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Unusual cars with interesting histories

The long drawn out birth of the Hulme F1

Hulme Supercar

Back in 2005 there were rumours of a New Zealand built supercar that was going to put the Kiwis very firmly on the car making map. It appeared that a gentleman called Jock Freemantle had set up a company to build it and had been secretly developing it for two years.

Freemantle recognised that there was no point in going head-to-head with the Ferraris, Porsches and Jaguars of this world; if he was going to produce a car which would sell it would have to be different from anything else on the market. And different the the Hulme F1 certainly was.

Firstly why was it called the Hulme F1? It was a tribute to Denny Hume, a New Zealander who won the F1 World Driver's Championship in 1967. During a 26 years racing career in which he competed in 112 Grand Prix he was on the victor's podium 33 times and the winner eight times. After giving up Formula One he continue to race, finally dying of a heart attack in 1992 whilst racing in Australia.

Freemantle's intention was to create a car that would give buyers an experience as close as possible to driving an F1 car, while still being street legal.

The aim was to have production started by 2006 with a sales forecast (perhaps more like a sales dream) of 100 cars a year. However first of all a prototype had to be finalised and go through all the necessary regulatory tests.

2006 came and went and so did the next five years. Finally by 2011 a pre-production car was about ready.

This was a very powerful but light car, with a curb weight of just 1175 kg. A 7 litre V8 engine producing 600 brake horsepower, based on the engine of the C6 Corvette, sat behind the driver powering the rear wheels through a six speed gearbox which could be optionally manual, paddle shift or sequential. For weight savings the chassis was built from carbon fibre, titanium and Kevlar with composite body panels. Substantial spoilers at front and rear kept the open top body firmly on the road. Performance figures could only be estimated but a 200 mph top speed was envisaged with nought to 60 at (perhaps somewhat optimistically) 2.8 seconds.

Now that the car was ready all that remained was to raise the finance to go into production! The first sales were anticipated in 2012 although expected production numbers were substantially below the 100 per year originally envisioned.

It seemed however that the world was not quite ready for a very expensive Formula 1 lookalike built by an inexperienced manufacturer to unproven standards. As of late 2020 the hoped-for finance has still not fallen into place but the company's website shows optimism that it will, hopefully, soon. Just don't hold your breath.

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