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Replica Times Two: 1981 Manta Montage

This 1981 Manta Montage spent some time as Barn Finds Classified, as well as touring several other venues, and now here it is on eBay. The asking price has been reduced several times and now sits at $20,000. The car is in Staten Island, New York. To unpack the confusion around what exactly is offered here, we’ll start with the title of the listing. The seller calls it a 1963 Manta Montage, but from prior ads, we know the kit is vintage 1981. The base is a 1963 Volkswagen, and that’s probably how it’s titled. The Manta Montage is a fiberglass car produced by brothers Brad and Tim Lovette starting in about 1974, to copy the look of the McLaren M6GT. Two Montage cars were produced: a rear-engined version usually using a VW motor and pan, and the mid-engined “T” with a tube frame and a GM X-body drivetrain (with a Chevy V6). We’ll get to the engine question in a minute, but to break the suspense, this is a regular Montage, not the more exotic “T”. Next up, what is a Coyote, of Hardcastle and McCormick fame? The Coyote was basically an altered Montage, reputedly fitted with a Porsche 914 engine. The “star car” was modified heavily to survive stunts, and rather than the long rear window of an original Montage, the Coyote had an upright rear window. This car has been given “Coyote” striping to copy the Hollywood car.

The seller obliquely refers to a motor swap, indicating that the current engine is a 231 cu. in V6 from a Buick Grand National, but that it “is not much labor to put back the air cool engine”, which tells me it was probably originally fitted with a VW. That means we’re looking at a regular Montage, not the tube frame “T”. The car has new brakes, a new clutch, and the VW transaxle has been rebuilt. 

The interior is presentable in a mixed-media kind of way. There’s plenty of plastic, punctuated by cloth surfaces on the seats. I’m not sure who came up with the color scheme – reminds me of a Lotus Esprit – but it’s tolerable. The seller reports that all the lights and gauges work, but the air conditioner needs work.

The underside is clean enough with only marginal signs that it scrapes every driveway you try. The paintwork is just five years old. The gullwing doors are an extravagant touch – some might say ostentatious. Now that we know what this car is – a 1981 Montage kit formerly VW-equipped – it’s time to decide what to pay. The Volo Museum ad above indicates that the real Coyote didn’t sell for the original $28,000 asking price. Of course, that was a less usable example, made for leaping tall buildings and whatnot, while Hardcastle and McCormick chased criminals. This car is a driver, with the promise of some fun and some work depending on how that engine swap really works in the car. What do you think it should sell for?


  1. Avatar photo bobhess Member

    Don’t have a number to price the car but I wouldn’t be interested due to the rather blah color and graphics, the black wagon wheels and what appears to to be non opening windows. Would have to put it on scales to back up this comment but I believe that V6 is too heavy to be hanging out in back. The V6 would be a great engine for the car but it needs to be in a mid engine location with the transaxle out back.

    Like 12
    • Avatar photo Frank

      I’ve seen three VW Bugs reengined: one with a Pinto 2300 with a turbo and one that had a Weber carbed Iron Duke out of a Sprint car? And one with a tube chassis with a front mounted 427 Chevy/four speed. The owners of the Pinto/Iron Duke said they both handled just as good as a stocker with waaayyyy more power. They looked like fun. Several years later I saw two 350 V8 swapped Fieros, one blown with two Holley carbs and his buddies with a tunnel ram and two Holley’s. They said they handled pretty much as stock. The blown car naturally had blown the trans axle at one time and the owner said as long as you got rolling at about ten mph before you nailed it it held up. The tunnel ram owner hadn’t blown his up as his buddies was finished first and lessons were learned

      Like 1
  2. Avatar photo angliagt Member

    I have a friend who was in an episode of Hardcastle & McCormick.
    He was one of the mechanics in a racetrack episode.

    Like 8
  3. Avatar photo Nevadahalfrack Member

    Montage: the technique of producing a new composite whole from fragments..
    Accurate description. Maybe with a hot Subaru motor this would be a hoot though it’d better be a driver with experience in tail-happy machines!
    Talk em down $5k, Sell both engines install that Suby motor and enjoy-but look out for the SUV with drivers on the cell phone running those goofy looking 25” rims.

    You come up with some off the wall stuff, Michelle-don’t stop!

