1964 Apollo 5000 GT
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Historics - Brooklands Museum 11th June 2016 Sale
11th Jun 2016
1964 Apollo 5000 GT
The Apollo project was the dream of a young California engineer, Milt Brown, who desired to build an American answer to European GTs such as the Aston Martin DB4 and Ferrari coupés. Brown, who was looking for a coachbuilder, met Reisner at the Monaco Grand Prix in 1960. A deal was made and the first Apollos were built by early 1963 by Intermeccanica. Intermeccanica made and trimmed the steel bodies in Turin, Italy and then sent them to Oakland, California, where the drive train was installed. The prototype's design was by Milt Brown's friend, Ron Plescia, but the nose was too long and the rear vision limited, so Reisner commissioned former Bertone stylist Franco Scaglione to revise it. The Apollo's foundation was a straightforward ladder frame. Suspension and drive train components were adopted from the then-new Buick Special, including a 200hp, aluminium V8 and Borg-Warner manual transmission. The final production bodywork was refined by Franco Scaglione, in Italy. A 1963 Car and Driver magazine road test clocked an Apollo from 0-to-60mph in 8.2 seconds and called it 'a purposeful, distinctive, and practical automobile that an enthusiast will enjoy'. From the beginning, the company's finances were hand-to-mouth. The bodies were fabricated in Italy, and married to the rolling chassis in California. The finished car, sold by Brown's International Motorcars of Oakland, was well received and had famous owners such as Pat Boone. The base price was $6,000 and the top speed was claimed to be 150mph. The Apollo's is perhaps most well known as being the 'Thorndyke Special' in the 1968 Disney movie 'Love Bug'. This was Peter Thorndyke's racing car in the El-Dorado race and was Herbie's arch enemy. Of interest, in the 2000 Apollo Owners register, chassis #1029 is recorded as being registered to Bob Schmidt of Newport Beach, California and it is also stated as appearing in the aforementioned Disney movie. #1029 is one of only 75 coupés built and is the rarer 5000GT, finished in red with a contrasting black interior and believed to be one of only two in the UK. With a recorded mileage of 35,725 and described as being in good condition, the car is fully UK registered and supplied with an MoT test certificate valid until March 2017 along with the aforementioned copy of the owner register. With over 250hp, a four-speed manual channelling power to the wheels and weighing in some 150kg less than an E-Type, performance is electrifying. Dare to be different; you can pretty much guarantee you will not see another on the road. This amazingly rare and highly collectible motorcar combines gorgeous Italian styling and grunty US, V8 power under the bonnet, a formidable package.
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The thumbs up sign is believed to have originated from Chinese pilots. It was used to communicate with the ground crew before take-off.