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Saturday, August 12, 2023

From Concept to Obscurity: The Tragic Journey of the Griffith 600GT Sports Car

Forgotten ONES - Not all sports cars that roll off the production line in the automotive industry are destined for success. Among the ranks of these high-speed marvels, some have faced a rather unfortunate fate, failing to capture the hearts of enthusiasts. A prime example of this phenomenon is the Griffith 600GT, a classic sports car born in the year 1966. Its story, however, is far from a tale of random creation. In fact, it is a narrative woven with the threads of ingenuity and design, yet it found itself plagued by an unforeseen lack of demand, even after a rebirth under a new moniker.
The Griffith 600GT Sports Coupe is a classic sports car designed by Robert Cumberford and Franco Scaglione. (Picture from: ConceptCarz)
Transport yourself back to the years between 1962 and 1965, when the renowned Turin-based firm Intermeccanica was hard at work crafting bodies for the Apollo GT sports car. This particular vehicle was a collaborative effort, with American companies International Motor Cars, Vanguard Industries, and Apollo International each playing their part in its production.
The Apollo GT (in pictured 1964 model) is forerunner of the Griffith 600GT. (Picture from: PremierFinancialServices)
From the fertile grounds of this project sprouted the Griffith GT, a striking American-Italian hybrid brought to life through the creative minds of designers Robert Cumberford and Franco Scaglione. This masterpiece took shape in the bustling city of New York, within the workshop of the visionary Jack Griffith. Before this endeavor, Griffith had garnered a reputation for crafting race cars that boasted V8 engines situated upon TVR chassis.
The Griffith 600GT (in pictured 1966 model) at the Third Annual Desert Classic Concours d'Elegance, Feb 28 2010. (Picture from: Wikipedia)
Under the attentive gaze of Intermeccanica in Italy, the body of the Griffith GT was masterfully sculpted, displaying a remarkable similarity to the upcoming Intermeccanica Italia model. Yet concealed beneath its streamlined exterior lay a powerhouse in the form of a 4.5-liter Commando V8 273 engine, procured from Plymouth. This robust heart churned out an impressive 235 horsepower, eagerly poised to unleash its might on the open road. Historical accounts indicate that in 1966, Griffith managed to sell a modest range of 6 to 14 units. Regrettably, it falls short of being dubbed a success story.
The Griffith 600GT Sports Coupe while sat on display at the the Amelia Island Concours 2011. (Picture from: Dan Azzarati on Flickr)
As fate would have it, the Griffith GT found itself changing hands, catching the attention of Steve Weidler. With new ownership came a new identity, and thus the Omega GT was born. The stage was set for this reimagined marvel to grace the world's highways. Production shifted to the skilled artisans at Holman-Moody in North Carolina, a name synonymous with preparing race cars for NASCAR competitions.
This is the Omega GT sports car (in pictured 1967 model), formerly known as the Apollo and Griffith, distinguished not merely by the badge, built with the same Intermeccanica body-style. (Picture from: ClassicCarWeekly)
The Omega GT drew its power from a formidable 4.7-liter V8 289 engine, generously equipped with 271 horsepower. A 4-speed manual transmission ensured an intimate connection between driver and machine, while the rear axle dutifully transmitted the engine's might to the pavement. The body, an exquisite double coupe design, was meticulously handcrafted in Turin using steel panels. This artistic process culminated in a marriage with a tubular chassis, a design informed by the insights of none other than Formula One engineer John Crosthwaite.

Time marched on, and 33 units of the Omega GT were meticulously assembled, each a testament to craftsmanship and engineering prowess. Yet, destiny was unyielding, and another chapter of uncertainty clouded the Omega GT's path, leading to yet another heartbreaking bankruptcy. Once again, a captivating creation stood without a suitor.
The Intermeccanica Italia (in pictured Coupe-style) is a two-seater sports-style car produced by Construzione Automobili Intermeccanica. (Picture from: Intermeccanica.org)
But the story takes an unexpected twist, as Frank Reisner, the mastermind behind Intermeccanica, refused to let his dreams be extinguished. Under the banner of Construzione Automobili Intermeccanica, the torch was carried forward. In 1967, a phoenix rose from the ashes, in the form of the Intermeccanica Italia, built upon the foundation of the Omega GT. This reborn icon graced the market in both Coupe and Spyder styles, a testament to resilience and unwavering passion.

Apologies, the video displayed below features solely a 1:43 scale model of the 1966 Griffith 600GT Sports Coupe.
Though the global automotive stage may not have showered the Intermeccanica Italia with resounding accolades, it stands as a remarkable testament to the 1960s era. With the ability to attain a top speed of 150 mph (241 kph), the Intermeccanica Italia was a rare gem, even among the high-speed marvels of its time. It defied convention and pushed the boundaries, leaving an indelible mark on the pages of automotive history. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | CARSTYLING.RU | CONCEPTCARZ | WIKIPEDIA | STORY-CARS ]
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