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Thread: Building new little sports car from scratch

  1. #1
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    Building new little sports car from scratch

    I am new to the forum. But, not new to kit cars and cars that I design and build myself. I can see from the posts that most of the cars being built are very high end replicas. I admire that. But, for this car i wanted something fun, good performing, and inexpensive.

    I am building a space frame that the stock 1989-2004 Mazda Miata suspension cradles and drivetrain will bolt into. By using all of the mechanicals, wiring, even wheels and tires I will keep the cost low. I purchased a Miata for $1250 and it has only 78,000 miles on it.

    I love 50's sports cars. I have been working with a guy in England to design a light weight body skin that will slide on to my space frame. It is not a replica. It is inspired by those cars. The finished weight will be around 1400lbs.

    There is huge aftermarket support for the Miata. In this car any mechanical part designed for the stock Miata will fit. It can be mild or wild.

    Here are a couple of pictures. Having fun, John




  2. #2
    You have a winner on your hands!!! That looks great, Keep us updated on your progress!
    Kevin

  3. #3
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    I agree you may be onto something with this. From this photo the car looks like a modified cobra with a little "racing" feel to it. If you can keep the cost of the body down, you may be able to sell this to people who like the look of the cobra but can't afford to buy or build one.

    Great job on this build! Now did you assemble this yourself and if so what did it take? Also we would like to see more on how you made the space frame and what would others need to do to build one.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the comments. Actually I am just starting this build. The picture is a photoshop one. For the past 12 years I have pretty much built a new car per year. This is what I love to do. Up to this point I have used Corvette drivetrains and suspension. I build space frames on a large jig base that I had constructed on a flat plate. I have sculpted several of my own bodies, made molds, and laid them up in fiberglass.

    I am retiring early and wanted something to do. I had the idea of using the Miata parts and sculpting a 50's inspired sports car body for it. While doing research I found a guy, Gary Janes, in England that was making a body very similar to what I had in mind. He was making the body to re body a Triumph Herald, and a shorter Triumph Spitfire. I contacted Gary and worked out a deal to have the rights for the design in the USA. The Miata is 5.9 inches wider than the Triumphs so I had it widened, and the wheelbase adjusted. The body landed in port this past Friday. I hope to receive it soon.

    But, after I tore down one of my Miata's and took some measurements I realized that the Miata engine, in the stock location would not clear the hood as designed. The blue car pictured has the hood modified to clear the engine and front upper shock mounts. So, when I receive the body I will need to make some modifications to get it to look like the blue car. When complete I will make molds. I am working with a friend of mine that is a chassis engineer that consults with major car companies. We are working on the space frame design.

    The Cobra (which I have one that I scratch built) has a 90 inch wheel base. The Miata is 89.2. The 427 Cobra is 72 inches wide, the Miata is 65.9. So, the car is similar in size but a little sleeker.

    It is my intention to sell the car as a Kit. The kit would include the body, windscreen, fully welded frame, pre cut, pre bent aluminum skins for the floors, bulkheads, and foot boxes. A builder would unbolt the drivetrain from the Miata, slip my frame over, and bolt the Miata suspension cradles into my frame. The steering, brakes, pedals, exhaust, fuel system, ect are all used in their stock locations. When wired and plumbed the body will slip on. The full tile nose and tub will mount in less than an hour.

    The Target price for the complete kit is $4900. A good running Miata can be purchased for under $3000. Body work and paint can be done for under $2000. The goal is for this car to be able to be completed and on the road for under $10,000. Of course the left over parts from the Miata can be sold to help recover some money.

    I think that this car will have the combination of price, ease of construction, performance, and looks to be successful. I am not looking to get rich. My main goal is to have fun doing something that I love.

    I am not soliciting orders. Nor would I accept any. When the car is complete, the business is set up, and a good web site is up and running then I will offer it. At that time I will advertise it.

    In the mean time I am still in development any comments, or suggestions are appreciated. Thanks, John

  5. #5
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    You might consider another approach to meet the engineering clearances caused by the front suspension and engine of the Miata. It looks like you have just “puffed” up the forms to cover these components, and a relatively modest, plain-Jane body has become kind of distorted – and not in a good way (frankly, it wasn’t all that great to start with).
    Maybe local bumps or holes, very direct and honest, would be a better solution than trying to repose the major forms of this thing.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the input. I think the "plain jane" body is pretty good looking. I do see areas to improve it and the photoshop look as well. It's hard to do a photoshop mock up that is truly representative of what the final body will look like. I am confident that when I am able to have the body in hand I will make the mods to suit me. That's all I really worry about.

  7. #7
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    Cool looking little project John...the Sammio needs to be turned into a proper car for this generation and get away form the old school Herald stuff...

    Stuart Mills is doing tons of stuff with Miatas in the UK

  8. #8
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    Your Photoshop image looks like it could have been parked in the courtyard villa of a well-heeled Italian businessman.
    I love seeing work like this, as it brings back design ideas that (to me at least) seem timeless.

    And, it makes the possibility of driving one seem real (as opposed to merely eyeballing $500K original at a car show).

  9. #9
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    Thanks for the comments GarrettPI. am going to offer it without the tail finn. Also, here is a photoshop from the rear. Actually had an "Eureka" moment today concerning the frame design. I am waiting for my body to clear customs. Can't wait to get started.




  10. #10
    Senior Member dratts1's Avatar
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    I like it. If you can pull off the 1400lbs it will be very lotus like and I've always been a fan of lotus. I know about the monster miata (5.0). It has been done with an ls engine too hasn't it. Not saying that it needs a V8 even though I'm a long time V8 fan.

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