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The Mercury Cars Guide : December 5th 2009
24--- Classifieds 62 300 400 • carsguide.com.au Saturday, December 5, 2009 WINNING EXPERIENCE: The McLaren MP4-12C two-seater sportscar. McLaren takes on Ferrari PAUL GOVER P EOPLE with $500,000 to splash on a supercar rival to a Ferrari will be able to join team McLaren in Australia from the start of 2011. The world's newest supercar company has Australia in its sights and is finalising a down- under distribution plan for its first car, the McLaren MP4-12C. McLaren Cars intends to have three supercars in production within five years and is going all-out to rival Ferrari and Lamborgh- ini, tapping its winning experience in Formula One for everything from a new V8 engine to grand prix-style aerodynamics. The MP4-12C has already been revealed and McLaren executives have recently been in Australia to scout for a local agent. One of the companies it targeted is the Trivett Automotive group, which is already the Australian importer and sole dealer for Rolls-Royce, the Aston Martin importer for NSW, Victoria and the ACT, and the Bentley importer for NSW and the ACT. ''Yes we have spoken to McLaren. We are very keen, because I think it will be a terrific brand and I think it's a terrific product to fit alongside the brands we already represent,'' says the head man at Trivett Automotive, Greg Duncan. ''It will be low volume but a terrific car. And there is a roll-out plan for three models. ''We were contacted by McLaren and they indicated they had been referred to us. I believe they have talked to a couple of companies in Sydney and Melbourne.'' Duncan does not know the other companies involved in the McLaren pitch but he believes Trivett has a good chance. ''From what we can gather, their preference is to appoint an importer-dealer in Sydney, and then in due course that operation would roll out a dealership in Melbourne. They are the two priority locations for McLaren.'' Duncan says McLaren has big plans for its supercar operation, which is run by former F1 boss Ron Dennis. He is the front man for the 12C project and also led McLaren's previous road-car efforts with the McLaren F1 --- which was the world's fastest road car for a decade --- and the joint- venture Mercedes-McLaren SLR. ''There are three models in the plan,'' says Duncan. ''They are talking about a volume of around 25-30 per cent of Ferrari's volumes.'' AIMING HIGH: The new Joss coupe is being billed as a rival to the ultimate supercars of Ferrari and Lamborghini. A new homegrown hero is finally getting ready to roll, close to a decade after it was born and five years after starring at the Melbourne Motor Show. Paul Gover reports What we're producing is a hyper car for a supercar price. Compared to a Ferrari, we're full composite and we'll be faster' Joss gets set to live up to the hype T HE super-quick Joss coupe, billed as a potential Aussie rival to a Ferrari or Lamborghini, is going from a dream to a reality at a new factory in the Melbourne suburb of Chelten- ham. A major cash injection is allowing the creation of two full-scale test cars and negotiations are underway for a high-tech V8 engine that will give the car its 0-100km/h and top-speed credi- bility. The aim is to have customer cars ready for delivery in the first half of 2011 --- at a genuine supercar price beyond $500,000. ''This really is Australia's first supercar company,'' says founder and technical chief, Matt Thomas. ''I know people have heard that before, but we really are serious. We don't want to burn anyone. Hopefully we'll be here for a long time yet.'' Thomas came up with the idea for the Joss --- the name came when he saw a picture of a group of gold miners taken in around 1860 --- back in 1998 when he produced the first scale model of the car. A test car was built in 2004 and it went to the Melbourne show. Since then, work has centred on the funding to put the car into serious production. ''To build a supercar, first you need a supercar company. We had to put the foundations in place,'' says Tho- mas. ''We've done the background engin- eering. We have enough investment now that we can go ahead. We'll be able to go full-time on the project from the new year. ''We're currently in talks with a major European engine supplier. ''That's a big thing for us, just to have those talks.'' But the talk stops over Christmas when a 10-member team goes into action at Cheltenham, under chief executive Glenn Daffin. The priority is building a pair of engineering prototypes that will be used to test everything from the carbonfibre chassis to the engine and drivetrain. ''We're just got the one test car at the moment and we're starting on the production prototypes. We'll have two of those,'' Thomas says. ''The car has a carbonfibre tub and an all-alloy V8 with around 400 kiloWatts. We're looking for 0-100km/ h in around 2.7 seconds. We can already get below three seconds with the existing prototype car.'' But why would anyone want to buy a Joss? ''What we're producing is a hyper car for a supercar price. Compared to a Ferrari, we're full composite and we'll be faster,'' Thomas says. ''We're trying to hang our hat on being a boutique company, able to tailor the car to the exact needs of the customer.'' But the tailoring will come at a price. ''It will be around $500,000-600,000 and delivery would be around the middle of 2011. It sounds a lot but when you're in the composite world it's not that expensive.'' Apart from his engineering skills and enthusiasm, Thomas has in- vested more than $400,000 of his own money in the Joss project. ''If we were to quote the number of hours, the car has cost more than $1 million. I'm the one behind it and a bit of a jack-of-all,'' he jokes. But Thomas is not joking when he states his aim. ''We're aiming to build 25 cars a year. But we've already got a lot of interest and I'd be surprised if we didn't go beyond that.'' 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November 28th 2009
December 12th 2009