Merlin Classic Cars for Sale
The Merlin sportscar was originally founded by the Englishman and US resident, Leonard Witton. In 1975, while working for Thoroughbred in America, Witton created his kit car, the Witton Tiger, which became the historic Merlin when it reached British shores. The Merlin was manufactured in the UK for 18 years between 1980 and 1998, and is considered a classic design among car lovers.
Merlin's Tiger Days
The inspiration for the Witton Tiger was the Roadster, and what made it unique was the fact that the engine could be placed either in the front or in the back. The Tiger had a Volkswagen Beetle base, and customers would fit their cars with various engines, from small block V8s to Mazda rotaries. As Tiger lovers became increasingly creative, a 1980 V8 powered Mercedes Benz 540K Cabriolet copy was made, with a choice of 4, 6 or 8-cylinder engines. Subsequent designs have included 300SLR engines.
Transformation into the Merlin
In 1980, the British engineer Peter Gowing brought two body shells of Witton's Tiger to England and turned them into Merlins. He used one shell to invent a VW-based car, the Merlin TA (Trans-axle), which is the only car of its sort ever to exist. After extensive advertising, the TA was sold. Gowing turned the second body into a chassis with Ford Cortina running gear.
Gowing's second Ford-based Tiger was launched en masse in 1980 by Thoroughbred Cars in Essex, under the name Merlin TF (Type Ford). It made use of the Ford Pinto engine, situated at the front of the car. Thoroughbread also created the Monro in 1983, but the TF dominated, with 300 being produced. The manufacturing of the TF was stopped when the Essex Thoroughbred plant was shut down in 1984.
Paris Cars - Merlin's Heyday
The demise of Thoroughbred in Essex far from signified the end of Merlin. In 1985, Gowing founded Paris Cars, and replaced the Merlin TF with the Monro, which was relaunched as the Merlin Plus Two, due to its newly added rear seating. This was achieved by redesigning the chassis and rear suspension, and squaring up the rear body work, creating extra space. The new four-seater was so successful that Merlin gained German TUV approval in 1986, one year after its launch.
Merlin's Glorious Last Days
A two-seater version of the Merlin Plus Two was soon introduced by Paris Cars, simply named the Merlin TF Two-seater, while in 1992, their Ford Sierra-based chassis, the Merlin iRS, became available. More than 700 Merlin cars had been produced (TF excluded) when, in 1998, Paris Cars finally ended their production.