The Bonito has come a long way since it’s conception in the 60s. Originally based on a VW Beetle floorpan and Type44 engine, with the front end of a gt40 and rear of a mustang fastback, it had the looks of a show car but not a go car. The rights to produce the Bonito have since passed through a few different companies. FT, Fiberfab, AEM and then finally Seraph. It is this last incarnation which moved the game on with a full spaceframe chassis, Ford running gear and a Rover V8 power plant. Very TVR-esque. The Seraph Bonito was built to used in a single make race series and a few were sold. Unfortunately the race series never transpired and again the Bonito fell into obscurity.
July 2015 and a part built Seraph appeared locally and was promptly purchased for not a lot of money. The state of the car was basically a rolling chassis, full body and glass. We mulled over which engine to slot in the front. Rover V8s sound great but don’t make good power. LS engines are pricey. The Jaguar V6 was a strong contender but a little tall. Again, luck shone on our side and we were offered an Audi a8 with a duff gearbox. Another A4 with a dead engine and we had ourselves the kind of engine such a sleek body deserves.
The only drawback is the engine will not fit in the front. It’s a mid engined set up. We either have to build a spaceframe chassis from scratch or modify a mid engined vehicle to suit. After parking up a Mk2 Mr2 next to the Bonito it became apparent the wheelbase was not only close but exactly the same. The dimensions of the roof, windscreen, light layout and much more are all well within usable reach pretty much straight out the box. It’s a no brainer. This is not to say this will become a bonded on body leaving the chassis to rust. We plan to do this properly.
Stage 1 :
- Remove the engine, gearbox and fuel tank from the Mr2.
- Remove the roof and move the engine bay front cross member forward to allow room for the engine to fit.
- Fabricate a roll over bar and new firewall
- Build an engine and gearbox cradle which will incorporate the rear subframe and suspension struts (This will allow the full powertrain to be removed from underneath easily)
- Re-install in the Mr2 and fabricate the rest of the roll cage with front and rear struts.
This will leave us with the bones of the project in place. The next stage will be to install as much of the ancillaries as possible, wire up the engine and make sure it all works as intended. We will then have a V8 Mr2 speedster.
The final stage will be to remove the engine and box, remove all the bodywork, treat the chassis to ensure it has no rust, is fully protected and is as light as we can safely manage and then modify the body of the Bonito with a central tub, a flip up front and a removable rear. The finished result should loosely resemble the GT40 layout and will draw quite heavily on those looks. Something between a Porsche 904, a Toyota 2000gt and the GT40 is the goal.
We will update this site and the facebook page (www.facebook.com/BonitoSuper8) as the project progresses.