How relying on Reanault brought the Manic GT to it's knees

In the late 1960s a French Canadian called Jacques About, who had worked, amongst other jobs, as a racing driver but was currently employed by Renault in their public relations department, was asked to do a feasibility study about importing Renault – engined Alpine sports coupes into Canada. The response from the public was positive, but Renault decided not to go ahead with the project. Perhaps the idea fired About's imagination, because he left the company shortly afterwards and set up his own company assembling racing cars.

The company had some success which benefited both it's finances and it's public profile. About decided that the time was right to make his own sports coupe, to be named the Manic GT. The decision was made to base it on Renault parts; a decision which ultimately sealed the fate of the company!

Launched in 1969 at the Montréal Auto Show the GT was based on a Renault chassis and engine. Many other components and pieces of trim were also sourced from Renault.

The car had a fairly decent specification. There was a tubular steel chassis with a rollover bar which added stiffness as well as additional safety; and to create even more stiffness the fibreglass body was bonded directly onto the chassis, rather than being bolted to it. Unfortunately this made bodywork repairs particularly difficult which was an early problem that buyers complained about. However there was independent suspension all round with disk brakes on all four wheels, rack and pinion steering and both roadholding and steering were good. There were three levels of tune, producing 65, 80, or 105 horsepower with a maximum speed of 135 mph so this was a serious sports car. Distribution and servicing was to be handled by Canadian Renault dealers. In 1971 a new factory was built to manufacture the GT with a production target of 2000 cars per year. So far, so good.

Unfortunately, Manic management had been a little naive when they negotiated their deal with Renault. They were completely reliant upon parts from this company, and when deliveries started to get intermittent they were forced to buy components from other Renault dealers in other countries! The situation got so bad that it was quite common for unfinished cars to be sat in the factory waiting for parts for months at a time. Investors in the company tried to sue Renault but it was pointed out to them that there were no penalty clauses for late delivery written into the contract. These investors lost interest in Manic and withdrew their support.

Even worse was yet to come. The parts that they had bought from Renault simply weren't up to the Canadian climate, and the chassis in particular rusted so rapidly that most of the cars were fit only for the scrap heap after just six or seven years. Sales suffered and this, combined with cash flow problems caused at least partly by unreliable component deliveries meant that the company had to fold in 1971, despite a reported order for 1000 cars after the New York Auto Show.

Exactly how many Manic GTs were finally produced is not known for certain but it has been estimated that 160 were sold altogether. How many would have been sold had a more reliable component supplier and an effective rust proofing treatment been available is a matter for conjecture.

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