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Showing posts with label Classic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Classic. Show all posts

Sunday, November 20, 2022

The winding road of a rare British turbo sports car, the AC 3000ME

~Rare ONES~ Although it bears the name of a fairly well-known manufacturer, in fact this one British car was not known widely and we're also sure you have never heard of it before. The mentioned car was produced by AC Cars, a British automaker is perhaps better known through its collaboration result car with an American famous automotive designer, Carroll Shelby back in the 1960s named the AC Cobra. Here's she the AC 3000ME, one of sports cars made by the British manufacturer during 1979 to 1985.
The AC 3000ME is started its life story as a sports car prototype called Diablo was engineered by Peter Bohanna in collaboration with Robin Stables back in 1973. (Picture from: AROnline)
The car begins its life story as a sports car prototype engineered by Peter Bohanna, a former Lola Cars employee in collaboration with Robin Stables, a former racing mechanic and Lotus dealer back in early 1970s. As quoted from AROnline, the controversial AC 3000ME sports car is the fruit of the creative thinking of both whose said directly influenced by the legendary motorsport success of the Ford GT40 and Lola T70.
The Bohanna-Stables Diablo concept looked impressive enough to convince AC Cars top brass to put it into production. (Picture from: AROnline)
Uniquely, this glassfibre-bodied two-seater sports car prototype was reportedly created afters hours in Lola's drawing office and concieved as a kit car, and powered by a mid mounted 1.5 liter Austin Maxi engine. However, this was a delicately-styled concept car was far more than a pretty body. Furtermore, it's already featured independent coil springs and wishbones all round, subframes front and rear, and a rigid tub structure.
The AC 3000ME is a two-seater sports car produced by AC Cars during 1979 to 1985, is featured with a wedge-styled, and a unique pop-up headlights. (Picture from: AdrianFlux)
Originally, the mentioned above prototype named the Bohanna-Stables Diablo (nothing to do with the Italian-made Lamborghini Diablo) was first unveiled at the 1972 Racing Show in London, and immediately drew favourable comparisons with Italian exotica, such as the Dino 246GT and De Tomaso Mangusta.
The AC 3000ME is a 2-door coupe introduced at the London Motor Show in 1973, but did not hit the road until 1979. (Picture from: AdrianFlux)
After the exhibition ended, it seems that the Bohanna-Stables Diablo prototype managed to attract the British car maker AC Cars attention due to its design is considered capable of filling the UK sports car market niche. At least that's what Keith Judd of AC Cars believed when he spoke to the car creators and then drove the Diablo prototype over to the AC Cars factory in Thames Ditton to show the car to his boss, Derek Hurlock.
The AC 3000ME later version chassis was a perimeter frame whose central tub was made of folded sheet steel with an integrated roll-over bar.. (Picture from: AdrianFlux)
In short, AC Cars done several car test series upon the one-off running prototype at the time. It seem during the tests, the Bohanna-Stables Diablo concept was appeared impressive enough, so it managed to convince the British company top brass to purchase the car production rights, and as soon as possible put it into the company production lines. All then went quiet, nothing happens until the British automaker shown off a revised Diablo (non-runner) model as the AC 3000ME at the 1973 Earls Court Show. The car named after its 3 liter, mid-mounted engine it has.
The 3000ME’s interior was so well-appointed by the standards of that era that it even featured a gated shifter for the AC-designed 5-speed gearbox. (Picture from: Silodrome)
The sports car appeared in a distinctive wedge-shaped and in accordance with the trends of the time, while the price wasn’t confirmed, although AC management hinted that it would be between £3,000 to £4,000, and that deliveries would begin in July 1974. As a result, during the exhibition the company managed to collect as many as 250 orders for this car. By 1974, the styling was finalised. The shape of the Diablo was retained with some modifications to the nose, a higher roofline and improved air intakes design. During the 1970s to 1980s, many comments that arose related to the 3000ME performance were considered less impressive.
