1966 Fitch Phoenix
Offered by Bonhams | Greenwich, Connecticut | June 1, 2014
This is one of those cars that I cannot believe is actually for sale. That’s partly because it has never been offered for sale before. It’s the only one like it and a lot of people admire this thing – partly because of what it is, but mostly because of who built it.
John Fitch was an Indianapolis-born racer and innovator who lived cars his whole life. As a racing driver, Fitch won the Mille Miglia and the 12 Hours of Sebring and ran at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and had two Formula One starts. When Pierre Levegh was killed in the 1955 Le Mans disaster, Fitch was his co-driver, standing in the pits as the Levegh in their Mercedes-Benz shredded into the stands. It was this accident that fueled Fitch’s desire for safety innovation: he invented those sand-filled barrels you see on the highway and on race tracks, among other things. He also designed this car.
He loved the Corvair. He saw the potential of a low center of gravity and a rear-engine layout. So he built a prototype sports car around the Corvair. The 2.7-liter flat-six was tuned to put out 170 horsepower. It was 7.5 seconds to 60 mph on its way to 130. The car has great styling and two spares behind the front wheel wells, which is a cool, unique look. He was going to build a run of 500 of them, but the government’s hate of the Corvair helped put a stop to those production plans. This remains the only example built.
John Fitch passed away in October of 2012 at age 95. He remains an American legend to those who know about him and it’s a shame more don’t. He was one of America’s great racers from the golden era of motorsport. The Phoenix is being offered from his estate. The pre-sale estimate is $150,000-$200,000 – but under the right conditions, it could bring more. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Update: Sold $253,000.