    Like 7
  4. Avatar photo Bareman

    I love the look, I cringe thinking of having to service an engine in such spaces. I wonder how it drives and rides?
    That interior looks like someone’s 1970’s basement remodel complete with the 1.99$ plaque that says manta race cars in garish blue and that flat panelling behind the seat. Sheesh what a design train wreck. But the body is nice.
    If I’m going to own something like this- I want it to rip and snort and go fast. Cold day in hell when I drive any car with a wheezy little vw engine (that hideous exhaust note to boot)!
    I’ll give you $10k for it as is.

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo Maurizio Bruno

      $10k you can not even buy one front fender some people the sell shell for $22k no interior no engine no glass no doors, in my opinion for a clean survivor like this one the correct price it should be $45k!

      Like 0
  5. Avatar photo tmechanic

    Those aren’t Gullwing doors, gullwings hinge along the top edge of the door at the roof, these are just front hinged doors, they just hing along the sloped A pillar rather than along the vertical fender edge.

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo SubGothius

      I’ve sometimes seen that style of door opening described as “butterfly” doors. Calling them “beetle” doors might be even more descriptively accurate, resembling how the elytra (forewing cases) of beetles open for flight, but of course that would invite confusion with the VW model.

      Like 2
  6. Avatar photo Danno

    Bottom of the eBay auction, in the description footnotes, says correct price is $41,450. I guess you double-click “buy it now”?

    Like 1
  7. Avatar photo John

    If I’m going to own one ofn these Beauties it would have to be mid-engine. I don’t care how pretty a kit car is, if it’s built on a VW chassis and engine, forget it. I want a real car. To me VW’s have always been clown cars or girls cars, sorry..

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo DN

      Sexist insecure individual with toxic masculinity has apparently entered the chat

      Like 0
  8. Avatar photo Howie

    The auction has ended, and not relisted yet.

    Like 2
  9. Avatar photo Robert Levins

    Yeah, judging by the comments I would agree with Bareman. 10k. Tops. It’s a kit car and you really have to want a kit car. The word Volkswagen just doesn’t work in the same sentence. If it sounds like a Volkswagen (which are great cars), when you start it up or has that classic (bowed in rear wheel look) you might as well drive a Volkswagen. Best of luck.

    Like 0
  10. Avatar photo GIJOOOE

    I remember the Hardcastle & McCormick car having a wicked V8 soundtrack, almost certainly dubbed in post production. The way I see it is- if you’re going to try to copy the original McClaren mid-engine masterpiece, you probably shouldn’t base your kit car on a wheezing, slow, poor handling vee dub beetle. The fact that this one has a Grand National engine helps, but it’s connected to the original beetle transmission, which I can’t imagine would be able to handle the power.

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Danno

      Not seeing where this is a Grand National engine – I don’t see a turbo on it anywhere. I suspect it’s just a 3800 from one of Buick’s tamer offerings. Still a pretty heavy hunk of iron to be hanging off the back of a VW tub.

      Like 1
  11. Avatar photo 64 Bonneville

    It’s a Grand National BLOCK according to the e-hay ad. Price is over the top for what it is. But he has an AMC Matador Coupe listed on there also for $16,500 or something ridiculous price. Straight 6 automatic power steering, and radio and heater. Some folks get all caught up in Barrett-Jackson prices and think what they have is the same kind and quality as the TV cars.

    Like 0
  12. Avatar photo SubGothius

    The “star car” link in the writeup shows a different car entirely, the heavily modified DeLorean used as the Coyote for closeup/drama shots in seasons 2-3, as Brian Keith (“Hardcastle”) had trouble getting in and out of the Montage-based Coyote that was only used in season 1.

    However, quoth the wikis, “only one season-one ‘Hero Car’ and one ‘skid/stunt’ car were used in all three seasons and several (center seat-mounted, dune buggy-like, see title shot) ‘jump cars’ were used.”

    Like 0
  13. Avatar photo Brett Hutchinson


    Just reading all the reviews.

    Is the car still for sale.

    I am a real car fan of these cars, would like to buy one if one came available.

    I currently have a tvr cerbera which I want to sell and replace with one or two other vehicle, a jeep and uva manta montage.



    Like 0

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