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Redusernab Weekend of Discovery II – The 1986-87 Armaretta

Jim Brennan September 1, 2012 Cars You Should Know, Weekend Edition 8 Comments

Continuing on with the Redusernab Weekend of Discovery II, this will be the first of many, many, many neo-classic designs. This is a 1986-87 Amaretta By Lerini Coach Corp. of Reseda, California. Allegedly about 30 Armarettas were built in coupe, convertible, and sedan configurations. The Convertible price was $49,995.00. Make the jump to see more…

According to Alden Jewell’s Photostream, The 2-Door Sedan price was the same as the Convertible: $49,995.00. There was a comment left by Mel Francis, and it went like this:

That is a photo of the first convertible prototype, built with a new ’85 Cavalier convertible. The first Armaretta was built with a stock-wheelbase Chevelle chassis and a Pinto body! I helped build the body for it and experienced the problems combining the two different makes. I suggested that on the next attempt, Les Lerner should at least use a GM product, without such a ‘checkered’ past and he liked the idea. Hence, came the car above.
When the prototype was first constructed, the completed car sat rather low on its suspension and looked very graceful. However, it rode poorly and they put a new set of springs in it, with the resulting too-high appearance that you see above. Later cars sat at a more moderate level.

Price of the 4-Door Sedan was $69,995.00. Engine (350 c.i.d. V-8) and transmission for all Amaretta models by General Motors. A 3-page article on this make by Dennis Adler appears in Car Collector April 1987.

According to Mr. Jewell:

The bodies of the 2-Door Sedan and Convertible were fiberglass, but I don’t know if the 4-Door was or not. It was introduced later than the 2-door models. According to the Car Collector article (April 1987) “Lerini is also developing a special edition four-door town car which will be on a 143-inch wheelbase chassis and have an overall length of 226 inches. This model will be priced at around $70,000, Lerini says, and only 200 will be produced.” I don’t know how many actually were produced.

With a reply by Mel Francis who was familiar with the brand:

No smoking of weed at Les Lerner’s place, but his office for a time, at least, was right next door to George Barris’ place in North Hollywood. Does that help explain things a bit?
If you take a close look at this photo, you can see the hideous Granada headlights are gone, replaced with a couple of flush-fitting hinged covers over some Pontiac wide-headlights from the mid-eighties.
All these cars used the original unit-construction steel bodies with styled fiberglass exterior panels bonded over the base body and door structures. I believe only one of these 4-door versions was ever built.

What do you think about these cars? Are the Hooniversalustworthy, or Hurlworthy?

Image Source:

  • Devin

    With all these neo-classic things, it always looks as though they saw the old cars and understood they looked good, without understanding why they looked good. It borrows a lot of old cues – predominantly Cord-based – but they really don't work with the squared-off '70s trends.

    • facelvega

      Don't like any neo-classics? How about a nice simple Panther? or a Clenet?

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  • FuzzyPlushroom

    Finally, a car that would have made a brand new Cimarron look like a financially sound decision in comparison.

  • Van_Sarockin

    Just sad. And I can only imagine the unnoticed, unserviceable rust that would have set in, if thi had ever seen real world service.

  • Mad_Hungarian

    The convertible looks pretty good and does a decent job of concealing its plebeian roots, at least in the exterior. Replace the headlights with something round and you've got a winner. The coupe is a jarring clash of styles; the roof screams 1980's and not in a good way. The sedan is a whole lot of ick, being obviously a stretched J-car.

  • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

    So a Cord and a Dodge Mirada had a mutant offspring, eh?

  • tiberiusẅisë

    Granada headlight assembly?

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  • Ed ERoadsters

    The Armaretta car concept was designed by a collaboration of ideas between car builder Ed Matula and the late automotive illustrator Roy Jones. Several front design ideas were looked at before selecting the Cord concept. We took a Pinto plastic model and grafted a 1936 Cord front end on it. It was presented to several business men with no real interest to fund it. Several years later Les Learner saw the model and liked it. He offered to finance it and have a prototype built. A joint venture between Ed Matula, fabricator Mel Francis and the late hot hod builder Bill Mathews was created and the prototype was built in Bill Mathews shop in Ventura California. We 9 months later the prototype was complete. I was a big hit a the Los Angeles Auto Show. Production was delayed though because of the slow economy in the mid 60’s. It took about 2 years before investors were found and Lerini Coach Corp. Production was then started in North Hollywood California.
    To clarify some previously stated facts. The prototype was 2 door coupe built on a Chevy Malibu chassis with a Ford Pinto body. The production cars were built on a stretched Chevy Malibu chassis and used a Pontiac Sunbird body with fiberglass front and rear clips and the doors were reskinned with the corrected body lines. The Sunbird body was chosen because convertibles were requested by customers and the pinto body did not fit the bill. The Sunbird provided for a complete body structure with power windows, door locks and a working convertible top that did not have to be engineered. The dash configuration and interior options were also a consideration.

    I hope that this clears up the history of the unique Armaretta.

    Submitted by Ed Matula

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