Boutique Hypercar Manufacturers: Outlook 2021

Back in October 2019 I posted an article on the saturation of the Hypercar Market (Too Much of a Good Thing).  In that article I mentioned that a number of micro manufacturers had jumped into the hypercar market including De Tomaso, Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus (SCG), Brabham, and Gordon Murray Automotive (GMA).  Since then, Delage and Czinger have also joined this rather crowded party.  This is on top of the established players including Aston Martin, Ferrari, McLaren, Pagani, and Koenigsegg.  Given the uncertainty of the overall global economic situation, the likelihood that we will continue to live under the threat of Covid-19 for years to come, signs that a multi year (tax) war on the wealthy (individuals and corporations) is about to kick off in both the US & UK, the question in my mind is how many of these hypercars will actually see the light of day.  The following is my semi-educated guess on which one’s will live to see the light of day bringing greatness with them, and which, like the Cizeta-Moroder V16T, Vector W8, Ascari KZ 1, and Jaguar C-X75, will disappear quietly into a limbo of unrealized dreams, burned through deposits, and unallocated development costs.

Czinger

Starting with the last on the list, the Czinger 21C was unveiled back in early 2020 with a list price of $1.7 million and an intended production run of 80 units.  The performance numbers quoted by Czinger were all very impressive and it will be even more so if the final production car can deliver against them.  Czinger’s unique selling point is the use of a complex additive manufacturing process (basically 3D printing) which allows for parts to be designed, combined, and tested in digitally before the parts are “printed” and then assembled in the real world.  The claim is that this will save time and will reduce waste.  The 21C also features tandem seating similar to long forgotten Caparo T1 (which was best known for trying to kill journalists on test drives).  A 21C was recently shown at the Hypercar International event at Laguna Seca in Monterey, California.  Despite this being a private track event for hypercars, the 21C was not run on the track.  Based on pictures, it appears to be the same car that was shown at the 21C’s launch in 2020. 

The 21C isn’t actually Kevin Czinger’s first attempt at building a car.  Back in 2008, he co-founded Coda Automobile to develop and build lithium ion battery electric cars.  Coda raised a bit over $125 million in capital during Czinger’s tenure.  He resigned from the company in late 2010 and the company declared bankruptcy in 2013 after building around 100 cars.  While this pales in comparison to the destruction of shareholder value at Aston Martin under Andy Palmer, it’s still impressive.

Given that history, the question is does the math even add up on the 21C?  So far, the details Czinger has provided include a $1.7 million price tag, 80 units to be built, in-house developed 2.88-liter, flat crank twin turbo V8, full US 50 state road legal and homologated also for Europe, and production of each car will take around 3,000 hours.  Eighty cars at $1.7 million is $136 million in total revenue.  Getting through the US DOT approval process will run a minimum of $5 million, developing a twin turbo V8 engine that meets both EPA and EU emission standards is $30-50 million, developing an ABS/Traction Control system $3 million, labor and parts to build each car roughly $500-700k (total $40-56 million).  The total on all of this which runs roughly $78-114 million before you add in any other development costs or administrative overhead.  At best the math is borderline if all 80 units are sold.  So far, there is no indication from Czinger on how many deposits have been taken since the car was announced last year.  The only way I can see the math really working is if Czinger can sell all 80 cars, add in a few track specials, and then use the same basic engine/tech for a second model with a run of 2x the first.  All of that all works if you can sell all 80 units of the 21C.

De Tomaso

Moving onto a hypercar that the manufacturer is claiming to be sold out (and very likely was back in August 2019), the De Tomaso P72 has made little to no noise in 2021 other posting a couple of videos about their past, a few line drawings, and black and white pictures of a gearbox housing. They did however show up at the recent Hypercar International event at Laguna Seca in Monterey, California with what looked like a wrapped version of the same development car they have been trotting out for a couple of years now.  This comes after 2020’s only significant develop being a rather arrogant statement that they were moving their operations to the US as “the time has come to restore the romance, beauty, passion and elegance in the luxury American automotive industry.”  Definitely an interesting approach if you are looking to make friends with your new auto industry neighbors.  De Tomaso has yet to confirm where in the US they will be producing the P72. 

 

It’s now been nearly two years since the P72 was first shown at Goodwood.  Based on what’s publicly available, it feels like little to no progress has been made on bringing the P72 to production.  Given the manufacturing location is still TBD, in the best case depositors will not be seeing their cars until late 2023 and if a few things go wrong, the P72 could quickly be challenging the Valkyrie for the crown of most delayed hypercar in history.  How interested anyone will be in a Supercharged Ford V8 powered supersized Dino in a couple of more years is anyone’s guess.

GMA

If the first two cars on this list have more questions than answers right now, the third is an example of getting everything right.  All 100 units of the $3.2m GMA T.50 sold out shortly after the public unveiling last year and GMA has just announced the track version of the T.50, the T.50 Niki Lauda of which 25 will be built at around $4 million apiece.  In less than a year post the public unveiling, GMA has gotten a few T.50 mules up and running and seems very much on track to deliver the first customer cars in 2022.  GMA is also in the process of building a new Headquarters and Production facility which would indicate that the T.50 is not the only car they have planned.  While the math on the Czinger 21C looks quite challenging at 80 units at $1.7 million, with similar build and development costs, the 100 T.50’s at almost twice the sticker price seems much more plausible.

