Jay Leno Drives The Apollo GT: America's Answer To Ferrari

Classic Cars / 4 Comments

The Apollo GT was America's answer to the Ferrari 250 GT.

Stuff like the Apollo GT just doesn't get made today. The brainchild of two American gearheads in the 60s, the Apollo was a strange mashup of European design and American mechanical engineering. Again, you don't get that today. Unless you're going to count the Hennessey Venom. But this car is far from that.

In essence, the modern-day equivalent would be like dropping a Buick Enclave engine into a Camaro with a coachbuilt body. It filled a niche in its day, and now, they're something of a bargain, at least compared to a Ferrari 250 GT.

Jay Leno's Garage/YouTube
Jay Leno's Garage/YouTube
Jay Leno's Garage/YouTube
Jay Leno's Garage/YouTube

The story starts back in the 60s with a 20-year-old Milt Brown. He wanted to take Buick's 3.5-liter V8 and turn it into a sporty GT car to compete with the Europeans. As Leno points out in the video above, back then, that was still feasible. Nowadays, unless you're RJ Scaringe, it's not.

Unfortunately, and like so many startups today, the money soon ran out. The Apollo GT's design and IP changed hands a few times over the years before finally being resigned to the history books. Reportedly, this wasn't because the car couldn't sell. In fact, it was the opposite. The company overextended as sales rose (now who does that sound like?).

In all, Apollo produced 88 cars before things went the way of the dodo. A fair few of them are now resigned to the same history books the company now resides in. But some are still around, like the one in Jay's video.

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Jay Leno's Garage/YouTube
Jay Leno's Garage/YouTube
Jay Leno's Garage/YouTube

That one has been fully restored to original specs. That includes the 3.5-liter V8 making 225 hp, mated to a four-speed manual driving the rear wheels. Inside, things also look predictably European. If you sat someone who didn't know their classics down in this, they'd probably think it was an old Ferrari, what with the wood wheel and classic dual gauges.

These used to be around the $150,000 mark pre-pandemic, which was cheap compared to some E-Types and Ferraris of similar vintage, but prices have since risen (surprise), and they're now hovering above $150K. Still, once you see how much a 250 GT is, you'll be reaching for your checkbook.

Jay Leno's Garage/YouTube
Jay Leno's Garage/YouTube
Jay Leno's Garage/YouTube
Jay Leno's Garage/YouTube

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