Ted goes behind the scenes in Cambridgeshire to get the full story on the world's newest supercar
Arash Farboud is a lucky man – and he knows it. From a wealthy background and successful in his own right too, he’s in the fortunate position of having a healthy stash to draw upon to realise his dreams.
Like many of us, his dreams have been dominated by cars. Since visiting Le Mans back in 1998 his particular dream has been of Porsche 911 GT1s. At that time – unable to even dream of buying such a car – he began to investigate the how to acquire the next best thing. Being an ambitious type - and the sort of man who believes anything is possible with hard work - he set about the task himself, despite having no engineering background.
Playing with Foam
Whilst still working within his pharmaceutical business he and a friend set about some foam in a garage and fashioned a body. Many months were spent up to their knees in foam and fibreglass before they reached a point where they were happy. The next job was to drop the new body onto an Ultima chassis and see if they could get a running car. Unable to source the Porsche 911 Twin Turbo motor that he fancied, they acquired a suitable substitute in the shape of an Audi V6 Twin Turbo. A few mods to increase the power and suddenly the project was looking far more exciting than they’d originally imagined. Goaded on by friends, they displayed the car at the Autosport Show and thanks to the shiny brochures they’d produced they suddenly found themselves being treated very seriously.
The interest in the car spurred Arash on. With the proceeds from the sale of a business lining his pocket he suddenly had real options. As he told me last week, “I had a choice. I could have bought a yacht or pursue my passion for cars.” He did the latter and he did it rather well.
The GT1 replica wasn’t realistically going to make it as a road car, because of impracticalities and a fairly crude design. Arash’s dreams had progressed though. Having sampled the finer delights of modern exotica – his daily drive is now a 360 – he still had a desire for a special car that took his favourite features from other marques and was assembled using his own recipe. The noises from the engine, the rasp of the exhaust, the handling characteristics, the outlook from the cabin and of course the look of the car itself were all important to him and he hadn’t found his desired balance in other cars.
With his wad of readies he set about building his dream in 2002. Having enjoyed the experience of producing the original Farboud, he now appreciated the importance of getting the experts in for the Farboud GTS. That he did – big time. Dedicated premises were acquired in Norfolk and experienced (but remaining nameless) sports car designers were brought in. With photos of all the great supercars adorning the walls, the team set about producing their own unique look for the car.
Farboud GTS Prototype
That they’ve achieved with great skill. For a brand new design they’ve succeeded in creating a fresh look that works. The design is well balanced, simple and whilst there are hints of other exotica in there, none of them are overbearing enough to detract from the overall look – which is now the ‘Farboud’ look.
Bring in the Experts
As the design progressed, further skills were brought in to design and construct the chassis and associated components. At the peak of the prototyping period, twenty-five people were employed to bring the concept to reality. Fabricators, chassis builders, welders, machinists, stylists, admin staff – it had become a busy project.
Experts consultants were used to solve the ever tricky problems of door design and hingeing, drainage etc. Wind tunnel testing was done at MIRA, the car was taken to Lotus for them to sort the handling and the Audi V6 was stripped and rebuilt with enough boost on the turbos to give 580bhp!
All this remember was really just to fulfil Arash’s dream of having his own supercar. Selling more cars, long term production and sales weren’t something that was high on the priority list.
In just over a year Farboud had designed and constructed a running super car. It wasn’t cheap though. The development budget was £3 million. That’s still cheaper than handing it over to an external consultancy or manufacturer though and for a beginner in the industry the end result is mightily impressive.
Many have assumed that the car was a cheap GRP body on a spaceframe chassis – like a ready built kit car. Nothing could be further from the truth; this is a finely constructed car using contemporary technology.
So with £3m invested and ongoing costs still considerable it was time to take stock at Farboud. The ‘playing at cars’ idea had now gone a bit far. Lots of money spent and they had a fine product. The Farboud family now had to to look at the long term viability of the company as a self financing business rather than a hobby.
The development staff were no longer needed and the headcount was slashed from twenty five down to four. Rumours of the company going bust were rife after this, as Arash moved the project to a new facility that he’d bought in Cambridgeshire. The spotless workshops became home to the prototype, and the two production cars.
With their financial hats on, the Farbouds set about shaping a business plan involving minimal overheads and reasonable profitability in order to secure a long term future for the project as a viable business, rather than as an expensive hobby.
With that in mind the pricing of the cars came under scrutiny. An original list price of £150,000 for the 580bhp version was seen by many as ambitious - particularly for a new marque. Alternative power plants were looked at with a view to reducing the costs. The Mustang V8 looked like it could be the engine of choice but its sheer bulk compared to the Audi V6 eventually ruled that out.
The decision was made to detune the car to a ‘mere’ 400bhp and to revisit the specification of the whole car. With the original having been so well over-engineered, it’s not been a problem to step back and produce a car that can compete in the £70K price bracket. Yes, it’s up against 911’s and Ferraris, but it’s a much more serious proposition at that price than it was at £150K. If you want the monster power version then just say so – it’s still available to those with the readies.
Production plans are conservative. Farboud plans a handful of cars this year. Having achieved so much in such a short time, they’re now going to enter the production phase at a more sedate pace, ensuring that the lucky first customers get what they want and that feedback is fed quickly back into the design.
Ramping Up Slowly
Production may then increase to twenty cars or so next year but stability is the current goal in order to provide a firm foundation for moving forwards and taking full advantage of the great product they have.
The first customer car is destined for Monaco into the hands of a top bike racer and is sure to come under the scrutiny of some of the other car and bike racers resident there. Other orders are on the books and as the car gets more media coverage, its success can only snowball.
In the meantime Farboud will still have those trying to shoot him down. A certain air of suspicion and envy seems to have followed him around as the project has progressed. He’s approached things from an unconventional angle and rattled some cages along the way. I for one wish him the best of luck. He’s achieved a fantastic amount in a short time and the product deserves to succeed. Time will tell. I hope we’re witnessing a the birth of a new marque to rival the established players. We’ll be watching progress eagerly.