Auction: 1969 Intermeccanica Italia Spyder

Auction: 1969 Intermeccanica Italia Spyder

This is no Faux-rare. The Intermeccanica Italia Spyder is original 1960s artwork that rarely comes up for sale and yet is many lifetimes more attainable than the museum pieces from Maranello, Italy.

Intermeccanica was founded in 1959 by a Canadian couple who, like anyone who visits Italy for the first time, fell madly in love with the country. Frank and Paula Reisner, originally from Hungary and Czechoslovakia, buzzing around in a Fiat 500 and camping in the woods. Italmeccanica was a supplier to Fiat. Frank liked the name, changed it to Intermeccanica, and apparently with no trademark complaints, the couple started an aftermarket parts company in Turin. Building carburetors and exhausts ignited a deeper passion to craft custom bodies on a supplied chassis — a true carrozzeria or coachbuilding company like a Bertone or Pininfarina. After they changed Puch 500 beat an Abarth in a race, Abarth himself got so angry he demanded Fiat revoke Puch's contract with Intermeccanica. The company had made its mark.

The Italia was a follow-up to the Apollo, a gorgeous coupe with a Buick V-8. Intermeccanica teamed with Robert Cumberford, a former General Motors designer and a respected automotive journalist, who penned a hardtop version called the Griffith at the behest of Jack Griffith, a TVR dealer in Long Island, New York. When that venture failed, Griffith has renamed Omega, then Torino, and finally Italia after trademark protests from General Motors and Ford and a lawsuit between Cumberford and Griffith. With all that drama, it's no wonder those cars are rarer than the Italia, which sold roughly 400 copies between 1967 and 1973.

With a 351-cubic-inch Ford Cleveland V-8 and a four-speed manual transmission, this lightweight two-seater is a steal next to other period Italian-American mashups like the Vignale-bodied, Chrysler-powered Cunningham. This same Italia with 34,000 miles sold at the 2018 Amelia Island auction for $147,840. Bonhams reported a $10,000 restoration.

Intermeccanica still exists in Vancouver and churns out Porsche 356 replicas under Frank's son Henry. Their badge includes the original Prancing Bull that's now behind a British Union Jack in the shape of a Porsche crest. It's all one hell of a roundabout story that deserves to be told at the new owner's next car show.

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