My Car Quest

December 5, 2023

The Piranha Kit Car By AMT

by Mike –

In the early 1960s, a Borg-Warner subsidiary, Marob Chemical, experimented with the development of “CRV” (Cycolac Research Vehicle) cars, named after the plastic used to construct the bodies.

1960 Piranha Kit Car By AMT

Piranha Kit Car By AMT Parked Next To A Jaguar C-Type

Only a handful were built. One was later modified and featured in the “Man From U.N.C.L.E.” TV show.

Stephanie Powers in Man From UNCLE

Stephanie Powers in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and A Piranha

1960 Piranha Kit Car By AMT

One actively campaigned in the SCCA’s Midwest Region and claimed the “D Modified” Central Division Championship. AMT, the model company, bought the rights to manufacture a 1/24th scale version and also built a limited run of full-size cars to enter into races to promote their kits.

1960 Piranha Kit Car By AMT

The Piranha was styled by William Schmidt and constructed in Phoenix, Arizona by Jentzen-Miller.

It is powered by a turbocharged air-cooled horizontally opposed (boxer) 164 cid 6-cylinder engine developing 150 hp.

1960 Piranha Kit Car By AMT

1960 Piranha Kit Car By AMT

Only a handful of these cars were constructed. This example was a back yard find and has been fully restored, with the historically correct livery, painted decals and logos.

1960 Piranha Kit Car By AMT

This car was photographed at the Hillsborough Concours d’Elegance in August 2012.

I think it is fascinating that a model car company would build real cars to help sell their model kits. I remember spending a lot of my paper route money on AMT model cars but I did not get the Piranha.

How often do you see a plastic kit car made by a model car company sitting next to a Jaguar C-Type? It was a first for me too.

I am sure there are more examples of this phenomenon – if you know of any other full size cars that were made by model companies share them with us in the Comments.

1960 Piranha Kit Car By AMT

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1960 Piranha Kit Car By AMT

Some of this article was first published in December 2012.

The Piranha Kit Car By AMT
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The Piranha Kit Car By AMT
1960 Piranha Kit Car By AMT on My Car Quest.


  1. David Grant says

    Mike, You can check out the Piranha kit car Sports Car on page 165 in the book, “The Legendary Custom Cars and Hot Rods of Gene Winfield” by David Grant. AMT, the model car kit company from Troy Michigan set up a Speed and Custom Division in Phoenix, Arizona in 1966. AMT hired Gene Winfield to manage part of the Speed and Custom Division, and later he became the General Manager. After much wrangling to find a suitable car for the television show, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., it was decided to use the Piranha Sports Car with its Cycolac body. If you are wondering what material is Cycolac, it is the same material used to make the plastic body of the old rotary telephones. More details on the history of the Piranha are in my book, plus a photo of the Piranha Drag Car powered by a Chrysler 392 Hemi that was campaigned by AMT.

  2. David Rackowitz says

    Hi Mike,

    Just a few more details. The plastics company that produced Cycolac brand ABS was “Marbon, a division of Borg Warner Corp. That company no longer exists, but the alumni are having a reunion in the old HQ city of Parkersburg, WV in June 2015. Cycolac is still sold, but by an Arab county, Sabic.

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