As the world’s first road car to exceed 1,000bhp-per-tonne the Freestream T1 is perhaps bound to grab the headlines. Yet the car couldn’t be further removed from the ‘no expense spared high technology approach’ that might be imagined. Indeed the same key issues facing mainstream car designers – such as active and passive safety, vehicle performance as well as weight, complexity and cost – were all addressed at a fundamental level when the Freestream T1 was conceived and was a primary inspiration for the car.
“To demonstrate our understanding of these fundamental vehicle engineering issues we set out to design an optimum package for delivering 1,000bhp-per-tonne,” says Freestream co-founder Ben Scott-Geddes. “Interestingly, the sweet spot on the curve that satisfies many of these issues is 500 horsepower in a vehicle with a mass of 500kg.”
“You can deliver higher engine outputs up to 1,000bhp and beyond,” explains fellow director Graham Halstead, “but that means more weight, which adds significant cost and complexity to the car. Conversely, a 300bhp-per-300kg approach can severely compromise crash worthiness because of insufficient structural mass. An extremely lightweight approach can cause costs to spiral through the use of exotic materials. And less horsepower means a restricted top speed and aerodynamic performance.”
“Having arrived at the optimum power-to-weight ratio a major engineering challenge was to design a powertrain of around 100kg; without which it would have been impossible to meet our overall vehicle design requirements,” says Scott-Geddes.
Halstead and Scott-Geddes share an impressive track record and formed part of the small engineering team that worked on the McLaren F1 and Mercedes-McLaren SLR. In terms of sheer vehicle performance their vision for the Freestream T1 was an ultra-lightweight car capable of reaching 100mph in five seconds, with a top speed exceeding 200mph depending on the adjustable aerodynamic set-up, with enough downforce to corner at more than 3g – about the same as a Le Mans prototype – and the ability to stop on the proverbial sixpence.
However, in terms of addressing fundamental automotive industry issues – such as safety and CO2 emissions for example – the car will showcase the consultancy’s core credentials. “Concept vehicles are ten-a-penny and this is more than a one-off prototype,” says Scott-Geddes. “The only way to truly convince car makers that we have the experience and skills to design and engineer a safe, reliable, cost-efficient albeit high-performance car is to actually design and build one. We then have something to discuss.”
“In addition, there is a global market for an exclusive ultra-high performance track car that can also be used on the road; so in effect we’ve found an exciting way of funding our demonstrator,” added Halstead. “Customers for the car will either be private individuals with a passion for high performance sports cars or corporate clients requiring an affordable yet prestigious track car for the fast growing market of hospitality race experience events. Meanwhile, we look forward to working closely with automotive clients to help tackle their design engineering issues.”
The Freestream T1 powertrain comprises a bespoke 2.4-litre supercharged V8 aluminium engine with a mass of approximately 85kg. Similarly, the 6-speed sequential transmission with magnesium casing is a bespoke design with a mass of approximately 30kg. The carbon/aluminium honeycomb monocoque features a separate composite crash structure at the front, while the rear sub-frame specifies aerospace grade steel. The non carbon-fibre steel suspension, for example, illustrates the company’s ability to specify structural materials that can deliver the maximum performance at the lowest possible cost. Overall, the £150,000 price tag underlines the company’s ability to design and build an exclusive car at a relatively low price despite its ultra high performance.
The company has released additional photo-realistic images showing how the finished car will look.