Rotary Racer! Malibu Grand Prix Cart

'60s Malibu racer

Listed here on eBay with what the owner calls a “60s Malibu Racer”.  The cart is pictured here on a trailer in Somerset, Kentucky with a starting price of $500, zero bids and the reserve not met at the time of writing. It appears that Malibu Grand Prix was not in operation in the ’60s, meaning this cart is most likely from the ’70s or ’80s. It’s a great find nonetheless!

'60s Malibu racer engine

The owner says that the Sachs Wankel rotary KM 24 needs to be taken apart and rebuilt.  We don’t know if it even spins.

'60s Malibu racer front

The cart is 10′ long and 5′ wide, so it’s definitely adult sized.

'60s Malibu racer rear

It features a full wishbone suspension with 4 wheel disc brakes plus a transmission brake.

'60s Malibu racer left side

The owner says that this in not a “kid’s” go-cart and this is an actual track run 100 mph race cart. The trailer is not included in the auction but the owner will sell you the trailer if you need it.  If you don’t have a track nearby, or are not willing to build one, what would you do with this? Could you run it in autocross? What class would it run it? Maybe you could make it street legal and daily drive it?

Motor-on,
Robert

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Comments

  1. randy

    I never raced at Malibu Grand Prix, even though I lived near one in Dallas, it just seemed like a bad idea getting out there with idiots in fast cars. Well, people got hurt sued them and the place closed down. That is one adventure I do not regret missing.
    I did drive a friends Ford 2 litre open wheel race car once though.
    This would be fun to have if you owned a parking lot, or an old airport.

  2. Stan

    I drove these in Wisconsin on a small road course. They were a blast but no where near 100 mph at that track.

  3. Todd Zuercher

    I have fond memories of driving Malibu cars on occasion in college. A great diversion from engineering homework!

    My funniest memory is of a long-ago boss who told me how he was pulled over years ago and when asked for his license, handed the officer his Malibu Grand Prix license! (He had had a few too many at that point).

  4. erikj

    I have a formula open wheel race car similar in size and Smaller than a f-500. It runs a 2stroke,2cyl 440 motor and is said to do 135 mph Really cool toy

    • randy

      erikj, time to test it out, does it really do 135? Just kidding, as I can imagine you’d say “you first”! Whose 440 2 stroke engine? I bet it is a blast to drive.

  5. MiniCini

    Memories. South Jersey 79 / 80. Won a t-shirt that said “53 second club”. At $1.25 a lap (I think?), was the most expensive piece of clothing I ever wore.

    Like 1
  6. Chris N

    Throw a modern shifter-kart drivetrain in the back, a 68-69 Ferrari or McLaren F1 livery and ohhh man…tons o’ fun and fast as stink! THAT setup would do 100 easy…

  7. Dougm

    not sure about his 100mph claims but this would!
    http://www.craigslist.org/about/best/nsh/5195301129.html

  8. Blindmarc

    There was one in Albuquerque where I grew up. Someone spun out in front of another car, and one of the drivers were decapitated. Malibu closed forever shortly afterwards.

  9. bob

    I remember going to a Malibu race track when I was growing up in the bay area a few times. It was timed racing, you were not allowed to directly race other drivers.

    This car looks different then those cars did. If this car could be rebuilt into a auto cross car if you you would need the fabrication skills.

    Did some one say wishbone suspension??? NO, unless you consider swing axle style suspension to actually be wishbone suspension and parts? forget about it.

    This thing is most certainly worthless junk, stay away.

    HA…. just clicked on the ebay link and the bids are about to close and it is up to 2600.00 …FOOLS hahahahah….

  10. Harry Quackenboss

    This is either an early Malibu car or a car from the predecessor company.

    Malibu Grand Prix launched their business by buying assets from Grand Prix of America, Inc. which was founded by John DeLorean and his brother, Jack DeLorean. The company was started in about 1972 in Try, Michigan shortly after John resigned his position from GM, and before he started Delorean Motor Company that built the stainless gull wing door cars. The original batch of about 20 cars was designed and built by Antares Engineering, founded by former Chevrolet engineers Don Gates, and MIke Pocobello. After the initial run of cars, DeLorean recruited Herb Adams to run automotive programs, and Herb hired me as chief engineer. We further developed the cars, focusing on reliability, and contracted with Outboard Marine Corporation to build a run of about 300 cars on a riding lawnmower assembly plant. The business went bankrupt in about 1975, and Malibu Grand Prix Corp bought the cars, hired several of GPA’s employees. At some point the car design was modified to us a 4-cycle piston powerplant. Regarding the top speed, the cars used an intake restrictor plate to limit top speed. We did take one of the cars without a restrictor to Waterford Hills, a relatively low speed road racing track near Detroit, and lap times were comparable to a Formula Vee.

