The test mule version of Race...
The test mule version of Race Car Replica's SL-C debuted, where else, but on the track at last year's Run 'N' Gun event at Gateway International Raceway. RCR's Fran Hall purposely brought in a driver from Australia who had never driven the car (let alone driven a left-hand-drive car or shifted with his right hand) and was able to still post some impressive numbers from the road course.
Race Car Replicas, a candy story for performance-minded car enthusiasts based in Clinton Township just north of Detroit, Michigan, debuted their new Superlite Coupe at the recent Run 'N' Gun event at Gateway International Raceway just outside St. Louis, Missouri.
RCR, known for exquisite craftsmanship of their cars (a Mark I, Mark II, and Mark IV GT-40, a coupe and spyder version of a Lola T70, a P4 replica, and a Porsche 917-type racer), is run by Fran Hall, a 40-year-old who has devoted his life to racing (both cars and motorcycles) in at least one way or another.
Once an aspiring motorcycle racer in his English homeland, Hall relocated to the Detroit area where he began working as a development technician for General Motors. By his mid-30s Fran opened Race Car Replicas and jumped into the replicar market with both feet. But one of things that separates Hall from many other frame-and-body manufacturers out there today is the level of craftsmanship in the cars he builds. Where else are you going to find someone who not only designed and builds his own aluminum monocoque chassis for his dead-on GT-40 clones but also CNC machines most of the aluminum suspension parts as well?
The Superlite Coupe was tested...
The Superlite Coupe was tested even further by beating on the prototype during the drags at the Run 'N' Gun. Race car Replica's Fran Hall hopes to get 0-60 times in the 3.3 second range, and 10-second passes at 130 mph in the quarter mile.
Though his shop keeps busy by filling orders on the wide range of vehicles they offer, Hall felt the time was right to debut two more rocket ships, the SL-R and SL-C and launch them under the Superlite banner. The SL-R is a new exoskeleton-type two-seat roadster whose heritage could be traced back to the vintage Lotus 7, except with 40 extra years of development aiding its design and performance. Though under the Superlite umbrella, the SL-C (coupe) shares nothing with the Roadster except its surname.
For most replicar home builders, the SL-C could possibly be best described as a supercar, with its sights set on the performance of say a Saleen S7. That's a heady statement for a company with a toe in the kit car market, but Hall believes he has to think out of the box in order to offer home builders a product they'll be extremely happy with.
The SL-C is a rolling kit designed and engineered to reproduce the look, feel, quality and, most importantly, the performance of a supercar at a budget price. Most any powertrain can be installed-everything from a twin-turbocharged Lexus V-8 to what was in the test bed mule photographed at the Run 'N' Gun event: an LS7 drivetrain.
Race Car Replicas doesn't rely on any sort of donor base to work from with their vehicles, preferring instead to supply the home builder nearly everything they need (sans drivetrain and tires, though RCR will mount the tires), including some impressive suspension and chassis pieces. Each SL-C comes standard with a TIG-welded aluminum chassis that is set up with a wheelbase of 105 inches and outfitted with a six-point roll cage made from CNC-bent seamless stainless steel tubing (removable door braces are also available).
When the SL-C is moving it...
When the SL-C is moving it has the appearance of a full GT racer, but can be driven on the street, too, effectively claiming the best of both worlds.
The suspension uses CNC-milled billet aluminum uprights front and rear coupled with unequal-length upper and lower arms, with a pushrod/rocker-style rear suspension that works with a pair of laid-down QA1 double-adjustable coilover shocks (with 24 compression and 24 rebound adjustments available to the driver). RCR also offers an optional front and rear sway bar system for the SL-C, too. Braking components include Wilwood six-piston aluminum calipers fitted with stainless steel lines throughout that complement a Wilwood master cylinder. The car comes with an 18x9.5 and 18x11 aluminum wheel combo but, set up specifically for this race-oriented test car, the wheels are 18x11 and 18x13 wrapped in Hoosier Track rubber; P295/30ZR-18 and P345/35ZR-18 R6 sports car DOT radial tires, which are recommended for road racing applications. Tires are typically the owner's responsibility to supply to the project, but RCR will mount them. Steering is handled by fully-adjustable (tilt and in/out) and collapsible electric steering column that uses a quick-release, three-spoke, D-shaped steering wheel.
