LMC found much success with the Maladus in the early 80’s and sought to build upon it for the next generation. At a glance, the M150 could almost be called a facelift, but underneath holds a new beast. The body panels were now partially aluminum, the 5mph bumpers were integrated into the design, and the rear was redesigned for more cargo space. The styling was more uniquely LMC, kicking off a new design language for future models.
Under the hood, the '85 Maladus finally got a much needed new engine, the 4.6L DOHC V8 “Wraith”. Much smoother and more reliable, the Wraith cranked out over 300 hp and 289 ft-lb of torque. Later in the M150’s run, VVT was utilized to increase power output by about 10 hp and fuel economy up to 20 mpg combined. This Maladus was much faster, with early models reaching 0-62mph in under 5.5 seconds. It topped out at 157 mph.
With a new small affordable sports car in the works and a high-end concept recently released, LMC decided to push the M150 closer to a GT sports car as the mid level model. The interior was upgraded with premium cloth seats, aluminum accents in the interior, and this time around, and actual (partially) digital gauge cluster. Later models also offered a high-quality sound system with a cassette player. It was slightly heavier with the '85 model weighing in at 2,732 lb. Despite the added weight and power, the handling was improved from the M100 GT. A fully-optioned 1988 Maladus sold for just $12,999 (adjusted for inflation at about 50% markup).
Tim Petrol's Maladus
In 2001, a 1989 Maladus M150 was featured in the movie The Agile and the Angry. It played the role of main character Tim Petrol’s car in the later acts of the movie. This version of the Maladus underwent extensive bodywork and the engine was fitted with a twinturbo system boosting power well over 600 hp. The real car used in the movie could do a quarter mile in 11.59 seconds.This car was more of a no-nonsense street racer than the others featured in the movie, fitting for the character. The movie was a substantial image boost for the classic Maladus and for newer generations to come.
The Ares was refreshed in 1986, further moving away from the boxy 80’s styling and blending design cues from the 60’s while trying to stay up to date with the soon to be rapidly changing trends. The same 3.0L SOHC V6 powers this Ares, but power output has been increased to 171 hp. The fuel efficiency reached 19 mpg combined and acceleration in the base model was vastly improved at 0-62 mph in 9.2 seconds. The Coupe inched further upscale with options including a cassette player and ABS. The car would be entered into ASCAR for the 1987 season driven by Eric Jonrosh and Seabeast motorsports. The Ares’ long run came to an end in 1991 with the introduction of the flashier, more expensive Scylla.
With the new generation Maladus moving back upscale, LMC was looking to fill in the market for an entry level sports car. Enter the Miro. Visually, the Miro was a miniature Maladus with more fun, louder styling. It carried over the same wedge shape and it’s slide-open headlights. What really set the two apart though was the MR layout of the Miro. Sporting a 1.6L 8v Inline 4, the bottom trim made 110 hp with others making significantly more.
The Miro 110 was one of the cheapest LMC’s ever sold starting at $13,208 (@ 50% markup), less than half the price of a new Maladus. The N/A I4 could push the car from 0-62 mph in 9.3 seconds and go up to 112 mph. What it lacked in power, it made up for with handling with standard all season tires and sport-tuned suspension. The Miro was tiny and the interior was somewhat cramped. It came standard with decent cloth seats, an 8-track player, and a digital speedometer with the option to upgrade to a cassette player. By far the most underwhelming trim, the Miro 110 stopped production in 1988 while the S and RS continued.
The next trim level up brought a turbocharged variant of the I4 producing 153 hp. With the manual 4-speed
transmission, the Miro S could accelerate for 0-62 mph in 7.1 seconds and reach 120 mph. The turbo versions were a bit heavier at 2,200 lbs, but kept its nimble handling characteristics.
The RS was the ultimate edition of the Miro with most of the optional features coming standard along with a retuned I4 turbo making nearly 170 hp. Acceleration from 0-62 mph was further improved to 6.5 seconds. The RS received a roof lip for added downforce at higher speeds as well as differentiating it from other Miros. All of the Miros made around 20 mpg and while safety features weren’t skimped on, they amassed a reputation as little steel death traps due to its size. That didn’t stop the Miro from selling relatively well, although not up to the standard of past LMC sports cars.
In 1985, LMC unveiled a bold new concept car: the Nessus. It was a small, futuristic supercar powered by a 3.8L V8 and promised unparalleled performance from LMC. The car’s iconic styling made it a hit encouraging the company to move forward with the project. Later that year, it was selected to be the heist scene car in the hit movie Blurred Lines. It was the first time audiences got to see it in action.
4 years later, the highly anticipated supercar finally went into production. The Nessus was a machine built purely for driving enjoyment. The base model Nessus came with a 3.8L V8 Twinturbo producing 391 hp and 336 ft-lb. of torque, a thrilling amount of power in a car weighing just 2,826 lb. It could go 0-62 mph in 4 seconds flat and reach a top speed of 172 mph. The interior featured leather and aluminum touches with good quality bucket seats. The first 100 models all came in “Concept Red” with exclusive interior details. Although its performance didn’t rival the best in the world, it was a supercar as affordable as many sports cars at the time.