9pm - May 18, 2012
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The phrase "Handbuilt sports car" covers a lot of territory, from garage-built kit cars to mega-buck exotics. The origins and sticker price of the Fitch Phoenix might suggest it belonged in the former category -- that is until you see it. One look at its curvaceous coachwork designed by John Fitch, styled by Coby Whitemore, and crafted out of steel by Carrozzeria Intermeccanica in Italy will erase any thoughts of kits. An elegantly crafted, thoroughly engineered sports car, the Fitch Phoenix surely would have spawned an enthusiastic following -- had it not been undermined by Washington bureaucracy and Detroit timidity. As it happened, only one Fitch Phoenix was built, and stands as a reminder of what could have -- should have -- been. The Fitch Phoenix is a classic example of the "whole" exceeding the sum of its parts. In this case, many of those parts -- including the powertrain, suspension and brakes -- were sourced from Chevrolet's innovative buy controversial Corvair. But the purpose-built chassis yielded true sports car performance to match its graceful shape. Handling refinement benefited greatly from John Fitch's extensive racing experience -- which included drives with Cunningham and Mercedes-Benz as well as managing the very first Corvette racing team. Its interior featured luxury appointments and craftsmanship to match any contemporary factory effort. Not bad for a machine assembled in the woods of Northeast Connecticut! Sadly, GM axed the Corvair just as John Fitch was ramping up for a production run of 500 units. Without the engine and suspension bits, the Phoenix project was stuck in neutral and eventually mothballed. John Fitch still owns -- and enthusiastically drives -- the lone prototype.

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