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Intermeccanica Italia For Sale, With a Ford Drivetrain

American, Builders, European  /   /  By Jim Motavalli

In the postwar years, North American auto entrepreneurs discovered they could build sports car cheaply in Italy. However, the coach-built bodies were put on tried-and-true American chassis. Presto: An affordable competition for Ferrari and Maserati! The resemblance to Italian supercars of the period is entirely intentional. The Intermeccanica Italia for sale on eBay is a prime example.

The ultra-rare 1971 Intermeccanica Italia, located in Columbia Falls, Mont., has a Buy-It-Now price of $119,900.

The two-seat convertible is a one-owner car, formerly in an attorney’s stable with other exotics. It has only 23,300 miles on it. 

Intermeccanica Italia For Sale, front

The Italia is recognizably an Italian design.

The owner says this Italia is “one of the best examples of elegance and splendor in the world.” He admits to “minor interior flaws due to the fact the vehicle has never been restored.” He will consider reasonable offers below $119,900. 

Intermeccanica Italia For Sale, All-American on the Inside

Under the hood, it’s all Ford speed products. A 351-cubic-inch Windsor V-8 is providing power, stirred by a Hurst four-speed. Note the Cobra valve covers and air cleaner. These cars were reasonably light. They could reach 60 mph in just over six seconds and soar past 150 mph. It had stopping power with four-wheel disc brakes.

The Italia is exotic and scarce. But eBay supports the proven Ford drivetrain. For example, here’s a highly tuned Windsor-based 600-horsepower crate engine that would make the Italia go like stink. Windsor parts and accessories are also available.

Intermeccanica Italia Engine

Under the hood, the Italia is all Ford.

In the meantime, nothing much stops you from driving this Italia. The only upgrades were a new intake manifold that slightly increases the power over the stock 310. Padding for the original leather seats make it more comfortable. The paint shines. There are power windows and air-conditioning.

Intermeccanica Italia seats

The interior is spare but purposeful. The seats were re-stuffed (replacing sawdust!).

Intermeccanica’s Apollo and Griffith

The genesis of the Italia is complicated. Canadians Frank and Paula Reisner went to Turin in 1959. Andrew McCredie’s book The Story of the Prancing Bull tells the story. The couple had built speed equipment such as dual-throat carbs, free-flow exhausts, and high-performance cams. 

The Reisners then dabbled in Formula Junior race cars, the 500-cc Intermeccanica Puch (IMP). Then, there was a collaboration with International Motor Cars on the gorgeous Apollo. Intermeccanica did the handmade aluminum coachwork. Buyers could choose from various Buick engines.

The project produced just 42 Apollo cars before the partners ran out of money. The Apollo was sold by Vanguard Motors in Dallas until 1966 under the name Vetta Ventura. In total, 88 were made. 

There was also the Griffith, a collaboration with Jack Griffith that again had an Italian Intermeccanica body and 273-cubic-inch American power—from Plymouth this time. Subsequently, the well-known speed shop Holman Moody took over production in 1965.

Only 400 Intermeccanica Italias Exist

The Griffith inspired the Italia. The Intermeccanica Italia for sale is one of only 400 units. Both coupes and convertibles were built between 1968 and 1973. Franco Scaglione, the designer, also penned the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale. 

Intermaccanica sold 40 Italias by March of ’68. The styling was undoubtedly sexy. The Scaglietti-designed Ferrari 275 GTS4 Nart Spider of the same period has a more curvaceous front end. But those cost more than $20 million cars. Intermeccanica provides an affordable alternative. 

Intermeccanica Italia steering wheel

Today, the folks behind the Intermeccanica Italia are still in business. The Reisners moved to San Diego in 1975. That’s where they produced 600 replicas of the Porsche 356. In a newer venture, the Reisners built 60 VW-derived Jeep-type things from World War II. Frank Reisner died in 2001, but his son Henry runs the business now. 

You can’t keep a good company down. It’s taking pre-orders for the electric Tofino roadster. It delivers a 250-mile range and zero to 60 in five seconds. That’s faster than an Italia.

About the Author

Jim Motavalli is a contributor to the New York Times, Barron's, NPR’s Car Talk, and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, among others. He is the author of nine books, including two—Forward Drive and High Voltage—about electric cars and why they’re important. He is a longtime radio host on WPKN-FM, and a public speaker on environmental topics.

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