The Mastretta brothers, Daniel and Carlos, had a nice little business building kit cars based on Volkswagen parts, and buses, for around 20 years in Mexico City. Back in the 1930s their father was an engineering student, and he was taught in Milan by a young professor of engineering by the name of Enzo Ferrari. Perhaps it was this that planted the seeds of a wish to build an Italianate sports car! In retrospect it was the worst ambition he could have given them.
This was going to take a little time. Work on a prototype started in 2004 with production planned for 2008 but the brothers felt the proposed engine, a four-cylinder Volkswagen unit producing 115 horse power was not powerful enough so they looked around to find a more suitable one. In the meanwhile the prototype was shown at the London International Motor Show; this didn't really impress the critics but improvements were planned.
It was another three years before the Masretta MXT entered production with sales forecasts of about 150 units; most of which were meant to be exported to America and Europe. It was a forlorn hope.
Was it really a very good car? It was a low-slung two seater with a Cosworth tuned 2 litre four-cylinder Ford Duratec with a turbocharger; claimed power output was 140 brake horsepower. This was a very lightweight car however. The weight was kept down by the use of magnesium alloy wheels, a carbon fibre reinforced fibreglass body, and an all aluminium chassis. Bearing in mind that the car could be used for racing as well as road use it had all round double wishbone suspension, safety harnesses, bucket seats, and aluminium pedals spaced specially for heel and toe work. There was a built-in roll cage and double airbags to keep the occupants as safe as possible.
Driver comfort wasn't forgotten; for road use it had xenon headlights, anti-lock brakes, a five-speed manual gearbox, a hands free phone system, air con and an in car entertainment/media console. Mexico's first true sports car, it was hoped, would set the world afire.
Unfortunately there were four major problems. Firstly a lot of people considered it to be ugly, especially from the rear. Secondly, it didn't handle terribly well. Thirdly, the build quality was not of the best. Fourthly, and perhaps most important of all, it needed European Community Small Series Type Approval if it was to sell in Europe. And for this they needed extra investment.
A company called Latin Ideas Ventures was to put in around $5 million but in return for this they wanted a majority share and overall control of the company. However by the time half of the money had been forthcoming there were bitter disputes between the Mastretta brothers on one side, and the board on the other. By 2014 the brothers announced that they had had enough and they were resigning. The company ceased production and seems to no longer exist.
Perhaps if the MXT had never been dreamt of the Mastretta brothers would still be carving out a decent living building their buses and kit cars.