In a recent Facebook post by our Canadian Checker friend Kaelan Benjamin Bentham enlightened members about the Intermeccanica company and a potential car the company planned to build based on a Checker platform.
According to Kaelan “ Intermeccanica is a company that is based down the street from me. They build extremely high end hand-built replicas of the iconic Porsche 356 convertible. The end product of their current offering is gorgeous, it’s basically a coachbuilt car on a tube frame chassis. Not a kit car, no VW pan.
However they have an interesting history, including a couple of models that they developed and built in the sixties and seventies when car making was totally different. I’m sure most of us car buffs remember the original Herbie the Love Bug movie, if you remember the Thorndyke Special that was an Interneccanica Apollo.
I love Intermeccanica Roadsters and plan to purchase one in the next few years as a little city Runabout. They are even making an electric model right now, I was down at their shop a few weeks ago and the original founder son Henry was showing me the Prototype”
Intermeccancia has a rich history according to McCredie, Andrew author of the book, The Story of the Prancing Bull, “Frank, a Hungarian-born Canadian, and Paula Reisner, a Czech-born Canadian were a perfect match. Their extraordinary dreams resulted in unique automobiles for the connoisseur market. Their company, Intermeccanica, is known world-wide for its custom cars. Their road to success was bumpy, but they overcame every adversity, ultimately transforming their setbacks into creative opportunities. This remarkable story started “from the sale of the VW-based Devin Body Special back in Montreal, [when] Frank Reisner finally went into the car business. A small and humble company that would have a marked impact on the global sports car business was born”.
In 1979, Frank Reisner developed a Checker based Neo-Classic called the Lexington. The idea was to buy a Checker chassis and use it as the foundation of the Lexington. It was similar cocept to what Excalibur was producing at the time with NOS Studebaker Lark frames. Mr. Reiner developed three different bodies: A convertible, targa and coupe with different doors and roofs.
Had the cars actually been built, it truly would have been a very different neoclassic car. The X-brace frames made by Checker were actually an evolutionary design of the X-brace frames designed for Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg.
We all love our Checkers and more importantly we all love our sturdy X braced frames, this design feature was introduced to A-C-D by Herb Snow. Years earlier in 1927, Snow was impressed with Lancia Dilambda on display at the New York auto show, it was equipped with an X-brace frame. So impressed, Snow ultimately would utilize this design first on the Cord L-29 then on Auburns.
Snow’s use of the “X” frame member was a method of adding structural rigidity to a ladder-style automobile frame a feature that now has been used by nearly every automobile company in the world. Snow’s first application of the “X” frame for a rear wheel drive set up was on the 1931 Auburn 8-98. The 8-98 featured an engine by Lycoming that produced 98 horsepower.
Neo-classic collector cars have been somewhat challenging to take seriously over the years. Many think the neoclassic like the Clenet, or Excalibur are cheap imitations of the classics. Had the Intermeccanica Checker based car been produced, the entire foundation would be utilize a heavy duty Checker chassis, not a VW or Studebaker chassis. This in and of itself would have added a little more class to the neo-class.
Add truly beautiful body designs mated to a Checker chassis and quite frankly, the result would have been a really nice combination. Unfortunately, the Herb Snow chassis was never mated to an Intermeccanica body, so we’ll never know what auto art could have been built.