AC-Ghia Concept based on the 3000ME’s running gear looked different from its donor car. (Picture from: AROnline)
So some third parties then make an increase in performance so that the car can run faster. Unfortunately none of those third party work was adopted by AC Cars to be applied to the production car. Besides that it turns out that this 3000ME car design had got a touch of design one of the Italian famous coachbuilders, Carrozzeria Ghia, as part of vague possibility of joining forces with the American manufacturer Ford Motor Company.
AC-Ghia Concept based on the 3000ME’s running gear looked different from its donor car. (Picture from: AdrianFlux)
For the reason then  AC Cars sent two 3000MEs to the Italian coachbulider. In short, the Ghia design studio given a touch of Italian style to the British-made sports car, and called of the AC-Ghia Concept, after completed, the car shown off at the 1981 Geneva Motor Show. Unfortunately, Derek Hurlock was not interested by the Italian-style car, even though the car was actually not disappointing in terms of appearance and performance. Of course this caused the joint production effort with Ford to fall apart. 
AC-Ghia Concept based on the 3000ME’s running gear looked different from its donor car. (Picture from: AdrianFlux)
It's not only Ford who is interested in the 3000ME rescued, it turns out that there are other potential applicants from America who are also interested, namely Barry Gale of one of the US De Tomaso Pantera importers with the aid of Carroll Shelby. They considered selling the AC 3000ME in the US under the named of Shelby ME is powered by a 2.2-litre Chrysler turbo engine. Nothing came of the plan, and only a single car was made in the end of 1980.
Barry Gale was attracted to the AC 3000ME with aid of Carroll Shelby to sell it in the US under the name of Shelby ME, and powered by Chrysler drivetrain. (Picture from: AROnline)
But what happened next, no one had ever imagined before, the car failing its first 30 mph frontal impact test, and that led to changes to the structure and underpinnings were needed to be re-engineered in order to allow the car passed the test, that's a time consuming process. Apparently it did not affect the company to continue promoted the 3000ME at several major auto shows at the time, but deliveries were no longer being promised. As a result until 1976 the company managed to get 1,200 orders for the car. AC's engineers worked hard to get the 3000ME into production by re-engineering it for the Ford Essex 2,994 cc V6 drivetrain.
The AC 3000ME weighed about 2,487 lbs and had a 40/60 front-to-rear weight distribution. (Picture from: Silodrome)
Unfortunately the large number of orders was not a blessing for AC Cars, rather a new problem, because their finances were not able to handle all of those orders. Not to mention that most of them have an unusually high bespoke content, which makes the conditions even more difficult to deal with. After extensive delays, the first 3000MEs were delivered in 1979, six years after its debut, and at the time, AC Cars could only produced just 76 examples. The first production car rolled off the line in 1978 (there were 11 prototypes before that), and the initial reactions in the media were very positive indeed.
The AC 3000ME featured an in-house suspension system comprising upper and lower A-arms with coil springs and telescopic shock absorbers both front and rear. (Picture from: Silodrome)
Once again the bitter pill must be swallowed by the company, it didn't seem like the right time to market a new car, because it was in 1979 that later known as the Second Oil Crisis, fuel prices were rocketing, and the world heading towards a rather unpleasant global recession. It’s therefore unsurprising that AC was struggling to sell the 3000ME in anywhere near enough numbers to allow it to break even. In 1984, and after 76 cars had been built, Derek Hurlock decided to sell the company, and immediately looked for a buyer.
The AC 3000ME is powered by a mid-mounted Ford Essex 2,994 cc V6 engine coupled with 5-speed Hewland gearbox. (Picture from: AROnline)
In his search for the company buyer at the time, Derek Hurlock had experienced health problems. Shortly thereafter a Scottish entrepreneur David MacDonald stepped in and made an offer for the 3000ME production tools and the rights to license the AC name with it. Finally an agreement was reached, so all production equipment including the molds and jigs were immediately moved to north.
