Amante GT – The dream

Hebina Plastics changed its name to Voegele Industries and, before the launch, decided that Gazelle wasn’t the most suitable name for the car so he proposed changing it to Amante since he believed that name would get a better commercial response then the old one.

Bill Voegele starting working at Fiberfab, a well-known glass-fibre kit car company, in the late sixties, a period during which this type of company was on the crest of a wave. The mechanical engineer soon realised that the quality of the cars was not always good and he had frequent disagreements with the owners of Fiberfab without really getting anywhere.

So he formed the idea of starting his own company along with two other former colleagues, who in the meantime had started to make their own glass-fibre cars, also in Santa Clara, California. John Hebler and John Ubina had founded Hebina Plastics, but their business was running out of money and they were having various difficulties bringing their new product, the Gazelle, on to the market. Bill Voegele came to their rescue, abandoning Fiberfab to pursue, along with the others, the dream of building a glass-fibre car of quality. The Gazelle was a classy product, much better than Fiberfab production, but it was not yet at the level of quality Voegele wanted.

Structural changes were made, adding roll-bars and reinforcing critical areas. The bodywork was also revised, with a new mould which included twin headlights and the possibility of a choice of three different rear windows. Finally the car body was made from a new material: isophthalic laresin, the best material available at the time. The cost was higher compared with the Fiberfab competitor, but the quality of the Gazelle was at that stage the best on the market.

From 1970 Hebina Plastics changed its name to Voegele Industries and, before the launch, decided that Gazelle wasn’t the most suitable name for the car so he proposed changing it to Amante since he believed that name would get a better commercial response then the old one, which had less flowing pronunciation and was also less attractive.

Despite advertisements in magazines such as Road & Track and the huge number of requests for Amante brochures, sales did not go at all well. The price was, as already mentioned, quite high compared with the competition, but the quality was much better and given the quality of the project Voegele considered the cost to be reasonable for what the car offered. It offered the highest standard of quality in the sector and true sporting lines, but that was not enough to promote sales.

A final attempt was made at the New York Auto Show, hoping that the Amante would gain more recognition and visibility. The car could be fitted with various engines including VW and Porsche units, which guaranteed excellent performance and mechanical reliability. On the Show stand, however, an Amante with a modified chassis was fitted with a Ford V8 and the car’s colour was chosen by Ron Mitchell, the marketing director: a splendid British Racing Green. Transporting the car raised several problems, but in the end Voegele’s team managed to show the car in the display area.

Unfortunately the stand was in between the Ferrari and Lamborghini stands and this meant the poor Amante GT was regarded as one of the many exotic sports cars rather than being appreciated for its excellent quality or as a revolutionary kit car. Bankruptcy followed and its fate was sealed; sales decreased, also because of the contraction of the kit car market in the early seventies. Although the Amante had a circle of admirers, this was not enough to sustain the small builder and after five years the adventure of the sports car and the dream of a group of people died.

A total of about 150 cars were sold, mainly on the American market, although a few did make it to England. To this day there is a group of fans of these cars and to obtain more information you can click HERE.

Text by Tommaso Lai

Translation by Norman Hawkes

Copyright © Cars Forgotten Stories. All rights reserved.


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