The prototypes are fitted with Audi's 2.8-litre unit, bored out to 2.96 litres and fitted with twin turbos, together with new pistons, rods and other reinforced components
The Far Side
Ferrari’s stock answer is ‘no’, but some people just aren’t used to hearing it. So when Arash Farboud politely enquired about the Ferrari Enzo and got told where to go, his first response was to order a Porsche Carrera GT. For most rich youngsters that would have been that, we’d never have heard of him, but not Arash.
Because then, for reasons he’s still struggling to rationalise himself, he went and built his own supercar in a pique of petulant rage with the express purpose of blowing the Prancing Horse’s legs off.
Farboud started in 1999 with a wild concept, a Porsche GT1 replica, and once he’d calmed down he freely admits he should have killed off the whole idea. It’s one thing building a shiny new prototype and lapping up attention at the shows, it’s quite another turning that dream into a reality and most fledgling manufacturers fall at the mass production hurdle as the bailiffs take their house, wife and self-respect. Just ask John DeLorean.
But that hasn’t happened here, in part due to Arash’s conservative start. The 29-year-old set up a workshop opposite the family pharmaceutical company that pays for his impressive collection of exotica. Then, with the help of just two full time engineers, he gave painful birth to a supercar company.
It left him stretched, scarred and exhausted, but at least his baby’s screaming is a tuneful sound, and probably cost less than one made from flesh and blood.
Cost issues and manufacturing realities consigned the GT1 concept to the bin in the end, and several evolutions down the line Farboud ended up with three working prototypes of the more refined GTS. It may have been tempered over the last five years, but call this car tame and it’s liable to run over your feet.
Moto GP ace Loris Capirossi put an order in right away. It’s nice to know that even megastars are ‘guided’ by their wives, though, as his better half looks set to demand a production car. You’d think they could afford both, but bike racer’s bank accounts aren’t generally a matter of public record.
The Farboud is aggressive machine, but the design has a subtle elegance missing from its immediate competition from TVR and Noble. The GTS is a classically proportioned sportscar that looks right from every angle, except perhaps for that gouge from the side.
It has spent serious time in the wind-tunnel to hone the basic shape and optimise the low-slung front splitter and diffuser, and the decision to leave a rear wing out of the mix is at least wise from a styling point of view. Audi was forced to retrospectively fit one to its TTs a few years ago when they started going airborne on the Autobahn, though, and as this is a work in progress it would be no surprise to see a more pronounced lip on the finished article.
On the prototype there is no sound insulation, my hand smashed against the dashboard when I selected first and there is no key, just toggle switches and a starter button. It was a substantial distance from completion when we took the wheel, but bringing this V6 monster to life banished all thoughts of panel gaps and loose plastic.
The prototypes are fitted with Audi’s 2.8-litre unit, bored out to 2.96 litres and fitted with twin turbos, together with new pistons, rods and other reinforced components that won’t turn into molten shrapnel ripping through the cockpit with a liberal dose of right boot.
Dialynx, the British firm that originally assisted Spyker in its quest to extract ludicrous horsepower from Audi units, carried out the work on the V6 that now runs with 2.8 bar of boost. The results, predictably, are explosive.
A bridging relay kept the horsepower down to a mere 400bhp, but one of the red buttons on the steering wheel unlocked another 200bhp. Only one journalist has pressed it so far, and then only for a few seconds before he ran out of road and space in his pants.
The 0-60mph time of 3.7 seconds felt more than conservative as this car tears off down the road with the slightest encouragement. There are no in-gear acceleration figures, but it stayed with a Carrera GT all the way to 140mph in a highly illegal road race before the Porsche driver saw sense and lifted. Farboud has dictated a 180mph top end speed, refusing the obvious opportunity to break the 200mph barrier, to make sure his creation is near untouchable when it comes to real world, mid-range punch.
Aside from the blistering speed, it’s the noise and violence that really marks the Farboud out as the turbo kicks in like a dragon snorting behind the snug racing seat. And when the boost kicks in mid-corner, this machine has the power to send the unwary driver spinning into the trees. I experienced first hand the potential danger when the Audi unit came on song at the apex of a hairpin. The back end was out in a second, but an armful of opposite lock and a lift of the right foot bought it back into line.
There is no LSD and no traction control, but the Farboud, does have a superbly rigid chassis that combines a spaceframe and welded panels to form a cut-price monocoque. The suspension includes Ohlins race dampers that, combined with a total weight of 2530lb full of fuel, provide race car like responses and the break at the rear is always progressive.
Of course this is an expensive set-up, and there are doubts whether the finished car will benefit from race bred dampers and suspension. But the engineers insist that the handling, which has taken a year, will follow faithfully in the footsteps of this mightily impressive prototype whatever components are fitted.
Braking comes courtesy of four-piston monobloc callipers clamping on to dinner platter size discs, but there was an undoubtedly wooden feel to the prototype’s braking. That’s something that will smooth out on the production line, but heavy braking in this car would scare an unskilled driver all the way to the local Porsche Boxster retailer.
It’s unashamedly savage, built for a man who tired of the soft edges on his supercar collection. The finished production car will not be quite as ragged, but the interest, including a decent number of firm orders, show Farboud was on to something.
He has been forced to ditch the Audi powerplant, however, and has switched to the Mondeo-sourced Ford V6 for the production car for cost and availability reasons.
There will be a normally aspirated 3-litre, producing 275bhp, but the other engine is the big one. A supercharged version, developed by legendary Ford tuner Cosworth, will kick out a monstrous 375bhp and come close to replicating the thrills on offer from the Audi unit.
And the engine change has made the US transition even simpler. Farboud is heading Stateside and has a US division already set up.
We’ll see the finished product soon enough, now that Arash has handed over control to Marcos founder Jem Marsh’s son Chris, but what is clear is that the Farboud is going places, in a hurry.
As for Arash, he has left his name above the door and moved on to his next project, which he will unleash at the UK motor show and promises to be something truly special.
When Ferrari turned him down for the Enzo, Farboud bought a 360 anyway, so they “won’t say no next time,” and his Carrera GT should have been delivered by now. But by the time the work has finished in Farboud’s garage in Cambridgeshire, he might not even want them.