ZOLFE ORANGE SET FOR TAKE-OFF
Bike-powered sports car launches next week
Nic Strong, owner and managing director of thermo-forming specialist Team Spatz, is about to launch the new Zolfe Orange at Autosport International at Birmingham's NEC next week. It first showed at Autosport 2006 (see link below).
The Zolfe Orange, which is designed for both track and road, has a lightweight tubular space frame chassis with integral roll-bar and composite body. It's powered by a Suzuki Hyabusa 1.3-litre motorcycle engine that delivers 175bhp and hits 60mph from rest in a nifty 4.5 seconds. Additional options include Ford two-litre or three-litre V6 engines delivering 145bhp and 203bhp respectively.
Expect it to cost about £25,000.
How it happened
Strong's dream began around 18 months ago after a track day. “We looked at one of the kit cars, looked at each other and said 'we could build one better than this'," said Strong. "We designed a car that unwittingly incorporated elements of our favourite sports cars and also demonstrated just what our core business could do."
He said he believes this design fusion is one of the reasons that the Zolfe Orange gained so much interest when the prototype was introduced at Autosport International in January 2006.
He adds: "It pushes a lot of buttons. Enthusiasts see echoes of several classic sports cars within the design which is both retro and futuristic in its styling but, most importantly, the Zolfe Orange has a strong personality and appeal of its own.
"You can't help but smile when you look at it and that was our original goal - to build a car that would be great fun to drive, whether on the track or on the road," said Strong.
The car has been developed with the help of financial support and consultancy from the High Performance Engineering (HPE) project funded by Advantage West Midlands and the European Regional Development Fund.
Ray Portman, business adviser with Business Link Birmingham & Solihull, said: "Nic's determination to bring this project to fruition is quite remarkable. While running a very busy manufacturing company, he and his team, which now includes businessman and fellow car fanatic Phil Johnson, have dedicated thousands of hours to develop a marketable sports car which we believe has a very bright future. It is very pleasing to support a new niche vehicle manufacturer with the potential to create new jobs and bring added value to the local economy."
Funding from the HPE project helped Strong to develop the original prototype and, following the definite interest from buyers, a second tranche of funding has been granted to conduct market research and hone the chassis design.
Strong said: "Without this support we'd be much further behind in the Zolfe Orange's gestation. We are now in a position of being able to launch a fully-formed production model, which we hope to start manufacturing when settled into our new premises."
Last year, Strong bought a new 50,000 sq ft manufacturing site with an additional 6,000 sq ft building that will become the home of the Zolfe Orange, with a target of one car per day to be completed.
Strong said: "There's a huge amount of potential for the car. We're already in talks with a Belgian racing organisation keen to create a Zolfe racing class and have 200 firm orders from an American buyer. I am absolutely committed to building on the heritage of British sports car manufacturing and am extremely grateful to have been given help and support to get to this stage."