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Dax-era Kamala Kit Car14 Comment

Kamala | Tue, 09 May 2006 Posted by :

I really think the old Kamala kit (originally by Dax, and later by a new company, Kamala Cars, that deserves to be slapped for the grotesque Kamala Futuro they created) is amazing, and wish it had been more of a market hit… It’s a daring (and I think successfully executed) piece of design work, that on a Ford V6 could do 0-60mph in under four seconds and surpass 160mph (450BPH per ton or more).

kamala-river.jpg

Anyway, my old friend David Betts was able to take this one out for a week long review drive while they were still being made by Dax (this is a first generation car). Here’s some more photos of it that he took:

kamala-8.jpg kamala-7.jpg kamala-6.jpg kamala-5.jpg kamala-4.jpg kamala-3.jpg kamala-2.jpg kamala-1.jpg

Benais-Saint-Hilaire (BSH) Kit Car4 Comment

BSH | Tue, 09 May 2006 Posted by :

Joe Lee sends us in these great shots of a French BSH kit done up for racing. You can read more about it and see some awesome pictures of one of the sexiest little sportscars, kitcar or not, around, at this site en Français.

It’s a two piece body on Renault R8 mechanicals on a custom chassis. Assembly time is fairly high at about two hundred hours. I think it looks a lot like a Porsche 906 but another writer who is not so friendly describes it as a baby Ferrari P4 — and not in a good way (meaning that the proportions of the car just look “wrong”)! It was very light and managed about 200 kph.

bsh06.jpg bsh-race.jpg

Not bad for what, a 1300cc engine?

Mystery UK kit? Apal Corsa!8 Comment

Apal Corsa | Tue, 09 May 2006 Posted by :

My Bulgarian friend Joe Lee sends in this picture of a somewhat “Marcos”-looking kitcar that he thinks is out of the UK and is sitting on a Beetle chassis. Anyone recognize it? Is it even a kit car? I could swear I recognize it but my brain just isn’t working tonight.

UK-Kit.jpg

UPDATE: This is actually a Beligian kit made by dune-buggy company APAL, the CORSA (in many ways this car is philosophically similar to the Manx SR). To the best of my knowledge it was a 2+2 sportscar (admittedly the backseat was pretty tiny) built on a VW chassis made for the latter half of the 70s. It was made with both a hard-top with gullwings and as a full roadster.

This car was briefly marketed in the UK by Cartune.

Red Manta Mirage10 Comment

Manta Mirage | Sat, 06 May 2006 Posted by :

I’ll let this letter from Lewis tell the story instead of writing it myself… But first let me torment you with some pictures of his 4.7 second 0-60mph, 220mphg stunning car. Please note that it is sold at this point.

manta1.jpg manta2.jpg manta3.jpg manta4.jpg manta5.jpg manta6.jpg

This car was purchased at an estate sale at a fair price. The out side appearance was OK, inside went from fair to poor, engine compartment appeared to be all there, So I took it for a drive, after the owner made several attempts to start it. It did not have insurance so I agreed not to take it out on the highway, (first mistake) so I was only able to go through three gears, satisfied with my find and my overwhelming hormones of a childhood dream exploding from the inside outward. We haggled briefly and voila I know owned a Manta Mirage.

So the Odyssey began: Locating exotic car insurance (ha that was a laugh!), locating a garage to work on it, Borrowing a car trailer to bring it home, acquiring the help of a friend , So the entire ordeal just to bring this car home was around $350.00 including lunch and a half rack of Coors Light to celebrate my new acquisition.

The following weekend I proudly set off with my tool box hoping to conquer any and all problems within a week end or two. (Ha!) “The car had been stored for 9 years, it cant need that much!” I said to myself. Sooooooooo are you ready for the list? Starting in no particular order:

Cracked windshield, non functioning doors, knobs hanging with duct tape, exhaust leak, header bolts missing, bad thermostat, bad water pump outlet, bad water pump, no turn signals, no working head lights, malfunctioning gauges, sand underneath the carpet, moldy carpet, sticky accelerator, rotted cable lines, broken deck latch, broken deck rails, broken deck rail connectors (held on with piece of twine) broken shifter seal, broken shifter, loose shifter knob, cracked steering wheel, no horn, rotted air lines, rotted shock bushings, no locking nuts on or cotter pins on spindle equipment, windows on upper doors unsealed, upper doors not attached, doors cracked by support housing, rusted support housing, Rotted radiator hose, rusted "L" bends (idiots used uncoated steel, real smart), NO RADIATOR SHROUDING, no deck pins, missing deck latch, no thermal insulation, missing exhaust shields, cracked and molded weather-stripping, weathered aluminum wheels, no rearview mirror, no air filter, stripped 4th gear, no grease fittings on "U" joints, no seat belts, broken choke cable, broken wipers, no heater, corroded battery holder, corroded battery cables, bad plugs, overlapping plug wires, MUD IN THE FRAM RACING FILTER!!!, no recovery tank, No shifter boot, NO STEREO!!! (a biggie there) , no storage pockets, rusted fuse box, rusted fuses, corroded electrical wires, (that was ugly!) and probably more, I cant remember it all...but I have kept all of the receipts...

