Jan/Feb 2019 edition
Issue #3 AutoMobilia Resource
Fitch Phantom: Fitch applied a similar formula to the revolutionary front wheel drive 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado, adding performance enhancements, and innovative luxury features befitting this upmarket car…. a sliding fabric sunroof and “Fan-Aire” seats were included. It appears two cars were built, one 1966, and one 1967.
The elegantly simple square 7.5” x 7.5” black and white brochure rather immodestly titled “The Phantom by Fitch. Toronado Inspired”, not only played up the performance improvements, but also positioned the Phantom as a Grand Touring car with an (unusual for the time) emphasis on the sound system. Highlights featured both a stereophonic tape deck and a radio reverberator(!)
The Fitch Phoenix: The 1966 Fitch Phoenix was constructed at Frank Reisner’s Intermeccanica Carrozeria in Italy, utilizing modified Corvair mechanicals. It was built on a shortened second-generation Corvair chassis and originally intended as a high-style American designed alternative to a Porsche, combining a number of unique (though somewhat dissonant) styling elements. There was an optimistic production goal of building upwards of 500 examples, but only one prototype was ever built.
A very collectible small folder inviting the public to see the Phoenix was distributed in advance to customers of the upscale sporting fashion outfitter, Abercrombie and Fitch (no relation to John) as well as to members of various sports car clubs in the area. This small folder presented an artist rendering of the Phoenix, proclaiming “A Limited Edition” .....it sure was! Interestingly, this small brochure featured a “co-op” ad on the back for Alitalia Airlines; presumably offsetting the expense of flying the completed Phoenix from Intermeccanica’s Turin Carrozzeria to NYC!
A provocative and beautifully produced 8.5” x 11” “real” sales brochure was soon issued with the teasing ad copy, “Delightfully Different Wickedly Beautiful”, along with a profile of John Fitch standing next to the Phoenix.
By 1966, upcoming legislation and safety & emissions regulations signaled an end to the era of small scale USA based specialist enthusiast constructors like John Fitch and Co., but thankfully through the advertising materials, we can still experience some of that era’s boundless optimism.
To read more great columns like this one from automotive literature expert David Kayser...