The Ecosse Signature prototype built in 1988 based on the AC 3000ME Mark 2 prototype. (Picture from: AROnline)
The new company of AC (Scotland) plc, was established in a new factory in taken over from the Scottish Development Agency at Hillington in Glasgow. And from the Glasgow-based factory, 30 cars were built, while development on an updated car was set-up. A prototype powered by Alfa Romeo’s excellent 2.5-litre Busso V6 engine prepared, followed by a nearly-complete Mark 2 prototype. But luck is unachievable and misfortune is unavoidable, this Scottish company was forced to cease its car production as well in November 1985. 
The Ecosse Signature prototype is powered by a Fiat twin-cam from the Croma Turbo. (Picture from: AllCarIndex)
So once again, AC Cars operational returned to Thames Ditton until the Hurlock family sold their holdings to William West a year after AC (Scotland) closed its doors. The rights to the AC marque then were then aquired by Brian Angliss. From the ashes of the AC (Scotland) venture then came the Ecosse Car Company Ltd, in which the 3000ME tried to make a comeback under new name of the Ecosse Signature
The Ecosse Signature prototype debuted at the 1988 Birmingham Motor Show, several potential customers came in. (Picture from: AllCarIndex)
It started when John Parsons and ex-BRM Technical Director, Aubrey Woods, joined forces to buy the remains of the company, and moved it to Hertfordshire in England. They took the former Mark 2 prototype, removed the Alfa V6 engine, and replaced it with a Fiat twin-cam from the Croma Turbo. With that much power, it will definitely have a lot of performance. Then they brought the prototype to show off at the 1988 Birmingham Motor Show, several potential customers came in.
Unfortunately, the restyled Ecosse Signature sports prototype was dissapeared shortly afterwards launched, due to Parsons and Woods couldn’t secure the investment funds needed to get the car into production. It was a sad end to the 3000ME, a car that promised so much back in the heady days of 1973 but, in the end, it proved too ambitious a venture for such a small company.😢 *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | ARONLINE | AC3000ME | WIKIPEDIA | SILODROME | ADRIANFLUX | ALLCARINDEX ]
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Saturday, November 19, 2022

Here's a Lotus-inspired sports car from Brazil

~Rare ONES~ If someone asked to us about the most potential place on the globe where the best motorized vehicle engineering lies besides the main countries which are in Western Europe, North America and East Asia, off course we directly pointed to Brazil. As we all know, the country which is located at the southern tip of the American continent also having abundant the best talents of the automotive world.
The Lobini H1 is built by a Brazilian automaker, Lobini with the goal of building a competitive sports car by using local talents and resources. (Picture from: Geocities.ws)
It's no wonder later from their hands that extraordinary Brazilian automotive designs were born. Call it such this one of the Brazilian-made sports car named the Lobini H1 whose appearance looks like the Lotus Elise. This gorgeous sports car was designed by former Lotus designer Graham Holmes, so it's clear where this Brazilian sports car gets its Elise styling.
The Lobini H1 prototype during a trial run on the Pirelli track. (Picture from: Geocities.ws)
As quoted of Diseno-Art, the mentioned above sports car is produce by a  Brazilian automaker company named Lobini Empreendimentos (later the company name changed to Lobini Automóveis in 2003). For you info, the Lobini name is a short of the company founder names, Jose Orlando Arrochela Lobo and Fabio Birolini. Reportedly, this Moinho Velho-based automotive company was founded in 1999 with the goal of building a competitive sports car by using local talents and resources.
The Lobini H1 prototype during a trial run on the Pirelli track. (Picture from: Geocities.ws)
The Lobini H1 prototype was successfully launched in 2002 and was born as a roadster powered by an Alfa Romeo V6 engine with a sturdy and sporty suspension calibration. The car first appeared in public at the São Paolo Motor Show and got a pretty good reception at that time. After that the Brazilian company plans to start producing as many as 100 units per year, while also using some of them for use in racing competitions. 
