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|Assembly||Terrebonne, Quebec (1969-1970)
Sorel, Quebec (1970-71)
Granby, Quebec (1970-71)
The Manic GT was a two-seater sports car built in Canada from 1969-1971, first in Terrebonne, Quebec and later in Granby, Quebec. Named after Quebec's Manicouagan River hydroelectric project, it was the brainchild of Jacques About (born 1938 in Montreal). Designed by Frenchman Serge Soumille, it had a rear engine and used largely Renault components, with a molded fiberglass body. The Manic GT was to be sold and serviced by Renault dealers across Canada.
In the late 1960s, About, an employee of Renault Canada's public relations department, was asked to study the feasibility of importing the sporty Renault Alpine into Canada. The Alpine was a specialized sports/competition car made by an independent company (it would be absorbed by Renault in 1974) using Renault components. Alpines were sold through Renault dealers in Europe. Although About's survey results were positive, Renault chose not to import the Alpine.
About was so encouraged by the results of the survey, predicting a market for such a car, that he decided to leave Renault and produce his own sports car to fill the niche he was sure he had identified. After building a version of the French GRAC racing car under licence, called the Manic GRAC, a venture that garnered some good publicity, About established Automobile Manic Inc. in 1968. It was created to build a two-seater sports coupe called the Manic GT.
Enthusiastic and persuasive, About proved adept at fund-raising, and with the backing of such heavyweights as Bombardier (snowmobiles), Steinberg supermarkets, and the Governments of Canada and Quebec, he soon had capitalization of $1.5 million. A plant was acquired in Granby, Quebec, and design and production planning for the new car began. While the GRAC had been a racing car, the Manic GT was not intended for competition. It was to be a small, stylish and affordable two passengers touring car offering good performance and low fuel consumption.
About, familiar with Renault components and the company, made a deal to use the platform and running gear of the rear-engined Renault 10 sedan as the base for the Manic. Suspension was independent all around via coil springs, steering was rack-and-pinion, and it had four-wheel disc brakes. The Renault engine was a sturdy, 1,289-cc, overhead valve four-cylinder with five main bearings. It came in three stages of tune: 65, 80 and 105 horsepower. Power reached the rear wheels through a standard four-speed, or optional five-speed manual transmission.
Other all-Canadian cars
Of the early all-Canadian cars, the most successful was the Russell, built in Toronto from 1905 to 1915. In recent times, the last serious attempt was the Bricklin SV-1, but just under 3,000 of these fibreglass bodied, gull-wing door, two-seater coupes were built before the Saint John, New Brunswick plant went into receivership in 1975.
- Manic GT
- "In Search of the Canadian Car - Manic GT" Online Exhibition of the Virtual Museum of Canada