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Not Another Manic Monday: 1970 Manic GT brochure

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Images are from the brochure collection of Hemmings Motor News; courtesy of Bruce Zahor

Holy rear camber, Batman!

Remember the Manic GT? You know, that rear-engined, Renault-powered, fiberglass bodied two-seat sports car of the early 1970s, built in Canada? It’s a bit fuzzy? Well, you’re in for a treat.

This product of Les Automobiles Manic Ltée, of Granby, Quebec, (initially, Terrebonne) came about when a youthful former PR officer for Renault Canada named Jacques About decided to create a home-grown alternative to the Alpine A110, which Renault had pondered importing, but decided against. About formed Manic -the name a nod to the nearby Manicouagan River, not his cars’ temperament, but isn’t it a great name for a sports car?- in 1968, building a Formula C racer called the Manic-GRAC. He followed that race car with a prototype for the GT, whose racy fastback’s lines were penned by French stylist Serge Soumille, and intended to blend European and American influences in a truly Canadian way; its mechanical engineering was handled by Maurice Gris. That car debuted at the first Montreal International Auto Salon in April 1969, where it caught the attention of investors with deep pockets- later that year, production of the Manic GT began.

This car, intended to be sold through and serviced by Renault dealers, was based on the independently-suspended floorpan of the very capable 8, and used the R10-1300’s 1,298-cc “Sierra” four-cylinder engine, which was available with compression ratios ranging from 8.0:1 to 10.5:1, and horsepower ratings ranging from 65 to 105. A four-speed manual was standard, although this circa-1970 brochure notes that a five-speed was available. 13-inch wheels hid four-wheel disc brakes, and that advanced safety feature was complemented by a Saab Sonett II-style roll bar under its swoopy fiberglass-reinforced plastic  (“laminated lyasil net”) skin: the Manic GT was said to meet Federal safety standards.

Thanks to its barely-there 1,450-pound curb weight and frugal Renault engine, the GT was capable of 35 to 40 MPG, and yet even the least powerful engine took it over 100 MPH; the most powerful engine, with the right gearing, could supposedly permit 135 MPH. It was said to cost $3,400, and even made an appearance at the New York Auto Show.

This eight-page brochure suggests that Manic GT production would be between 1,600 and 2,000 cars a year in 1972, and in a fascinating 1970 radio interview, Jacques About noted that the company had further plans to build a four-seater and a city car, in hopes their success would fund another competition racer. Sadly, financial and supply problems meant that only 160 examples of the GT were built before the Granby plant closed in the spring of 1971.

Did any of our Canadian readers experience a Manic GT back in the day? And were any sold south of the border?

Click on the images below to enlarge.