Gone In 60 Seconds: 1974 Manta Mirage

First, to be honest, I had no idea the 2000 classic “Gone in 60 Seconds” featuring Nicholas Cage was a remake. Sorry. Secondly, I had no idea the first movie showcased a 1974 Manta Mirage – mainly because this iconic looking fiberglass kit is new to me. It won’t happen again. With apologies accepted, this barn find comes packed with everything you need to resurrect a classic, light-weight street legal racer obviously inspired by the McLaren M8.

Compared to most projects, this Manta seems to come with all the hard to find bits ready to assemble. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Pat L. who found it here on craigslist, it certainly looks like it was stored properly for the claimed 33 years, and comes with steel frame, all body components, and custom Manta headers, air cleaner cover, radiator and fan, wiring harness, and even the original assembly manual.

Since I dream of owning a movie star collectible someday, I’d be true to the featured Ticonderoga Yellow pencil color and the “Manta” stenciling under the gull wing inspired doors. In the ad, the seller shows us a picture of the one-piece snap vinyl seat covers, the key element of getting the authentic 70’s interior just perfect. It’s not hard to see yourself gliding down Wilshire at sunset, taking a hard right onto San Vicente Boulevard, and making your way slowly to the cliffs at Santa Monica in this classic, with joggers and passerby’s wondering just what in the heck it is.

Maybe your speed is less about attracting attention, and more well, speed. Even with a steel frame filled with your favorite V8 only inches from your noggin, the Mirage weighs in with a dry curb rate of only about 1900 pounds. With that recipe, I can guarantee this racer will deliver both – lots of looks and neck straining acceleration!

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Comments

  1. Van

    I remember these well. One big problem was you needed a corvair trans. I don’t know about you but I think a 600 hp small block will destroy that first time you slam 2nd gear. 0-60 as fast as the tow truck. Back in the day a real McLaren would have an aluminum 496 chevy with 800 HP. If you could get a Porsche trans and a LS9 in this you could wake up the neighborhood.

    Like 1
    • Alan (Michigan) Member

      It was not the transmission which was the source of problems with the Kelmark conversion cars. It was the differential, specifically the ring and pinion gears. In order to rotate the unit so that the Saginaw transmission was at the back, the hypoid set was run backwards, on the “coast” or reverse face. There was a short run of specially cut gears, but those too had problems, as most if not all of them were not heat treated properly, and so they did not last.
      Now, IF (really big IF) the setup already in this car has the actual Kelmark gearset, they might be able to be properly heat treated and much less prone to early failure. With a modified 4-spyder carrier, the transaxle could handle small V-8 power, which is where the Saginaw came from in the first place (mid-size GM cars like the Nova, Chevelle, used it with 283 engines).
      600 HP and a clutch drop = kaboom. But 350 HP and a bit of care, and it would last a long time.

      Like 3
      • Solosolo Ken Tilly Member

        Hi Alan. I had the same problem with my Honda S 800 after fitting a Toyota twin cam engine that ran the opposite way to the Honda mill. Had to turn the back axle upside down as it ended up with five reverse gears and one forward. The differential lasted about 300 , miles before it was totalled.

        Like 3
      • Stuart

        Not to mention VW Beetle front suspension and drum brakes all round with a V8 to drive it. What could possibly go wrong

        Like 2
      • Bobsmyuncle

        With a sub 2000 pound car it should be fine.

        Like 1
  2. the chucker

    ….and who can forget this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oHpWw7L3d4

    Like 1
    • Rob

      Hardcase and What’s his face. My dad, brother and I loved this show. God bless the 80s.

      • Hoos Member

        Hardcastle and McCormick. Good show.

        Search Results
        Image result for hardcastle and mccormick car
        http://www.youtube.com
        Although some believe the Coyote was built from a Manta Montage car kit, it was actually based on a McLaren M6BGT. (The Manta Montage was actually McLaren-based as well.) The first season car used a Volkswagen Beetle chassis and a Porsche 914 engine.Jun 25, 2009
        10 TV Cars You Wish You Owned | WyoTech Latest News and Events
        news.wyotech.edu/post/2009/06/10-top-tv-cars/

  3. Alan (Michigan) Member

    At least the price of entry is not completely out of line.
    But take a moment here for a reality check. This car needs pretty much EVERYTHING! The transaxle (transmission and differential), axles, and suspension are what appear to be second-generation Corvair pieces. While that may have been OK for the day, and should do for at least light duty even now, they probably won’t last if the car is pushed hard at all.
    Of course, the VW front suspension and drum brakes are totally out of whack for every use except cautious cruising.
    By the time someone who wants a quick and reliable trackable car has gotten this one ready, they’ll have invested at least 20K in the driveline, suspension, and brakes. Then there is the interior, and wiring, lights, bodywork, and paint. Deep pockets required, if it is to be “done right”.

