R42: A 175 Mph Supercar That Couldn’t Make It

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In 1991, Ray Christopher, co-founder of GT Developments, had a burning desire to make his own supercar. He started sketching out the details in 1991 and planned to have the car on sale by October 1993. Although he succeeded in making a decent 175 mph British supercar, it never got the recognition it deserved.

Inspired By The GT40

It was fueled by a mid-mounted Ford V8 motor and took design inspiration from the GT40 and was updated with honeycomb and folded aluminium composite construction. The name of the car, R42, was actually an ode to the original, and the number 42 referred to the height of the vehicle from the ground to the roof. The R, as you may have guessed, was borrowed from Cristopher’s own name.

The Original Maker Had Big Ambitions For The Car

Christopher wanted to take his creation to the La Sarth and see it going down the Mulsanne Straight. But then of course, before this goal could be achieved, he had to make a road car. By the end of 1992, the scale model and prototype chassis were ready and work began on the running car. The goal was to launch it during the London Motor Show in 1992 and although it was met, unfavourable economic conditions and high development costs pushed GTD into receivership in 1994.

Although the company was revived, it paid the price by selling the rights to the R42 for $2.5m to the American company Spectre Motors. It was led by a formed GTD sales agent and he was quick to get it into production. He launched the ALCO-Spectre racing program with the R42 GTR later.

Even A Movie Couldn’t Save The R42

The plan was to increase yearly production to 200 vehicles within three years. In 1997, two R42s were also featured in the car theft movie RPM. The movie wasn’t very well received which means R42 didn’t get the break that was being hoped for.

R42 Was More Of A Junior Supercar

GTD planned to use carbon fiber or aluminium but Spectre went for glass fiber and this gave the car a wobbly finish. The manufacturing process didn’t do justice to Christopher’s design and it wasn’t as detailed as he would have liked. The overall shape didn’t look too bad though. The car was also fuel efficient, achieving a Cd of 0.28.

However, the innards were the real undoing of the R42. Instead of a Lincoln MkVIII motor, it featured the Ford Mustang Cobra unit. The cabin featured Dagenham plastic and the sports seats were way too reclined. More headroom would have been better as the car was a little difficult for taller people to sit comfortably in. However, that’s not to say that the overall experience was horrible in any manner.

The car offered a pleasant ride and good body control. The steering wheel was said to be a little annoying but the grip was pretty great. In all, it turned out to be more of a junior supercar and like Spectre said, it was as easy to maintain as a family saloon. Later on, the R45 was also unveiled but Spectre went into receivership soon afterwards.

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