Manta Mirage

Neil

Supporter
Thank you, Udo. I looked but couldn't find any pictures of my engine bay. I should have taken many more pictures while I was working on restoring the car. I did find a couple of photos of other Manta Mirage engines that were taken by their owners; they are not identical to mine but are very similar to MANTA 2.

Some people have expressed confusion between the black Mirage (Werewolf) and the red Mirage (MANTA 2). They are two different cars. The black one is a race car while the red one is street-legal.
 

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Thanks for that Neil, I remember these as a teenager, drooling over the magazine articles. Is there a tally of how many were produced? Didn't the guy that made these also offer quite a few other kit cars? I wish there were more of these in Australia. I've only ever seem one. There isn't a register of where they all are now is there?
I'm starting to ask too many questions, Huh? I think they have so much potential, as you've shown with both of your cars, and look at what Terry has done with his. I reckon they're great.
Regards, Udo.
 

Neil

Supporter
Udo, lots of kids were mesmerized by those ads in car magazines. I think Manta Cars produced about 900 cars in total. They offered three models:

1. Mirage: steel tube chassis mid-engine car with a body shape similar to a McLaren M8C.
2. Montage: dropped on to a VW pan. Rear-engine with a body shape of a McLaren M6GT.
3. T-Car: bodywork same as a Montage but steel tube chassis and mid-engine.

They also built one very accurate reproduction of a 1955 Corvette but with a production car chassis & engine. This prototype was destined for production but a deal with a major corporation fell through, bankrupting Manta Cars. Too bad.

Most kit cars of the '70s era were pretty crude fiberglass bodies dropped on a VW pan, monumentally ugly, and looked like an upside-down bathtub.. They were produced with a chopper gun and used a production sedan windshield. Manta cars employed high quality hand-laid fiberglass and a custom windshield shaped like the sports racers of that era. Manta kits were not nearly as sophisticated and complete as they are now but for $2995...

I was at Riverside Raceway when Brad LoVette pulled the cover off his first Mirage prototype and rolled it off a trailer in the paddock to make room for their Lola that had been damaged in practice. People came running, thinking it was the much-rumored McLaren street car. He announced that it was a kit car that Manta Cars was going to begin selling but few believed him.
 

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Incredible.
In Australia the most successful Kit Car manufacturer was Bolwell which I have owned three of . You may have heard of them. The Mk 7 and the Nagari were very well made, but earlier cars like the Mk5 were a bit ordinary. You get what you pay for I suppose. Also the manufacturer's reputation is at the mercy of the individual's skill that is assembling it.
Love the old photos.
Regards, Udo.
 

Neil

Supporter
No, Udo, I was not familiar with the Bolwell cars so I looked them up. Nice looking cars I must say. At first I thought "Nagari" sounded Japanese (I lived in Japan when I was a kid right after the War, '47 to '50, and spoke some Japanese back then) but the Japanese word is "Nagare" (rippling water); both words are pronounced the same. I have a Cook Laboratories recording of a koto and one of the selections is titled "Nagare".

 
Nagari is Aboriginal for "to Flow". Mind you there are that many different Aboriginal languages that it might not mean that to all of them.
Regards, Udo.
 

Neil

Supporter
These are photos of the rear view mirrors that I mounted on the inside of the windshield hoop. They are curved convex metal mirrors that I removed from an F-86 Saberjet fighter that was in a local salvage yard here in Tucson. Being mounted close to the eyes and convex, it gives a good view of the rear quarter on both sides of the car, usually a dangerous blind spot.
 

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Brian Kissel

Staff member
Moderator
Lifetime Supporter
Neil, Have you made any progress with your black car. From what I seen, you didn't take it to Bonneville. Is it running properly yet ? Did you figure out your carb or fuel supply problems? I remember back in the spring of 19 you were having issues with assembly or the procedure you were using. Seems like you found some pushrod to head clearance issue on one of the cylinders (6) if I remember correctly. If it was the same block, same heads, same lifters, same pushrods and rockers, the problem was there all along -- correct. Also there was some cam walk issues. Did you get a thrust bearing setup with the proper clearances ?
 

Neil

Supporter
Brian, The 2019 event was NG. I was entered and ready to race at "World of Speed" this September but it was cancelled due to the China virus. :( Earlier I rebuilt the engine after having the cylinders honed 0.002" to clean them up and I found that the Holley 850 cfm carburetor was junk- probably a cracked baseplate or casting. I replaced it with a Proform 850 racing series, a more modern replacement for the Holley. I had mistakenly overlooked the cam thrust bearing when I originally assembled the engine :rolleyes: so I rectified that, too. There were no other problems. I had thought that the fuel pump inlet filter was a 10u which was too restrictive but that turned out to be OK. While I had the engine apart I also added a molybdenum/graphite coating on my Cosworth pistons. Here is the engine running after rebuilding and with an out-of-the-box Proform 850. You can hear the Erson timing gear drive.


Maybe I will get to run sometime in the spring at El Mirage dry lake.... we'll see.
 
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