dyintorace SuperDork
Nov. 8, 2010 8:51 a.m.

The other thread about this topic (Miata kit question) got me thinking about this topic. In that thread, someone mentioned Keith's "naked" Miata picture (hotlinked below ) and looking at that picture makes me think more and more about creating a cool car, with a Miata underneath.

In researching the topic, there don't seem to be many kit cars, outside of Locosts, that use the Miata. I'm not sure why that is, as it seems like a great platform to start from. Does you all think there would be interest in a cool kit car with Miata underpinnings? If so, what should the car look like? Think mass marketing if you can.

Keith SuperDork
Nov. 8, 2010 9:01 a.m.

Based on the number of times I get asked about kits that use the naked Miata chassis, I'd say there's strong interest at the very least. How many people are liable to put down money, I don't know. The styling would be important, as MEV has shown recently

alfadriver SuperDork
Nov. 8, 2010 9:04 a.m.

I think you will be fooling yourself if you want to mass market a kit. The market for that kind of car is pretty limited.

I know of a friend who tried to sell Alfa TZ kits, and AFAIK, has not sold a single one, even though the car is very attractive. I've driven one, too- pretty nice car, but can use some sorting.

Remember, for the Miata "kit"- you need a pretty decent frame to attach that to, along with the body.

Not to say you can't do it, but just don't have too unrealistic expectations. Realistic ones can bring some really cool hardware to the table.

jrw1621 SuperDork
Nov. 8, 2010 9:06 a.m.
  1. Considering that the Miata is a roadster in it natural state I think a coupe version would be wise for the kitcar version.

  2. Since the Miata is seen by the unannointed as a "girly car" I would think that Masculine overtones would be wise.

  3. Since there is little to no storage in a Miata, a utility version might be interesting. Think Miata meets Mini Clubman. Finding a way to make room for the kids may be good as well.

dyintorace SuperDork
Nov. 8, 2010 9:08 a.m.

Thanks guys. I wouldn't entertain the idea lightly. But I look at Factory Five and love the business those guys have built. The only reason I'm even considering it is possible access to a full scale fiberglass production company. I kicked the idea around with them and there is some initial interest.

Keith, I agree on the looks front. Given your unique perspective, any thoughts on what might have wide appeal?

alfadriver SuperDork
Nov. 8, 2010 9:10 a.m.

I know the guy who has the molds for this body.

alfadriver SuperDork
Nov. 8, 2010 9:13 a.m.
dyintorace wrote: Thanks guys. I wouldn't entertain the idea lightly. But I look at Factory Five and love the business those guys have built. The only reason I'm even considering it is possible access to a full scale fiberglass production company. I kicked the idea around with them and there is some initial interest. Keith, I agree on the looks front. Given your unique perspective, any thoughts on what might have wide appeal?

To "replicate" what FF has done- you need to find an iconic 4 cyl car that is not at all common. And my mind went blank on that one as I type....

FF is making the most common Kit car ever, and using very easy to get underpinnings. And then is growing based on that business.

If you can find that shape/car, you will be in shape to start.

Keith SuperDork
Nov. 8, 2010 9:15 a.m.

That TZ would be a good option. The Miata engine would look appropriate underhood.

Styling a car like this is hard. You either have to use an existing popular design (see Factory Five "Roadsters", coupes and the new Ford hot rod thingy) or you're stuck trying to style from scratch. 1960's racers are always a good place to start if you can package it.

Factory Five is an excellent company to study. They walked into a saturated marketplace and completely took it over. Figure out how and why, and do the same I think their single donor concept (like using the Miata powertrain) was a big part of it.

Oh, and whatever you do - make sure you can fit an LS motor in there. Since we started doing the conversions, people assume that anything that will take a Miata motor will also take the LS. Like a Westfield.

dyintorace SuperDork
Nov. 8, 2010 10:05 a.m.
alfadriver wrote: To "replicate" what FF has done- you need to find an iconic 4 cyl car that is not at all common. And my mind went blank on that one as I type.... FF is making the most common Kit car ever, and using very easy to get underpinnings. And then is growing based on that business. If you can find that shape/car, you will be in shape to start.
Keith wrote: That TZ would be a good option. The Miata engine would look appropriate underhood. Styling a car like this is hard. You either have to use an existing popular design (see Factory Five "Roadsters", coupes and the new Ford hot rod thingy) or you're stuck trying to style from scratch. 1960's racers are always a good place to start if you can package it. Factory Five is an excellent company to study. They walked into a saturated marketplace and completely took it over. Figure out how and why, and do the same. I think their single donor concept (like using the Miata powertrain) was a big part of it. Oh, and whatever you do - make sure you can fit an LS motor in there. Since we started doing the conversions, people assume that anything that will take a Miata motor will also take the LS. Like a Westfield.

