The kit car industry has evolved over the decades from simple mail-order fiberglass bodies, to nearly turn-key automobiles. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe '76 Blakely was originally a kit, but does its current price mean some assembly's required?
Yesterday we went shopping at the five and dime and came away with '72 Datsun that provided a full 82% of your daily requirement of Nice Price. That 510 was also chock full of minerals - mostly iron and aluminum - as represented by a trifecta of OHC four-bangers, as well as a bunch of other fiddly bits to get your naughty bits all a tingling. You know what else might set your x-rated stuff to vibrating? How about a vintage Lotus Seven-homage kit car that's about as close to driving naked as you can get?
Blakely Automotive Works was a mid-west maker of Pinto-based kit cars during the ‘70s and ‘80s. The smallest, and simplest of these was the Bantam, which shared the Blakely catalog with the larger, and door-ier, Bearcat. Both of these models preceded the MG TD-aping Bernardi, which took the company into the mid-eighties and, sadly, eventual receivership.
This 1976 Bantam is Pinto-based, but shuns the more typical Ford four for a Toyota 2T-G 1,588-cc, that sports a throaty pair of 40DCOEs. That combo is claimed to be good for 130-bhp, or twenty more than what the twin cam put out for its Toyota master. The W50 five-speed transmission also hails from the Land of the Rising Sun, and sends the ponies back to a Ford 8-inch rear end. There's more Ford up front where you'll find a Pinto-donated A-arm front suspension and rack and pinion steering. Wrapped around both the mechanicals and an open cabin for two is a fiberglass body that's reminiscent of the Lotus 7, while still being readily identifiable as something different. Bones for the car are provided by a square-section tube-frame, and the whole thing weighs in at a bantam 1,500-lbs.
If the seller is to be believed regarding the ponies, that works out to a lively 11.5 pounds per horsepower, which means it should do some damage in its weight class. Part of the weight savings come from there being neither top nor doors, but with cut-down sides and a ride that'll likely send your kidneys death threats in the mail, you're probably not going to be using it as a daily driver anyway, so keeping it out of the rain shouldn't present a problem. The Kirkey racing buckets, with their grandma's-hug side bolsters, will also keep this from being an easy errand runner, but will come in handy when that road to grandma's house gets all bendy. Also helping keep you and the car out of the ditches are what the seller is claiming to be a fresh set of Kumho rubber which are mounted on 4-lug 15" (Mustang?) rims. Rolled up with all that is a substantial history between the seller and the car. He says that he's owned the Bantam for 17 years, and only a recent move to his kid's place is forcing the sale, which is kind of sad. Also sad is the turbo badge on the back, and what looks to be a disconnected Panhard rod underneath.
There sure aren't a lot of Seven-like cars out there, and even fewer of those are Blakelys. This would be both a fun car to blast down a twisty road, as well as a conversation piece for when you arrive at your destination- where you would likely be all disheveled and wearing a wild-eyed grin. The obscurity of the brand is both a blessing and a curse, although if you're thinking that this orphan has been left out in the cold, rest assured that while it lacks a Daddy Warbucks-like benefactor, it does at least have a fan base rooting for it.
So, what would it take for you to go a few rounds with this Bantam? Does the $6,300 price tag make it a TKO? Or, does that mean this car's hitting the canvas, and not the road?
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