Monday, December 12, 2005

#9: Project 1221

Ahhh, the joy of end of term deadlines. And such like. It has been A Very Busy Few Days, so in order to blog by way of a cop out, I have an excerpt for you.

If you've paid any attention at all to my other blog, you will have seen that on and off I've been writing some nonsense about Project 1221. The following is a slightly insane version of a possible introduction to that article, bang on 800 words. I will bring you more on this another time. if you want more details, you can check their website.

Project 1221, intro [excerpt]

The car industry’s grown complacent, fat. Look at GM, Ford – they’re struggling, especially in the US where no-one seems to want to buy their cars unless they’re so heavily discounted every one sold seems to inch them further towards bankruptcy.

Mercedes has quality control issues. Volkswagen got to profitability and went out the other side, with a platform sharing strategy that was once ingenuous, but due to pricing mis-management and the image-improvements of its “lesser” brands is now no longer the saving grace it once was; Porsche’s shareholders nearly had a fit when the Stuttgart sportsters upped their stake in VAG – and Porsche makes the biggest profit in the industry.

Everyone is running scared. Volvo are so desperate they turned out a hotrod this year. Err, is that complacency? No, that’s something else: a lack of ideas.

Porsche remain stuck in the 1930s – though to their credit they do occasional turn something out with a more logical powertrain arrangement they either knobble it to prevent it from being faster than the 911 or no-one seriously wants to buy the thing. The Carrera GT is a case in point.

We’re constantly being promised the next big thing, but it seldom delivers. Aren’t you bored with hybrids by now? All that extra-tech means added weight and lowered efficiency in the end; current talk from the likes of Audi, Lexus, and BMW about using electric motors for a performance boost defeat the point on this principle. Fully electric cars like the Venturi Fetish are all very well, but what about the noise they make – exactly, they haven’t got one. Who’s going to get turned on by that? I recognise that hydrogen is the fuel of the future, but I can’t help thinking it’s going to be incredibly dull – and on top of which, it’s miles off, anyway.

So what’s going on here? And what’s it got to do with a prospective supercar maker whose product possibly doesn’t even exist?

Innovation baby, innovation.

Ya see, the thing about the eponymously-named Project 1221 is that they are making some outrageously unique claims about their motor vehicle. It’s an interesting time for the supercar sphere, anyway, as much like the late-80s into the early-90s there’s a plethora of choice from established names, upstarts, and resurrected heros. Is it all just a pointless techno exercise, like Formula One? Or is there more to it than that? Will we ever see the benefits filter down to the microhatch that we’re all going to end up driving in a few years time?

Alright, now if that isn’t a dis-organised babble of questionable juxtaposition, I don’t know what is. And other such clichés. Let’s start with the P1221 boys, shall we.

Project 1221: Modenesse supercar project number umpteenth. Modena. Supercar valley, they call it. The roughly associable geographical area in Italy that’s home to Ferrari and Lamborghini. But they’re increasingly having to share the road space with other engineering examples of extreme automotive excess. Most recently, the success story and shake-up progenitor Pagani, for example, whose bug-out wildchild of a Group C racer for the road, the Zonda, must now surely be the stuff that boys’ bedroom walls are made of.

Powered by an AMG Mercedes engine (but apparently one that doesn’t blow up; wonder if an excuse-generator comes as standard on the McMerc SLR just in case the powerplant lunches itself as happens so often on the McClaren Formula 1 car?) no less, the Pagani is reportedly fabulously easy to drive for something that is over seven feet across at the back. Also more than capable of firing bananas out of its exhaust, but I digress. There was also the Edonis, revivaliser of the carbon tubs left-over by the abortion of the Bugatti EB110. Mad, bad, and extremely willing to let you make an acquaintance of the scenery, by all accounts.

Anyone else suspect that Lamborghini donated the rozzers a police car in order to keep the others from using the place as a test track? Now that’s a police chase I’d like to watch.

Looking further afield there’s the Konigsegg CCR – briefly the fastest production car in the world – which comes out of Sweden. The US is getting itself involved with the Saleen S7 and the SCC. Spyker from Holland. The Veyron, and now the Gumpert Apollo, even if it is (shhh) another Audi side-project, from Germany.

And now there’s Project 1221, hiding in the Modenese hills. Well, so the website claims, anyway.

I really hope Project 1221 is out there, testing, because the credentials sheet reads most intriguingly. I’ll start with the big one: 1500bhp. And they’re apparently developing a two wheel drive model. This seems completely absurd, let alone unfeasible – until you discover that they intend on using a gas turbine to provide this motivation. Hmmm…


Project 1221

[I may add some other turbine resources another time]


From Project 1221's homepage. I have their permission to use the image in the article, so I shouldn't imagine they'll mind it appearing on here.


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