    The front suspension system used a twin I-Beam design (not different in concept to what was used on Ford pickup trucks). The rear suspension used a kind of a three link (as far as I remember), where the engine assembly was unsprung.

    Like 2
    • Jeff Lipsitz

      From what I remember MGP was started by some firemen. I was the one who had the task of cutting up the first car to get it out of the shop. As for the incident where someone was decapitated, I help take that car off of the flatbed when it arrived at corporate. The MGP cars in the 70’s had a golf cart differential.

      Like 1
    • Gregg

      Malibu Grand Prix had nothing to do with Grand Prix of America or John DeLorean. The MGP car was designed by Charlie Haga at Mickey Thompson’s Race Shop. The concept was developed by two LA County Fireman with the very first track being in Pasadena. The car in the picture was never a MGP design or build. I worked for Malibu Grand Prix from 1979 thru 1994.
      The cars were built at 21300 Califa in Woodland Hills.

      Like 3
      • Todd Zuercher

        Thanks for the history and clarifications – somewhere the comments here went very far astray! Charlie Haga is one of my off road racing heroes – I had no idea he had a hand in the development of these cars.

      • Harry V. Quackenboss

        Gregg,
        I think the disagreement is over the fact that early on the cars were from GPA. Later, I cannot tell you when, at the Redwood City track, they added a different design, but ran both types of cars. At least at Redwood City, until it closed, they ran both designs.

        I was chief engineer of GPA in the 1973-74 time frame, and knew several people that worked for Malibu that were hired by Malibu after they bought cars from the bankrupt GPA. Malibu also acquired rights to the timing system designed by GPA. I also drove several Malibu cars at tracks in Phoenix AZ, Portland OR, and Redwood City California well into the 2000s The later Malibu cars did not use the Sachs rotary (Wankel) motors. But all the I ever drove at Malibu were in the early days part of the initial 300+ we built at GPA, or were cars originally designed

        Like 1
      • Gregg

        RE Harry : Yes MGP changed the body style from a “hammer head shark front end” to a round nose with separate spoiler. See picture attached. MGP never used GPA cars at their parks. The Andretti Speed Parks did. The timing system was designed by Richard Jones at MGP as was the emergency shut off system. The MGP cars were all designed by Charlie Haga right up until the end.
        They used Zachs rotary engines to start, and later Kawasaki snow mobile engines (440 and 340) , then Cuyuna (SM &Ultralight engine) and at the end a 4 stroke Briggs & Stratton Vanguard engine.

        Like 5
      • Dan golder

        What engine did they use and can you still get parts for them ? I think thet where a two stroke engine like a jet ski or snow Mobil ? Maybe 440cc and vd clutch with no trans .

        Like 1
  11. Chris Weivoda

    Does anyone know what the rear differential is from???

    Thanks

    • Randy Davis

      They were Dana

  12. Randy Davis

    I was the US and International Service Director for Malibu Entertainment. Started in 1982 with Warner Communications when they owned the company . Left in 1999 after helping develope the Speed Zone park concept. I can detail the company’s expansion and demise when I have more time. Oh, that is not a MGP Virage.

    Like 2
  13. Harry Quackenboss

    My recollection is that at the time Grand Prix of America went into receivership there were around 200 to 300 vehicles that had been completed by Outboard Marine Corporation, and another 40 or so earlier cars that were used at the GPA tracks. I have no doubt that Randy is correct about the MGP cars being different from this one based on his 1982 date, but I am pretty sure that all of the new ones built under contract to GPA before it went bankrupt were used by MGP.

    I can confirm that the axles used by the GPA cars were also Dana, and were a standard unit used in golf carts. I don’t even think the differential ratio was special. I occasionally drove the cars at MGP tracks, and in addition to the change from the Sachs Wankel snowmobile engines, the MGP cars I recall used golf cart drum rear brakes, while the GPA cars used a single disk attached to the pinion shaft on the differential. The MGP tracks were, to my recollection at the time, smaller and slower than the original GPA tracks. For instance, by eyeball, the track in Redwood City, CA had two courses in the amount of real estate where the original GPA tracks had one.

    Like 1
    • Greg

      I recently purchased a GPA kart , would you be able to identify with pictures. I’m looking to get history on kart.

      Thanks, Greg

      • Harry V. Quackenboss

        Greg, I would be happy to look at pictures. send email to harry at quackenboss dot com

  14. Chris

    Thanks, I rebuild rearends and a person with one of the cars has the aluminum case with no carrier, any additional info on what Dana to look at would be much appreciated. I can’t seem to be having much luck.

    Thanks again

    • Bart Adams

      Its a Dana 18, but it is now manufactured by Schafer driveline. I am in the process of restoring one of the Mario Andretti GPI cars. Its a real treat trying to find parts.

