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This Is a Corvette Grand Sport

Road & Track logo Road & Track 3/13/2018 Máté Petrány

a car on display: This Is a Corvette Grand Sport

This Is a Corvette Grand Sport
© Máté Petrány / Road&Track

Last year, Felix Eaton managed to shock the experienced Geneva audience with his Rolls-Royce-based Black Cuillin, only to return in 2018 with a somewhat more feasible proposition. Stepping up the game, the much smaller Zeclat Coupé not only runs, but it runs fast, hiding a C7 Corvette Grand Sport under its art deco carbon body. The displayed prototype also managed to challenge camera sensors with its paint job called "petrol," which should remind you of the colors you get from the reflections of gasoline on a wet floor. Or, if you're like me, TVR's pearlescent paint from the early 2000s.

To find out how the plan has evolved over the last twelve months, I turned to Felix himself for a very detailed answer:

"The reason is that the Black Cuillin would take about another two million (pounds) to finish, if I was going to finish it for production. I decided that it was never gonna be an economic situation with that car, so I’m just gonna finish that one car for myself, and the cost of developing that car will be used to produce the Zeclat.

a car parked in front of a building: This Is a Corvette Grand Sport© Máté Petrány / Road&Track This Is a Corvette Grand Sport

Lots of people asked last year about a smaller version. A sports car. And I’ve been thinking about it. So, we came away from the show and decided to invest the money and the time into creating this. Because this is sellable. I wanted something that was thoroughly modern. So, we took the Corvette C7, Grand Sport, stripped it, and then re-dressed it with a new design. What we got is a really up-to-date technological piece of work from GM, in my opinion. The way it drives, it’s like European cars. I mean, the lateral g-forces on the road are just astounding. Takes corners like nothing else! So, I bought one for myself, just to have a Corvette. And as I was driving, I thought... hmm... I think I could fit my design to this. So, we set to it.

You look at the first car, and they are two different characters. I always loved fast cars, so I had Ferraris, and so on. I also like Rolls-Royces, so really, it’s about having this style in a sports car. The Black Cuillin will be a one-off car for me. The Zeclat Coupé, we can produce. This is not a concept, it’s pre-production. It’s been designed to go on the road, as the Black Cuillin was. That wasn’t a concept either. It was designed to go on the road, and it will. We were secretive about it because last year, we were wondering how we would approach Rolls-Royce.

The Black Cuillin was built on a Rolls-Royce Wraith platform. We decided not to speak to Rolls-Royce in the end, because we’ve seen that the new Phantom has come out, and that’s a more interesting proposition. We already have a design in mind, once we can get hold of the architecture below, to make a big four-door sedan. Looking very much like the Black Cuillin, but on the Phantom platform. We intended to use the previous Phantom at start, and then it went out of production, so we switched to a Wraith. Good performance car, but I'm not quite as keen on the Wraith. So, the Black Cuillin is on hold until we decide whether to go with the Phantom or not."

a black car on display: This Is a Corvette Grand Sport© Máté Petrány / Road&Track This Is a Corvette Grand Sport

When it comes to the Zeclat, we won’t make too many. Because in this world, you can make up to twenty cars, easily. At a hundred, it starts to get difficult, and a thousand is impossible. Bentley can make ten thousand cars a year, and small producers can make five or ten cars a year. Working with the Envisage Group, we can make about 25 cars per year of a carbon fiber design like this. If people are interested, and enough want to buy it. In a year’s time, the C7 Grand Sport will go out of production, and unless somebody wants us to use a second-hand car, we won’t have any donors. So, probably twenty, twenty-five cars. In terms of pricing, it’s basically the tooling and the building costs, divided by the number of customers. So, if we did 25 cars, probably £550,000 ($776,858 USD).

If we built five cars, a million. And somebody may pay a million. We have customers, one in Geneva, one in Canada who are waiting and want to pay two million for a Black Cuillin. But they want to drive one first. And two million is not even enough to do that, because, we already spent another three developing that car. There are people who will pay a lot of money for something unique. The question is, how many of them goes: “if you’re making five, I’ll have one. If it’s twenty, I don’t want one, because I want it to be special”

The racing driver who drove it on the video had it up to 100 mph on a little country road, at 32 degrees, with it snowing ten minutes earlier. After having it up to 100 mph, he said the car is planted. So, we feel very confident that the aero is correct. But before it will go into production, it will go actually to a wind tunnel as well. We know where the air technically goes from the computer modeling, and funny enough, when we filmed this video, there was salt on the roads and it was filthy. And all of the waterlines were where the CFD said they would be. So, the CFD is pretty good, and we feel very happy. It’s been designed with engineers from Envisage Group in Coventry. They make the Queen’s state Bentleys, Range Rovers. These are people who work with the OEMs. So, they are very-very expensive people, but they get it right. We have a good car.

460 horsepower, 465 lb-ft of torque, and GM's excellent chassis says that yes, the Eaton Zeclat may just be the right art deco design for this century.

Then again, it probably helps if you're the type of person who enjoys spending the weekend just running down a dream, working on a mystery, going wherever it leads.


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