Wednesday, September 9, 2015

'Merican Caterham: 1977 Manta Mirage

The Manta Mirage was a crazy Can-Am inspired mid-engined road car built out of a garage in Costa Mesa by brothers Brad and Tim LoVette in the late 1970s.  The basic recipe was a steel space frame with a Chevy V8 mounted in the middle connected to a Corvair transaxle, all wrapped up in a hand-laid fiberglass body.  Find this 1977 Manta Mirage offered for $10,800 near Cincinnati, OH.  Tip from FuelTruck.


If I was going to own a kit-car style street car with hypercar like limits, forget the Lotus/Caterham 7, Cobra Kit, or customized Pontiac Fiero -- the Mirage is where it's at.  This thing has a dry curb weight somewhere in the 1900 lb range and 400-500 horsepower is child's play for a good SBC build. 


There is the beast hiding out behind the driver's head -- a Chevy V8 of undocumented origin, and build specs. But it looks like a beast with long tube headers, HEI ignition, fabricated valve covers -- I'd hazard a guess the original builder of this thing has more than the current asking pricing in that engine.


Sit down in the seat with your keyster a few inches above the tarmac and hope your degree in seatbeltology comes in handy because you've got some belts to deal with.  Next, you'll want to avoid the exposed wires and try to not crash, because it might sting a bit.


See a faster way to confuse your neighbors? tips@dailyturismo.com

18 comments:

  1. man oh man do I wish I had the money for this! totally nuts street car and cant believe its that cheap

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  2. I have a deep and abiding love for Bruce McLaren's designs, especially the M6GT and M8.

    Looking like he's put a headlight array and blocking much of the front cooling intake.... not sure that's such a good idea...

    Love the nest of wires, belts and other items in the cockpit. Should make it almost impossible for the EMS to cut you out in the event of an off road foray...

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  3. This is an insane car for $10,000!
    It would be an absolute terror on the streets.

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  4. Yes, I know it's not the same kit car, but it would be hard not to make this a Coyote X tribute car and go out terrorizing the streets Hardcastle and McCormick style.

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  5. Used to live in Costa Mesa. Was a kick seeing and hearing these running around.

    They are to a Caterham like a formula 5000 is to a formula Ford.

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  6. Lot of Kit Car for the Money - I'd cut the Top off for a Street Legal Bruce/Denny/Dan Can-Am car

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  7. Lot of Kit Car for the Money - I'd cut the Top off for a Street Legal Bruce/Denny/Dan Can-Am car

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  8. Looks like fun then a night in jail. Not sure what the circular saw looking thing is on the floor in front of the passenger seat.....

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  9. @Paul Wells: that thing on the passenger floor looks like a multiplate clutch and flywheel, maybe a Tilton.

    Also, those turbines! Holy crap they are spectacular!

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  10. I'm curious how the Corvair transaxle works on this. It's made for a rear engine that spins backwards competed to almost everything else but Hondas. That would make it seem like a cinch to work with a mid engine SBC except that the gears are hardened on the wrong side and the bearings expect thrust in the other direction. A Pontiac tempest transaxle might work through.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, I was wondering the same about the transmission. Maybe the internals have been replaced with strengthened parts.

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    2. Covair tranny probably not strengthened as parts just not made unless custom wich = $$$$. Apparently the trick to long corvair tranny life of being flipped upside down is an additional oil pump dropping oil from the now "top". Also a bunch of mirages have been converted to porsche 915/g50/930 trannys to handle the v8 tq. LoOKs like a hoot for a joy ride, but for $20k to fully complete and handle unknowns an older vette Z06 would be a better weekend runabout and RELIABLE track toy.

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  11. As much as this is seriously a Toy. ... run it 2 hours and come home beat up and deaf, it calls to me.... I'm only 3 hours away and probably have the cash. Thank god not the space..tho thats just a cheap rental space fixable.....no, just say no. It's the turbine rims... Anyone actually see / ride / watch / know someone who has driven one in anger? ?? Wonder how truly handle??? Only YouTube videos found show owners just tooling down the street or idling in driveway.

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  12. I want to buy. I cannot get in touch with you.
    Please call me 419-960-4705.
    Chuck

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    Replies
    1. rrrrring! Hi, Chuck. Hey. Internet here. Yeah. So, like a year ago, this car was written up on DT when it was for sale on another website like Craigslist or eBay or something. We wouldn't know who the seller was, or if he or she ever even knew the car was posted here.

      That said, Manta is a favorite of ours, and our deep bench of tipsters is always on the lookout for one, so it might be fun for you to read the site regularly to see if/when we post another. And if you get a bunch of your friends to come here frequently too, you won't miss a single post and you can jump on the next Manta that comes along.

      Nice chatting, catch you later.

      Delete

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