Now for the additions, improvements and repairs:OK take the list you just read all were repaired, remanufactured or replaced with either stainless steel hardware or top of the line parts.

IN ADDITION:

Custom removable gull wing doors, CD Stereo, Real Voice Driving/Warning System with Radar, Laser detector, Grant pro series steering wheel, Dual air horns, alarm system with remote, Custom headlight covers, Pilot Driving lights, DEI header wrap, Thermotec liner engine bay and cockpit, Padded seat liners, new carpet, new fuse panel, new wiring, heaters, air gauge, motion visual deterrent (cool feature) $1500.00 Cooling system which includes; Flowmaster water pump, Robert Shaw Racing Stat, Griffin HP Nascar signature series all aluminum radiator, Black Magic cooling fan, Rear back up radiator w/cooling fan, all new shrouding, 53" of additional air intake added; I have had this car running in stop and go traffic during the hot summer months and it has NEVER reached over 200 degrees; also, Hi perf ignition, plugs, plugwires, Debendear Oil cooler, Synthetic oil, Synthetic gear oil, NEW Saginaw Transmission, new hoses, Thermostat for cooling fan, illuminated toggles, Hand polished aluminum wheels, third eye brake light (real cool) new tags, emissions approved, licensed and I still probably can't think of every improvement that has taken place on this car.

Sooooooo After 53 weekends, a brand new tool collection, an angry wife (now that I am home things are great!) Several skinned knuckles, several greased stained clothes, Two portfolios filled with receipts, an empty bank account, a lost summer, oil in my crotch (dont ask!) and over 200 trips to the auto parts store (three of which know me by my first name) I finally have the exotic car thats pretty damn close to my standards.Why am I selling? I really do not want to, But my family needs a bigger home and my wife says if I ever do this again I better do it from my own garage, so there you have it.

I can’t find the words to tell you what a traffic stopper this exotic is, the acceleration is out of this world 0-60 in high fours, a real thrill to drive. EVERYONE STOPS AND ADMIRES THIS EXOTIC. One time an older fellow driving a mini van stopped in the middle of a 10 way traffic intersection to look at the Manta in the other lane, needless to say the gentlemen behind him was a little upset, I almost felt a little embarrassed…(are you kidding I was eating this up!)

On a lighter note……

To all you guys and gals who have built your own, and done it right! (key word) I tip my hat to you!

For all you individuals who are seriously thinking of doing your own, you might want to meet the following criteria:

  • Single
  • Have a large bank account
  • Access to alot of tools
  • Love grease and oil
  • Have a ton of patience
  • Have a ton of skill
  • Have a ton of fine thoughts while you return that part for the third time
  • Enjoy TV dinners (because you will have no time to cook!)
  • Have about a Year or more of free weekends
  • A clean driving record (ever tried to get insurance on exotic gull wing door, 39″ off the ground, 300 horsepower rocket?)

….oh and being mechanically inclined might help too!

Audi RSQ One-Off6 Comment

One-offs | Sat, 06 May 2006 Posted by :

Check out this amazing but slightly odd looking one-off (I assume) Audi TT-based Audi RSQ replica (remember, the car from I, Robot?). via:

audit-tt-rsq-1.jpg audit-tt-rsq-2.jpg audit-tt-rsq-3.jpg

Death of an Aztec 7?6 Comment

Aztec 7, FiberFab | Sat, 06 May 2006 Posted by :

So I received this email and I thought it would give an answer everywhere, because odd damage can make a kitcar purchase dramatically more expensive than ever expected.

Your site is one of the very few I've been able to find dealing with the Aztec 7 Kit Car... so I'm hoping you can help me out. I just purchased a 1979 Aztec 7 that has been sitting since 1982. It is currently under a fading red oxide primer, has no engine, most of the electrical system has been removed, and it needs a fair amount of work.The engine is no problem - any VW 1600cc will work great in it. The electrical is no issue, either, as I can do that myself with no problems. The body work that the car needs is fairly minimal, mostly due to the fiberglass construction.

