Prancing Bull: 1971 Intermeccanica Italia Spyder

1971 Intermeccanica Italia Spyder Rear

Jesse MortensenBy Jesse Mortensen

UPDATE 1/16/12 – The auction ended with 33 bids and a high bid of $30,322, but it did not meet reserve.

Italian cars are known for their beautifully designed bodies and high-strung engines. Rust is also no stranger to automobiles from the country shaped like a boot. If only we could keep the exterior with some affordable mechanicals underneath and no rust, we would have the perfect car. Well, you can’t have everything, but Intermeccanica tried with this car by stuffing an American V8 in it. Now if only they could have prevented the rust…

1971 Intermeccanica Italia Spyder Front

The Italia Spider was actually the creation of Jack Griffith. That name may sound familiar if you know anything about TVRs. He was the guy who crammed V8s into their little sports cars to turn them into ferocious beasts. After working his magic on those cars he turned to Intermeccanica to see if he could get some bodies built. He placed a big order right before his business went under leaving Intermeccanica with the tooling. They went ahead and took up where Jack left off and started producing the cars.

1971 Intermeccanica Italia Spyder 351 Engine

If you have always wanted a Ferrari, but have been scared off by the tremendous service bills, this 1971 Intermeccanica Italia Spyder could be the car for you. This beauty is powered by a Ford 351 V8 attached to a four speed gearbox, so the mechanical bits should be easy to source and relatively inexpensive. The seller claims that this car has only covered 71k miles, but you wouldn’t think that by looking at it.

1971 Intermeccanica Italia Spyder Hood

This Spyder is claimed to be a barn find and it has the scars to prove it. There is some major rust on the hood that makes us wonder if there was a hole in the roof of the barn holding this one. The rest of the body doesn’t look too bad, but we would definitely want to inspect the rest of the car before even thinking about taking this project on.

1971 Intermeccanica Italia Spyder Interior

If the idea of an Italian muscle car is appealing to you, then take a look at the eBay listing here with bidding at $5,433 and the reserve not met. It is located in Camarillo, California and is being offered by a dealer. We just hope the reserve is set low so the next owner can actually afford to get this one restored. We featured one of these in the past which is worth a look just to see what this car could become.

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Comments

  1. Foxy

    Is this the same type car that was Crocket’s car on Miami Vice?? always loved that car.

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    • Stephen Welby-Jenkins

      No that was a Ferrari Daytona or rather it wasn’t – as that was a kit car copy of the real model. Granted it’s similar.

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  2. Dolphin Dolphin Staff

    This is interesting. I have brochures for the Italia but I have never seen one, and these photos provide the most detail I have come across on this car, since the brochures are plain and have very little detailThe same man, Jack Griffith, was behind both the Griffith 200 and car that ultimately became the Italia. The two sportscars could not have been more different in appearance, although they were both powered by strong American V8s. The Griffith 200 was basically a TVR chassis and body with a Ford V8 engine and transmission installed, and although it was a terrific performer, the looks were an acquired taste, mainly because the car had a very stubby tail. I had a chance to buy a Griffith 200 cheap from an insurance company decades ago–it was a theft recovery and was missing some parts–but I passed, and have regretted it ever since.The Italia is a different story, as described in a Wikipedia entry that is consistent with what I remember about its history. It is descended from an initial series of cars from 1966 that were produced by Jack Griffith, altho I am not certain where they were assembled. I think I remember hearing that they were assembled at Griffith’s facility on Long Island, but that may be mistaken. The body is said to have been designed by Robert (Bob) Cumberford, who I believe is the same Robert Cumberford who writes “The Cumberford Perspective” column in Sports Car Market magazine, which analyzes the body designs of significant sports cars that are featured in the magazine. After Griffith ran out of money the project is said to have passed to Steve Wilder, who also wrote articles for US car magazines—Car and Driver, I think—years ago. The name became the Omega and, amazingly, these cars were assembled by Holman and Moody in South Carolina. This collaboration ended and the car became the Italia when Intermeccanica took up production in its own facility in Torino (Turin), Italy. Both coupes and convertibles were produced and about 500 were made in all. This car is pretty rough but it looks original. One thing that seems odd is the high stance of the body at the rear. There seems to be more space than there should be between the rear tires and the wheel arches, compared to period photos of the car when it was new. A faithful restoration of this car will involve lots and lots of man-hours and fabrication or sourcing of parts that will not be easy to make or find. I don’t know whether the body panels were hammered out by hand, but the look of the paintwork in the photos suggests that they might have been made that way. If they were, it’s almost certain that a lot of body filler was used during production to yield a smooth surface. Redoing that will take a lot of time an skill. On the other hand, all that time, skill, and money will result in a very rare and beautiful car in the end. The buyer had better have deep pockets if that’s the goal.