      Like 2
  15. Randy Davis

    Very interesting to hear about the old pre Warner Communication and then the the Ira Young owned Malibu days. I worked with Grand Prix International from1979 until joining MGP. Mario Andretti made an attempt with Indy Constructor and team owner, Eldon Rasmussen building the cars to get Grand Prix International franchised across the USA. We only opened 3 sites. MGP ended up with many international sites as well as the domestic race tracks and miniature golf Castle Parks. I think we had 63 locations at the peak. I personally opened tracks in Yuagwara and Nagoya Japan, Tiawan, Faro Portugal, Toulouse France, Ryihad Saudi Arabia, as part of our international growth.

    The cars I worked with started with Sach Fitchel Rotary engines. We moved to TA 440 and then 340 Kawasaki 2 stroke, 2 cylinder motors followed by 340 and some 440 Cuyuna. The last power plant widely used was the Briggs Vanguard V twin 4 stroke. I was part of R+D during this time working for Charlie Haga. We added rack and pinion steering to the cars and 4 wheel disc brakes over the years as well as developing a 2 seat Grand Virage.

    I built a SCCA Pro Solo Virage to compete nationally in Pro and regular Solo II events. It ran a 550 Yamaha, highly modified, with twin 38mm flat slide Mikuni carbs and a dramatically lightened chassis and body. Lots of fun!! Ran at Sebring, Road Atlanta and various races across the US and at the SCCA Solo nationals in Kansas.

    Land became harder to keep as leases expired and tracks closed. The Speed Zone operations in Dallas, PunteHills Ca, and near Atlanta opened and the whole concept never progressed further. I left in early 1999 and I know the whole Malibu Entertainment was sold but I really lost track. Some of the tracks went private but I dont think any are left. Sad. It was a very fun part of my career.

    Like 1
    • Todd Zuercher

      Interesting. I had no idea Charlie Haga worked on MGP cars!

      • Randy Davis

        Charlie is a great guy. Very intelligent. I still get a Christmas card each year. Last I heard he was working with Cirque du Soleil in Vegas engineering. That was many years ago though.

        @Harry, I have Mr. Adams chassis design books and have good IMSA memories around Daytona and Sebring when I worked on the old Hurst Camero.

      • Jeff Lipsitz

        From what I remember MGP was started by some firemen. I was the one who had the task of cutting up the first car to get it out of the shop. As for the incident where someone was decapitated, I help take that car off of the flatbed when it arrived at corporate. The MGP cars in the 70’s had a golf cart differential. Charlie was in charge of R&D. It was Charlie and Jeff Wilson who worked their magic back in the late 70’s

      • Jeff Lipsitz

        Charlie was in charge of R&D. It was Charlie and Jeff Wilson who worked their magic back then.

      • Jeff Lipsitz

        Don’t forget Jeff Wilson

    • Jeff Lipsitz

      Was Reed Baker still working R&D when you were there Randy? I remember when they were prototyping the 440, they installed a Hondamatic transmission to see how the car would perform. If my memory serves me, it lifted the front wheels off of the ground when they punched it. I worked under Dave Vondrac? at Califa and helped opened Houston #2 and New Jersey. Great times back then.

    • Jeff Lipsitz

      Next time you talk to Charlie please send him my regards. Last time I saw him was in the late 70’s when he came by Houston 2. Had lunch with him, Jim ? and Dan Lovitt at the Bombay Bicycle Club in Houston. Enjoyed it when corporate came to town, free meals! Dan and I transferred to the field from corporate. Dan worked in assembly and I was a welder at the Califa Woodland Hills office. Great times working there. Great people to work for.

  16. Harry V Quackenboss

    As I write this, I am sitting with Herb Adams having lunch in Mountain View, California. The only thing either of us remembers about the Dana axle is it was used in golf carts. In that era both gasoline and electric golf carts were popular.

  17. Chris

    Thanks

  18. Randy Davis

    I think it is a model 18 Dana

    • Harry V. Quackenboss

      Randy and Jeff, I am trying to fill in some memory gaps concerning the transition from the original GPA cars and Malibu. The original ~12+ prototypes were built by Antares Engineering (founded by Mike Pocobello and Don Gates, who had worked at Chevrolet engineering, contributed heavily to the Chaparral race cars and developed a set of telemetry systems). The first cars had several things of note that Herb Adams and I changed after we took over the engineering responsibility. One was to change to a single rear disc brake mounted on the pinion shaft on the rear axle (heavy duty military trucks use something similar). These were retrofitted to the original prototypes. The run of 200+ cars that were built by Outboard Marine Corp in Oshkosh was supposed to use that configuration. As for the arrangement with OMC, I personally signed off on every part before releasing it to OMC. I left before the production run was completed. In fact, my recollection was GPA went into receivership before all the cars were completed.

