Ultima GTR: Building The Ultimate Street-Legal Race Car

The Ultima GTR is very special vehicle. Essentially a tube-frame race car that happens to be street legal, it's a kit that must be assembled. However, the end result is very impressive. Take a look at Ultima’s website and see for yourself. In the case of this review, a brilliant inventor with over 20 patents is making modifications and refinements during the more than three year build process. And the good news is that it’s almost done.

The car is available as a kit for $41,000, which includes free shipping via ship from the UK. A rolling chassis is $89,000 but still needs an engine. In this case, a 505 horsepower Corvette Z06 V-8 was found, still in its crate on eBay--an ideal powerplant due to its light weight, strong power and dry sump lubrication system for a low center of gravity. The rebuilt transmission is from a 1980s era Porsche 911 Turbo, which should be enough to handle the power while packaging nicely in the rear of the car. At a target weight of 2,200 pounds, the Ultima GTR’s power-to-weight ratio is simply incredible when you consider that most exotics weigh over 3,000 pounds.

The most noticeable, and beautiful of the custom modifications, is the “bundle of snakes” exhaust headers designed by the owner. They make for a nice exotic sound you usually only hear at historic races. This fabrication was one of the biggest challenges.

There are other quite clever modifications as well. Knowing how lousy the roads are in Northern California, not to mention driveway curbs and the like, ground clearance would be an issue at a stock 3.5 inches. Suspension mounting brackets with remotely activated hydraulic rams extend the ride height by 2 inches to overcome obstacles. Low speed ride height adjustment is rare, even among exotics.

A fuel surge tank was added to assure proper fuel pressure during high g-force loads. An integrated datalogger was also added with multiple inputs and programmability. It’s currently set up for fuel and oil pressure, brake temperature, engine bay temperature and air pressure under the car, all with alarms in case a pre-determined threshold is reached. Fire suppression is also on this car.

It will have air conditioning, a defroster and numerous revisions to the interior including a status display. The color is a gel coat which is embedded in the fiberglass body itself which makes rock chips less conspicuous. Another step in weight reduction would be a full carbon-fiber body but unfortunately this is no longer offered.

The owner's description of the kit car market is "buyer beware" but he was very impressed with the build quality of the Ultima GTR. However, like any small volume manufacturer or kit car, there will be challenges in building and maintaining. The suspension must be partially disassembled to change the battery. The side pods are not designed to be easily removed despite the tube frame design and changing the belts near the bulkhead will also pose a challenge. Keep in mind this is meant for track days and weekends, not fifteen thousand miles per year as a daily driver.

Due to the tuning required, it’s not equipped with anti-lock brakes nor traction control. Forget airbags and no driver's aids means no electronic interference. It’s more of a pure track weapon than the Dodge Viper ACR but it’s less expensive and there is more pride in terms of labor, assembly and personalization than the new Viper ACR-X too.

The Ultima GTR represents something that no longer exists from a volume manufacturer: a lightweight street car. A tube frame chassis is also virtually non-existent, now carbon-fiber at a much higher cost. Electronic nannies are taking over as well. This is a race car, lightweight, powerful, and it just happens to be street legal. It's the ultimate track day car.

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