Life for the aspiring British supercar builder can be
hard. Not only are you generally lumbered with a resolutely
unromantic surname, usually prefixed with something even worse,
like “Lee” or “Trevor”, after which to name your creation, (hardly suitable to compete with the Enzo Ferraris of the world)
but you are also referred to, often derogatorily, as a ‘kit
car manufacturer’ if you so much as go near a glass fibre
But, despite these inherent disadvantages, and the highly
volatile and fickle nature of the market for sports cars,
there are a small number of companies in the UK that have
actually managed to produce something special. Ultima is one
The company’s main model, the GTR, is a perfect example
of the maxim of form dictating function, yet unlike the
recent brutalist creations from Maranello, the Ultima
retains the fluid lines of a 1980s Le Mans racer. It is hard
to imagine a car that would attract more attention when
driven down your local high street, or perhaps more
appropriately, at your local trackday.
But it is not merely aesthetics that have gained the GTR
a place on The List; it is here primarily because it
reconciles the binary oppositions that are supercars and the
romance of the supercar. This may sound arcane, but the
truth of the matter is that when Enzo Ferrari was producing
his road cars merely to finance the Scuderia, the then
nascent supercar was as rare as a Faberge egg. Only racing
drivers and the odd film star could hope to own one. But in
the last twenty years the supercar market has become
democratised to such an extent that any half decent
investment banker or footballer can afford to have one in
his garage - less because of performance and more because of
ostentation – resulting in a subsequent glamour nosedive.
The difference with the Ultima is not that it is so
prohibitively expensive that it obviates the possibility of
their falling into the wrong hands - the GTR is only
marginally more expensive than a mid range BMW or Mercedes
saloon – but it is because the car possesses qualities that
are only appreciated by the connoisseur, a bit like a
Romanee Conti sans the exorbitant price.
Explosive is, perhaps, an overused way to describe the
GTR's performance, but it is accurate, nevertheless.
Put it this way - in all gears bar top, a sudden sneeze, and
an accidental snatch of throttle could quickly result in
your being in another time zone, such is the enormous amount
of thrust available in such a light vehicle.
Fortunately, it has the handling and brakes to match, and in
most specifications will be be quicker on track than
anything that doesn't have big wings and slicks.
Ultimately, it may be spartan inside, on a hot day it may
smell like a small dinghy, yet, here is a car that, in
almost any spec, will make most supercars feel like hot
hatches in comparison. Treat it with the utmost respect.