Under the clamshell out back there is enough space to mount mid-ship any longitudinal-based engine-and-trans package, but the test mule was dialed in with a LS7 427-inch crate engine. Though the internals are stock, the engine was aided by an aluminum radiator, stainless steel headers (with an IMSA-type side exit), and an Optima battery. Helping get the power to the ground is a Ricardo six-speed trans-the same one used in the new Ford GTs.
The fiberglass body is available in colored gel-coat (light blue, black, white, yellow, red, and dark blue) and all of the required handles and latches are included, and all body parts are fitted and aligned with stainless steel pins before it leaves the RCR factory. A DOT windshield is also installed, as are the Lexan side windows (which can be ordered either fixed or hinged) and headlight covers.
Set up with a little more than four inches of ground clearance, the body also comes with a front splitter, side skirts, rear diffuser, and a chassis-mounted adjustable rear wing. For the race package, removable side skirts and front spoiler are also available. Dimensions for the SL-C are: 74 inches wide, 43 inches tall and, excluding the rear wing 168 inches long (which is about 2 inches narrower, 1 inch shorter in height and 15 inches shorter in length than that of a new Ford GT). Hall designed the car to comfortably accept drivers up to 6 foot 4 inches.
Inside the cockpit (egress is through near-vertical-opening scissor doors) you'll find a simple dash highlighted by a DigiDash2 Pro+ electronic data-logger gauge. A "street" upholstery package will be available, but this track car only featured custom fiberglass bucket seats with a six-point belt system. Two vents on the dash supply either AC or heat, but a roof-mounted scoop will feed fresh air into the cockpit, too. And, as per Le Mans spec, a 15-gallon fuel tank is mounted behind the seat (an FIA-spec bladder-style tank is optional). Aiming at a true world market, RCR offers the package with either left-hand- or right-hand-drive configurations.
Race Car Replica Superlite...
Race Car Replica Superlite Coupe - Kit Car Mag
RCR's Hall believes the kit, as delivered to the owner, should take roughly 200 hours to complete, but it can be ordered finished in any build stage, including as a complete turnkey. Base prices start at $43,995, which includes the suspension hung, steering fitted, brake calipers, rotors, and lines installed, and more.
All you have to supply is the engine, transaxle, and tires. The transaxle used in the test car-the Ricardo six-speed-comes in at roughly $15,000 (used) and the LS7 can be had new for about $14,000 through companies such as Summit Racing. With those numbers, you could be in a well-appointed car that not only sticks to the ground when cornering at high-speed but be able to top out at 200-plus mph for far less than $100K.
Considering that an American LeMans/Daytona Prototype racer costs easily three times as much and is heavier by book rules, you can see where this would be a fun car to own and drive. Testing should prove a 0-60 time of about 3.3 seconds (the Ricardo six-speed allows 70 mph in first gear alone!) and a mid 10-second quarter-mile at about 130 mph.
And another attractive option: you don't have to go with the $30,000 drivetrain, either. You could install a used Honda V-6 or small-block Ford good for 300 hp and a used Audi 016 box and have about as much fun as you could stand for less than $55,000, and that includes the cost of the kit! That's a lot of bang-for-the-buck-something Fran Hall delivers with every car he builds!
Under the clamshell it's all...
Under the clamshell it's all business in the test car. An LS7 crate engine is coupled to a Ricardo six-speed transaxle to help put the 500-plus horsepower to the pavement. Billet aluminum rockers are actuated via a pushrod-based suspension and work double-adjustable (compression and rebound) QA1 coilover shocks. Tires for the tester are Hoosier R6 (Road Race recommended) P295/30ZR-18 (front) and P345/35ZR-18 (rear).
The doors operate scissor-like...
The doors operate scissor-like and open nearly vertical on the SL-C. The cockpit will accommodate a driver up to 6 foot 4 inches, and the 'glass buckets fitted with a six-point restraint system will keep him safe and secure. Behind the detachable D-spoke steering wheel is a DigiDash2 Pro+ gauge, which keeps track of air pressure, speed and lap times, engine (oil and coolant) temps, as well as containing the hardware for the two-axis g-force sensors (for both acceleration and horizontal loads). This being a test car, refinements are absent, but will include an air conditioning and heating system, leather upholstery, and possibly a paddle shift unit in the production version.