What is a problem is the windshield. At some point during it's 24 years of sitting, someone vandalized the car, breaking the driver's glass, rear glass, and the front windshield. I have a good passenger glass, so I can have a glass company make a replacement for the driver's side by using the passenger side as a template. The back glass is simple flat glass, and should be easy enough to reproduce. The front, however, is a different story.

I know that many of the kit cars use existing car windshields in them, but because I can't find any real information on the car on the internet, I'm having problems trying to locate what kind of windshield it uses. Since your website features several Aztec 7s on it, I was hoping that you would have that information. Anything you can help me with at this point would be greatly appreciated! Thanks for your time!

First of all, let me show you a picture of my Aztec 7 when I was basically done building it. It was a dark pearl green, had a beautiful custom interior, a custom luggage case (it was a daily driver), and had been modified extensively to look more like it’s inspiration, the Carabo (including Bertone logos).

aztec-7-kit-car.jpg

Unfortunately, some of the work had not been done well enough. While at first glance, it appeared to be one of the nicest Aztec 7s of all time, not long long after getting it back, the door hinges broke, the interior turned out to be poorly put together, and for some reason I had some stupid idea that required taking out the windshield. I took it upon myself take to it out myself. I cracked it, and then made the problem worse by trying to solve it on my own without the right tools. I had the window professionally removed (easy and cheap), but the damage was done and the windshield would have to be replaced.

Problem is, the windshield is from a farking Lamborghini Muira!!! Sure, when FiberFab was in business (they sold between 400 and 2,000, depending on who you believe), you could buy their clone for almost nothing… but to the best of my knowledge it is not available as a copy any more, so you have to buy it direct from Lamborghini parts suppliers — the price at the time was something like $4500 and only a few were available in the world. So here’s what I was left with:

broken-aztec-7-4.jpg broken-aztec-7-3.jpg broken-aztec-7-2.jpg broken-aztec-7-1.jpg

I mean, still a fundamentally good looking car, but damaged to the point where fixing it was more expensive that buying a new one! And to be honest, at that point I was sick of it. I put it on eBay and got a fraction of what I’d invested — a tiny, tiny fraction! That said, what I proposed the new owner do to avoid the windshield problem was pretty cool:

aztec-7-split-window.jpg

Sort of a split between the Carabo and the Aerovette and Astrovette series? Sadly, I don’t think the buyer went through with it… It’s too bad though, I think it would have been cool, and would have been a really unique and stunning vehicle.

The world’s first mini-van1 Comment

Laser 49er | Fri, 05 May 2006 Posted by :

….and yes, it was a kit car. Sometimes kits copy, but just as often they are the innovators. I was asked to provide a little more information on the exceedingly rare Laser 49er. Now, please keep in mind that this car predates the big car companies mini-vans by quite some time as you read this (this is part of the original brochure for the vehicle) by Elite Enterprises.

laser-49er-mini-van.jpg

Elite works with design and engineering experts, in many phases of product planning, development, and final production. The illustrations in this brochure of the Laser 49er, as well as those of other Elite models on our stationary and envelopes, are the work of Harry Bradley, the noted California artist and automotive design instructor.

THE DIFFERENCE
What makes the Laser 49er so different from other vans, automobiles, or kit cars? It isn’t just a question of size. The Laser 49er was designed to accommodate the multi-purpose requirements of today’s driver. Most automobiles offer one advantage, to the detriment of others: spaciousness versus economy, efficiency versus luxury, practicality versus styling. But the Laser 49er is the vehicle that aims at versatility. It allows you more diverse users, more overall advantages — with fewer comprimizes. The Laser 49er gives you a little more of everything, and that makes a big difference in your driving.

LUXURY INTERIOR
When you’re in the driver’s seat of a Laser 49er — surrounded by deep-padded adjustable seats, arm rests, padded dash, and full instrumentation — you’ll think you’re inside a luxury car. You are.

SPACIOUSNESS
The Laser 49er only looks little from the outside. Inside, there’s room for comforable seating (five full-sized adults!), and for plenty of storage as well.

MANEUVERABILITY
The Laser 49er’s smaller size and efficient design provide better cornering, less wind resistance, and easier handling than any conventional van. Gets you into tight spaces, without putting you inside of one.

STYLING
The exceptional design of the Laser 49er features gull-wing doors, rear hatch back, and strong clean lines that combine practicality with great looks. All excecuted in tough reinforced fiberglass — so it will keep looking great without rust or corrosion. The Laser 49er is pre-gelcoated, ready to paint your favorite color. We don’t think all vans should look alike — especially this one.

