My Car Quest

June 22, 2024

Our Family 1964 Apollo GT 5000

by Josh Bagley –

​The Bagley Apollo GT 5000 has captured my love and attention since I was a small boy visiting my grandparents in El Cerrito, CA. I have followed Apollo’s and read everything I could get my hands on since then.

Bagley Apollo GT

Mike Gulett, editor of My Car Quest, wrote an interesting article in March 2023 about Apollo owners and their car’s history. Naturally I was excited to read about and learn more on Apollo’s and their “standard” vs the later corporate and build interpretation builds. I reached out to Mike and shared a bit of the history of ours, which he asked me to write up and submit for My Car Quest. To that end, this is a bit of facts based on what I know of the car first hand and the surviving receipts and files mixed with family lore and stories – often morphed over the years and always taken with corroboration.

Bagley Apollo GT

My Grandfather’s Apollo

The story starts in 1964. My grandfather worked for an insurance company in downtown San Francisco. He grew up in poor Boston Irish Catholic neighborhoods, had always loved sports cars and driving them fast. The Apollo immediately caught his attention. There were a lot of interesting options to choose from in the early 1960s. As a successful manager my grandfather acquired a few different ones over the years. He saw the Apollo pull into his building’s garage and made it his immediate mission to find out more, who owned it, and where he could get one.

The result was a purchase/trade – a Willys Jeep, cash, and a Lancia for the Apollo. The story told was that it was one of the engineers/founders of the Apollo that had the car and sold it to him. Speaking years later with George Finley, Ron Plescia, Milt Brown, and a few others we determined that the International Motorcar Corp. individual was the shop foreman. Our Apollo was likely one of the ones that he received as partial payment but which he also used to test new configurations and ideas on while he was building it.

Bagley Apollo GT

Our 1964 Apollo, of all the cars and things my grandfather owned, was never sold and has stayed in our family – now through 3 generations. Example: around 1969 my grandfather was driving the Apollo around Palo Alto at night and went into one of the canals. The insurance company took the car, assessed it, and – without my grandfather’s permission – totaled out the car and sold it to someone who was going to “restore” it for his son. My grandfather was pissed when he found out!

After months of letter’s, phone calls, a bit of lawyer intervention, and negotiation – a passion of my grandfather and the art of a good deal – he was able to get the car returned to him, some compensation, and a letter of apology. However, now it was in a bit of a shambles and partially disassembled. The original seats had been removed – probably due to water damage – and VW seats were installed in their place. Those stayed in place for almost 50 years, until I had the Shook’s build and upholster new seats based on the original plans, something they’ve done for other Apollo owners. The dash instruments were replaced around 1970 and the car’s electrical system has been wonky for as long as I’ve known the car.

Bagley Apollo GT

Over the years my grandfather made a few changes, a couple new radios and adding large speakers in the back luggage area; new interior carpeting – red; repainting; Jaguar wire wheels instead of the 4 Borrani’s on there – probably got a deal on selling the Borrani’s to pay for other things; and new muffler exhaust tips around 1985 – rectangular single tips vs the original dual round tips; an enlarged opening in the nose below the grilled opening with a chrome bumper bar bolted onto the front.

Apollo GT Sunroof

There were some things that as far as I can tell are original to our Apollo but which are different. In very early photos the headliner looks the same as we currently have but our Apollo has a sunroof, an early type of motorized sunroof. Also, the exhaust pipes vented through the rear valence vs hanging from underneath – an improvement in my mind to dealing with the dramatic transitions on San Francisco roads from flat to hill to flat. The battery was moved to the engine compartment from the rear box, some of the mesh in the engine compartment was cut away, and fuel filler tube and cap are inside the rear trunk area vs mounted on the left rear quarter panel. The fuel filler cap is definitely part of the original configuration as the interior doesn’t show any signs of having been cut open or shaped for the tube, or filled with bondo…

Bagley Apollo GT

The Apollo is mostly original to what I remember it having as I grew up and took over the maintenance – when I could – and repaired things. It still shows some of the damage from the 1969 accident and effects of salt water. We had the transmission rebuilt around 2017 and discovered it was all original – had never been opened up after the accident and didn’t show any internal affects from the salt water.

It has its issues and I have a healthy list of things I want done on it. The primary objective is to get it back into top driving condition and performance, geared towards the original specs vs anything modern or changed. Once the mechanics, electrical, and body are all in top condition I’ll replace the red carpet interior and, eventually, get a new paint job. My main desire and interest are to enjoy the car. Drive it whenever I want and have confidence in its reliability. I’m not interested in car shows or trying to have a Concourse winning example – attending would be fun but do it only for the fun of sharing the car and its history.

