Dream car gets nod

Our own high-pow­ered su­per­car is on the way, writes Mark Hinch­liffe

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Big Wcharsgeuiede. -

AUS­TRALIA will have its first pro­duc­tion su­per­car next year. For­mer F1 cham­pion Alan Jones has helped de­vel­oped the AJF1 su­per­car pro­to­type, which will be de­vel­oped into three pre­pro­duc­tion cars, with the first hand­built pro­duc­tion model rolling out of a Gold Coast fac­tory late in the year.

‘‘I can’t say when we will build the first pro­duc­tion cars — maybe late next year,’’ the 1980 For­mula One cham­pion says. ‘‘I don’t want to let the car out un­til it is spot on.’’

The AJF1 was de­signed and en­gi­neered over three years by Gold Coast elec­tri­cian and re­frig­er­a­tion en­gi­neer Dar­rell Bar­nett, who sparked his su­per­car dream when he built a kit car in 2000.

‘‘I thought that wasn’t hard, so I de­cided to build a su­per­car,’’ he says.

Bar­nett then took the idea to Jones and long-time busi­ness part­ner Greg Wil­son.

‘‘I didn’t want to put my name to it un­til I knew it would be a real su­per­car,’’ Jones says. ‘‘ It has to have looks, fin­ish, per­for­mance and power.’’

The pro­to­type looks like an amal­gam of Ital­ian sportscars and at 2150mm is slightly wider than a Lamborghini Mur­cielago.

Jones says they will pro­duce a lux­ury model ‘‘with all the trim­mings’’ and a light­weight, 1220kg, stripped­down, su­per­charged, track-day spe­cial, which he be­lieves will be the most pop­u­lar.

‘‘I can see that peo­ple will keep this in their garage un­der wraps and only take it out to a track,’’ he says.

It is fit­ted with a mid-mounted Lexus V8, but the pro­duc­tion model will be pow­ered by a Chevro­let LS9 6.2-litre V8 and will sell for about $250,000 to $270,000.

‘‘I don’t be­lieve you need a V10 or a V12,’’ Jones says. ‘‘You want re­li­a­bil­ity and the Chev en­gine gives power, per­for­mance and re­li­a­bil­ity.’’

The body is made of strong and light­weight car­bon­fi­bre and kevlar over a multi-tubu­lar steel space frame, and it will come with a choice of sixspeed man­ual trans­mis­sion and a seven-seed dou­ble-clutch auto with man­ual and sports modes.

Jones be­lieves the car will sell well over­seas, par­tic­u­larly in Asia.

The AJF1 has been govern­ment ap­proved to be built at a limit of 25 for Aus­tralia and 75 for ex­port.

Wil­son says the project has so far cost $700,000, not in­clud­ing labour.

The car will be built by Alan Jones Sig­na­ture Ve­hi­cles with a fourth busi­ness part­ner, New Zealand busi­ness­man Tony Richards.

The car has been shown at the Gold Coast V8 Su­per­cars event and the inaugural Fes­ti­val of Speed in Perth last month, and will be on dis­play at the Clip­sal 500 in Ade­laide in March.

Driv­ing

CARS­GUIDE had a short drive in the pro­to­type, but Jones stressed the ve­hi­cle was a pre-pro­duc­tion model with the wrong en­gine. The trim is slightly rough, the noise damp­en­ing is limited and it feels un­fin­ished.

But it still feels like a pur­pose-built ma­chine des­tined for pro­duc­tion, even in limited hand­built num­bers.

The clutch feels light, the gearshift pos­i­tive and the steer­ing light and re­spon­sive for such a high­pow­ered, low-slung su­per­car with wide tyres.

It seems to de­liver on Jones’s in­ten­tion that the AJF1 is a su­per­car you can use ev­ery day.

Go-ahead: the Alan Jones su­per­car is be­ing hand­built.

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