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SPECIFICATIONS
Overall Length . . . . 173.5"
Width. . . . . . . . . .72.0" (100" with both doors open)
Height . . . . . . . . .57.0" (80" with doors open)
(4'9" — 49er)
Wheelbase. . . . . . . .94.5"
Front Track. . . . . . .58.0"
Rear Track . . . . . . .57.0"
Road Clearance . . . . . 9.0"
Curb Weight . . . . . .2,200 lbs

ENGINE
All VW engines. Also Porsche, Corvair, Mazda and many others. (Adaptors required for all except VW.)

CHASSIS
Any stock VW 2-door sedan. 1966 through present VW, no alterations required. Super Beetle adaptor available from Elite.

SEATING CAPACITY
5 adults.

LUGGAGE SPACE
12 cu. ft. inside rear hatch.

ASSEMBLY
With our complete assembly manual and your know-how, you’ll have the Laser 49er road-ready in about 120 hours. Only home tools are required, and the body comes complete with the doors pre-hung and glass installed at our factory. Most Laser 49er owners have almost as much fun building as they do driving.

THE DIMENSIONS
You can see by the size of the Laser 49er, and by the specifications listed at the left, that the physical dimensions of the mini van are quite different from those of a conventional van. What figures can’t describe, are the new “dimensions” of driving that are open to you as a Laser 49er owner. Because every person who drives one, has a different idea of what the Laser 49er is: The perfect commuter car… A convenient automobile for picking up the kids, shopping, running errands, and all the other faily driving around town… A great vehicle for family trips… A weekend camper… A business van… The list is as diverse as your driving needs.

GAS MILEAGE
If you thought the VW Beetle was a miser with fuel, wait till you exchange the old body for the Laser 49er! The aerodynamic design will improve your original engine’s exonomy noticeably. And fuel efficienct is a number-one consideration today.

THE KIT
It’s all there: Everything you need to transform from an old VW into a shining new Laser 49er! Seats, lighting, glass, hardware, gauges, even nuts and bolts. We make it easy! All you need to add is your choice of upholstery and carpet.

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Ferrer GT kitcar: trendstarter?33 Comment

Ferrer GT | Thu, 04 May 2006 Posted by :

Since I’ve been talking about the Astra and the early Aztec models, I thought I’d toss up a bit more classic kitcar history, starting with what I think may be the first car of this general style.

You could argue that alongside cars like the Devin, the Ferrer GT is the car that started the American [kit] sportscar trend that dominated the late sixties through the mid-eighties with cars like Fiberfab’s Avenger. Frank Ferrer, at the time an aircraft parts salesman, bought a VW-based kit to build with his sons, but the longer he got along in the project, the more he realized it had serious design flaws — and I believe the literal quote that followed was “I know we can build a better one”.

So Terry and his kids (22-year old son Gary was put in charge of the body design itself) went out and bought a big collection of his favorite cars — the GT40, the Porsche 904, the new ‘Vette prototypes, and so on… He picked what he saw as the best features, and with the help of Dick Buckheit, they had a finished car within eight months and showed the car in Miami. The public went wild for it!

The car was well designed, with good visibility, comfort, entrance and exit, and so on, and about three hundred were produced between 1966 and 1967 — and were it not for this car, one has to wonder whether the kit car trend would have gotten quite as big the way it did.

ferrer-gt-1966.jpg
Tyson Ferrer (Terry’s other son) with the car at a show

Here’s some more pictures of my friend Karl’s unfinished Ferrer GT that he sold in the late-nineties after other commitments forced the sale (I think he let it go for just $1,000). He actually thought it was an Avenger when he first bought it — because the Avenger ultimately became one of the best selling kits of all time, I think this is actually quite a common misconception.

karl-ferrer-gt-1.jpg karl-ferrer-gt-2.jpg

Karl was, by his reckoning, the seventh or eighth owner of this car (his brother being the previous one, and before that it hopped around Wisconsin for a while). Even though it was over thirty years old and in rough shape by the time Karl got it, he described the fiberglass thickness and quality as better than we see on most modern kits.

Anyone else got one? There must still be a few on the road! Send in your story and pictures please.

World’s Ugliest Car?12 Comment

eBay, For Sale, One-offs | Thu, 04 May 2006 Posted by :

See, this is why people who can’t draw or sculpt shouldn’t make cars. I hate to slag something that someone has obviously put a ton of effort into, but all I can think when I see this is “world’s ugliest 80s Camaro — someone call Guiness!”. If you disagree with me, it’s on eBay as item #4636844659… so far, zero bids with five days to go. It’s basically a sloppy set of flat fiberglass panels put over a 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS chassis. Personally I think they’re insane with a starting bid of $2500.

ugly3.jpg ugly2.jpg ugly1.jpg

Jeez, I feel so guilty now having written all that.

 

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