SEMA 2012

Miata-based Catfish Speedster Coming to SEMA

New custom sports car to be unveiled in October at SEMA 2012.

The Catfish is a custom sports car based on a MX-5 created by Bauer Limited Production. Using a $800 model for the prototype, the fledgling company removed the majority of the original parts, including the hood, trunk, doors, bumpers, top and convertible frame, shocks, springs, headlights, and most of the interior. The original unibody was then replaced by a brand-new spaceframe designed by Ron Hemphill, renowned for designing chassis that have underpinned Paris Dakar and Baja off-road rally winners.

A highlight of the Catfish is its lack of doors. Like a racing car, ingress and egress are enabled by removing the steering wheel and hoping in, where the driver finds the seat mounts and pedal assembly shifted 3.8 cm back and slightly inwards for better feel and interior space.

At just 680 kg (317 kg less than the already featherweight MX-5), it was essential to redistribute some weight over the rear wheels for extra traction, so the battery was moved to behind the passenger seat and the exhaust rerouted to the side. For improved aerodynamics, a diffuser, splitter and downforce-generating "whiskers" all help to keep the Catfish pinned to the tarmac. Styling is the work of Greg Tada, a former Suzuki designer, who used a catfish as inspiration, which the company claim is evident in the face and fins of the car. Thankfully, we don't see the resemblance.

"The Catfish carries on the tradition of the original Miata," says Bauer. "It combines light weight with the design cues of a classic British roadster. You might be able to see Aston Martin or Jaguar at the front, or Triumph and AC in back end of the car, but it's all Catfish." We see more of the Veritas RS III, ourselves, and that's no bad thing. Power comes from Mazda's stock 1.6- or 1.8-liter engine, while a GM LS2 V8 could reportedly also be fitted. The Catfish will be unveiled at SEMA 2012 at the end of October, while a full racing version is expected in 2013. In the meantime, check out the car's shakedown at the El Toro air base in California.

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