Northstar-Powered McLaren: 1983 Manta Montage

Kit cars, by and large, can be disappointments, especially when compared to the heroes they were meant to emulate. VW Beetle chassis, VW Beetle running gear, and an exotic body with shrunken proportions. But sometimes, there are examples that fill you with enough inspiration that you could see their potential greatness within. This Manta Montage is fitted with a Cadillac Northstar V8, and with some cosmetic tweaks, it could look a lot more like the McLaren M6GT it was intended to resemble. Find it here on Facebook Marketplace for $12,000.

Now, I can say this because there’s evidence of someone building one of these into a very pretty replica of the iconic race car, even if the proportions were still off. And this one, with a running Northstar V8 apparently mounted just behind the driver’s head, actually has some real performance to back up the swooshy looks. Work with me: if the nose were returned to standard halogen headlights with lexan covers, the mesh painted black, the stupid speed holes filled in, and some tasteful two-piece BBS wheels mounted, this thing would be a totally different car.

The engine solves the problem so many kit cars have, which is the diminutive power plant sitting it back that once belonged to a Bug. According to the listing, the Manta runs and drives, so whatever garage engineering got it this far has delivered a running vehicle for the next owner to finish up. Now, clearly, there’s more work to be done, and who knows how this car handles with a heavy V8 installed. But provided the balance isn’t completely messy, this is a huge step in the right direction for putting some actual performance behind a car that looks like this.

The interior doesn’t necessarily do anything to diminish the fear of taking on someone’s unfinished project, especially an unfinished kit car project. The deep bucket seats are pretty standard-issue for these oddball kits, and it looks like this one actually has a fairly finished dashboard. I’d love to know more details about the rest of the drivetrain, such as where the manual gearbox originated from, but that can all be sorted out later. Headlight covers and multiple sets of taillights are included, along with a stripe kit and paint. Would you take this half-finished kit car across the finish line?

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Comments

  1. bobhess Member

    I like it. This could be fun with all the heavy lifting already done.

    1
  2. OIL SLICK

    I like it but that North Star is crapola

    12
  3. Weasel

    I took my drivers test in one just like this, except it was blue.

    7
    • Dickie F

      Weasel, and you could see ok? Where those raised front wheel wells, not obstructing at street speeds? What about while reversing, could you do that with the door shut?

      2
  4. H5mind

    Listed as automatic trans, is a manual swap even possible for Northstar engines?

  5. markopollo

    Can I assume that the “Swiss Cheese” effect in the recessed area in front of the windshield (speed holes??) is there to get some air into the radiator? Cooling that big (not so old) V-8 may be somewhat of a challenge. That fuglyness could be painted flat black and covered with a mesh grille to make it look infinitely better. At least they didn’t hang that V-8 off the back of a VW transaxle!

  6. Mike

    Hardcastle and McCormick

    4
  7. Danh

    Pull the intake manifold and replace that starter. Best to just get that job over with.

    1
  8. Al

    It’s bad enough those Northstars are notorious for blowing headgasket, cant imagine throwing one right behind you unless you plan on changing them from your seat.

  9. andrew

    Beautiful car! This thing was love at first sight for me, the first time I saw it on TV in the 80’s! I’d love to have at and the FB listing was gone as soon as I checked.

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