in the driver’s line-of-sight is a large speedometer and matching tachometer. Towards the center of the dash is a horizontal cluster of five gauges, comprising fuel, water temperature, oil pressure, oil temperature, and an ammeter. If the Apollo was fitted with a radio, this was mounted under the center of the dash, with its own black surround to help it blend into the interior styling. It isn’t clear how much of this equipment is now present, but given the fact that the owner has been so meticulous with his preparations for restoration to this point, I would actually be surprised if anything is missing.

The value of this car is derived from a combination of its incredible beauty, and its extreme rarity. Most people wouldn’t recognize the 5000GT, and would easily mistake for a purebred Italian classic. With only 77 cars having been built, these are not a car that comes onto the market terribly often. The last fully restored example sold last year for $145,000. There is another example currently on the market for $150,000, so that should give you an idea of what the true worth of this car actually is. Yes, it needs a fair amount of work, but I think that this is a car that would be well worth the effort.

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Comments

  1. Gaspumpchas

    great writeup, Adam! this is a neat car- great styling, the knockoffs really set it off nicely! And like you said, I bet it would rip thru the quarter with that nailhead in it. its going to be a labor of love to restore, but hopefully it uses available parts. good luck to the new owner.

    Cheers
    GPC

    Like 4
    • Tom Davis

      Great find,I have just completed restoring #1072. Awesome cars!

      Like 1
  2. Skip

    It always brings a smile to my face when I watch the film The Love Bug where the Apollo GT makes an appearance driven by the villain where it is known as the Thorndyke Special.

    Like 13
  3. Wayne

    Beautiful car! It would be a blast to rebuild it and to drive it.

    Like 3
  4. SC/RAMBLER

    God forbid you ever have an accident replacement fenders are probably unobtainable. Don’t know how many truely great metal benders are left that could repair a smashed fender door etcetera. Gorgeous car looks like someone beat Carrol Shelby to the punch (European design American power) Definitely a car to drool over in real life I’m sure.

    Like 3
  5. jo6pac

    My late Father almost bought one. He want as far as going to Oakland and check one out but was worried they would be in business for long. He ended up buying low mileage 1959 XK150 coupe for Moms daily driver.

    Like 2
  6. Coventrycat

    Beautiful design.

    Like 1
  7. PATRICK JEAN-PHILIPPE

    Nice design and yes, it would look at home in European roads.

  8. Bill Wilkman

    I saw one of these as a lad at Frank Millard Sports Cars in Los Angeles. I was very impressed with its build quality and the fact that it sported an American V8. I’ve never followed the history of it and was surprised to learn that it was a market failure.

  9. Danh

    What cool car! Similar in shape to a Jensen 541. Can’t even imagine how nice it would look when it’s restored and shiny! 😍

    Like 2
  10. Paul

    150mph, really, when road and track tested I don’t remember them saying anything near that top speed

  11. Paul

    found this in a site called topspeed, Depending on their condition, 5000GTs can fetch between $20,000 to $40,000 nowadays, but some well-maintained examples are worth more than $50,000. and this one is no well maintained example

    • PAW

      Paul, you would need to came to this millenium. Your values are ~20 years old and are missing a number in front. That number is one (1).

      This car here represents today’s average ask for a complete project.

      And in case you can find cars at your indicated price point I advise you to buy them all asap. There is a lot of money to be made.

      Like 1
      • Michael

        A 1963 Apollo 3500 GT sold at RM Sotheby’s Arizona auction in January 2019 for $134,400. Described as an “Older restoration that continues to present wonderfully”

    • Don Bryan

      Extremely fun cars to drive I think I have the most seat time in 1008 next to John in his 510hp 1007. he took 17 trophies home last or this year.
      The 150+mph is accurate for a 5000 GT I believe. 140+mph for the 3500GT. I’ve taken mine to 130mph., till I ran out of road.
      These cars have a 55-60mph 1st gear, like a Ferrari 1st gear.
      Excellant Job on your 1072 Tom.
      There are actually 7 Apollo GT’s going up for sale right now, and I just bought the wrecked one sitting in the feild for 20 years.

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