About the Merlin

The Merlin sports car began when a British designer, "Leonard Witton" took his project to America. His objective was to capture features of Great Britain's most famous sports car; The Roadster". His design used the Beetle flat-four at the rear and he named it the Witton "Tiger".

Witton Tiger

In 1975 Thoroughbred Cars Inc, of Redmond, Washington, accepted custom orders for the frame and body, Thoroughbred made their own box-section frames, and these 2-seaters could take VW or Porsche engines at the rear, Ford or GM V-6's and small-block V-8's at the front, or a Mazda Wankel at either end.

In 1980 the firm also announced a conventionally-engineered Mercedes-Benz 540K cabriolet replica with a choice of 4-, 6-, or 8-cylinder engines.


In 1978 a British Engineer, "Peter Gowing" sold his business which specialised in Volkswagen body conversions and VW accessory sales, and during 1980 he imported two "Tiger" body shells into the UK.

Using one of the shells a VW based car was manufactured and was given the model name "Merlin TA" (Trans-axle).

Merlin TA

There was only one example produced and after extensive advertising the VW based car was eventually sold and the original Witton shell was restyled.


Using the second of the shells, Gowing designed a chassis utilising Ford Cortina running gear.

Based in Essex under the company name "Thoroughbred Cars", the Gowing model was launched in 1980 and was called the "Merlin TF" (Type Ford) it now had a Ford pinto engine in the front, there was a total of approximately three hundred cars produced when production ended in 1984.

Merlin TF

Thoroughbred cars also launched the "Monro" in 1983.
Thoroughbred cars ceased trading in 1984.


In 1985 under the name "Paris Cars" Peter Gowing renamed the "Monro" the "Merlin Plus Two" which effectively replaced the "TF".

Merlin +2

Both the chassis and rear suspension had to be redesigned and the rear body work was squared up to free some space for a rear seat.

In 1986 the Merlin gained a German TUV approval.


Paris cars also produced a two seater version of the "Merlin Plus Two" called the "Merlin Two Seater".

In 1992 the Paris Cars introduced a Ford Sierra-based chassis option, while still offering the Cortina option the Sierra-based Chassis accounted for approximately 75 % of the sales.

The Sierra-based Merlin was given the name "Merlin iRS"

Merlin iRS

Lotus had some input on the chassis design after some criticism.


With approximately just over 700 Merlin's produced in total (excluding the "TF") in May 1998 Paris Cars ended production of the Merlin.

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