Do you guys think it would make more sense to replicate something iconic (assuming we can come up said icon) or pen something new, borrowing from other designs?

FF really is an interesting company to me. Everything I've heard about them has been positive.

Good point on the LS front. That makes perfect sense.

BoxheadTim Dork
Nov. 8, 2010 10:07 a.m.
alfadriver wrote: I know the guy who has the molds for this body.

$DEITY, that is so full of want.

jrw1621 SuperDork
Nov. 8, 2010 10:20 a.m.

To more straight copy Factory Five which is an iconic car with modern underpinnings....
How about a tube framed Bugeye with Miata running gear?
Mininalist tube frame with lightweight fiberglass skin.

And I do not mean this type of approach

Keith SuperDork
Nov. 8, 2010 10:42 a.m.

The problem with making a replica is that it's got to be right on, or it falls into the uncanny valley. The more well-known the car, the trickier this is. The Kokopelli has this problem somewhat.

The problem with styling your own is that you either nail it or it's ugly. Most people end up with the latter.

The Alfa is a good idea, that's a good looking car that isn't a commodity and would be appropriate for a four-cylinder. I'd look around for other racers of similar vintage that would work.

Ideally, you'd have to make it lighter than a Miata so the performance crowd would accept it. I don't know how much lighter it could be while maintaining driveability, 1750 lbs is probably a good target.

alfadriver SuperDork
Nov. 8, 2010 10:49 a.m.
dyintorace wrote: Do you guys think it would make more sense to replicate something iconic (assuming we can come up said icon) or pen something new, borrowing from other designs? FF really is an interesting company to me. Everything I've heard about them has been positive. Good point on the LS front. That makes perfect sense.

Both choices have their issues.

Borrowing is cleary easier in terms of the shape- you can tweak some basic dimensions to fit the driveline. But you still have to find the right shape that will be popular, and you might have copyright issues, as well.

Penning new opens the world to you. And that's the issue. If you don't make it look just right, it's not going to be popular.

The thing about kits, I think, is that they are popular as a reminder of a good past. So all in all, you probably are better of with a body copy.

Some choices- the bugeye is a great idea, also the MG T series- the TF had steel wheels + a arm front, so you could make it look pretty reasonable, P cars are out, since they are rear engined. People love the shape of Alfas, but IMHO, the best 4 cyl cars are too common. Maybe the 750/101 Spiders.

But I think the bugeye shape is pretty easy to mold, good shape, good emotions, and also looks good with a roll bar (which HAS to be included, so you can have a NASA spec series for your car).

The T series is good since you can use basically a Locost chassis, and the body shape is dead simple. Plus, it's not like they've never seen V8's.

Have to be careful not to choose something too difficult to live with.

One last idea, the obvious- 7. A well done 7 kit with a support series where the whole undeside is just a Miata that is NOT hacked up is sitll a great idea. Like FF, you are choosing a very popular shape in the Kit/ DIY market. And with the longer wb, you can make the car a lot easier to live with. If you can somehow fit in the HVAC box from a Miata, you just made the car a whole lot easier to live with.... Maybe even figure out the top??

Keith- what's the WB difference between a 7 and a Miata?

Eric

alfadriver SuperDork
Nov. 8, 2010 10:51 a.m.
Keith wrote: The Alfa is a good idea, that's a good looking car that isn't a commodity and would be appropriate for a four-cylinder. I'd look around for other racers of similar vintage that would work.

I would generally agree that any Alfa is a good idea.

But in this case, I will respectfully disagree. The shape of the TZ make for a very cramped interior- hard to get in and out of. Of course, you can change that, since it's your car.

Not a idea stopper, but an issue.

Eric

nderwater HalfDork
Nov. 8, 2010 10:57 a.m.

Not to sound idiotic, but I could imagine a t-bucket body dropped on that as easy as super seven bodywork.

Or even go the whole heritage angle and go with a fiberglass Elan body.

Slyp_Dawg Reader
Nov. 8, 2010 11:01 a.m.

IMSA Chevy Monza?

Alfa Romeo GTA?

Ford Escort Mk. I?

Ford Escort Mk. II?

Ford Escort Mk.III RS1700T?

Ford/Lotus Cortina Mk. I?

Austin Healey 100S BN1/BN2?

Fiat 131 Abarth Rally?

and the big one... Opel Manta 400 Group B?

I think any of those could make one hell of a cool kit, and to my knowledge each one of them has either a NA or forced induction 4 cylinder, usually DOHC

Derick Freese HalfDork
Nov. 8, 2010 11:02 a.m.

I like the idea of a decent 7 clone that would work with a naked Miata.

Sounds like it's time to get a Miata, undress her, and start seeing what you can do with her.

