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Kirkham Motorsports

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  • 4 Post By john chesnut
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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 01-06-2021, 04:36 PM
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Default Manta Mirage build

Today I finished a project that i had in my workshop. I moved the car that I had been working on into my garage, did a quick clean and then put the Manta into the shop. I removed the body to get a good look at the frame and suspension.

The person that I bought the car from was installing C5 Corvette rear suspension. He used a kit from a company called DOBBERTIN. You can see the aluminum piece that bolts to the frame. Then the C5 cradle bolts to the Dobbertin piece. He had test fit a SBC engine bolted it to a Boxter S 6 speed transaxle. (Adapter from Kennedy) I can see where he had cut out part of the frame and the aluminum cradle to make it all work. I plan to keep the C5 suspension and use the Boxter transaxle. I have an LS engine ready to go. I'll probably use it.

In the front he was in the process of fitting a tubular suspension which I believe is based on Mustang 2 geometry. I plan to remove this and install C4 Corvette suspension. I have the parts and jigs for it.

I found that the frame had been cut completely in half. It looks to me like it was shortened. I've read that the Manta had a 96 inch wheelbase. My car has a 94 inch wheelbase.

The frame is very heavy. I'm trying to decide whether to use it and finish it as necessary. Or, build a new one from scratch. One thought is to build a frame with a longer wheelbase. I'm thinking like 6 inches longer. This of course, requires fiberglass work. I would make the extension to the middle of the cockpit. Then I would be extending the side pods, internal tub, and doors, side windows.

I need to decide if I'm going to keep things simple and build the car with the existing frame and not touch the body. Or, if I'm going to build a new frame and modify the body. I never seem to take the easy approach.






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Last edited by john chesnut; 01-07-2021 at 02:36 PM..
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Old 01-07-2021, 07:30 AM
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Rick Dobbertin is a hot rod legend. I would be comfortable installing anything that he has fabbed. This will be a fun project to follow. I tend to stick to the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid!)...I’d leave the body alone and focus on what’s underneath.
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Old 01-07-2021, 07:40 AM
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John,

That is one substantial frame. I suppose one consideration would be how much time do you want to spend on this project. Either way that you decide to go, it will be an interesting build to follow. Helps to have something fun to follow during these cold winter months.

Jim
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Old 01-07-2021, 09:16 AM
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Cool car. Definitely lengthen cockpit that will make it safer for your feet & legs. I wanted to buy a real McLaren 1970s Can Am car until I saw that your feet are in front of axle with only fiberglass & aluminum To “protect” your feet. Then my Coach & cre Chief told me the car would likely kill me.
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Old 01-07-2021, 10:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HUBBELL RACING View Post
I wanted to buy a real McLaren 1970s Can Am car until I saw that your feet are in front of axle with only fiberglass & aluminum To “protect” your feet. Then my Coach & cre Chief told me the car would likely kill me.
Well, you could always just look at it ! Maybe start it up now and then !
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Old 01-07-2021, 03:03 PM
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I had a gentleman contact me about getting a frame and body for my Cheetah inspired car. I have the body but need to build the frame. This will mean that It will be a week or so before I can get really started on the Manta. That being said I looked at it a little more today.

I think that the frame was cut and the front re clipped, not shortened as I fist thought. The original Manta used VW bug front suspension. Towards the end of the run they switched to Mustang front suspension. I think they clipped the frame to accommodate that change.

The front suspension cradle can easily be moved forward or backward. I unbolted the upper control arm and cradle. There is room to move it forward by 5 inches. I slid the cradle forward by 5 inches. I also cut the front off of the cockpit tub. I can see where making this change will greatly increase leg and foot room and make the car much more comfortable for me. I think that I will make this change.

I found that the upper control arm spacing as mounted is 27 inches. This is the same width as the C4 UCA spacing. However, the Vettes lower control arm spacing is several inches wider. The result would be more room to move the clutch MC to the left, closer to the frame rail. This would be an advantage. The other advantage of using the Vette suspension is that wheel spacers would not be needed. This will greatly improve the front suspension geometry. I'm pretty sure that I will go with the Vette suspension. I can build a nice cradle for it.

Foot protection is something that will be improved with extending the wheelbase. There is a clip that will bolt to the front of the frame to which the radiator will mount to. I'll incorporate an internal bumper to provide more foot protection. The reality though is: Get in an accident in this car and more than likely serious bodily harm or death will occur. At ride height the top of the side pod height is only 15 inches.

Adding 5 inches to the wheelbase will require lengthening the body. I'll do that in the middle of the doors/side pods. This also will require new side windows. I think the car will look better with the added 5 inches.

I have a fuel tank that fits into the side pod space. It's 10 by 10 by 43 inches long. It hold 18 gallons. With the LS engine that will give good range. I'll turn the other side pod space into luggage space. By lengthening the side pod by 5 inches I'll have 10 by 10 by 48 of space.

I have some other ideas to finish off (hopefully improve) the frame. My thought at this time is to use the existing frame and make mods to it.

Having fun


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Old 01-08-2021, 10:01 AM
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Bummer that the build thread is delayed, but nice to see you're getting orders for the Wildcat. As I mentioned in the other thread, I almost bought a running Manta back in the late 80's, but I backed out due to what was clearly shoddy work by the owner/builder. He'd taken lots of cheap shortcuts and though the car looked great from 15 feet away, close inspection revealed a lot of crude details and poor workmanship. Your build will be a completely different story and I'm looking forward to watching it progress.
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Old 01-11-2021, 06:04 PM
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I couldn't resist seeing what lengthening the body might look like. So, today I did that mock up.

A few observations:
1---The rear cradle can be moved a little rearward. I'm thinking 1 to 1.5 inches. This will more closely center the rear tire and provide a little more room between the front of the engine and bulkhead. This would put the final wheelbase at 100 inches.
2---For the mock up I simply moved the front body clip forward by 5nches. I moved the lower doors and the gull wing uppers forward as well. I filled in the rear of those pieces to the rear of the body with duct tape.
3---The face of the dash will have to be cut and moved rearward by 5inches.
4---The side pods will have to be cut in the middle and lengthened.

I like the look. Lengthening will make the cockpit much more comfortable for me. I think that I will make this change. And, install C4 vette front suspension.


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Old 01-11-2021, 06:29 PM
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John,

Looks nice. The extra length looks fine. That red duct tape blends in nicely. I think you are good to go, why waste time with all that fiberglass There was a television show back in the 80's with two guys from Canada that fixed all sorts of things, including their van with duct tape. Can't recall the name of it, maybe the Mackenzie Brothers?

Jim
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Old 01-11-2021, 07:08 PM
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John

Have you done a Torsional test on the frame....???
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Old 01-11-2021, 07:57 PM
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I like duct tape Jim!

Morris, I'm pretty sure that the frame will twist like a pretzel! I don't have a good way to tie it down to do a test. The body, to me, looks like a fast race car. The reality is that the kit wasn't built with high performance suspension or frame.

I bought this kit because I've always liked the look of the car. I have to decide whether to keep the build simple or build it for high performance. The fact that it's going to have Corvette suspension and LS power I'm pretty sure that I'll end up building a new frame. I think between building a lighter but stiffer frame and using an LS engine that I can get the final weight into the 1800lb range. I'm not building a race car. But if I can build it with performance to more closely match the looks I would be happy.
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