There has been quite a bit of new news among a number of the Boutique Super & Hypercar manufacturers. Since I last posted an update earlier this year Update on Boutique Manufacturers, Zenvo, Gordon Murray Automotive (GMA), Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus (SCG), Praga, Czinger, and De Tomaso, have all been in the news.
Of all the new hypercars that made their debut at The Quail this year, the Zenvo Aurora, was by far my favorite. From a purely design standpoint, it is stunning, and looks the part of a proper hypercar. Of the two versions that will be built, Agil (track focused) and Tur (touring focused), its actually the Tur that I preferred. The basic specs are:
The above is all both impressive and quite ambitious. Under normal circumstances I would be more than a bit skeptical if they can deliver what they have promised and do so in the time frame they have laid out. In Zenvo’s case I am not for a few reasons. To start, while they may be far from a supercar household name currently, they have been around since 2007 and already produced several different models, abet in tiny numbers. In fact, it was probably the YouTuber Shmee150’s purchase of a Zenvo TSR-S in 2022 that got Zenvo the most recognition pre the Aurora launch.
In Monterey and at The Quail, I was able to spend quite a bit of time with Zenvo’s Chairman & CCO, Jens Sverdrup. More than anything, it’s after talking to Jens that gives me the confidence that Zenvo can and will deliver on its promises. To start, Jens is ex-Koenigsegg so he knows what it takes to both build a hypercar and run a small volume hypercar company. Second, Jens comes across as both transparent and highly credible. Finally, there was no hard sale or statements made that made me raise an eyebrow.
From what I understand, Zenvo already has multiple deposits, placed on both Aurora models, but the production run is not sold out yet.
Gordon Murray Automotive (GMA)
GMA continues to get everything right. Production has now officially started on the T.50 and the first customer delivery happened recently in Monterey. That makes it basically 3 years from the model’s first unveiling to first delivery. Its hugely impressive especially when you consider the Aston Martin Valkyrie took 6 years and the Mercedes AMG Project One closer to 7. While I am sure there have been internal growing pains, from an outside perspective, GMA has done everything right. They have provided public progress updates frequently, opened their factory doors to leading journalists, run the cars at major events without any issues, and from what I understand, kept there depositors closely in the loop in terms of development. In addition, using Dario Franchitti as a spokesman has worked brilliantly as he’s not only engaging and charismatic, but also brings another level of credibility to the endeavor.
Their second model, the T.33, sold out instantly and most of the 100 units of the third model, the T.33 Spider already have homes. Both appear to be on track in terms of development. GMA is in the process of building a new Headquarters and Production facility in the UK with Phase 1 completed in October 2022. The T.50 will be built at GMA’s current location with the T.33 and future models to be produced at the new site. While the T.50 will be imported into the US under “Show & Display” rules, both the T.33 models will be fully homologated.
Back in 2022, GMA announced that they were beginning development of two EV SUVs. With the recent divesture of the Gordon Murray Technologies division (GMA Technologies Divestment) which was developing those projects, they have now been passed into new hands. In the divestment announcement, one of the key reasons for the divestment was to “pave the way for enhanced focus on its core automotive business of bespoke build, low-volume luxury supercars”. Hence, I would expect to see further models added to the GMA line in the coming years. It will be interesting to see if GMA goes up in price point to the $5 mil. level or comes out with a high production “mass” supercar for around $1 mil.
Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus (SCG)
Following a similar philosophy to Ferrari in the early days, Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus 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. In only its 2nd try, the SCG 007 finished on the podium at Le Mans and this year came in 6th & 7th (ahead of both Peugeot and Porsche) in a highly competitive Hypercar class. To say this is an impressive achievement is a huge understatement. I hope the works Hypercar team will return to the WEC and Le Mans in 2024.
In terms of the SCG 004, they have developed two versions for the road, the base 004S (004S Test Drive Report) and the more track oriented 004CS. The SCG 004 has now passed all of the US Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) crash tests. It is is the first modern car to pass all the mandated FMVSS crash tests without airbags, which speaks volumes in terms of the design, engineering, and quality of the carbon fiber tub. The SCG 004S will be the first 3 seater, central driving position, fully homologated, supercar sold in the US market.
In terms of current activities and next steps, three of the prototypes have recently been completely torn down and rebuilt in order to check every single component. SCG is currently doing final validations and finalizing the production plan. Once done, it’s expected that the production will start on the founders’ cars.