If that fiberglass company runs into problems, they should look at relocating it to somewhere in Putnam County. Not too far from them, and this county doesn't seem to care about what goes on. Jobs = good, that's all they see. Just sayin'

Slyp_Dawg Reader
Nov. 8, 2010 11:14 a.m.

well, the objection i have to a Seven clone based on a Miata is that it would be hard to adapt the subframes to work and have it look even a little bit good, a closed fender car would be a lot easier to adapt to this purpose, just scale the body to match the width of the Miata and change the wheelbase to keep the proportions right, or even spec up different wheels to bring the track width in or out to match the body's proportions. just make a new driveshaft and PPF C-channel to match the new wheelbase, maybe make a shifter relocation kit of absolutely necessary, and you're golden

alfadriver SuperDork
Nov. 8, 2010 11:17 a.m.
Slyp_Dawg wrote: well, the objection i have to a Seven clone based on a Miata is that it would be hard to adapt the subframes to work and have it look even a little bit good, a closed fender car would be a lot easier to adapt to this purpose, just scale the body to match the width of the Miata and change the wheelbase to keep the proportions right, or even spec up different wheels to bring the track width in or out to match the body's proportions. just make a new driveshaft and PPF C-channel to match the new wheelbase, maybe make a shifter relocation kit of absolutely necessary, and you're golden

An issue, for sure. Has anyone tried to make a 7 clone off of a bare Miata sub-frame assemblies? Width should not be a huge issue- the rear is already part of some Locost designs, right?

With the short overhangs, it sure seems as if one can adapt it pretty easily.

Raze Dork
Nov. 8, 2010 11:21 a.m.

How bout an RS200...

How bout a Ferrari 275 GTS...

Klayfish Reader
Nov. 8, 2010 11:36 a.m.

I owned an FFR for about 5 years, and had lots of contact with the people there. I definitely couldn't say anything negative about them. Great group of people, and they did a masterful job taking hold of the market.

I think what really helped them was the one donor concept. Their first version of the Cobra (the MK1) was designed to use huge number of parts from the late Fox body Mustangs. And they offered their kit at a low price. So add that with the availability of cheap Mustangs, and you had a huge hit. Prior to FFR, I think many of the kits were very expensive, complicated to build (not that an FFR is "easy") and had little tech support. FFR changed all that. I saw many of them using pure Mustang stuff...engine/trans/rear, right on down to the gauge cluster. There was also the ability to "customize" the car to your specific desires. I saw engines ranging from the common 302 or 351, to a few Buick GNX powered ones, to monster big blocks with blowers. Same with interior choices, etc.... It wasn't as true to the original Cobra as some replicas, but it was darn close. My FFR had many subtle differences in looks from the original, besides the "bubble butt" all FFRs were known to have. But I can't tell you how many non car nuts thought it was real.

The Miata concept isn't a bad one. But remember that the FFR doesn't use the Mustangs' chassis. So would you be looking at a car using just the running gear, or the chassis too? Using the chassis too could limit your choices. Remember the kit car Fieros? I went to the kit car show at Carlisle many times when I had my FFR. There were always kits based on Fiero chassis there. Many Lambo replicas. But, unless the chassis was chopped and the wheelbase made longer, it looked awkward, no matter how good the body work.

And don't forget to consider any potential legal ramifications of copying a well known car's design. Just ask FFR about that...

alfadriver SuperDork
Nov. 8, 2010 11:41 a.m.

In reply to Klayfish:

I think the intention here is to use the Miata sub-frame system, not the entire chassis. that would help a lot in body choices.

I think...

petegossett
petegossett SuperDork
Nov. 8, 2010 12:10 p.m.

Nash Metropolitan? linky

4cylndrfury SuperDork
Nov. 8, 2010 12:49 p.m.

A few more body double ideas...

  • Datsun 510

  • Honda S coupe

  • Classic Skyline

just a few ideas

dyintorace SuperDork
Nov. 8, 2010 12:49 p.m.

Klayfish:

Thanks for the FF feedback. I really like their concept and give them many kudos for doing such a great job with their concept and company. Truly seems like a company run by "car guys" (and I mean that as a compliment of the highest order!).

alfadriver wrote: In reply to Klayfish: I think the intention here is to use the Miata sub-frame system, not the entire chassis. that would help a lot in body choices. I think...

alfadriver is right. My thought, going back to the "naked" Miata shot linked above from the Flyin' Miata website, is to start with what's in that picture, come up with a 'kit' that utilizes pretty much everything there, and finish with a cool car. I'm only a novice level wrench and would want something that even I could build.

And, also as alfadriver suggested, having an option (again a la FF) for a spec racing version is brilliant. What a way to seed your own market while building brand recognition!

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