Motoring Weekly recently published an article about the MCV CH4, a Canadian supercar that sadly never made to full production. I’ve found another car that has been described variously as the first or only Canadian supercar: the de Macross GT1. This car was developed in the late 2000s – not a great time to be launching a bespoke, limited run supercar considering that the world was dealing with the GFC: the Global Financial Crisis.
The de Macross Motor Corp was founded and financed by a Korean businessman, Johang (Keyser) Hur, an oil tycoon. The name was created to sound like an Italian marque, even the badges were copied from De Tomaso and Ferrari scripts! Hur wanted to evoke the glory days of 1960s Le Mans racers for road use, however the design he created was more 1980s – admittedly with a throw back to the 1960s and 1970s.
The car was built in conjunction with Multimatic, a Canadian components manufacturer hence people thought that it was where the car came from. The vehicle was based on a carbon fibre and aluminium tub with a mid mounted supercharged 5.4 litre Ford V8 sourced from Roush Racing Engines, the providers of NASCAR motors. Power was rated at over 800hp and delivery was via a specially built Ricardo transaxle.
The design took cues from many other manufacturers and looked like an old style Group C racer with hints of Ford, Porsche and Ferrari spread over the bodywork. The doors were gullwings that most articles described as a copy of Mercedes-Benz, however I would suggest that too many other cars had been fitted with this door style between 1952 and 2008 to say that it was a copy of the 300SL! Inside the car, the designers were going for the lightweight, stripped out look with no luxuries – it was meant for speed with the driver’s visual and aural senses fully catered for. However it does remind the viewer of the interior of a Spkyer C8 (without the bling)!
The tub was built for de Macross by Multimatic who outsourced the main work to a British company although Multimac did the final construction and passed crash safety tests using the tub design. They had the experience, having built the tub for the Aston Martin One-77 and several special Fords. They also designed the Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve dampers that were being deployed on Formula One cars at that time. This system is an active suspension that lowers the car at speed and the main claim to fame was that the car had a hydraulic anti-roll system fitted although there was no description of how it worked.
The car was launched late 2010 with a corporate statement that production was about to begin. Initially production was expected to be around 200 units, however by 2012 that number had dropped to only 20-30 units and although it was billed as a Canadian car, construction of the finished car was to be moved to northern Italy. Pricing had skyrocketed from an original C$100,000 per car to C$1.5M!! Like the pricing, the name had also been increased to become the de Macross Epique GT1.
The car then went on the marketing circuit with appearances at the 2012 and 2013 Goodwood Festivals of Speed in the UK. It even made it on Jay Leno’s Garage TV show with the de Macross Sales Director in tow. By 2015, reports were stating that the car would now be built in South Korea however it seems that only one unit was ever fully constructed – the original by Multimatic.
Despite the GFC, there was always a demand for bespoke vehicles, however I think the main issue with cars like this is that they feel a little rough around the edges for the price. To make it worse for companies like de Macross, the main manufacturers needed a post-GFC halo car and many delivered on their promise with vehicles that sold simply on the badge or heritage. de Macross failed to create their own branding or heritage and had the GT1 stayed around the $100,000 mark it might have found more buyers, instead however, it has joined a select group of one-off road-worthy vehicles.