Do you like my scratch-built, tube-frame, mid-engine sports car

06-13-2006, 02:35 PM
Hey guys, just a short introduction of myself and my project as I have never posted over here in this section of automotive forums.

My name is Steve Graber and I am building a scratch-built, tube-frame, mid-engine sportscar that uses a MKI MR2 donor and weighs just under 1,200Lbs. I built it starting with a crashed MR2 and a pile of steel tubes. And it was a LOT cheaper than you would ever imagine. but you have to do everything yourself.. That's the trick.

I spent the last couple of years working up the bodywork on la Bala. last year about this time it looked like this: That is a plug - an intermediate step to making molds.

I spent over 6 months laying up the molds. And it was freaking difficult! Just last week I pulled the molds off the plug. Here is a photo of the plug just before laying up the molds. Considering I made it out of particle board, foam and drywall plaster with some paint on top... It turned out exceptionally well:

I had to destroy the plug to get back my chassis... That really was difficult, mentally... It was easy to use the sledgehammer! LOL

Now I am just finishing off the mold surfaces in preparation for laying up the first actual finished parts: (The molds are attached to rotisserie's to make it easier to lay up the nose and tail sections.) Making the molds turned out the be the most expensive and difficult part of the project. BIG Dollars! Don't ask me how much. I am not prepared to say. The wife might find out!

Anyways, after tearing down the plug, I couldn't resist cleaning up the chassis, starting the engine and taking it for a spin, so we fired her up one evening and raced around the neighborhood raising some hell: Jason had a video recorder and took the following video of me pulling out of the garage for the first time in over 2 years: Check it out!

I wanna know what you think, so please leave feedback (good or bad) as it really motivates me to keep going!

And you can visit my website at - lots of photos and videos of the entire build from almost day one!

06-13-2006, 08:06 PM
Very cool. A friend of mine is doing something similar. I hope to build something like this someday. Keep us updated.

06-13-2006, 10:09 PM
sweet car.....the aerodynamics would suck but would be really cool if you left the chassis bare and just put a windscreen on it....maybe i should work on that for myself

07-24-2006, 06:04 PM
that's really cool. i think we've all had fantasies of building something like this but it's nice to see someone actually act on one. i'd like to build a car where it's just a tube chasis, a big engine in the front, some big rubber in the back, some good suspension parts, and that's about it. I might think about 4 wheel drive but that might be a little fancy and might not be quite as fun despite the better straight line grip.

so are you using stock mr2 parts or are you upgrading them? what are you doing for suspension mods and engine mods?

07-25-2006, 11:26 AM
Dude you are the man. I like the mid engine/RWD layout alot. Like beef_bourito said, we all want to do it, but you actually did. I would do it if I had the time/money/know-how/attention span that you do. Thats awesome and I really want to see the finished produc. Keep at it!

08-09-2006, 10:31 PM
I love your ambition to actually do this project (and as a proud mr2 driver, that you chose that platform) and wish to do it myself one day. I saw your website a few weeks ago when it was linked from and was impressed and inspired to continue designing my own homebuilt.

08-23-2006, 07:43 PM
Car bodywork is out of the moulds. I still have to attach it to the car and develop the light housings, but this is a big step.

Click here for larger images. (

08-28-2006, 06:15 PM

09-26-2006, 12:15 AM
Awesome work man, Can't wait to see it on the track!

12-21-2006, 10:33 PM
Sorry to bring back a dead thread but how much time and money does something like this cost?

12-22-2006, 02:00 PM
Sorry to bring back a dead thread but how much time and money does something like this cost?

Not a dead thread really, just been a while since I updated. :grinyes: And as you will see, it's changed from just a personal one-off project into something bigger.

The prototype didn't cost much in terms of money, (except the molds which were, well, lets say 2nd mortgage expensive....) but in addition to the money spent on just the professional quality molds and money spent on the car itself, I have used a considerable amount of time and lifetime of brain damage! But I live for big challenges and I never quit.

Building a chassis-only car to drive around from a cheap Toyota donor vehicle was under $5,000 and took 3 years of work. Replace my time with dollars and the amount would go way up.

I am preparing a kit out of this project so stay tuned to my website for more details regarding that.

Cost of the kit? Not set in stone, but I am making something available for almost every budget and level of builder. You could buy just plans and a build manual, or pre-cut tubing packs for people that like to weld but not think about cutting and notching 100's of tube ends. Also, you will be able to buy pro-welded frames in various stages of finish. I'll also be selling all the hardware and accessories needed to build a complete car. I will also offer a limited number of turnkey track cars and a user installable kit to meet street legal requirements. But each owner has to make their own car street legal and get it registered on their own. (I will have a growing database of states and requirements as the company grows.)

Hope that answered your question?


12-22-2006, 02:02 PM
Argh, the dreaded double post.... Sorry.

03-03-2007, 08:00 PM
Hey steve.

The car is looking great. I have not seen you post on any of the kit car forums in awhile. Hows it going?

11-13-2009, 10:20 PM
Hey steve so hows the project comin?

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