The Lobini H1 has a nice front end coupled with new headlights and an aerodynamic styled bodywork. (Picture from: Geocities.ws)
The first production version of the Lobini H1 sports car appeared in 2005. Even the Brazilian company had shipped one of its cars to England, as part of cooperation with Lotus for Lobini technical validation in Europe. For some reason, it is possible that the Brazilian company is experiencing serious financial problems so it has to change ownership. In 2006, Lobini was acquired by Brax Automóveis and at the same time they presented the new 2007 Lobini H1 model to appear at the Salão do Automóvel 2006.
The Lobini H1 is powered by a Volkswagen 1.8L turbocharged 20V engine coupled with 5-speed manual gearbox. (Picture from: Geocities.ws)
The production version of the H1 was no longer powered by an Alfa Romeo drivetrain, instead was powered by a Volkswagen 1.8L turbocharged 20V engine, the same one used in some versions of both Volkswagen Golf and Audi A3 coupled with 5-speed manual gearbox. The German-made engine develops power of 180 hp @ 5,700 rpm, so it can bring the H1 to accelerate from rest to 100 kph in 6 seconds, and go on to a top speed of around 225.308 kph. That's not bad, isn't?
The Lobini H1's cabin featured with 2-bucket racing genuine leather seats, and a four-point harness. (Picture from: Geocities.ws)
Meanwhile the body is made of fiberglass produced by fellow Brazilian sports car manufacturer Chamonix mounted on a carbon steel tubular chassis. Furthermore, the automaker provided the H1 sports car into 2 variants, ie 2-seater targa and coupe. The targa variant has a removable hard-top roof, vice versa the coupe gets a fixed roof. Both got a redesigned front end with new headlights and an aerodynamic kit. While inside the cabin, both variants of the Lobini H1 comes with leather seats available in light gray, dark gray or black.
The Brazilian automaker provided the Lobini H1 sports car into 2 variants, ie 2-seater targa and coupe. (Picture from: Geocities.ws)
In addition, each Lobini H1 can be personalised by order, the customer able to specify exterior color (over 10,000 options) and also an even greater choice over the interior materials such as leather and carpeting. The automaker hopes it could be fulfilled the customer desired to make their H1 looks different than others, and off course they should be spent extra more money due to it would be cost more than the standard ones.
At that time the standard version of the Lobini H1 was offered with a price tag of around 170,000 BRL (approx $90,000). Unfortunately, the production of this Brazilian sports car was ceased in 2012, and during its 7 year production period it was only able to build around 70 units. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | AUTOENTUSIASTAS | DISENO-ART | WIKIPEDIA | GTPLANET ]
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Friday, November 18, 2022

Iso Rivolta Varedo's dream was forced to vanish due to an unfulfilled promise

~Forgotten ONES~ Maybe not many know or have heard of this sports car made by an Italian automaker, Iso Autoveicoli S.p.A. or known as Iso Rivolta in early of 1970s. So far, the world automotive enthutiasts is probably more familiar with or at least ever heard of the Iso Rivolta, Iso Grifo, Iso Fidia, Iso Lele.
The Iso Rivolta Varedo prototype is created to generate publicity for Iso and to show they were looking to the future. (Picture from: UltimateCarPage)
Well, this Italian automotive manufacturer was founded by Renzo Rivolta, a Milanese industrialist who initially tried his luck by acquiring a Bolzaneto, Genoa-based electric heaters and chillers manufacturing company, the Isothermos in 1939. During the 2nd World War precisely in 1942, he was forced to move his place of business to a relatively safe area that allowed him to keep running his factory production wheels during the war in Bresso, outskirt of Milan. 
