The Manta Ray blends the quintessential elements of 50s and 60s Bertone and Michelotti concept and production designs. Envisioned as a "concept car for the street," it's unofficially known as Blue Ray 4—a spiritual successor to Blue Ray 3 and the legacy of the Nardi Blue Ray concept cars, which Jim restored and owned for over 30 years.
The front fender sweeps are inspired by the Iso Grifo, with other styling cues putting a modern spin on Michelotti. The hood scoop evokes Jim's previous work with Blue Ray 3. The base platform and mechanicals come from a 1st generation NA Miata, cut and heavily modified to create the Manta Ray. Only 2 Manta Rays were ever produced—one in Nassaw Blue. The original Manta Ray, still owned by Jim, was initially painted Ferrari Modena 360 yellow and later repainted and detailed in the exact colours of the Nardi Blue Rays. Paint was contributed by PPG Paints.
The original Manta Ray features many Simpson Design original custom parts: our original manual short-shifter design and Simpson Design pedals as well as a one-of-a-kind 3-piece hard tonneau configuration. Many other custom parts came from third party producers: Wilton carpets, a custom Haartz cloth top from Robbins Auto Top Company, and custom-made Italian seats.
Much like his original Italia Classic, Jim still maintains & occasionally updates the Manta Ray to explore design concepts and use in prototyping and advertising. Currently in development is a custom built all-steel removable hard top with a clear roof inspired by Nardi's Blue Ray 2 concept c.