Bagley Apollo GT

Bagley Apollo GT

I want to thank, first, the Apollo Community for all their help, support, and patience with my pestering and prodding questions since I really took over the mantle around 2006. Robb Northrup first, with his excellent book on the American Ferrari. Next, the Shooks – Steve, Caitlyn, and Kyra for all their help in getting the new seats, answering email and text questions (which I fully appreciate is not their preferred medium but very useful when deployed overseas), and their team. George Finley for spending an hour with me going over the Apollo and what he knows of the history of our Apollo. Finally, but definitely not least, Milt Brown and Ron Plescia for sharing their stories and memories of the Apollo and ours and for Milt’s advice and guidance during COVID about getting it “corrected”. Mike Gulett has been great to exchange information with on Apollo’s; Don Bryant putting up with my emails and questions, and the Jay Leno’s Garage episode for keeping me entertained and focused. One of the highlights was the 50th Anniversary event at Concorso Italiano – many thanks to Rob for getting us tickets and helping us to get my grandfather to see Apollo’s and experience the Concorso before he passed. He was well remembered by the original founders of the Apollo community.

Apollo Condition Now

Current state of our Apollo is non-operational. Finding mechanics who are familiar enough and willing to work on carburetor and old cars is increasingly a challenge, especially good ones. The original advantage and intent from the founders were to have it easily serviceable by just about any American mechanic by using common parts.

Today we rely so much on computers, computer technology, and electronic fuel injection, etc. that it’s now increasingly a challenge to find a reliable mechanic to even rebuild the carburetor. One we sourced in Sonoma, CA was an abject failure, leaving the car with a disassembled radiator and detached carburetor. The next step is to get the car in a place where I can work more consistently on it and have these things fixed. Also, replace the wiring harness to strip out the damaged harness that has been cobbled together. After that, the mechanicals…. Enjoy and thanks Mike for sharing!

Bagley Apollo GT

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

THE AUTHOR: Josh Bagley has had a wide and varied career. He has worked on sailing ships, conducted oceanographic research projects, been a stunt double and special effects advisor in films, and has over 20 years of historical research, presentation, and living history program development and teaching experience. He has also worked as a salvage diver, archaeologist, and business analyst salvaging the wreck of the pirate ship Whydah, the first pirate ship discovered.

​He has had historical papers published on piracy in the America’s, Colonial America, French and Indian War, and international business projects. He currently is an adjunct professor at Northeastern University teaching graduate programs in project and program management. He has over 20 years of increasingly complex project and program management, bringing diverse organizations together culturally and technically. He is a consultant to DoD contracts and programs and enterprise-wide mergers and integrations, specializing in finding the most optimal course of action and solution.

​He resides in Massachusetts and has served in the US Army, MA Army National Guard, and US Army Reserves for over 20 years. His military service includes the Infantry, Intelligence – HUMINT and Counter Intelligence, Engineers, Special Forces, a qualified parachutist, and is currently a Major in Civil Affairs, a graduate of Command and General Staff Officer Course, a Company Commander, and is responsible for planning operations for the 443rd Civil Affairs BN. He is a combat veteran and veteran of OIF.

​His hobbies include rugby, crew, sailing, scuba diving, parachuting, boat building, writing thriller and historical novels, wood working, reenacting 18th c. living history, and working with his Australian Shepherds. He is currently searching for an 18th-early (Federal) 19th c. home with land in New England to create self-sustaining living and teaching opportunities.

Bagley Apollo GT
Apollo GT logo

Photos provided by Josh Bagley.

Summary
Our Family 1964 Apollo GT 5000
Article Name
Our Family 1964 Apollo GT 5000
Description
​The Bagley Apollo GT 5000 has captured my love and attention since I was a small boy visiting my grandparents in El Cerrito, CA. I have followed Apollo’s and read everything I could get my hands on since then.
Author

Comments

  1. I would like to have the author get in touch with me about getting that beautiful car back on the road. I have a shop in Washington State called Rule Garage and we specialize in bringing old classic and specialty cars back from the dead and safely motoring on for years to come.
    Thank you

  2. Robb Northrup says

    Josh: It’s so good to see you still have that Apollo! And, that you’ve gone to some great sources for help. I appreciate your respect for the type of car this is: a hand-built “Italian” gran turismo with reliable American mechanicals.

    And you never told me about the insurance company debacle! Glad your grandpa got that straightened out.

    Don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions as you proceed with your rebuild.

    Robb Northrup
    Former owner of Apollo #1003 (1st production Apollo)
    Author: Apollo GT: The American Ferrari

    • Josh Bagley says

      Bob,

      You and Milt have been a huge help and guide to getting the right information to do things right. Thanks for all your support and patience over the years! :-). Looking forward to when we can all meet again in Monterrey and show off the Apollo’s.

      And your book! A wealth of knowledge. I’ve re-read it a few times already.

      Thanks!
      Josh

  3. Glenn Krasner says

    Josh Bagley,

    Fascinating story of the Apollo!!! Thank you for sharing it with us!!! In addition to getting the Apollo operational, please write your autobiography, as your have seemed to have lived many lives and all of them well-lived!!! Glenn in Brooklyn, NY.

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