    Like 1
  4. Rick

    A huge cult following for these cars. If it weren’t on the wrong coast it would likely be in the driveway. They are Corvair pieces, and guys who have the cars with the Corvair drivetrain routinely back them up with high horsepower engines. Once was even racing at Bonneville not too long ago…

    It does have the subframe for a MII front suspension – a worthwhile addition.

    Like 1
  5. Joe

    You can now get a 6 speed transaxle for a Corvair that will handle it and also Clark’s Corvair parts can show you how to build the stock to handle the horses.

    Like 2
    • DayDreamBeliever Member

      Joe,
      I was aware of a 5-speed conversion for the Corvair available several years ago, but the limited production of adapter parts meant not many were put to use.

      Where can I find info about a 6-speed?

      Like 1
  6. Erik S

    How can you call yourself a car guy and not have heard of the original Gone in 60 seconds?!? Possibly the greatest car movie of all time!!!

    • Bobsmyuncle

      Not only that, but a car guy that hopes to own a movie car!

      Do yourself a favour, Google a list of the best car themed movies, procure them in whatever format you prefer, set up a TV in your garage grab some good beer and enjoy many many hours of quality time.

      Tip; Google search ‘best car chases’ to expound on that list.

      EDIT – watch with remote in hand so you can pause often and enjoy all the cars in the background street scenes.

      • Jim Morris

        For folks in the Midwest, the theme for the 2018 Iola Car Show is “Lights, Camera, Action”, featuring movie and TV vehicles, as well as Service Vehicles.

        If you have one and would like to be part of the Theme display, contact them at: http://iolaoldcarshow.com/.

        If you don’t have one, come anyway, you can never tell what you’ll find there. It is July 12th – 14th, 2018 in Iola WI

        The Theme tent and display area typically brings in 200-300 vehicles that fit the theme. We already have vehicles registering that represent the both famous and the obscure.

        See ya there!

  7. Dan

    LOL……must be a young feller not to have heard of the original movie…. :-)

    • Oldog

      It’s known as time, my friend. A great teacher that kills all it’s pupils.

      Like 1
  8. Graham Collins

    We put a zf trans in our customers car , and we reworked a arms now it’s a great car

    Like 3
  9. Red'sResto

    Got to admit that I was pleasantly surprised not to see an air cooled VW engine in the back.

  10. Mikes hot rod shop

    These work very well with Toronado transaxles. If your good with an automatic. There are several other choices available as well that won’t kill the bank account.

    Like 1
  11. 408 interceptor

    You have to appreciate the talent and skill of guys like H.B. Halicki and Hal Needham, these guys were my hero’s back in the days when car stunts were real. I thought the remake of gone in 60 seconds was pretty good until the scene where the Shelby flys over all the cars on the bridge, really?

    • AMX Brian

      Exactly! Everything was good until they showed the awful CGI as he’s flying over the bridge. To be fair it was early CGI, but it was a bad shot. There was no arc in the leap from the ramp truck all the way until just before until it “bounces” off the ambulance.

  12. sir mike

    The original movie was believable and had a story line….the 2nd was just a terrible remake.

    • John

      Like other terrible remakes with Nick Cage, ie Wicker Man

  13. the chucker

    Speaking of obscure car guy movies:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_c0dj11dn98

    • Bobsmyuncle

      Never heard of that one, thanks!

    • Jeff

      Wow I had forgot about that movie, it would be cool to see again

  14. Ron H

    Sorry, but i don’t remember the manta at all in the first ‘gone in 60 seconds’. I just remember the yellow mustang getting the crap beat out of it and then finding another; as rare as it was in the same colors. Oh, and the horrible acting… nevermind, that didn’t change with the remake!

  15. carbuzzard Member

    This is one of those cars where you don’t get all hyper about recovering youf money. Cars aren’t a good investment. This is about the trip, not the destination. Yeah, if I had the time, talent and location, I’d be all over this like Vaseline on watermelon.

  16. Greg Member

    Looks like Speed Racer’s car!

  17. JagManBill

    ya know…I never thought about it before, but seeing this in white, if you put a high-wing on it it would look almost like a Chaparral 2F

    Like 1
  18. Van

    Talk about movie cars, look at the competition with Herbie the love Bug. Also any racing movie with Elvis.

  19. hans

    If anything I think you might be able to make a c5 corvette trans axle work in it

    Like 1
  20. jb

    some have vw susp. and drum brakes. mine has ford mustang 2 up front, and willwood discs and corvette c4 rear disc.
    corvette rear end wont fit. porsche 930 trans is best.

    google manta mirage image search

  21. Jerry

    I am putting a Porsche Boxster S 6 speed trans in mine.
    It can handle a lot of power.

    Corvair transaxle was a good choice in 1977, now, Boxster S, times change.

    Like 1

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