The challenge for GMA remains two-fold.  First and foremost, the company is completely reliant on one individual for its vision & credibility.  As Gordon Murray is already 9 years older than most people when they hit mandatory retirement age, this does carry considerable risk.  How fast they can move from being a start up to an established business capable of out living its founder is a critical challenge.   Other than a partnership announced with Canepa in California, the other challenge is customer support for the T.50 looks to be extremely limited and any major issues in markets ex US will likely involve having to ship the car back to the factory in the UK.  For many owners this might not be a major concern, but it definitely complicates the ownership experience.

Brabham

Moving onto Brabham, in full disclosure, I do know and quite like David Brabham.  He is a terrific gentleman and one of the finest race car drivers of his generation.  Another race car driver that I have meet a few times, told me that David is one of those rare drivers who just makes everyone on the team that much better.  All of this is reflected in both Brabham Automotive and their launch car, the BT62.  The BT62 was launched as a track only car with a road conversion being offered only much later.  Following that Brabham came back with a race ready BT62 Competition Spec which is not at all surprising as its competition that is Brabham’s main focus.  Brabham Automotive has now delivered is first customer Competition Spec BT62 which looks to have been quite successful in its first outings.  Unlike a few others on this list, there don’t seem to have been any production goals or limits placed on the BT62 and how many have been ordered is a bit of a mystery. 

SCG

Following a similar philosophy to Ferrari in the early days, Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus (The Ambitious Plans of SCG) is a racing team that both designs and builds their own race cars.  SCG then adapts these race cars for the road and sells to customers to help fund its racing activities.  SCG sums up their philosophy:

WHY WE RACE

Every model we build and sell has a road legal equivalent and Does, Has or Will race.  Racing teaches us a lot.  We also firmly believe, and evidence clearly confirms, that our racing sells our vehicles.  We also race because we love racing and Glickenhaus does what it loves to do. @glickenhaus

To be honest, I do have a bit of a bias here as we have a SCG 004S on order (more on that to follow in the next article).  In the same amount of time it has taken De Tomaso to produce a black & white picture of a gearbox housing, SCG has developed, built and raced a Le Mans Hypercar, the SCG 007, a GT3, the SCG 004C, and a offroad monster, the Boot.  The factory in Danbury, Connecticut, which will produce these cars, has been completed and funding isn’t an issue as SCG is self-funded by the Glickenhaus’.  Unlike GMA, SCG also already has a clear management succession plan in place as founder Jim Glickenhaus’ son Jesse, is the Managing Director of SCG. 

Delage

Finally there’s the winner in the interesting timing category has to be the latest iteration of the French manufacturer Delage.  After 70 years of being comatose, the new owners decided August 2020 was a good time to resurrect the brand and announce a new $2.4 million V12 hypercar, the Delage D12 with the hope of selling 30 units.  It is another twin seater but in this case the passenger seat is mounted right behind the driver’s seat.   Between the Czinger 21C and D12, it looks like we are entering a golden age of micro build tandem seaters which given the utter failure of the Caparo T1 is a bit perplexing.  While they don’t have a factory yet, Delage did get Prince Albert to unveil a model of the car in Monaco.  If the math is a challenge for Czinger, I don’t see how it works at all here.  30 cars at $2.4 million a car is $72 million in sales.  The development cost alone will eat up most of the optimistically projected revenue.

As a firm believer that competition drives everyone to raise their game, all these new market entries should be great for the overall supercar & hypercar markets.  However, the hypermarket remains badly oversaturated and its highly unlikely that all of these succeed.  Of the six reviewed, I would rate two: GMA and SCG, as likely to succeed as road car manufacturers.  Brabham will probably be able to carve out a niche for itself as a race car manufacturer supporting privateers.  What all three of these companies have in common is a single visionary leader with a very clear idea of what they are trying to accomplish.  In terms of the others, my guess is they will be keeping Cizeta-Moroder & Vector company on future top ten forgotten supercar lists.

Thoughts and comments? Please see the comments section below.

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Czinger 21C Pictures by @GFWilliams

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June 2021

 

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3 Thoughts on Boutique Hypercar Manufacturers: Outlook 2021
    chris coates
    24 Jun 2021
    7:14pm

    Re GMA .. while I’m UK-based so it’s easier for myself, even if I was European based I like the idea that any servicing is back at the manufacture base rather than relying on a garage elsewhere however well-sourced. You will never be able to beat the knowledge of those that designed and built it first time around.

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    John
    26 Jun 2021
    8:20am

    If memory serves correctly I think GMA wanted to set up a US service centre for the cars so that they didn’t have to return to the UK.

    Sticking with GMA, they’re the only ones that seem to be actively promoting the process of creating a new car with YouTube videos where Dario Franchitti, that likeable Scottish guy from Bathgate. They’re showing more of the process than you typically get to see, and recently showed the bespoke Cosworth engine running.

    Noted your concerns about succession of GMA. I was surprised when he started the T.50 project when I realised his age at that time. If anything, the surprise was more that he was that age as he acted with the sharpness and enthusiasm of someone 15-20 years younger than himself. Put another way, if he were American he could run for president in three years time…

    I have to admit I did quite like the Caparo T1, even if it did try to incinerate whoever drove it. And the Jaguar C-X75 should have been built. It would have predated the 918/LaFerrari/P1 and could have been the blip in automotive history that the McLaren was of its day.

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