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How to Build a Cheap Sports Car (Motorbooks Workshop) Paperback – December 18, 2005

4.1 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Car and Driver, August 2006
Included in “The Homemades: Yes you can build a sports car for just a few grand”

“This book is useful for Locost builders in the U.S. because it focuses on the Miata as the donor vehicle, a car that is readily available ...  it’s an instructive read.”

                                                                                                                                                                                               

American Car World (UK), December 2006

“This is a good effort and an enjoyable 192-pages that will be a useful addition to your workshop manual type book collection.”

 



Grassroots Motorsports, October 2007

“An absolutely brilliant read for anyone even remotely interested in cars, engineering, high-performance track machinery, engine and suspension tuning or garage projects in general. Turns out Keith’s a fine, often funny writer with a wonderful, practical, nuts-and-bolts grasp of things … Better yet, he puts it into words and phrases that an average Joe can understand. And enjoy. Go online and buy yourself a copy right now.”

About the Author

Keith Tanner has been racing, modifying, and writing about Miatas for two decades and currently works full-time at a performance shop that pushes the boundaries of the little sports cars. At home, his garage contains a wide variety of cars that he’s built, ranging from a classic Land Rover to a 400-horsepower V8 rally Miata. He’s published four books in the Motorbooks Workshop series: Mazda Miata MX-5 Performance Projects; Mazda Miata: Find it, Fix it, Trick it; How to Build a High Performance Mazda Miata; and How to Build a Cheap Sports Car. Tanner has also written a number of magazine articles.
 
Official Website: http://www.slowcarfast.com
On Facebook: http://on.fb.me/13XBjrm
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Product Details

  • Series: Motorbooks Workshop
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Motorbooks; 1st edition (December 18, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0760322872
  • ISBN-13: 978-0760322871
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.2 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,292,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Alfred Racho on May 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
A more accurate title of this book should be "Keith Tanner's Lotus 7 Replica Build Diary"

As another reviewer has mentioned, this is more of a companion book to Ron Champion's book. That statement shouldn't discourage anyone from purchasing this book though.

Champion's book was more of a how-to cookbook, whereas Tanner's is a variation of the recipe. It is quite interesting to see another build, especially a US-based build (Champion's being basically a UK build).

This Miata-based build diary is a great way of seeing a different kind of variation. I, for instance, am building one around a Toyota 4AGE powerplant, and it is good to see how Tanner was deviating (and working around) the cookbook approach that Champion did. With a little ingenuity, one could use the "problem-solving techniques" that Tanner did.

That is not to say that Tanner outlined any techniques; rather, his diary was exactly that: a build diary. He shows what problems he encounters, and how he goes about solving it. The reader then has to infer what thought processes Tanner used, and the reader should be able to come up with his own.

I would have given this book 4-stars for the content, but it earns an extra star because of the way Keith Tanner writes. He manages to inject a lot of humour and wit in his writing. So when the time for your build comes and when the frustrations start pouring in (and believe me, they will start pouring in), go re-read this book and enjoy.

You will also notice that the author has this stupid grin [hey! His words, not mine... I think...] plastered on every picture that he appears in. You can even see that silly grin through one of those pictures where he's wearing a full-face helmet.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book after looking over Keith's website. If you approach the book more as a miata-based build diary, rather than a how-to book, it is a great book. The pictures and information are well put together. I am in the process of my own build, using a pre-made chassis from coveland7.com, and reading Keith's book gave me a realistic idea of what to expect during the build process and provided the information that I needed for my own planning process.

I also have the Ron Champion book, which goes over how to build the actual chassis. Since I am planning on buying a pre-welded chassis, this book is less of a use to me than Keith's book.

Thanks to Keith for putting together a well written book. If you are going to build you own locost project, I would recommend buying this and the Champion book.

-Brian
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The book was an interesting read. I nice overview of a start-to-finish build of a lo-cost. The author does a good job and the results are entertaining. The book itself, too, is genearlly well written and of high quality. The publisher puts out a nice product, with high-res color photos and high quality materials.

The biggest problem I had with the book was simply that I wanted more. I wanted to read much more detail and get more information than what was presented. With a title like "How to Build..." I expected (and wanted) more "how-to." Instead, the book is primarily a description of what was done, not why.

All in all, the book is interesting but not particularly useful
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This isn't REALLY a step by step how to book. It's more of a philisophical how to book, it's a cronological saga of the author's adventure building a Locost (Lotus Seven Style) race car. This book is best for getting you excited, convincing you that you can do it too and giving you a better understanding of the process. He does not cover forming parts, installing, design or anything like that, it's just about the process, and for what it is, it's a lot of fun and pretty informative too.
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Keith Tanner, like most of us reading this, dreamt of building his own Lotus Seven replica. He finally bought the Tamiya 1/12 scale model and once he did, there was no turning back. Keith bought a spaceframe from Champion Motorcars, and sources a wrecked Mazda Miata for parts. He then wrote a book and set up a website to chronicle his build process.

The resulting book is full of full colour photographs and insight into his project. A worthwhile book for all Lotus Seven/Caterham Seven/Replica/Kit Car enthusiasts, but bear in mind there are no drawings or plans for the spaceframe, wishbones, etc. It's more like a walkthrough of a replica build project and if you keep this in mind, it's an enjoyable read.
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You should read it in conjunction with the Haynes Roadster or LoCost books. Light, entertaining; but a tad short on detail in some places. More like "I started with a kit and this is what I ended up with" story.

Still it can serve as an inspiration and source of ideas for those building their own cars.
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Nobody should buy any single book and expect it to answer every question they have. People planning to build a Locost should expect that they are going to be swimming on their own once in a while. Yes, this book doesn't show you how to build a chassis from scratch. It doesn't show you plans for mounting a Miata dif. It doesn't tell you a lot of things that you'll want to know. Champion's book is missing a lot of useful detail as well. No book is going to answer all your questions, which is why there are so many different books available for sale! Keith's book answers a lot of questions for me and gives me plenty of ideas that I'll use on my own build. I wish other builders would publish similar books - I'd buy them in a heartbeat!
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