It’s nice to know that even if you don’t have the financial health often associated with selling a unicorn startup to Google, you can probably at least (someday) afford the replica of your favorite historically significant car. Beyond the myriad Shelby Cobra, GT40, and Porsche 550 Spyder clones that clog your local Cars and Coffee, there’s more esoteric stuff to be copied. From the Ferrari 250 GT (GTO Engineering) to the Lola T70 (Broadley Automotive) to the Lotus 11 (Westfield), there’s a replica of just about anything available at a relatively reasonable cost—including a new Miata-based DIY kit for a 1950s Alfa Romeo Grand Prix car.
Yes, you too can turn your old leaky, greasy, wheezy Mazda roadster into a rather excellent approximation of the Alfa 158/159 that domineered Formula 1 between 1938 and 1951. Other than the obvious excitement that goes along with driving an open-wheeled car, this is a fascinating build, as creating a reasonably priced and well-proportioned racing replica is a tricky endeavor. Most replicars are built on a stripped-down chassis of an existing car, or designed with their own standard chassis with semi-mass production in mind, such as the Shelby Cobra or the GT40.
The market for prewar racing replicas is significantly smaller, so building a bespoke “monoposto” frame/kit is a tough sell. The majority of the monoposto replicas you do see charging around at track days or sitting pretty as garage art are usually enormously expensive one-offs or ultra-low production specials such as the Argentina-based Pur Sang Type 35.
This is where the new Tipo 184 comes in. Inspired by Wheeler Dealers and Master Mechanic presenter Ant Anstead’s very own homebrew Alfa 158 replica, the new Miata-based kit is one of the most interesting methods of Miata upcycling we’ve seen thus far. Anstead appears to be the creative and technical force behind this project and the first ten buyers of the kit will get a chance to build their Tipo 184 in a workshop with Anstead overseeing; he is reportedly working on a full Haynes manual of the Tipo 184 for buyers who would rather perform the conversion in the comfort of their own garage.
Again, details are still scarce at this point. From the photos available on the barebones website, though, it appears only some of the Miata componentry makes it through the transformation. Looking over a portion of the kit, some of the suspension, brakes, and most of the Mazda’s powertrain components bolt onto the supplied spaceframe. Once all the mechanical gubbins are sorted, body panels presumably shaped from fiberglass fit flush on the long tubular shape, along with the single leather seat, wood-rimmed steering wheel, and full metal dash plate for the interior.
Even with the modern Miata guts under the cylindrical body, the Tipo 184 does its best impression of a mid-century race rocket: the supplied wheels are excellent analogs of the multi-spoke Borrani wire wheels, there’s an exposed elongated exhaust header that runs down the side of the car (complete with four semi-cheesy fake exhaust ports), and the brake discs appear to be shrouded with a metal cover aping the finned drums from the original Alfa.
If you already have a tired Miata sitting around your garden shed, the first ten conversion kits on offer are a relative bargain at £7,499, or $10,100 at the time of this writing. More kits will be made available at a later date, with revised pricing and without the opportunity to build your car alongside Anstead. Of course, if you don’t already have a donor car, you’ll need to source your own, but Tipo 184 says it can assist in the process. Which generations of the MX-5 qualify is unclear, but based on the name—184 alludes to the 1.8-liter displacement and the four-cylinders—and a photo of a junked NB on the landing page, we suspect only the NA and NB generation Miatas are eligible.
If this seems like the perfect opportunity to live out your dreams as Juan Manuel Fangio, register interest on the official Tipo 184 website and keep an eye out for future updates. And if you want to keep an eye on whatever other projects Anstead is working on, then be sure to sign up for the MotorTrend App today