The Iso Rivolta Varedo prototype inroduced to public for the first time at the Turin Motor Show 1972. (Picture from: IsoRivolta.fr)
In short, after the war he expanded the business into the motorcycles and scooters maker in 1952, then decided to enter the micro car market by designing and producing the famous Isetta. And when sales of micro cars began to decline, Rivolta decided to release the micro car production licenses, and sold to a German automaker, BMW
The Iso Rivolta Varedo prototype sat on display at the Geneva Motor Show 1973. (Picture from: IsoRivolta.fr)
Meanwhile, the Italian company then entered the arena that is no less lucrative, namely high-performance cars. And Iso's first model at the time was the IR300 and IR340 styled by Bertone and powered by an American-made Chevrolet engine. For your info, those cars above were designed by Giotto Bizzarrini, and was unveiled at the Turin Motor Show in October 1962.
Piero Rivolta posed along with the Iso Rivolta Varedo prototype in front of the factory. (Picture from: IsoRivolta.fr)
But no one ever knows about ages and future. In August 20, 1966, Renzo Rivolta had a heart attack and suddenly died at the age of 57. In short then the Iso automaker company was taken over by his son, Piero who was 25 years old at that time, and had graduated his doctorate degree in mechanical engineering.
The Iso Rivolta Varedo prototype designed by Ercole Spada as an eye-catching and very exotic mid-engined supercar. (Picture from: UltimateCarPage)
At the time, Piero Rivolta has ambitions to bring his company's production cars into Formula One competition and to make that plan a reality, firstly preparing his company to add the mid-engined supercar to its sports car and GT lineups. And Piero wanted a purely high performance mid-engined car with a body made of fiberglass. In the early 1970s, Piero Rivolta hired Ercole Spada, a veteran designer who had previously worked at Carrozzeria Ghia, to be a chief stylist of his company.
The Iso Rivolta Varedo prototype featured with a very exotic in an aerodynamic '70s typical wedge-shaped fiberglass bodywork with a fairly light weight, which is around 1,000 kg. (Picture from: RuoteVecchie)
Then Spada and his team drawn up for the design, followed by the creation of a mid-engined supercar prototype, later known as Iso Rivolta Varedo. The car name was intended as a homage to the place where the Iso new factory was located. At that time, mid-engined cars were becoming a trend in the world's racing, because they were proven capable of providing better handling and performance while on track. 
The Iso Varedo prototype’s cockpit was comparatively restrained with a simple full width dash was only interrupted by a raised section behind the three-spoke steering wheel. (Picture from: RuoteVecchie)
Besides that, the design resulting from this mid-engined layout is often very exotic and eye-catching; thus they are everything a supercar should be, both form and function. The Varedo prototype car designed by Ercole Spada looks very exotic in an aerodynamic '70s typical wedge-shaped fiberglass bodywork with a fairly light weight, which is around 1,000 kg.
The Iso Rivolta Varedo prototype is powered by a 5.7-liter V8 engine of Ford 351 Cleveland capable burst out 325 hp of power, coupled with rear wheel drive and 5-speed manual ZF gearbox. (Picture from: RuoteVecchie)
In appearance, the Varedo prototype looks similar to the Alfa Romeo Carabo Concept and the Lamborghini Marzal Concept, perhaps due to the Bertone factor attached to those three (just guessing). Meanwhile, its drivetrain is a 5.7-liter V8 engine of Ford 351 Cleveland capable burst out 325 hp of power, coupled with rear wheel drive and 5-speed manual ZF gearbox.
The Iso Rivolta Varedo prototype was a reasonable light car with a body made of fiberglass (75% fiberglass and 25% polyester). (Picture from: IsoRivoltaOfficial)
Well, only one Iso Rivolta Varedo was ever built, and after mechanical sorting and testing at the Monza race track, it turned out to be a car with good handling and performance. The car was first shown to the public at the 1972 Turin Motor Show, and received a quite good reception among visitors to the exhibition at that time.
The Iso Rivolta Varedo prototype now resides at the Sarasota Classic Car Museum in Florida. (Picture from: ForumMiata)
Unfortunately due to financial difficulties, it was not long after that, Rivolta families sold their interests in 1973 to an Italian American financier named Ivo Pera who promised to bring American management into the company. But the promise was never fulfilled, due to the uncertain global situation and conditions at that time.
