The Specter R42 is a great example of what one’s vision can accomplish. Although a British supercar, the Specter R42 has quite deep ties to the Ford GT, an American automotive icon. The Specter R42 and the Ford GT40 are quite interesting. With the sleek visual aesthetic of a low-top Italian supercar, the Specter R42 is a remarkable vehicle, and there’s a lot to know about it. The two-seat mid-engined RWD car certainly has styling cues from many timeless supercars.
Even though it shares many characteristics with very amazing automobiles, the Specter R42 has a lot of personality of its own. In that vein, here are 10 interesting things you (probably) didn’t know about the Specter R42, the British supercar.
10/10 The Specter R42 was the vision of a futuristic Ford GT40
In the late 1980s, Ford had no concrete plans for the future of its iconic Ford GT40. It was British engineer Ray Christopher who took it upon himself to imagine what the GT40 would look like in the modern world. From this vision, the Specter R42 was born.
Ray was already familiar with GT40 design, thanks to the work his company GT Development did on Fords. So, using the Ford GT as an unofficial base, he gave the Specter R42 project the same chassis and wheelbase as the Ford GT40.
9/10 Styling cues from Lamborghini and Ferrari are apparent in the Specter R42
Looking at the Specter R42, it’s clear that the design isn’t that unique on its own. The Specter R42 had clear styling cues from many acclaimed supercar models of the time, such as the Ferrari 288 GTO, Lamborghini Countach and Jaguar XJR-15.
The sides of the front fascia were quite clearly inspired by the Lamborghini Countach. For the Specter R42 monocoque chassis, Christopher and his team used aluminum honeycomb components, as they intended to use the Specter R42 as a race car at Le Mans.
8/10 The Specter R42 engine offered plenty of power
Considering that the Ford GT40 was the main inspiration for the Specter R42, the British installed the same Ford engine under the body of the Specter R42. After all, the British supercar was meant to be a peak in the future of the GT40.
Thus, the Specter R42 is mounted on Ford’s 4.6-liter V8 engine, developing 335 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 317 lb-ft of torque. The car was able to go from zero to sixty in less than 5 seconds, breaking the 60 mph mark in just 4.5 seconds.
7/10 Development of the Specter R42 bankrupted the company
Designer Ray Christopher originally intended the Specter R42 to be a race car for Europe’s most famous endurance race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. However, this required the R42 to be homologated to race, so that it could be eligible to enter the race.
So a specific number of street-legal Specter R42 models also had to be developed, and the costs for that skyrocketed. Unfortunately, the company was unable to meet the huge costs and the project bled obscene amounts of money. Then, in the early 1990s, the recession hit and proved to be the final nail in GT Development’s coffin, with the company going bankrupt. The project only hit the road again after 1995, when the American company Specter Motors Inc. took over the project.
6/10 Only 23 units of the Specter R42 were built
Anders Hildebrand was the new leader of the Specter R42 project after March 1995, and he brought in new investors. He even appointed five-time Le Mans winner Derek Bell as chairman and development consultant. Unfortunately, despite their efforts to manufacture the race car and the homologation models, the company only sold 23 models.
The reason the Specter R42 remained relatively unknown overseas is that most models went to European buyers. Foreign consumers, however wealthy, have never even heard of the Specter R42, which makes it all the more rare today.
5/10 Each Specter R42 unit took 2,000 hours to build
Anders Hildebrand had started a small company dedicated to the development of the Specter R42 car. Due to its size, the company has put an incredible 2,000 man hours into building each model of the Specter R42.
The car came with high quality racing equipment, premium features and lavish interiors, which included leather upholstery. Of course, all that effort was reflected in the price, as the Specter R42 retailed for around $70,000. Even the rights to the Specter R42 cost Anders Hildebrand $2.5 million.
4/10 The ’42’ in The Specter R42 had a special meaning
The “40” in the Ford GT40 came from the target height that Ford had planned for its legendary race car. Even though Ford narrowly missed out on this brand, the name stuck. The “GT”, of course, came from the car built for the GT class.
Ray Christopher coined the future Ford GT40 as the R42, bearing his initial “R” and his car’s ride height, which was 42 inches. Such a low height gave the Specter R42 one of the best drag coefficients at the time, at 0.28.
3/10 The Specter R42 has made famous appearances in pop culture
While originally the Specter R42 did not gain worldwide fame, pop culture helped the car gain fame overseas. For the generation of gearheads who grew up playing Need of speed racing games, the Specter R42 was one of the must-have cars in the 1998 game, Need For Speed III: Burning Pursuit.
Others might even recognize him from the 1997 action-thriller movie. rpmfeaturing none other than David Arquette.
2/10 The Specter R42 is a collector’s dream today
As mentioned, the Specter R42 only spawned 23 models, making it an extremely rare car. So, it’s even rarer to find someone willing to part with the car, given the rich history it carries.
Although the Specter R42 does not sell for as much as its original retail price, what makes the car so valuable is how few models it has around the world. In 2015, an R42 model was auctioned for $43,900 by Danish dealer Stelvio.
1/10 Its successor, the Specter R45, never got off the ground
The successor to the Specter R42 was the R45, which Specter Supersports Ltd. presented at the London Motor Show in 1997. Unfortunately, the company ceased all commercial activities in 1998, the following year.
Specter wanted the R45 to be a better quality, more high-tech, and easier to assemble car. They even intended to sell the R45 for a price close to $90,000. Unfortunately, the R45 was never meant to be, as Specter ran extremely low on resources, and all there was to show for the R45 was just 2 prototype models.