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by Jay Traugott
They may not always be the most conventional, but some kit cars such as this Midas Mini have a reputation for being immensely fun to drive.
Kit cars are a funny thing. They're either complete pieces of junk that make a soap box derby racer seem safe and practical or they're actually something rather interesting. There's been very few in between. Some of the best kit car brands include names like Caterham, Factory Five Racing and Ultima. The worst no doubt include the Peel Trident and the Amphicar. They're just embarrassing to look at, kind of like drunken Facebook photos of yourself.
The whole concept of a kit car is that it's something one can build and maintain without spending loads of cash on. In other words, it has to be relatively reliable, safe, and cheap. "Relatively" can be a loose term in this case but as long as said kit car passes all three of those qualifications, then the owner is in good shape (relatively). One of the better kit car brands out there also includes Midas Cars. Founded by Harold Dermott in 1975 in the UK, it was actually a new joint venture between Dermott's existing fiberglass company and Marcos. The former had already been building its Mini Marcos, but the car's design was outdated.
Dermott soon requested an updated look and the result was the Midas, which had its initial debut at the 1978 Performance Car Show in London. It lacked a chassis and simply recycled components such as the engine, transmission and front subframe from the Mini Marcos. A few years later, Gordon Murray, who later went on to design the iconic McLaren F1, was brought in to further improve the car. Buyers could opt for three trim levels, Gold, Silver and Bronze. As a result of this solid packaging, sales were higher than expected and the small factory was unable to keep up with orders. A new facility was soon built and the company changed its name to Midas Cars Ltd.
Improvements continued to take place and Murray was again involved, focusing on aerodynamics. The car's styling was also given another update. Around this time, Midas wanted to begin selling its cars as kits as well as complete units. A more stringent crash testing certification test was required that the car passed with flying colors. Although everything was looking pretty good for a while, a devastating fire completely destroyed the factory in 1989 and production was forced to cease. The following year the company sold the car rights to Pastiche Cars, who soon got production up and running again by making both coupes and convertibles.
Throughout the rest of that decade the rights to the Midas Mini changed hands a number of times. It wasn't until 2007 when things sufficiently stabilized for production to get back on track with the latest owners, Alternative Cars. Ltd. Fortunately, the car has garnered a substantial following over the years and the Midas Owners Club remains active to this day. However, there aren't that many of these cars in the US, but one of them is up for grabs right now on eBay. This 1985 Midas Mini GT Gold is actually registered as a 1965 Austin on which it's based on. It was shipped to the US a few years back and it's in good overall shape.
The fiberglass body still looks great along with the leather interior. All told it weighs just 1,520 pounds and gets 45 mpg. Power comes courtesy of an MG four-cylinder 1275cc engine mated to a four-speed manual gearbox. Other features include a removable sunroof, new tires and rims, along with a new sound and stereo system that still needs to be hooked up. The seller claims the car is fully roadworthy and there's only 154 miles on the odometer. As of writing the current bid was just over $2,000 and we suspect that it'll go much higher in the coming days.