• May 16, 2007
Our infatuation with the lightest means of four-wheeled transport has put a number of cars on our must-have list. Today, it's grown by one. La Bala, Spanish for "The Bullet" is the brainchild of Steve Graber, "an average guy in an average garage," whose only goal was to distill outright performance into a compact package.

Beginning with a friend's MR2, Mr. Graber, now the founder of Graber Cars, stripped the mid-engined coupe down to the frame, performed a number of chassis modifications, and then clothed his masterpiece in simple, yet attractive, body panels. The dry weight of La Bala is an even 1,500 pounds, and when mated to a 1.6-liter, 170 HP turbocharged motor, allows the quirky track toy to reach 60 MPH in a mere 4.3 seconds.

Pricing for the kit was just announced and it comes in at cool $25 grand, sans engine and transmission. His site, Grabercars.com, has an overabundance of information about La Bala, including videos and a journal of the buildup. We're only halfway through it now, but we're totally sold.

[Source: Grabercars.com via Inside Line]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 15 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      FROM THE WEBSITE:

      2 - Build it yourself plans for chassis and suspension - MR2 Running Gear car. Every tube in the chassis and suspension. Each tube appears on a separate 8.5 x 11 sheet which serves as a template. Every angle, cope and mitered end is presented full-scale. Copes and compound miters come with the tube drawn 'unwrapped'. Simply cut the paper, wrap around your steel tube and tape, then cut the tube to the line on the paper for 'exact fit' tubes.

      Price: $150 (contact us for a sample drawing pack)
      • 7 Years Ago
      Its a shame he couldnt make it as pretty as an Atom without adding the body.
      • 7 Years Ago
      If Mr. Graber sells enough of these, they could become the next Dusenberg, but for track days instead of luxury cruising.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "Beginning with a friend's MR2, Mr. Graber, now the founder of Graber Cars, stripped the mid-engined coupe down to the frame, performed a number of chassis modifications, and then clothed his masterpiece in simple, yet attractive, body panels."

      now, im not saying he didnt strip down an mr2.. but i've stripped my mr2 down to the frame and it certainly wasnt a tubeframe. maybe mr graber just took chassis hints and tips from the mr2, because im almost 100% positive there is no mr2 frame parts on that car at all. "a number of chassis modifications" = a totally different chassis.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The poor man's Elise is a... used Elise.

      Get one one for $32k or so and it's a heck of lot more sorted than that La Bala contraption.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I cannot but help thinking about this with either a rotary or the S2000 engine inside of it. That is what would make me get this over an atom or lotus.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Yes please! I'll take 7!
      • 7 Years Ago
      "kit"

      when the amount of time is factored in to build this, I bet the Elise will seem like a bargain.
      • 7 Years Ago
        Ty
        • 2 Years Ago
        honestly if you compare 20k worth of that trash to the put it together yourself car. (meaning the la bala. which, is actually worth 10-15k if you get the street edition.) and then add a good engine with a super charger and everything. than this car would totally bet that piece of S**T anyday.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Yeah...wow...$25k for a car that won't go anywhere. What a deal.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I called and spoke to Mr. Graber at length about his car. Based on waht I am reading above, there seems to be some confusion here as to what Grabercars actually is offering for sale. They offer 2 levels of product. The products look the same externally because they use the same bodywork, but underneath they are very different. Why two products with the same body? Why does Corvette offer the Z06? Some people want a fast little car that goes like stink and gets great gas mileage, but will rarely see the track. A fun lightweight runabout car that gets close to 45MPG! and you can still get on track for some spirited driving? Awesome. Other people want the ultimate performance car in a unique body style and are willing to pay more for that level of performance. To differentiate the two cars they are now calling the MR2 based car 'La Bala-Street' and the uprated car 'La Bala-Track'

      La Bala-Track is the car being offered as a diy crate kit and does not have ANY MR2 parts on it. It includes all track/race quality uprated parts and is a lightweight hardcore track-only car. It is a BENEFIT that YOU get to choose your own engine! As an example; with an Honda K24 engine of 220Hp and the cars sub 1500Lb weight you can easily understand that this is a very serious performance car. The article above makes a direct comparison of La Bala to the Elise and this really is not the best comparison. The track version of la Bala has a fully adjustable heim-jointed racecar suspension which has been computer optimized under the guidance of racing experts. Because it is fully adjustable, it can be optimized by the user on a track-by-track basis. Depending on your engine choice la Bala-Track has potentially a much better power to weight ratio than the Elise. It will out accelerate and outbrake the Elise. The car weighs almost 500Lbs less than an Elise! It is without doubt a more hard-core car and a direct comparison is indeed unfair. Nobody is saying that the Elise is a bad car. But you people that are dismissing the La Bala-Track as an underperformer are simply drinking the kool-aid. Listen, if you want one of the best street/track cars ever mass-produced and don't want to know every nut and bolt or how it's put together then go buy an Elise! Putting the La Bala together yourself is good in several ways. #1 It exposes the owner to the mechanical assemblage of the car. Real 'car guys' like to wrench on cars. By making the owner put it together it gives them a sense of accomplishment and #2 it also educates them on the mechanical workings of their vehicle. These are GOOD things. #3 It does indeed lower the cost to the consumer. You people that think a custom built racetrack ready car should cost $5000 and be pre-built are delusional. Using a direct comparison to the Ariel Atom, the La Bala-Track uses similar construction methods and high-end components. The Ariel Atom is sold as a $50,000 car! Grabercars could assemble their cars completely in-house, but the cost would go up significantly.

      La Bala-Track does require some work on the part of the owner. It comes dissasembled, with a set of assembly instructions and all you do is assemble it. It might take a few weekends to complete. No welding required. It's the IKEA concept applied to cars.

      La Bala-Street is the car that was built in a garage seen in the photos above and is based on the MR2 running gear. It also can use any FWD engine mounted mid-ships. This is the one that is being offered only as a set of plans or a set of pre-cut tubes and can be built much MUCH less expensively than the top-tier car offered above. This car is a fabricators dream. Every tube in the chassis and suspension comes on it's own drawing sheet with full scale cutting template for every cut and cope. This makes it unbelievably easy to miter and cope tubes. Of course you have to weld the whole thing together yourself, you also have to go to the junk yard and scrounge parts, buy off of ebay for most of the rest and you have to be able to weld, grind, cut, wire and fabricate. The plans do offer complete step by step instructions and a parts checklist. And Grabercars has a website forum where they and other builders can ask and answer questions related to building. Just by looking at what Graber has done with his first MR2 based car and estimating the cost of parts and materials, I believe you should be able to build one complete for around $10-15K.

      La Bala-Track is a lightweight mid-engine car designed mainly for track use. It features high-quality components and fabrication methods. It will accept almost any FWD drivetrain with minimal modification. This FWD drivetrain is relocated to the back axles creating a mid-engine transverse drivetrain layout. Because of the universal nature of the engine bay, you can pick the engine of your preference! If you choose an engine for which they have already developed the mounting brackets, they will include them in th
      • 7 Years Ago
      this isnt really a poor man's elise, the elise is a honed lightweight sports car, this guy built a kit car, its not hard to find a light kit car and its not hard to find one even cheaper than this, besides the amount of time and trouble Lotus puts into developing a car definitely faaaaaaar outweighs whatever time he put into making this car so i doubt they'll be comparable

      its an interesting car story but what gets me is the comparison to an Elise, which to me is unfounded
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