Rycam Mirage K18 ??? and MNX 608L(2, 1973)

A new two seater GT car made its debut at the Birmingham Motor Show, Bingley Hall in September 1973. That was the Mirage K18. The K18 was built by Rycam Engineering of 51-53 Newhall Street, Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire (the same address as Springbok Engineering who built the Mini engined Killeen K16).

This photograph shows the prototype (or a model?) from Tom Killeen's collection, send by Peter Hardy.


[photo Hot Car]

As is usual in Killeen's designs the Mirage was a stressed steel monocoque tub with integral roll hoops with streamlined fibreglass body and now gullwing doors to provide access over the high sills. In fact the centre section of the car is steel of almost identical design to the K16, and the front and rear fibreglass body sections are bolted and bonded onto the steel tub at each end. The body of the K18 is however not symmetric as was the K16, although it has the similar familiar sports racer style front end but a Camm style tail again as in earlier designs such as the K9.

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20swg steel sheet was used in the tub, with a steel box structure of 16 and 18swg steel sheet and square tube to carry the front suspension. Triumph Spitfire double wishbones of the Alford and Alder type and coil over sprung shock absorbers were fitted, rack and pinion steering was also made by Alford and Alder. In the show car a radiator was fitted in the nose with long aluminium connecting pipes and a rear header tank. The rear end has a triangulated structure of square steel tubes to hold the engine and rear shock absorbers. This is bolted to the rear bulkhead and carries the complete Imp rear suspension transaxle and engine. The coil over sprung shock absorbers off the front of the Triumph Spitfire are used at the rear, bolted into the centre of the Imp wishbones via special mounting brackets.

The front suspension of course has the Spitfire Girling disc brakes and hubs to take the 4" fitting Imp size wheels. Aluminium alloy 12"x5 1/2" rims made by Midland Metallic Co. were used with 155x12 Goodyear G800 tyres.

The engine for the K18 was a 998cc Imp Sport unit by Andy Chesman (Greetham Engineering, Coventry) delivering 65bhp.

Test driver of the Mirage number 2 was Arthur Langman. Before potential registration of a production car a certain amount of testing had to be done. This included driving the test cars for at least 60k miles. Arthur was given the second car for this purpose. It was also used to run in a number of Chesman's high performance Imp units and spent a considerable time with Group 6 motors installed, as it has again now. This worked fine and demonstrated the true potential of the design with the car remaining sure footed but capable of very high performance on the then un-cluttered roads, including the new M6. I've since had it out on a couple of circuits and can vouch for the car's good behaviour.

[more details...]

It was planned to built 150 cars within the first 12 months, and the fully built cars were offered for sale at £1650, a rather high price in 1973. Information appeared in the motoring press for instance Hot Car and Motor magazines. The car was allegedly tested successfully at the MIRA proving ground. Colours available were: Mirage Gemini blue, Mirage Signal orange, British Racing green, Mirage light emerald, Polar white and Sebring red.

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[review by Tom Leake]

The company directors were not new to the motor industry, for instance works director I.L. Spencer Hicks worked on the Rover gas turbine project, and managing director N.S. Slade had a long sprint career which included racing the Killeen K5 500cc single seater hillclimb special. Several problems however arose when the K18 took to the road, some financial, but also importantly an objection to using the name ``Mirage''. Rights to the name had apparently already been filed by John Wyer's Gulf backed organisation who built a Mirage sports racing car.

For various reasons therefore only the two prototype K18 cars are known to have been produced. The second car, chassis number SR002, was bought by RJA in 1991. It was registered MNX 608L in Warwickshire on 12/4/1973 and was originally Gemini blue. After several years of neglect it is now fully restored thanks in part to former owner Michael Gates of Thetford. The specification is as original except that the interior had to be rebuilt in an ad hoc manner since there are no photographs of the original, and there were no seats, trim or instruments when bought. The engine has since been replaced with a Greetham 998cc unit with 40DCOE Weber carburettors and R20 camshaft.

The gullwing doors seen in the photograph of the show car are missing from RJA's car. It seems that this second car was prepared rather hurriedly to get the two cars to Andy Chesman for road testing. Only canvas covers were fitted and also the headlamp cowls were never finished.

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[lots of my photos]

Specification of the author's car:

Greetham Imp 998cc Group 6 approx. 95bhp
front - independent coil over sprung Spax shock absorbers with Alcock and Alder (Triumph Spitfire) double unequal length wishbones and Alcock and Alder rack and pinion steering. Rear - Hillman Imp semi trailing arms with independent coil over sprung Spax shock absorbers, splined drive shafts and Metalastik Rotoflex to transaxle
overall length:
overall width:
overall height:
dry weight and distribution:
1120lbs without spare tyre, 42% front 58% rear
frontal area:
16 sq. ft. (same as K16)
estimated coefficient of drag:
cd=0.27 (same as K16)
Acceleration and top speed:
0-60 8.5 secs, around 105mph ?

[who is Simon Browner - Paul Lawrence-Keevil says he has 1st hand knowledge of K18 or K19]

[I met Simon Browner recently. He lived next door to the factory...]

Rob Allan