If the words Canadian and sports car were used together most car buffs would probably immediately think of Malcolm Briklin’s SV-1 which was assembled in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. Oddly though the Briklin SV-1 was really meant for the US market and wasn’t officially sold in Canada. But there was an earlier sports car that was designed, produced and sold to Canadians. It is the Manic (pronounced man-eek) GT built in Terrebonne and Sorel, Quebec. The Manic had a fiberglass body and used a Renault 10 frame and running gear. This gave it independent suspension all around, four wheel disc brakes plus rack and pinion steering. The Renault 1,289cc engine was offering in various tuning stages with outputs of 65hp, 80hp and 105hp. Weighing in at only 1,450lbs it was a quick car especially by standards of the day. A four speed manual was standard with a five speed optional. Depending on gearing and engine options selected top speed could be as high as 135mph. The styling was supposed to European in the front and American in the rear so the whole would much like Canada at the time; a mix of the two. Bucket seats, separate gauges and three spoke steering wheel completed the interior.
The man behind the Manic GT was Jacques About (pronounced Ah-boo) who worked for Renault Canada in the public relations department. The idea of producing his own car came about after a study of a possibility of importing and selling the Alpine (another sports car based on Renault bits) in Renault dealerships like in Europe. Although the report was very positive Renault Canada decided not to go ahead with selling the Alpine in Canada leaving the market niche open. About was confident enough that he left his job at Renault Canada and formed Automobile Manic Inc. in 1968 to develop the car with money raised from various private and government sources. The new car debuted in 1969 at the Montreal auto show. With his Renault background and connections the use of Renaults parts was an obvious way to go but also proved to partially responsible for its failure. With a full order book even with a $3400 price tag (about the same as a Camaro or Mustang but less than a Lotus Europa) but unable to source engines consistently (strikes at the French factories) investors pulled the plug on production after only 160 examples were made. The Renault 10 frame was also an issue later as they were very rust prone leading to several examples demise. One was even converted to Honda Civic underpinnings.
There is a fantastic interview in the CBC archives with Jacques About.