By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, eBay

Some of the best deals on the internet are disguised by black spray paint and steel wheels. Take this Manta Mirage on eBay for example. The car is relatively complete, runs and is a screaming deal at $8,000 (to my eyes at least), but it takes the right person to see the possibilities.

Manufactured in California from 1974 to 1986, the Mirage was Manta Cars’ most successful model. It was based on a steel space frame chassis with respectable geometry, and topped by a hand-laid fiberglass body patterned off Can-Am race cars of the 1970s. Chevrolet small-block engines powered the Mirage most often, but big-block and Ford-powered examples were also constructed.

These days, the Manta enjoys a niche following from fans of classic kit cars and enterprising home builders. Really great Mantas can ask nearly $30,000, while fixer uppers may sell for as little as $10,000. With a “Buy it Now” price of just $8,000 on eBay, this Mirage looks to be a good deal on price alone, but there are some other positives for the average DIY guy.

To start, the car appears to be all there, and the engine (likely a small-block Chevrolet) even runs. The seller states that the clutch needs to be bled, a nice afternoon project, and the engine is nicely dressed with matching finned accessories, an Edelbrock dual-plane intake and thorough heat shielding. Also included in the sale, is a brand-new windshield, and a new wiring harness has been installed. The icing on the cake though, is a clear California title under the Specially-Constructed Vehicle route.

Obviously the Mirage needs some work, justifying the low price, but there’s nothing here that should scare you away from taking on this project at home. All the heavy lifting has been done, and the car has already been built (and presumably) driven at one point. Bodywork should be a DIY affair, and maybe even a great learning experience, and the interior could be cleaned up with some new upholstery and details.

I’m picturing this Manta all cleaned up and finished in Ford’s Grabber Blue with some Torq-Thrust wheels and Avon rubber. And while it’ll take some cash and elbow grease to get it there, the driving experience and astonished onlookers should be worth the effort.

Check out the Manta here on eBay.