The British car industry might look different today to how it once did, but if there's been one constant through the decades, it's our global dominance in ultra-focussed, lightweight sports cars. Lotus and Caterham have been doing it for decades, with Atom, Radical and Noble, and more recently BAC, there to really hammer the point home. But, in terms of where its range starts from, maddest of the lot is Ultima - the Leicestershire company shot out of the starting blocks with a GTR capable of hitting 62mph in 3.3 seconds.
That sprint time was for the 'base' model, which used a Chevy small-block V8 producing 350hp. But Ultima, which was formed in 1992, made its name from the higher output variants, which included the 640 from 2005 and, at the peak of the GTR range, 720 - the numbers representing their outputs in imperial horsepower (so 649hp and 730hp respectively). Like its siblings, the 720 used an LS V8, but this one was of 7.0 litres, which was a whole lotta muscle for a car weighing only 1,050kg.
The thumping LS7, mounted midship in Ultima's race-derived spaceframe chassis, could accelerate the car from 0-62mph in 2.6 seconds, to 100mph in 5.3 seconds and, perhaps most impressively, to 150mph in 10.4 seconds. And remember, this was a vehicle wearing road tyres and number plates - albeit one that had more in common with a GT1 racing car than most tax-able passenger cars - that made use of a proper manual gearbox and had no electronic aids. There ain't no replacement for displacement and, in this scenario, a featherweight chassis.
That prototype-aping bodywork helped, too, of course, with the GTR cutting through the air at a height below most car bonnets. It was clearly designed with low drag in mind, although the fixed rear wing provided enough downforce to enable suitably rapid high-speed manoeuvrability. Such were the car's limits that it was at its best on circuit, hence the decision for several owners - many of whom have opted to build their cars themselves rather than opting for Ultima's turnkey option - to kit the interior out with motorsport trimmings.
Some went further and actually built their car to racing specification, with one conforming to GT2 regulations and another competing in Belgium with an E36 M3 straight-six. One of the most appealing factors of an Ultima was the fact that its chassis was developed from the off to be capable of handling up to 2,000hp, so while Ultima's factory-made range was capped by the 720, there was little (money and technical know-how aside) stopping an owner pushing things a lot further.
As a used prospect, however, we'd be focussing our attention on the factory-finished cars because, well, we wouldn't feel so happy sat at 150mph in even the most carefully made DIY build. Anyway, Ultima's expertise meant that cabins made at its base could be properly trimmed, like the one inside today's Spotted. It's a 2012 model with 11,550 miles on the clock, emphasising the relative usability afforded by a car with leather seats, air conditioning and electric power steering. It's got plenty of racy upgrades, too, including the Ultima Evo radiator, an engine remap from Wortech and six-point harnesses. But the inclusion of a Bluetooth stereo system and reversing camera may be the factors that help this car stand out as a more appealing option. Not that you've much choice with Ultimas, of course, because only two GTRs are advertised on the classifieds, but then why would you bother with anything else?
SPECIFICATION - ULTIMA GTR 720
Engine: 6,997cc V8
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive with mechanical LSD
Power (hp): 730@6,400rpm
Torque (lb ft): 580@4,800rpm
MPG: Not much
Recorded mileage: 11,550
First registered: 2012
Price new: N/A (car dependant)
Yours for: £70,000