Dream car gets nod
Our own high-powered supercar is on the way, writes Mark Hinchliffe
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.
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.