Even before WWII, the local workshop wizards built special bodies for trucks and cars, and a number of sizeable buses were completed as well, some having modern semi-aero shapes copied from the then-current Autobahn swallowers by MAN or Bssing. After the war, under the Communist regime, various vans and small class buses were assembled on a regular basis under the make TA, using Russian GAZ truck chassis for purpose.
Most unusual, however, was the launch of a racing model Estonia in 1958, in the capital city Tallinn. More than 1,300 production single-seaters were manufactured in 40-plus years, and when this Estonian racer slid quietely into oblivion, the famous British magazine Autosport mentioned to its readers the simple fact that "the second-oldest single-seater builder on the planet Earth has just folded."
The first Estonian kit car maker, RexeR, founded by engineer Mati Kits, came to life on the ruins of the Kavor (an Estonian automaker). Members of the racing car building clan were involved, as well as Kavor's semi-abandoned rooms in downtown Tallinn. The first production model was called Rex R-10, and after some development, it was given a Type Approval (which allowed the company, among other things, to export a couple of cars to Portugal).
The model R-11 is still in the development stage, and its shape is really most unusual. However, this car, with specially ordered window glass and a complicated shape, appeared to be more costly to de-bug than initially expected, so the model has been put aside for a while. Meanwhile, Mati Kits became a Cobra enthusiast and saw a possiblity of using his existing frame and suspensions under one more Cobra clone-his forthcoming Rex R-12.
He bought a body kit, made his own molds, and is nearly ready to produce a small run of "Estonian Cobras." What about the engine? A proper V-8 wasn't readily available and, initially, was considered too heavy and thirsty for local conditions. Thus a 3L DOHC Toyota unit made its way into the engine bay, mated to a five-speed manual.
Rex R-12 has a wheelbase of 91.3 inches and overall length of 154.3 inches. It weighs in at 2,312 pounds and has an approximately 7-cubic-foot trunk and a 14-gallon fuel tank. Detailing is satisfactory for a prototype.
The first Rex R-12, in bright and golden livery, became a real star attraction at last year's Tallinn International Motor Show Motorex. Testing and development continued well into the summer, and handling tests bring the impression that this roadster is being upgraded for improved handling.
Mati Kits is considering a small or medium-capacity American V-8 for his production cars, and time will tell if the Estonian kits by Mati Kits will make headway in the West.