Out Of This World: 1963 Apollo GT

Most people who didn’t live through the 1960s reading every car magazine they could find, likely have never heard of the Apollo GT. The Apollo was a hybrid created by Milt Brown, an engineer from California, with bodies built in Italy by Intermeccanica and engines from Buick. Find this rare 1963 Apollo GT here on eBay in Franklin, Tennessee with bidding at $53,100.

The Apollo prototype was modified for production by famous Italian designer Franco Scaglione, who certainly played a role in why the body looks so good. In the eyes of many, the front has a strong resemblance to the Ferrari 330 GT and the rear resembles the Jaguar E-type. The wire wheels and fat period tires are appropriate for the ’60s styling. Overall this must be one of the best looking American cars ever built.

With its long row of black-faced Jaeger instruments and simple black leather seats, the interior has a ’60s Italian performance-car look. The steering wheel appears to be correct, but the A/C unit was added during a recent restoration. The seller says that the body was not cut for this installation. The Corvette shift lever reflects the fact that the car has a Chevy V8 drivetrain instead of  Buick components.

According to the seller, this car was among seven cars that were sold uncompleted upon arrival from Italy because Apollo was short of cash and could not complete them. A sailor was said to have bought the car and stored it in an industrial park near San Francisco, but was called to duty before he could install the drivetrain and he never returned. The car was discovered in 2004 in a storage shed when the park came under new management. It was then sold to the current owner for back rent. The owner says that he installed a Chevy drivetrain for reliability, which raises the question whether it can be considered ‘original’. Yes, it’s original to this car, but no, it is not an Apollo approved Buick setup. Bidders will need to decide how they feel about this.

The seller states that this car is #43 of 66 coupes built by Intermeccanica for International Motorcars of Oakland, California, who installed the engines and marketed the cars in the 1960s. Strangely there is no VIN plate shown in the photos, but some linked photos show a contemporary letter from Milt Brown discussing his input on the restoration of this car. That’s reassuring, but the auction’s reserve is set at $140K, so it  may remain out of this world for all but the most well-heeled of us.

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Comments

  1. 6.3

    In that price range you can buy Ferraris and Maserati of the same age, so WHY THIS ??
    It looks nice though

  2. Rick Rothermel

    Handsome car, interesting pedigree, good story, but nutzoid price. Nice piece but not for over $60k.

    • Don

      Apollo GT’s are being sold for 150-187k these days…

  3. Jeff

    American powered, Italian body. The sailor had foresight. Great looks and simple power, the price obviously is due to rarity. This car belongs in a museum.

    • Don

      The Black Hawk Museum has one in the collection.

  4. British Rover

    …interesting Oddity, and with enough backing I think it would have sold well…Jan and Dean “Dead Man’s” Curve..the three would have done well, lol..guess I’ll stick to my rarity “ROVER SD1” with it’s Buick Engine and 5-speed..but it probably will never reach that kinda money..and it had marketable possibilities too!!

  5. Jeff

    What an awesome car. Your chance to own your very own Thorndyke Special.

  6. Tom S.

    The quarter windows look like they’re from an MGB GT.

  7. Jeff S

    Tragic that he chose to go spontaneous on the drivertrain and obliterate the provenance which had heretofore been perfect. Not that there’s a shortage of strong Buick nailheads.

  8. Jim

    Never seen one before in my life. I guess it stands to reason; they were rare…but what a gorgeous car this is.

  9. Doug M Member

    This say “XKE” very loudly to me!! …but then, there is nothing wrong with that! Part of my synaptic switch might be that I had a 63 XKE years ago in that very color…pretty car!

  10. Dan

    I seem to remember reading somewhere that Pat Boone helped finance this project for a while. Beautiful car.

  11. Bernie Member

    I have some of the factory promo material and a drawing that was used to get potental buyers/dealers interested in these vehicles. The engine was a 330 ci unit from Buick, not the aluminium unit used by Rover after GM put it out to pasture. They were cool, but there were a lot of other vehicles with US power plants that were hitting the market at the time of the Appolo that were cheaper and faster. Look at Griffith for instance. Rough but fast…

    • Miguel

      The early cars were called Apollo 3500 GT and used, as implied, the Buick 215 ci all-aluminum engine. Later, they switched to the iron-block Buick 300 for the Apollo 5000 GT, probably when GM gave up on the all-aluminum engine.

  12. BradL

    You can have the Prius, this is my kind of hybrid!

  13. Jerry McGlothin

    This car was sold in “kit ” form meaning no engine and drivetrain.It qualifies as an original car unlike the myriad of kit cars out there of various types. It appears to have a provenence of some kind per the expert Milt Brown.Had the owner done the research he would have put either a Buick 215(full aluminum engine) with Buick auto transmission or a Buick 300( cast iron block with aluminum heads, intake and waterpump with 61+ corvette aluminum case 4 speed transmission) in it. so the only transgression is the chevy engine and it is nicely dressed up with carburation. This car is a nice period piece and the present bid will increase substantially.Incidentally I have the car immediately following this car (1044) completely redone to original with the original Buick 300 engine and corvette transmission

    • Kevin Dean

      Jerry-

      For what it’s worth, I knew the fellow whose daughter you bought the Apollo and the Vetta from.

      I have a pic of the Vetta on blocks from about 86-87.

      Not looking to get anything for it, just have the pic and maybe a bit of history.

      Kevin L Dean

      L’Anse, MI

      • Don B

        ? are you referring to the two basket case cars the 1 convertible with fender flares and modified with cutouts, and 1 coupe. From Britney? . Those cars seem to need 50k+ in metal work etc..

      • Kevin Dean

        Yes – I never knew Britney, didn’t know R.B. had a daughter, frankly.

        I knew he’d bought the coupe to fix up for his step-dad, who regretfully died before it was touched – we’d put the convertible in my friend’s garage to begin some structural repairs on the frame.

        My last involvement was replicating the headers for the 389 in the convertible – subsequent domestic strife curtailed my involvement at that point.

        The convertible WAS pretty ripe and in need of lots of repair, but the coupe – at the time I left the picture – was in much better shape.

        Kevin

  14. David Fanton

    You’re absolutely right, had never even heard of one but then that’s yet another of the benefits of Barn Finds – that i eventually have! Not really a fan of obscure italian-esque ‘racer-cars’ but this thing sortof grabbed me nonetheless. A fairly well-executed project i’d say, within its ilk of course. Too bad this example was later Bogarted with yet-another cookie-cutter bow-tie drivetrain but all is not lost; Its next owner shouldn’t have too much problem procuring its correct period Buick setup, should that new owner have enough of a purist streak coarsing through his veins. What a neat and niche mobile he’d then have – a worthwhile project in my view, just so the dineros don’t get *too* far out of hand…

  15. Dolphin Member

    Bid to $69,100 but did not make reserve.

  16. Richard

    I was wondering how long it would be before somebody brought up a “Love Bug” reference! An Apollo “Thorndyke Special” was Herbie’s principal competition on the track in that movie, Herbie “peed” on Thorndyke’s shoes at one point…..

  17. Don B

    This car #1043 sold earlier this year for just over 100K.
    I watched this car at R & S auction , but it did not meet the the reserve. Bidding went to $87,500.00.

    The #1011 car sold for 75K also earlier this year

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