    1+
  3. Richard

    @Foxy: The Crockett & Tubbs car from Miami Vice was a Ferrari roadster (not sure which model, might have been a Daytona). In the show, it’s supposed to be a real Ferrari, but in reality was probably one of those Chevy-powered replicas. Lord knows you pr

    2+
  4. David

    In the early 70’s pre-Disney, Central Florida was a quaint, fairly rural part of the country. I remember very well looking at three different Italia’s. One very much like this one, brown. It was for sale at the local Corvette specialist car lot. I think at the time they wanted a very high $4500, about the price of a new base Corvette…..I paid $4500 for my just off the boat 1974 Fiat X 1/9 that I ordered four months earlier….

    1+
  5. J. Pickett

    Early 70’s Automobile Quarterly did a great illustrated story about these cars and their lineage. Look in old issues.

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  6. Rob

    An Italia or a Ferrari 365GTB4 (Daytona) spyder. Can’t see the difference? ouch, poor Ferrari owners out there.

    2+
  7. Sonny Burnett

    Looks like the Daytona really bit the dust this time.

    1+
  8. T.J.

    Oh I do feel like the “Ol’ Guy” today…….. As a young man I owned both a Grifffith (400) and one of Frank Reisner’s Intermeccanica Italia’s. The Griffith was red with a 289 Hipo and the Italis had the 351 truck moter. The Griffith, even with just a 92 inch wheel base was the far superior automobile.

    I do miss the Grifffith………………the Italia, not so much………………..

    1+
  9. Ron Robinson

    Just some add-ons to comments above.
    –Yes, Cumberford writes for current mags about design; he critiques styling on cars in Automobile Mag. Bob Did design the original Intermec car; He has sent me copies of those original drawings, dated 1964; And he included a photo of the wooden buck these bodies were hammered out on,by Scaglione. The buck is a coupe.
    –The whole genre, in order: Griffith [Plymouth V8 powered, I saw that yellow coupe at it’s US intro at Int’l Auto Show in NYC, 1966; I met Steve Wilder in the booth that day]; Omega; Torino; Italia; and Indra [nice fast back coupes, Chevy 350].
    –Jack Griffith was honored at Amelia Island in 2012 or 13.
    –Rear end maybe sitting too high? Possibly new rear shocks.
    –The Miami Vice cars were replicas of that era, can’t remember the mfgr; they were f’glass with Vette engines and interiors. Looked very much like the 365 Daytona. Very popular after M.Vice!
    –Italias — made coupes, Spyders, and three Targas. I knew those three cars, almost bought one, with a 351C, metallic brown, was in Fla. Other two were in Denver.
    –I have a ’69 Spyder; Sonny Bono’s red Omega Spyer is also here in Chicago; Alex Trebeck had one; and Lyle Wagoner of Carol Burnett show.

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  10. Ron Robinson

    –Ken Miles, musician, also owned an Italia, black. It sold at Barrett Jackson, circa 2009, for about $75k.

    1+
  11. Ron Robinson

    The Italias were called Italia GFX, per my brochures. GFX stands for Genser Forman Experimantal. Genser Forman is the Ford Dealer on Long Island who handled the import from Turin/Torino.

    1+
  12. Gerry

    Hello all,
    Great to hear about the history of the Italia as I am restoring one now and would be great to get period photos of the Italia to get the details correct on the restoration.
    Any help appreciated , thank you.
    Gerry

    1+

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