Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Manta Mirage looks like a race car, but is in fact pretty much legal for the street. Let’s see if this Can Am copy cat has a price that says can-do as well.
Do you remember the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and the toxic relationship between Jim Carrey’s character and that of Kate Winslet’s that provided the film’s central theme? Winslet’s character, Clementine was a hot mess, to the point that Carrey’s character, Joel went to the extreme length of trying to erase her from his memories. In the end, they sort of ended up right back where they started. It was all very sad in a comedic sort of way.
That’s how I feel about people who buy old Range Rovers. Oh sure, they’re ‘veddy British’ and sport a reputation for both capability and exceptionally tweedy comportment, but damn there’s a lot of heartache and stranding by the side of the road ahead for anyone who takes the plunge. I’m guessing that many of you agree, as yesterday’s fairly rare and noteworthy 1999 Range Rover 4.6 HSE Callaway—one of 220 made—garnered a 70% Crack Pipe loss for its fifty-five hundred price. Even the hallowed Callaway name couldn’t overcome the Range Rover reputation.
Okay, so now we know that—warranted or not—Range Rovers have gained a not so positive reputation. What however, about a car with no rep whatsoever?
Here we have a 1982 Manta Mirage, a kit car that’s a step above your average Volkswagen Beetle-based fare. Now, you’re probably thinking that you’ve seen this body shape somewhere before. That’s right, the Mirage was featured in the original Gone in 60 Seconds while its similarly-styled little brother, the Montage, starred in the TV classic, Hardcastle & McCormick.
What we have here is the car that supposedly was featured in the magazine Popular Mechanics back in the ‘80s for an article entitled “Million Dollar Road Test.” There’s no supporting documentation for that and I don’t know that it matters one way or the other anyway.
There supposedly is documentation of the build, which apparently was done by Manta Cars founders—brothers Tim and Brad LoVette. That build presently includes a 355-CID Chevy V8 in the middle, running through a flipped Corvair four-speed transaxle. A VW beetle transverse torsion bar front suspension keeps the nose out of the dirt, and the whole thing looks as aggressive and nasty as a dominatrix from the South Side of Boston. Oh yeah, all except the Chevy truck tail lamps.
The interior is surprisingly well fitted for a kit car, featuring air vents and a wrapped and stitched dash. The Grant steering wheel—something you’d pickup in the check-out line at Pep Boys along with an air freshener and tin of Altoids—is a bit of a let down however.
The ad notes the car has had six owners to date. Geez, that makes buying it like marrying someone who has six previous divorces, it’s pretty much a coin toss as to how it will go. There’s no mention of driving experience, or if the engine sounds like a hairball-ejecting cat on every startup, but maybe its looks will overcome any mechanical quirkiness. The odometer reads 24,800 miles and the title is clean. As you might expect, tire kickers (look, just don’t do that) and budget-less test drivers are not welcome per the seller.
Thrill seekers obviously are however, because how crazy would you need to be to actually drive this monster on the street? While you’re mulling over that crazy quotient for a minute think about this: would you have to be crazy to pay the $25,000 it would take to become the car’s seventh owner?
H/T to CaptainSlower for the hookup!
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