From the April 2000 problem of Automotive and Driver.
Have we bought a deal for you: Write out a pleasant test for $100,300 and ship it to the British producer of this magnificence, and he’ll ship you the automobile all wrapped in a giant delivery field—solely there is no engine.
We hear you proper now saying, “Nice. That is worse than these $75,000 Mustangs.”
Wait, do not throw the journal throughout the room—you are not going to consider this. After you have invested, oh, one other $40,000 or so for an engine and transmission, you are going to personal a automobile that’s faster than the most recent Porsche Turbo, any showroom Ferrari, even the fearsome Dodge Viper. To be truthful, in contrast to the opposite vehicles, that are actual vehicles, this British import is extra a race automobile tuned for the streets since there aren’t any airbags and there is minuscule baggage house and it is difficult to get into.
The automobile, referred to as the Ultima GTR, hails from the fertile race-car turf of Britain, the land the place McLaren, Reynard, Williams, and Van Diemen construct race vehicles that win with outstanding regularity. Lee Noble, a contract automobile designer, designed and constructed the primary Ultima in 1983 for a British package-car racing collection. It used many Renault components, together with a 270-horsepower V-6 engine mounted amidships. It was a success on the monitor, so Noble went on to promote 40 race vehicles earlier than 1988, when he up to date it. One of many 13 new fashions was purchased for about $25,000 by a civil engineer named Ted Marlow.
A weekend racer, Marlow did what most race-car homeowners do—he custom-made the Ultima to his liking. He swapped the V-6 for a 440-hp Chevy small-block V-8. In 1992, after 4 years of modifying and perfecting his automobile, Marlow, then 44, purchased Noble’s enterprise. His aim was to show the Ultima right into a civilized road automobile but retain its prowess on the monitor. The professionalject took 18 months. Marlow changed the Renault components with Ultima-specific models. He farmed out some bits and items however did a lot of the work himself. The brakes, for instance, have been designed by the nicely-known agency AP Racing.
Since 1995, Marlow’s small manufacturing facility in Hinckley, England, has turned out about 200 Ultimas. And this 12 months, in faraway California, a retired advertising government named Mike Mullin has begun promoting Ultima GTRs from his Costa Mesa store.
As an engineless package automobile, the Ultima bypasses federal rules. As soon as it is within the States, Mullin will set up no matter engine you want to pay for, however at present, he has two choices—an aftermarket small-block Chevy V-8 or a current-production LS1 V-8 from a C5 Corvette. Each engines use a late-model Porsche 911 transmission and differential. The small-block engine and the 911 transaxle value $38,000; the LS1 engine with transaxle prices $42,000.
If, nevertheless, you reside in a state with strict emissions legal guidelines and annual smog exams—California, for one—you want the LS1 V-8. The great thing about its set up is that the inventory engine-control system, the catalysts, and the OBD II diagnostics stay unchanged.
The LS1 engine within the automobile we examined felt excellent. Pumping out 345 hp, the aluminum V-8 is a confirmed, trouble-free, immediately responding gem. Our Ultima GTR weighed simply 2314 kilos, so the Vette engine virtually lifts the entrance wheels off the bottom at full throttle. Zero to 60 mph flashes by in 3.3 seconds. It’s going to hit 100 mph in 8.4 seconds, and that is faster than any present manufacturing automobile we have examined—it even outruns Warren Mosler’s Raptor, the opposite street-legal Group C wannabe. (However do not forget that the almost $160,000 Raptor has handed federal crash requirements, a feat the Ultima GTR has not tried since it’s, technically, a package automobile.) At greater than 150 mph, which is available in 26.3 seconds from standstill, the Ultima’s high-drag form and non-compulsory $3700 rear wing gradual issues down a bit, however nonetheless, the 157-mph high velocity happens on the 6000-rpm redline in fifth gear. The automobile felt stable and did not play sensitive even as soon as throughout our powerful performance testing. And, there is a 12-month guarantee.
There may be nothing kit-carish about it in actuality. Most package vehicles borrow closely from present automobiles. Not so with the GTR. Aside from the engine, transmission, and lights, it is just about all unique.
In England, race outlets dot the countryside, and it is obvious that expert fabricators with proficient palms have turned out this automobile. The fiberglass physique of our take a look at automobile had not a ripple throughout its curvy flanks. Each weld of the steel-tube body displayed almost excellent beads. The doorways did not trace of binding, and the inside displayed impeccable match and end.
The Ultima’s suspension employs unequal-length management arms throughout and large vented, cross-drilled disc brakes that carried out with out fade. We skilled some early rear lockup that lengthened the stopping distance from 70 to 0 mph to 199 ft, however Mullin mentioned some brake tuning would shorten that distance fairly a bit. Contemplating how nicely the automobile attached beneath acceleration and the wonderful 0.98-g lateral-acceleration determine, we all know the Ultima has loads of grip.
Scorching efficiency is all nicely and good on the monitor. The actual take a look at comes on public roads, and that is the place the Ultima actually shocked us.
The journey is definitely agency, and sure, we did drive the automobile on clean California roads. However even after we may see a nasty patch of street forward and braced ourselves for some kidney upset, the unpleasantness by no means got here. On the freeway, the Ultima did not wander a bit. Since Mullin retained the cats and muffler that include the LS1 engine, the loudest noise we heard was some wind roar. General, the journey is suitable and nonpunishing. The low journey peak made us worry driveway ramps and parking heaps, however the brief overhangs prevented the entrance finish from scraping.
We would not name the Ultima GTR a grocery getter, just because it’s kind of troublesome to get into and out of. You will not want a gymnast’s license to acquire entry, however the extensive, tall sill and the low seat will give pause to contemplate how you are going to get in. Our take a look at automobile got here with the non-compulsory $2050 security cage, which professionalvided some handholds for entry. As soon as in, you are blessed with a low, snail’s-eye view of the street, a small steering wheel, a steel shifter rising instantly from the ground, and room for anybody so long as they don’t seem to be a lot taller than six ft two. The inside is refreshingly easy, with 5 plain white gauges logically positioned. The local weather controls are one other matter, nevertheless, since they’re beneath the sprint and require memorization to make use of. Regardless of the massive glass space, the $3100 non-compulsory A/C labored nicely, as did the heater (one other $1000).
For kicks, we took a number of laps on a racemonitor and could not consider how assured the Ultima GTR made us really feel. It’s merely a well-engineered and well-built automobile. In each nook, straight, and braking zone, our take a look at automobile was rock stable, with completely no twitchiness regardless of our prodigious speeds. We may gush on eternally, however the backside line is we would sacrifice loads for a day of monitor time within the GTR.
At $152,150, there are quite a few vehicles that’ll offer you a thrill, however we have now to place the Ultima GTR in with the highest 5 vehicles that push all the suitable auto-enthusiast buttons. As of this writing, it has been two months since we drove it, and we’re nonetheless smiling.
2000 Ultima GTR
Car Kind: mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-passenger, 2-door coupe
Base/As Examined: $138,300/$152,150
pushrod 16-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, port gas injection
Displacement: 346 in3, 5663 cm3
Energy: 345 hp @ 5600 rpm
Torque: 350 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
Wheelbase: 100.0 in
Size: 162.0 in
Curb Weight: 2314 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 3.3 sec
100 mph: 8.4 sec
1/4-Mile: 11.9 sec @ 117 mph
150 mph: 26.3 sec
Rolling Begin, 5–60 mph: 3.9 sec
High Pace (redline ltd): 157 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 199 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.98 g