It always gives me a good feeling when cars that I cut my teeth on in this industry in the mid-eighties make a comeback.

First new Merlin under build for many years.

One that comes into that category is the Merlin traditional roadster that first saw the light of day in 1980. Peter Gowing was the main man and he started by importing a Beetle-based Witton Tiger from the States, although the story is bit more interesting than that…

An American chap called Leonard Witton was living in London in the late seventies when he had the idea for such a car and took it with him when he returned home where he put it into kit production.

Merlin TF

This is when Peter Gowing set-up Thoroughbred Cars in Essex in 1980 and began marketing the Witton Tiger here. After one year, resulting in one sale, Peter created a ladderframe chassis and introduced Ford Cortina donor parts.

The Merlin TF as it was called sold well from the outset with around 300 being sold. A 2+2 arrived in 1983, which really ignited sales. It was initially called Monro (Was it named after the lovely London crooner, ex-bus conductor, Matt Monro?), which was later amended to +2 and 700 of these found homes.

There were a few ups and downs along the way but the Merlin products were always of a high standard. It kind of disappeared in the early nineties, soon after a Sierra donor option was introduced.

Garry ‘GB’ Wilson acquired the project in 2009, but pressures of his day job meant he didn’t really get the chance to do it justice. However, it’s now back and in a big way.

Lincolnshire company, Mibrid, run by Andrew Imms, is the new custodian and has hit the ground running with their new acquisition. Andrew’s background is in motor industry logistics and he came up with some software used by one of the leading car shifting companies that enable the transportation of some 1.8-million cars per year…

As a devoted enthusiast for British cars, Andrew had recently set-up Mibrid to produce low-cost electric vehicles and the technology involved lends itself perfectly for sharing with the Merlin…

Andrew and his Hemswell Cliff, near Gainsborough-based team, have already begun rounding-up used Merlins and are busy restoring them, while the company is already in a position to supply spare parts and mechanical services to Merlin owners.

This year will see some new Merlins built complete with Ford EcoBoost engines, while understandably Andrew is also looking closely at electric technology being offered in the near future. As if all that wasn’t enough, they are also working on a brand new coupe version called the Merlin TC …watch this space.

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