      I know that later on the Malibu cars, the rear disc brake was replaced with drums, and that the Sachs Wankel rotary motor was changed to a 4-cycle. Do you know when the change to rear drum brakes happened?

  19. Harry Quackenboss

    Randy, when I read your words about “model 18 Dana” they rang a bell. I think you are right.

    BTW, for Herb Adams fans, Herb Adams’ Vivant has been restored and is entered in the Pebble Beach Concours Sunday Aug 20 in a class of 1960s American Dream Cars, along with other cars including Gene Winfield’s The Reactor. Gene and Herb appeared at a panel on Thursday.

  20. Chris Weivoda

    I tried Dana 18 and come up with transfer cases, then I tried “images” and girls came up, LOL.

    Then I figured well Danas generally are smaller by the number and tried different number with the Dana, 10,12,14,15, etc and got skunked.

    Maybe I should ask the crazy question, does anyone have a third member for one of theses cars/axles???

    All this fella has is the main case, no caps for the case, diff, yoke.

  21. Todd Zuercher

    Definitely not a Dana 18 – as others noted – that’s a transfer case (used in Jeeps and Scouts).

  22. Randy Davis

    Yeah I was off on that one. Try hunting for EZGo golf cart parts.

  23. DAVID LAWRENCE

    Harry,

    I would really like to talk to you about these cars. Please contact David at thedlgla@gmail.com

    Thanks,

    David

  24. Gregg Borman

    Anyone interested in purchasing Malibu Grand Prix Virage parts, wheels, or whole cars please contact me. We have parts in Dallas and whole cars in Los Angeles at our Speedzone parks. Propably have at least 15 cars.
    We have about 100 new aluminum wheels.
    contact me a gborman@apexparksgroup.com

    • Steve Sandel

      Have any complete cars with engines ? And how $$$

      • Tim C

        I have one like the orange one.
        The 2nd generation Virage car, 100% complete and runs.
        Thinking about selling.
        Located near Austin Tx (661)714-8963

  25. BURT

    hi i nee some tires /slicks for my racer 20/12/10

    Like 1
  26. Harry V. Quackenboss

    Hoosier makes a series of 10 inch tires for Formula SAE. They range from 16″ to 19.5″ diameter. Chart here:

    https://www.hoosiertire.com/tires/circuit/

    Formula SAE cars typically weigh 400 to about 500 lbs, plus driver. These tires are good for about 1.4G on a car with no aero downforce.

  27. Jeff Lipsitz

    Well stated. Hear anything from Jeff, Keith or Reed? On a side note about Califa, ELO used to store their stage props a few doors down and some of the guys would go talk to the roadies at lunch. I worked on the welding side and my friend Dan Lovett worked on the assembly side. We both transferred to Houston to open Houston 2.

  28. Jeff Lipsitz

    Don’t forget Jeff Wilson

  29. Gregg

    Attached is a picture of the Grand Virage which was a two seat MGP car.

  30. Gregg

    Attached is a 2nd version Virage MGP car. 1st version had a “hammer head shark” front look on a one piece fiberglass body.
    The attached version had a separate front spoiler and a slightly larger roll bar.
    Later versions like my previous had a beefier look with plastic bumpers and heavy duty headrest /roll bar to race wheel to wheel at the Malibu Speedzone parks. The Speedzone parks were to replace the Malibu Grand Parks but they only did 4 and quit. Only two remain and both no longer run the GP Car (wheel to wheel car) We have 12 in various conditions for sale in Los Angeles. Look at them at LA Speedzone in City of Industry CA.

    • Mike Marasco

      I worked at the Phoenix Grand Prix of America track in the late 70’s, then at MGP thru the 80’s. When MGP bought out the GPA facility in ’79 the old DeLorean cars were restored and sold to an amusement park in Chattanooga. As a result of this deal, the Phoenix (Tempe) track was much faster, with only 19 turns, as opposed to the ones built by MGP which had around 30. I ran autocross in a stock Virage – A/M, won every time. That was a hell of a fun job, and a lot of talented people at corporate, including Randy, Charlie, Dick, Dennis and many more.

      • Mike Fruciano

        Great thread and lots of memories from the way back machine. One of the few guys to visit all of the tracks when I was not soldering timing systems together in Woodland Hillls. Many of our Grand Prix of America and MGP friends are gone. Two stroke exhaust and rubber smell, a car geeks dream job.

  31. James

    I trying to restore my Malibu if and info would be appreciated wish I could post a few pictures

  32. Craig Corbin

    Hey Gregg, I know this comment was from three years ago, but are there still cars available for sale? I am traveling out to LA next weekend, and would love to have a look. Thanks

  33. Jeff Lipsitz

    Don’t forget to inspect the aluminum T-plate with a flashlight every time you drive that beast. If you worked for MGP in the 70’s you know what I’m talking about.

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