Saint Louis, MO
Intermeccanica was founded in 1960 by Canadians Frank and Paula Reisner. The Reisners fell in love with Italy while on vacation and on a whim decided to resettle and start a new business where Frank felt his engineering expertise and passion for sports cars would serve him well. Frank was a creative and dedicated engineer with extensive experience designing racing cars for Giannini. The Reisners picked the appropriately Italianate name Intermeccanica and began offering tuning parts for Fiat Peugeot Simca and other small-bore European vehicles.As the catalog of Intermeccanica-designed exhaust systems carburetor upgrades and other speed parts steadily grew Frank turned to building complete cars. The first was a Peugeot-powered Formula Junior which was followed by the IMP GT (Intermeccanica-Puch). The IMP was a small alloy-bodied sports car based on the tiny 500cc Daimler-Styer-Puch. Much like a Fiat-Abarth the IMP was based on a simple people-car chassis fitted with a lightweight alloy body and tuned for rallying and circuit racing. The IMP managed moderate success most notably an upset class win at the Nurburgring besting the favored Abarths and somewhat irritating Carlo in the process.After the IMP came the Milt Brown-designed Apollo GT which featured an Intermeccanica-built chassis and handcrafted body styled by Ron Plescia and the great Franco Scaglione. Just 90 examples were built before the project went belly-up. However soon after the Apollo came Intermeccanica s own Italia which would become the marque s most successful model.Following the failure of two partnerships (with Jack Griffith and Steve Wilder) Intermeccanica realized the only way to succeed was to control the whole process in-house. The Italia was a well-constructed car with a chassis designed by ex-BRM man John Crosthwaite and wrapped in a handsome steel body designed by Robert Cumberford. After production began a deal was eventually struck with Ford Motor Company to supply engines transmissions rear axles and Magnum 500 wheels from the Mustang. As engine options for the Mustang evolved so did the Italia: The 289 V8 led to the 302 and finally to the big 351. Ford shipped the components to Intermeccanica in Turin where the chassis and bodies were built. The Italia was a thoughtfully engineered and well-built car not to be confused with a kit car or homebuilt special. Today Italias are highly collectible and offer an exciting blend of pure Italian style with generous American V8 muscle.This 1972 Intermeccanica Italia is a very good example of this rare and exciting Italian-American hybrid. According to registry information this Italia dispatched from the factory on August 5 1970. It was completed in US specification and fitted with optional electric windows head rests air conditioning and a black interior. Finished today in classic red over black this Italia Spider is a good-looking car that is ideally suited for on-road enjoyment. The body is presented in glossy red paint with period correct details that include the ITALIA badging on the nose rearing bull grille emblem Plexiglas headlight covers and classic Cromadora alloy wheels fitted with Intermeccanica-badged center caps. Some subtle revisions have been made to this car such as quad-round tail lights shaved filler cap and Frenched tailpipes and rear license plate mount. The paintwork is good and while a few minor touchups can be found on close inspection the car presents very nicely overall. Brightwork is also quite good showing some minor polish marks in places but is straight and attractive.The cockpit is in similarly well-presented and tidy with black upholstery and top as originally equipped. Seats carpets and soft trim are in good order and the interior fittings and switchgear are mainly period-correct. Original type Jaeger instruments are present while subtle updates include an adjustable steering column and a classic three-spoke wood-rim Moto-Lita wheel.Throughout the production of the Italia Carrozzeria Intermeccanica used a series of different engines depending on what was available at the time. The earliest Griffiths were fitted with a Plymouth 273 V8 which was soon replaced with the tried and true Ford small block. As a later production example this car was fitted with the big torquey 351 W from new which is mated to the desirable four-speed manual transmission. The engine bay is detailed with period-appropriate chrome valve covers and air cleaner and the engine runs well breathing through a single four-barrel Holley carburetor.Approximately 350 Italias were built between 1968 and 1973 and they enjoy a strong following of knowledgeable passionate enthusiasts. This well-presented example is an excellent choice for a collector wanting to experience the thrill of a proper Italian sports car without the associated complexity. In the tradition of the best American-powered hybrids such as Iso and Monteverdi this Intermeccanica Italia beautifully pairs exotic Italian style with burly V8 power.