Show plan gath­ers speed

Tim­ing is crit­i­cal if this car is to hit the show cir­cuit, writes PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

THE home-made hero of the Mel­bourne Mo­tor Show is be­ing groomed for in­ter­na­tional star­dom. The FR-1 con­cept car could be go­ing to Europe and the US af­ter a solid re­cep­tion at the Mel­bourne Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre.

It’s be­ing groomed for the Frankfurt Mo­tor Show in Ger­many, the big­gest event of the Euro­pean motoring year, then the huge SEMA af­ter­mar­ket show in Las Ve­gas.

But it has al­ready found plenty of back­ers at home.

‘‘I have had peo­ple want­ing to give me a de­posit so they can buy a car,’’ the man who heads the FR-1 project, Brian Tanti, says.

‘‘They are sur­prised we only want to build one. They won­der why we’re not go­ing into pro­duc­tion.

‘‘So I haven’t taken any money, but peo­ple are keen. They are also sup­port­ive when they hear what we’re do­ing with the car and that it’s be­ing used as a fundraiser for char­ity.’’

The 21st-cen­tury road­ster — with an ad­vanced com­pos­ite chas­sis, E85 Holden V8 en­gine and hand-beaten alu­minium body — is a show­case for the skills of peo­ple in the mo­tor in­dus­try. It has been de­signed, en­gi­neered and built by youngsters from the in­dus­try us­ing a base at the Au­to­mo­tive Cen­tre of Ex­cel­lence in Mel­bourne.

The plan for the in­ter­na­tional tour by the FR-1 was hatched by Tanti and his team and they hope to get back­ing from the Vic­to­rian Gov­ern­ment to make it hap­pen.

‘‘At this stage I think the chance of it go­ing is rea­son­ably good. It’s not con­firmed but we have had in­ter­est from the au­to­mo­tive divi­sion of Vic­to­ria’s Depart­ment of In­no­va­tion, In­dus­try and Re­gional De­vel­op­ment,’’ Tanti says.

‘‘We’re not sure if they will have the money for Frankfurt and SEMA, but we’re hope­ful. We’re work­ing through a bud­get and we have sup­port from the Vic­to­rian Cen­tre for Ad­vanced Ma­te­ri­als Man­u­fac­tur­ing.’’

Tanti is keen to take the dis­play from Mel­bourne, in­clud­ing a bare alu­minium body and rolling chas­sis, but is not sure how the plan will de­velop be­cause the FR-1 team also hopes to have a drive­able pro­to­type by Au­gust.

‘‘We wouldn’t want to take a fin­ished car be­cause we want peo­ple to see what’s in­side. And a painted body would not show the work in the alu­minium,’’ Tanti says.

To get from Aus­tralia to Frankfurt, the dis­play would need to leave about July 27.

‘‘To get from Frankfurt (to SEMA) would be tight, but we could do it with sea freight, then drive it cross-coun­try from Los An­ge­les,’’ Tanti says.

Ger­many call­ing:

the FR-1 team is hope­ful of mak­ing it to Frankfurt.

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