Like GMA, Praga is making good, consistent progress on delivering its first hypercar, the Praga Bohema. Praga is a Czech brand that dates back to 1907, under Communism it was forced into truck manufacturing, and then later reconstructed in the late 1990s as a commercial vehicle and motorcycle manufacturer. In 2012 Praga re-entered the car business with the single-seat carbon Praga R1 race car. Following an ownership change in 2015, a prototype road version of the R1 race car was developed, the Praga R1R. Based on the positive reception to the Praga R1R, Praga decided to get into the hypercar business and started development of the much larger Praga Bohema. The Bohema is based on an all new carbon fiber tub and will be powered by a Nissan supplied 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-6 producing 700 bhp. Dry weight is 2164 lbs which makes a few of its competitors look quite tubby. The production run is limited to 89 units over a four year period at about $1.36 million each. Customer deliveries are on target to start in early 2024 and the initial batch of customer cars for Europe, UAE and USA have already been spec’ed with production starting this month. Of the 89 cars, it’s expected that 24 cars will go to UK/Europe; 26 to The Americas; 24 to Asia/Pacific and 15 to Middle East/Africa. Praga is busy establishing a Global dealer network with 4-5 likely to be appointed in the US.
The Bohema is already road legal in the UK and is due to receive certification in the EU shortly. US imports will be done under “Show & Display”. Praga recently showed the Bohema at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and at a few other private supercar events in the UK & EU. The US unveiling is planned for early 2024. Bohema passenger rides for depositors have recently been hosted at several tracks in Europe and I heard the following depositor feedback afterwards:
On the Praga Bohema, it’s not just the outright performance, but the attention to detail across the board was truly remarkable.
the Bohema was running on street legal tires and putting in similar lap times to the Mercedes AMG One and Pagani Huayra R
This is consistent with the feedback for the initial set of press drives (Top Gear, EVO, Robb Report, Car Magazine) in a pre-production prototype that took place in early 2023. Car Magazine called the Bohema ”brilliant”. The common theme in the press reviews is praise for the Bohema’s huge amounts of grip, stability, and grunt.
I give a ton of credit to Praga for allowing the early test drives and it shows a huge amount of confidence in the car. It’s a significant departure from several other boutique manufacturers which have been displaying (and in some cases repainting) prototypes for years but have yet to allow a single test drive. I continue to be impressed with Praga’s approach and look forward to seeing a Bohema up close soon.
The 21C was unveiled back in early 2020, right before COVID shut the world down. The list price on the 21C is $2 million, and 80 units will be built. In many ways, the 21C exists as a showcase for parent company Divergent’s complex additive manufacturing process (highly advanced 3D printing) which allows for parts to be designed, combined, and tested digitally before the parts are “printed” and then assembled in the real world. As a sign of Divergent’s potential, they have recently entered into supply agreements with several major supercar manufacturers. The technology is impressive and Divergent recently raised $100 mil. from the Swedish firm, Hexagon AB. Czinger has confirmed that the Hexagon funding is available for use on both the Divergent and Czinger Vehicles sides of the business.
In a quite positive discussion at The Quail with a Czinger representative, they confirmed that production was on track to start in Q4 2023 with the 1st customer car to be delivered by year end. However, post Quail, Czinger declined to answer my emailed follow up questions regarding FMVSS crash testing, CARB engine certification, and the VIN decoder.
And finally ……De Tomaso
It’s all gone very quiet on the De Tomaso front since I posted The Saga of the De Tomaso P72 back in May. De Tomaso had a very modest showing with the one remaining prototype in their possession at Classic Le Mans in July. Since then, they have not had a presence at any of the major supercar events. In fact the majority of the De Tomaso headlines since then have been related to lawsuits, with the latest being: Carmen Jorda vs. De Tomaso . Carmen Jorda is the last woman to have been signed by a Formula 1 Team and she served as a development driver for Lotus F1 in 2015-2016. According to the press release back in 2021, Jorda was signed by De Tomaso to be a “factory development and Scuderia De Tomaso Racing Driver”. Looking at the lawsuit, one of the key allegations is that De Tomaso signed Jorda to use her connections to gain introductions to possible investors. Considering no car has raced in a major championship under the Scuderia De Tomaso flag for a couple of decades now, and Jorda’s record as a racing driver didn’t include a lot of trips to the podium, the “introductions to possible investors” allegation is quite interesting.
De Tomaso issued an update to their “Custodians” (De Tomaso’s internal name for depositors) in May 2023 stating that:
In the beginning of 2023, we have successfully awarded the final production of the P72 to our longstanding partner, HWA. To increase the P72 production output and assist with the transition into assembly, the official De Tomaso Automobili factory will now be repositioned from our interim facilities at Capricorn, the Nurburgring, to the heart of HWA within Affalterbach, Germany.
A recent check of HWA’s website did not show the De Tomaso P72 as one of the projects they are currently working on. In addition, Capricorn still has not been paid for all the development work they did on the P72 in 2022 and early 2023. If I was a P72 depositor, I would not be rushing to clear space in my garage for its arrival any time soon.
2023 has been a year of great progress for almost all the Boutique Hypercar manufacturers. GMA, Praga, and SCG are either already building customer cars or will be very shortly. In addition, I have a high level of confidence that Zenvo will deliver as promised. Of the companies, the ones that really seem to be thriving are run by highly successful businessmen with extensive backgrounds in racing, deep connections in the industry, & decades of experience in the supercar arena. The upside on the hypermarket today is you have a wealth of choice; the downside is its quite crowded and not all will survive.
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