Autocar:An exclusive look at the Elemental RP1-It is true that the new Elemental RP1 is a high-tech British sports car that’s a world away from typical cottage industry creations from start-ups. The traditional bloke in a shed doesn’t tend to make a credible sports car any more.
The embodiment of this thoroughly modern way of making your own car from scratch – and making sure that it works – is the new Elemental RP1, a lightweight, mid-engined roadster with 500bhp per tonne that is road legal and can be on your driveway by this time next year.
Moreover, sitting between the likes of a Caterham Seven and a Lotus Exige in its blend of track and road abilities, the RP1 is the self-funded work of six men with decades of experience between them in Formula 1 and the aerospace industry, plus development work on road cars that include the McLaren P1.
Furthermore, designing the key structures in-house has allowed Elemental to control quality, and parts are sourced from only a handful of controlled, trusted suppliers. So easy is the RP1 to assemble that Hall reckons he could assemble one himself in only a few hours, using a simple set of tools and Allen keys.
Elemental is now on an advanced second prototype seen here, known as XP2 in a nod to the way that McLaren names its prototypes, and last week it began dynamic testing, tuning those computer simulations for road use. Further fine-tuning development is planned, including reducing the weight of various components, before order books can open in the spring.
At the heart of the RP1 is a carbonfibre composite and aluminium tub designed and built by Elemental in-house, a development of the solely aluminium one used on the first prototype.
The tub uses an aluminium composite sandwich material for the floor and the front and rear bulkheads. The fixed sidewalls, central spine and dashboard are made from carbonfibre and are part of the main tub.
The front subframe, front suspension and steering mounting points are all on the aluminium bulkhead. Double wishbone suspension features, with inboard-mounted Eibach springs and Nitron dampers.
Stopping power comes from four-pot Caparo calipers and 280mm discs, which sit behind 17-inch alloy wheels shod with 235/45 tyres. The rear subframe design incorporates a ‘cassette-style’ mounting system that allows various powertrains to be fitted to the same transmission and suspension set-up. Three engines are being offered in the RP1. The most potent, and the one fitted to the XP2 prototype, is a high-power, high-torque 2.0-litre Ford EcoBoost unit with 280bhp.
We also heard that Ford’s 1.0-litre EcoBoost unit will also be offered with as much as 180bhp in a lighter but more civilised and economical version, and a 999cc Honda Fireblade-powered model revving up to 13,000rpm and weighing below 500kg will be a low-volume special mainly aimed at track customers because it requires the greatest commitment to drive of course.Autocar:An exclusive look at the Elemental RP1