The Iso Rivolta Varedo car project died without ever introducing it as a production model.😢 While the prototype left rusty and damaged into pieces in corner of the factory warehouse, until Piero Rivolta found it and was subsequently re-purchased and restored to its perfect condition like in its heyday, currently the Iso Rivolta Varedo resides at the Sarasota Classic Car Museum in Florida. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | ISORIVOLTAOFFICIAL | SUPERCARNOSTALGIA | TOPSPEED | WIKIPEDIA | CLASSICANDRECREATIONSPORTSCARS | SARASOTA CLASSIC CAR MUSEUM ]
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Thursday, November 17, 2022

When plastic succeeded to soar in the automotive industry of the 1960s

~WOW~ Recently there's a quirky racing cars from the 1960s attracted us while surfing the internet. After searched around the webs, we've got quite interesting facts to discuss about it. It turns out that the unique car bodywork is made of a two-piece special Cycolac thermoplastic materials mounted on a tubular steel chassis. For Your info, until the early of 1960's, mostly automobiles were made of metal, and the use of materials other than that, especially plastic, was not commonly used.
The restored AMT Piranha racing version while on its debut at the Wine Country Classic historic car races at Sears Point Raceway. (Picture from: Supercars.net)
The mentioned racing car above called the AMT Piranha, that's the most interesting of sixties racing cars that we've ever seen. Another interested things about the car was the automaker, AMT was known also the company that manufactured scale models, at the time they planned to offer the Piranha both as 1/24 scaled model and a full-size kit cars. How could be?
Workers put the finishing touches on the first CRV prototype just prior to its' debut in January 1965. (Picture from: C-We)
Originally, the car was first envisioned by Marbon Chemicals, a division of Borg-Warner who wanted to promote the Cycolac ABS plastic as the best material used to build sports cars. For this reason, they commissoned Centaur Engineering, which was long involved in the race car business to produce a car design that would be built by using a Cycolac thermoformed process.
The CRV prototype was a two-seater roadster with a wrap-around windscreen, and based on the Centaur racecar tubular frame chassis. (Picture from: C-We)
In short, with the resources of Marbon, and the expertise of Centaur, along with other partners included William M Schmidt who did the body design and Jentzen-Miller Co. who were specialists in plastic forming, the first plastic prototype was constructed in late 1964 and first displayed at the SAE convention in Detroit in January 1965. Thanks to Centaur's design not only worked for the car's body molding process, as the resulted striking styles that remained looks modern to this day.
The CRV prototype powered by a rear-mounted, 4-cylinder water-cooled engine. (Picture from: UndiscoveredClassics)
This prototype was called the CRV, (short for Cycolac Research Vehicle.) It was a two-seater roadster with a wrap-around windscreen, powered by a rear-mounted, 4-cylinder water-cooled engine, and based on the Centaur racecar tubular frame chassis. The CRV was a hit at the SAE show, so Marbon decided to take the next step to build a more powerful version and involved more intense in the racing car competitions to test the durability of the production material.
The CRV prototype was first displayed at the SAE convention in Detroit in January 1965. (Picture from: C-We)
Centaur was commissioned to build the racer and have it ready for an SCCA race at Mid-Ohio in June 1965. This was CRV-II, and Trant Jarman would be driving it on the race. It was another roadster and was built over a fiberglass chassis tub with suspension pieces attached to metal framework in the front and rear. The car was completed on time and Centaur went big time. As an incentive to finish the car on time, Marbon offered to make Centaur Engineering their Concepts Division.
Here is a rare color photo of the CRV-II when ready to hit the track with Trant Jarman behind the wheel. (Picture from: C-We)
It was powered by an air-cooled Corvair engine mounted in the rear. Bulges had to be added to the rear fenders to allow for the oversized racing tires. The car did quite well in competition and went on to win it's class in SCCA that year. Even a crash with a Jaguar during one race showed the plastic body was durable enough for everyday use.

