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Friday, November 25, 2022

John Fitch's Phoenix prototype, an American Porsche 911 wanna be

~Rare ONES~ One of the attractions of the world's automotive lies in the unique design created by automotive designers specifically to provide convenience and comfort in driving. And for each design result that is considered appropriate and suitable for the times and trends, then put it into prototype form to undergo a series of trials before it is decided to mass produce. 
The Fitch Phoenix prototype was touted as the most ambitious from the 1960s era created by John Fitch, a former Corvette racer and Corvair tuner along with his neighbor, Coby Whitmore. (Picture from: CurbsideClassic)
By the way, not all of them will make it to this stage, so we encounter many designers' works that can be said to be good in design, but for one reason or another made them have to stagnant at the concept stage. However, we believed a good work always can find its right way to be born and known by the public. Indeed, there are many ways for automotive designers to convey their work to car manufacturers.
The Fitch Phoenix prototype final design was executed in steel by Frank Reisner’s Intermechanicca Group in Turin, Italy. (Picture from: CurbsideClassic)
Not to forget the following car prototype called Fitch Phoenix which was touted as the most ambitious from the 1960s era created by John Fitch, a former Corvette racer and Corvair tuner. Besides that, the car is an original American car that is touted to be the fiercest competitor of the Porsche 911 in a series of 500GT cars built based on Corvair underpinnings.
The Fitch Phoenix prototype's interior shows a rather strong Italian influence featured with the low seat backs. (Picture from: CurbsideClassic)
The car making process began, soon after Chevrolet released the 140-hp Corsa engine option on its Corvair in 1965, Fitch started tinkering with it in his Connecticut garage. It was there that the bespoke Sprint fastback model was produced and quickly became a favorite among those in the know. But you know it's actually his second project based on Corvair, due to since 1963, Fitch and his neighbor, a legendary cartoonist Coby Whitmore. They began work on a unique rear-engined prototype, which was intended as a super-exclusive grand touring coupe.
The Fitch Phoenix prototype is powered by an air cooled 164 c.i. Corvair flat six coupled a quadruple Webber carb setup made it capable burst out 170 hp at a low 5200 rpm. (Picture from: CurbsideClassic)
By using a quadruple Webber carburetor setting, Fitch coaxed an impressive 170 hp for the base model car powered by a flat six-cylinder air-cooled engine. He then fitted a targa upper body designed by Whitmore onto a shortened '65 Corvair chassis, installed Girling disc brakes, and added staggered front-rear 6 and 7-inch wheels. 
Uniquely, the Fitch Phoenix provided a weird spare tire hump on the fender. (Picture from: CurbsideClassic)
As quoted of Curbside Classic, the final design was executed in steel by Frank Reisner’s Intermechanicca Group in Turin, Italy and wedded to a highly modified Corvair drive train and running gear. Building on a base of readily available mechanical parts was essential to ensure that spares would be available and to simplify servicing.
The Fitch Phoenix prototype has a curb weight of just 2,150 lbs, and could reach 60 mph in 7.5 seconds en route to a top speed of 130 mph. (Picture from: CurbsideClassic)
Shortly after the Fitch Phoenix completed with a curb weight of just 2,150 lbs, it could reach 60 mph in 7.5 seconds en route to a top speed of 130 mph, such an impressive figures for its time. Oh, there's also a spare tire mounted on the fender. As you can see, it fast and classy.
The Fitch Phoenix prototype, like so many other cars styled by a non-professional designer/studio, shows some good elements but a number of shortcomings too. (Picture from: CurbsideClassic)
In June 1966, John Fitch debuted his Phoenix, shortly after which the US. Congress gave their approval to the creation of the Bureau of Highway Safety to regulate and distribute automotive safety standards in the country. By the time those measures were put in place two years later it appeared debacle Unsafe at Any Speed had effectively grounded the Corvair which is implicated the Fitch-Whitmore GT prototype as well. As a result, the planned production of 500 units fell apart, leaving only one unit that was built as a prototype.😓
This car isn't just a (gorgeous) vestige of one of America's pioneering motorsports figures, it's also a tiny glimpse of proof into a strange, alternate timeline where high-horsepower, rear-engine, special-edition GM grand touring cars are well, as if unaffected and still there and holding on while this one has to step aside.😢 *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | CURBSIDECLASSIC | ROADANDTRACK ]
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