The early decades of the 20th century are seen by many as the golden era of coach built cars, as there were plenty of firms willing to build a unique body for your existing chassis, or in some cases create an entirely original automobile based solely on a buyer’s specifications.
Thanks to the prevalence of computer-aided design, the same can be said of companies today. As was the case a century ago, originality, engineering and built-by-hand quality comes with a very steep price tag.
If you’ve never heard of the de Macross Epique GT1, don’t worry. We'd almost forgotten about it, since we hadn’t heard any updates since August of 2011, but then we stumbled across the latest video from Jay Leno’s Garage. For now, there’s only one de Macross in the world, but limited production is planned for 2013 if there is sufficient interest at the intended asking price of $1.5 million.
That money buys you a carbon fiber and aluminum chassis designed and build by Multimatic, the Canadian firm behind the Aston Martin One-77. It gets you a hand-beaten aluminum body, a 5.4-liter Ford V-8 tuned by Roush Engineering, an active suspension and styling that was inspired by the Le Mans cars of the 1960s and 1970s.
It also buys you a bit of exclusivity, since few buyers will have the price of admission and fewer still will be willing to embrace the Epique GT1’s “all race car, all the time” ethos. The same amount buys you a Pagani Zonda, which (in our eyes, anyway) is more refined and more desirable.
The Epique GT1’s humble roots don’t help its business case much, either. Sure, you’re getting a chassis from one of the world’s premier builders, and you’re getting suspension technology pulled from Formula One, but you’re also getting a car that looks and sounds like a tuner version of the Ford GT.
While Ford GTs still aren’t what we’d call “affordable,” you can find the cleanest example in the world for a fraction of the de Macross’ asking price, and tune it for even higher output than the GT1’s claimed 845 horsepower. Sure, you’re likely to see other Ford GTs on the street, but your bank account won’t be depleted to the tune of seven figures.