My Car Quest

December 16, 2017

The 50th Anniversary of The Apollo GT – A Terrific But Nearly Forgotten Car

by Mike – 

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo GT, an American made sports car produced from 1963 to 1965 in Oakland, California. The Apollo project was the dream of Milt Brown and Newt Davis, who wanted to build an American car to compete with Aston Martins and Ferraris. Not compete on the racetrack but as a street sports car.

Apollo GT

Engineered by Milt Brown, with styling by Ron Plescia, the prototype featured Italian handmade aluminum bodywork by Corno Coachworks in Turin, Italy. A 215 cid or a 300 cid Buick engine powered the Apollo. The top speed was claimed to be 150 mph.

Apollo GT

After the prototype Intermeccanica of Turin, Italy built all Apollos with steel bodies. The original design had a few problems; the nose was too long and the rear vision limited, so former Bertone stylist Franco Scaglione was hired to revise it.

In the beginning it seemed like the Apollo was going to be a big success. However, Brown and Davis were losing money and needed to sell the company. Ironically, the more Apollo GTs they sold, the more money they lost. Neither Milt Brown nor Newt Davis had ever done a cost analysis on the production and marketing of the Apollo. At $6,000, the selling price was too low.

Apollo GT interior

Apollo GT

Altogether 76 coupes, 11 convertibles and the prototype 2+2 were made for a total of 88 Apollos built between 1961 and 1965 when Apollo was sold to Vanguard Industries, an aftermarket supplier of auto air conditioners in Dallas, Texas. Vanguard sold the Apollo as the Vetta Ventura and built only 11 cars.

Apollo GT Interior

A third attempt to produce the Apollo was by attorney Robert Stevens. His Apollo International Company of Pasadena, California completed only 14 cars, with foreman Otto Becker finishing another six.

Apollo GT

The automotive press loved the Apollo GT:

In November 1963 Road & Track wrote: “Our experience in the Apollo has been both brief and pleasant. The car is quite comfortable (even for extra tall occupants) and well finished. In general, the Apollo is a very appealing automobile, put together with loving care under the supervision of Brown and Davis in this country, and Frank Reisner, head of Intermeccanica, in Italy. The whole conception is basically sound and the company directors have proven to R&T that they are interested in producing a quality automobile and have the interest of the customer at heart.”

Apollo GT

You may like to read The Apollo GT – Italian Craftsmanship Powered By Buick.

Watch the Apollo GT driving video here.

Concorso Italiano will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo GT in August 2013 in Monterey, California.

The Apollo GT is an excellent sports car that should have been a big success financially as well.

A version of this article was published in June 2011.

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Summary
The 50th Anniversary of The Apollo GT - A Terrific But Nearly Forgotten Car
Article Name
The 50th Anniversary of The Apollo GT - A Terrific But Nearly Forgotten Car
Description
This year is the 50th anniversary of a great but little know American sports car - the Apollo GT.
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Comments

  1. roger ramjet says:

    Thank you Mike for bringing back memories of the Apollo GT. I have few questions for the group mind: who designed the chassis, is it a body on frame, and how is it’s road ability? Brown/Davis were very ambitious to compete with Astons and Ferraris. Rivolta had similar intentions but what sets Iso cars apart, for instance, and what makes them valuable, interesting, and important is not just that they are beautiful but that Bizzarini designed and set up their chassis. If I remember correctly, the Apollo ended up more easily compared to a Cobra than a Ferrari. Very much looking forward to your comments.

  2. roger ramjet says:

    Thank you Mike. Great post you gave us from the president of the Apollo Club! We’ll be looking forward to see them in person hopefully In Monterrey in August. I was so impressed with Apollos in the late 60’s. For me it was a time of automotive squizofrenia between the direction my heart pulled, Italian designs with their agility, and the reality of growing up in Souther California’s hot rod culture. Come to think about it, not so much has changed….Thanks again.

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