The CRV-III was the third prototype build by Centaur, but was not a complete car. It was built for crash testing. Needless to say, plastic cars do not afford a great amount of protection. During the test, the car was demolished and the driver would have been impailed by the stock Corvair steering column that had been used. This was changed to a partially collapsible Toronado steering column on all later cars.
The CRV-IV was the first coupe version, featured with the gullwing door tops and Porsche grilles in the rear deck. (Picture from: C-We)
The next step was to build a more practical, street version of the car, so CRV-IV was build in February 1966. It can be identified by the bullet-shaped mirrors mounted on the front fenders, and featured with a full windshield and coupe roof. The doors opened in the conventional method, but the side windows were part of the roof and opened "gullwing" style. Again, it is powered by a Corvair engine and featured two Porsche rear grilles in the top of the rear deck to aid cooling. The gas tank was a cylindrical fiberglass affair that was mounted to the chassis on the passenger side, just in front of the rear wheel.
The CRV-IV was build in February 1966. It can be identified by the bullet-shaped mirrors mounted on the front fenders, and featured with a full windshield and coupe roof. (Picture from: ClassicCarCatalogue)
While the second coupe known as the CRV-V, was built a short time later, and can be identified by the rectangular mirrors mounted on the doors. Both cars were immediately sent overseas to promote the use of plastic at Marbon's foreign production facilities. It is not confirmed if either car was ever returned to the USA.
The CRV-V was built a shortly after the CRV IV, and it can be identified by the rectangular mirrors mounted on the doors. (Picture from: ClassicCarCatalogue)
It was never Marbon Chemical's intention to manufacture cars, but merely to create a market for their plastic products. They hoped that someone else wants to take over production of the CRV so they could sold the parts only. Then along came AMT (Aluminum Model Toys) Corporation of Troy, Michigan, was known a major car model manufacturer at that time. As mentioned above, they were looking for ways to promote their model products and offering a plastic-bodied specialty real car as well. 
Besides the well known dragster version, AMT built and sponsored a sports racing version of the Piranha. It was driven in various events by Dick Carbajal. (Picture from: C-We)
They had previously hired California famous car builder named Gene Winfield (who also known had connections in Hollywood movie indystries) as a design consultant and parts designer for their model kits, later he was offered the job as head of the new AMT division based in Phoenix, that would build the plastic sports car and other full-size versions of cars they produced. Well, due to the Winfield's connection in Hollywood, so that indirectly allows AMT got some kind another outlet for specialty cars for TV and movies. For example, in the new TV series titled "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." at the time he suggested using the Piranha, and thus the "Man from U.N.C.L.E." car became the most well known ones.
The AMT Piranha had appeared in several episodes of the new TV series titled "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." back in the 1960s. (Picture from: Car4Starters)
Shortly after that AMT purchased the rights from Marbon to build the plastic-made car, and agreed to purchase the plastic bodies and fiberglass chassis from them. Originally AMT planned to build 50 cars a year, and to promote the new venture, AMT decided to build both a drag racing and sports racing version named the AMT Piranha. The dragster version was build and competed the drag racing circuit in 1967 and was a big hit. It was one of the first rear-engined weird looking cars that almost cracked the 200 mph barrier. At the time, the sports car was built and campaigned by veteran driver Dick Carbijal.
The AMT Piranha of "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." was longer than its standard sibling. (Picture from: Car4Starters)
Soon, AMT started to build the street versions of the 1967 Piranha. Its looks change from the original CRV design included an extended roofline, small hinged hatches in the side windows, and optional "Gurney bubbles" in the roof for more head room. AMT had planned to offer the Piranha for sale to the public for around $5,000. Unfortunately, due to the high cost of building each car by hand and obtaining the Corvair engines and parts from GM, it cost AMT well over that amount to finish each car.
