1968 Intermeccanica Italia Spyder

In 1967, Frank and Paula Reisner formed Intermeccanica in Turin and began manufacturing the Italia Spyder. Production began after a long series of events including name, ownership and engineering changes. This can probably explain why the Italian-American hybrid isn’t more well known, but does little to hide the car’s Italian flair and V8 performance.

They story starts with Jack Griffith of New York who was stuffing Ford V8s into small TVR chassis. The resulting performance was tremendous, but not enough to keep the idea afloat. Eventually English chassis production ran dry so he turned to Frank Reisner of Intermeccanica, who had also produced the Apollo GT, to make a chassis and body for his next car.

Designed by Bob Cumberford, the next Griffith was more bespoke with a custom chassis and interior. The first Griffith GT appeared at the 1965 New York Auto show, but that wasn’t soon enough to save Griffith’s enterprise. Almost as fast as the 2,250 body order was made, Griffith’s company folded, leaving Intermeccanica with expensive tooling and rigs. The shells that did shipped to America were finished by Steve Wilder at Holman and Moody.

Intermeccanica Italia Spyder

This left Intermeccanica with no choice but to produce the car on their own terms and in Italy. They found a US distributor, Genser-Foreman who made some promotional material, calling the car a Genser-Foreman Experimental or GFX. By the time Ford had agreed and started shipping Mustang engines, transmissions, rear axles, and Magnum 500 wheels to Torino, Italy, the name changed again to Torino. This was quickly overturned by Ford themselves so, Frank Reisner chose Italia, and put added the script across the nose of the car to avoid further confusion.

Through all its names and owners the Italia was a proper Italian-American hybrid that lived up to the original design theme initially set out by Jack Griffith. Like the Monteverdis, Isos, ACs and DeTomasos, it used a large American V8 in a European-manufactured body and chassis.

John Crosthwaite at Intermeccanica had to design the chassis from scratch, using parts from various European manufacturers. The engineering was fairly straight forward, using square tubes to form an independent chassis which was welded directly to the body. The company boasted: ‘welded into a single rattle-free unit’. The front was suspended by unequal wishbones and a Mustang live axle was mounted in the rear with coil springs and radius rods.

Ford initially shipped the 4.7 liter engine, but that grew to 5.0 liters and settled on the 5.7-liter Cleveland 351 V8. The later provided great power for the car and helped it reach 60 mph in less that 6.5 seconds.

Intermeccanica Italia Spyder

The Italia’s body was hand-formed over wooden bucks and made of steel. Franco Scaglione was brought in to modify the design and create a spyder variant. He added small bumperettes and updated the shape. The gorgeously-styled spyder far outsold its coupe counterpart and became the best selling of all the Intermeccanica models. It had styling cues from the Ferrari 365 2+2 and maybe the 250 GT Nembo Spyder.

Under 600 Italias were made from 1967 until 1973. Eventually Intermeccanica switched production to the Indra with backing from Opel. This replacement used Opel’s Chrysler V8 and an Opel Diplomat suspension. Shortly afterwards Intermeccanica migrated to Canada to resume their business making replica Porsches.

Intermeccanica Italia Spyder Gallery

See full Intermeccanica Italia Spyder Gallery here

 

In Detail

price $$7995 USD
engineFord 351 Cleveland V8
positionFront Longitudinal
aspirationNatural
valvetrainPushrod OHV, 2 Valvbes per Cyl
fuel feed4-Throat Autolite Carburetor
displacement5752 cc / 351 in³
bore101.6 mm / 4.00 in
stroke88.9 mm / 3.50 in
compression10.7:1
power231.2 kw / 310 bhp @ 4800 rpm
specific output53.89 bhp per litre
bhp/weight231.69 bhp per tonne
torque521.99 nm / 385 ft lbs @ 3200 rpm
body / frameUnit Steel
driven wheelsRWD
front tiresDunlop 185HR14
rear tiresDunlop 185HR14
front brakesDiscs w/Power Assist
rear brakesDiscs w/Power Assist
front wheelsF 35.6 x 15.2 cm / 14 x 6.0 in
rear wheelsR 35.6 x 15.2 cm / 14 x 6.0 in
steeringUnassited Rack & Pinion
f suspensionIndpendant w/Coil Springs, Telescopic Shock Absorbers, Anti-Roll Bar
r suspensionTrailing Arms w/Panhard Rod, Coil Springs, Telescopic Shock Absorbers, Anti-Roll Bar
curb weight1338 kg / 2950 lbs
wheelbase2400 mm / 94.5 in
front track1499 mm / 59 in
rear track1499 mm / 59 in
length4445 mm / 175 in
width1727 mm / 68 in
height1181 mm / 46.5 in
transmissionFord T10 4-Speed Manual
final drive3.00:1
top speed~217.3 kph / 135 mph
0 – 60 mph~6.4 seconds
0 – 100 mph~16.0 seconds

Sources & Further Reading

Mattes, John. ‘Italian-American with an identity crisis’. AutoWeek. April 24, 1984.

Auction Sales History

Intermeccanica Italia Spyder
1968 Intermeccanica Italia Spyder 50049
– sold for $181,500
Single ownership since 1978. Comprehensive restoration, including a mechanical rebuild. Shown at the Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance in 2010. A brilliant example of a rare Italian sports car. Auction Source: 2015 Amelia Island by RM Sotheby’s

Intermeccanica Italia Spyder

1972 Intermeccanica Italia Spyder – sold for $143,000 The 1972 Intermeccanica Italia Spyder offered here is potentially the best of the breed. Subjected to a thorough rotisserie restoration that exceeded $100,000 and was just completed in 2009, its condition reflects the research conducted and close attention paid to ensuring correct detailing throughout. Auction Source: RM Auctions’ 2010 Sports & Classics of Monterey