Rodin Cars; guaranteed to make assume the pose and think
Always keen to seek out the more ‘unusual’ motoring stories, Iain Robertson is astonished by the development of a New Zealand-based car manufacturer in the field of bespoke single-seat racing cars and the FZED is its £650,000 result.
It is said frequently that there is nothing original in this world, other than the originals. In many ways, original is bit like being ‘unique’; I loathe it when some people write, or talk, about something being ‘unique’, when it is one of several examples and, therefore, cannot, by definition, be unique. On the other hand, some concepts turned reality can offer genuinely rare attractions to those persons not believing that such a thing was possible.
Personally, as a slowly dwindling fan of motor racing, a sport that has become so politically active and scared of its own shadow that its original precept of ‘man vs. machine, in a competitive environment’ have been lost in a maelstrom of political correctness, the ‘me-too’ brigade, the fear of death, too much money and ecological pressures, I feared that what had captivated me in the first place has all but disappeared.
While I am not wealthy, there are plenty of motoring enthusiasts that still love their expensive playthings, many of which are racing circuit-based. There exists a modest sales arena for former F1 cars, mainly because they are pinnacle performers and, for the current users, they believe themselves to be carrying on a long-established tradition. Yet, an ultimate, purpose-built F1 lookalike, apart from a few twin-seat conversions a few years ago, designed to provide ‘thrill rides’ at Grand Prix and major motor-sporting events, has been overlooked…until now.
David Dicker, a regular international competitor, has gone the extra mile and established Rodin Cars, a high-tech manufacturer. Styled after the typical F1 car, it is powered by a naturally aspirated, 3.8-litre Cosworth V8 engine that produces a spine-tingling 675bhp at an ear-piercing 9,600rpm. Weighing just 609kgs (including driver) the car can accelerate from 0-100mph in a mere 5.0s and boasts a top speed of 186mph. More vitally, it can almost match the lap times of an F1 car, tested at its own circuit.
Noise regulations, epitomised by a situation at Brands Hatch (Kent), when Nicola Foulston (a former owner of the racing circuit venue) sold off some of the surrounding land to property developers, are a case in point. After the houses were erected and the streets named after famous drivers and motor sport venues, the local parish council complaints started to weigh in. Most of them were excess noise related, to which my response would have been, if you acquire a property adjacent to a racetrack, do not be mad! You have asked for circuit noise!
Yet, Formula One has been emasculated by noise regulations; a pinnacle sporting endeavour, stopped in its tracks by the anti-noise brigade. Noise is part of the attraction. Clearly, it is something that does not affect New Zealanders. The Cosworth ‘screamer’ installed in the carbon-fibre tub of the FZED is everything that will excite ardent enthusiasts and they will need the sound-deadening headsets to avoid close proximity deafness.
Rodin’s carbon fibre composite chassis and aero package are made in Italy by HP Composites, supplier to several European race-car manufacturers and teams, while its floor features an Indy car style ‘tunnel’, rather than the flat floors used in Grand Prix racing. Its six-speed sequential gearbox is produced by British engineering firm, Ricardo, while the carbon-carbon brakes are by Alcon. The high-level four-way adjustable TTX-40 racing dampers are from Öhlins. The exhaust system was designed by Rodin Cars and developed in-house from 3D-printed titanium, while its 13.0-inch diameter magnesium wheels (soon to be produced by 3D printing, which will result in them losing another 25% of their already light weight) from Italy’s OZ Racing are shod with British-made Avon Racing tyres.
Featuring one of the most diverse collections of 3D printers in the Southern Hemisphere, Rodin Cars has the capability to design and print many components in-house. The firm has also designed and produced all fasteners for the Rodin FZED, starting with titanium bar stock, featuring rolled threads and special surface coating with individual laser-marked part numbers. The titanium 3D-printed steering wheel was designed in-house, along with the composite seat, which is custom fitted for each owner and paired with FIA-approved seatbelts.
Dicker plans to sell the Rodin FZED to experienced and keen drivers, who relish the opportunity for a near-F1 experience, without the cost, complexity and risk of owning an actual historic Grand Prix car. The cars have been engineered for longevity and durability, with the engine alone designed to run more than 3,100 miles/5,000 km on 98-octane pump fuel, before strip-down maintenance (a normal F1 car needs the same attention after just two hours of running).
The FZED has been accepted into the prestigious BOSS racing series in Europe, where competitors race cars possessing a GP heritage. However, many of these, multi-million Pound cars are becoming too costly and too risky to race, sometimes incurring unwanted damage, their owners unable to obtain costly original parts, with which to effect repairs, or even just to maintain them. These conditions make the Rodin FZED even more important, as it lacks the complexity, has parts availability, because it is engineering its own spares, but still provides the commensurate thrills. Rodin presents an rare opportunity in the racing scene and is already building cars to order for this speciality market.
Conclusion: While undoubtedly a very rich person’s hobby, it is fascinating that a small but remote player is prepared to forge a place in the market for new single seat racing cars that fulfil an important role in the classic racing scene.