This Marbon's promo shot compares the new Formacar to their earlier CRV model, it appears the car is actually one of the AMT Piranhas. (Picture from: C-We)
After about four streetcars were completed, and GM announced, they were cease the engine shipment very soon, led the arrangement between AMT and Marbon broken apart. AMT turned over the four unsold Piranha coupes and all the extra parts to Marbon, then parted ways. AMT continued to produce other specialty cars and props for customers (including the Star Trek shuttlecraft) for some time, but closed its special division office in Phoenix by 1969.
This car surfaced in Pennsylvania in running condition, it has CRV logos on the body, but an AMT roofline and also featured with the square headlights are being replaced during the restoration. (Picture from: C-We)
Meanwhile Marbon stripped off the AMT plates on the finished Piranhas, added CRV logos to the bodies, and distributed them for display at various company facilities, including their HQ in Washington. Some of these cars eventually found their way into private hands. It is also possible that another car or two was assembled from the extra parts returned from AMT. Not for long, Marbon did find another customer, a kit car company located in Lincoln, Nebraska for the CRV. The Cycolac bodies were sold as bolt-ons for the VW chassis, and available in both coupes and roadsters. Eventually, the company made molds of the body and produced a modified version in fiberglass. 
Italian coachbuilder OSI built a stylized version of the CRV featured with the clear headlight covers, air scoop in hood, and bulge in trunk area. (Picture from: Carrozzieri-Italiani)
Furthermore Marbon Chemical had created a second generation plastic vehicle called Formacar. A new design had been created, building on the successful testing of the CRV program. One prototype was built and the concept almost sold to American Motors, but there were problems with the new plastic chassis that ultimately killed it. Meanwhile, Centaur went on to design and produce chairs, boats, campers, and other items made from Cycolac, but Marbon eventually changed their focus and closed the doors of their Concepts division and the assets and fixtures were auctioned off. Rumor has it that CRV parts and/or cars were sold at the auction. 
The Italian stylized version of the CRV by OSI powered by a Renault Alpine 8/10 1108 Gordini vertical inline 4 cylinder engine. (Picture from: Carrozzieri-Italiani)
At least 12 CRV's and Piranha's were built. The three special AMT Piranhas (U.N.C.L.E. car, Carbajal racer, and dragster) all reside in California. While the CRV designer, Dann Deaver, acquired one unit Piranha for himself, and after his death the car remains in his family in Michigan. The remains of a Piranha is owned by a gentleman in Indiana, but the car was butchered by its' previous owner when he planned to mount it on a tubular chassis with a Capri 6-cylinder engine placed in the front. Another car has surfaced in Pennsylvania with CRV markings, but has Piranha sports roof. This may be the car that was on display at Marbon's HQ in West Virginia, and said the car is currently being restored. That is a total of seven cars that are known to still exist. 
The OSI CRV possibly rebuilt by the Italian coachbuilder after one of CRV V prototype car was almost completely damaged in an accident during its tour in Europe. (Picture from: Carrozzieri-Italiani)
Meanwhile there're rumors that either Toyota or Honda have a CRV in a museum in Japan, and another one additional car was built overseas by the Italian coachbuilder OSI S.p.A. As quoted of Carrozzieri-Italiani, this could be happened, after one of CRV V prototype car was almost completely damaged in an accident during its tour in Europe, as compensate the Italian coachbuilder to Marbon. The car appeared in typical Italian styled, and is based on running gear from a Renault Alpine 8/10 1108 Gordini which is a vertical inline 4 cylinder engine. Unfortunetely, to this day its' whereabouts unknown.
In June 2006, the restored Carbijal's AMT Piranha racer made its' debut at the Wine Country Classic historic car races at Sears Point Raceway. This will no doubt renew some interest in these forgotten of the American landmark cars. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | SUPERCARS.NET | UNDISCOVEREDCLASSICS | HEMMINGS | C-WE | FIBERCLASSIC.ORG | CARROZZIERI-ITALIANI | CLASSICCARCATALOGUE ]
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