In mid-April of 2005 Tom and John visited the World Class Motorsports shop in Lancaster, Texas, to talk with Brian Anderson about Brian's WCM Ultralite. Brian is an automotive designer and builder who for years specialized in custom rods. Brian became interested in Lotus Super Seven-type cars when Birkin buyers began coming to him for help assembling their cars, and Brian eventually became a Birkin distributor. His knowledge of automotive design and his experience with Super Seven clones led him to create the WCM Ultralite. He is extremely accommodating of the customer's ideas--basically any combination of components seems possible with an Ultralite. When we were there the Ultralite shop held cars that ranged from the ultra-wild race model that will be in this year's One Lap of America to a more conservative model that had Miata power (some people think it's possible to have too much power) and a traditional Super Seven type bonnet and cowl/windshield assembly that had been produced for the customer.
The Ultralite improves on other Super Seven clones in several ways. The chassis is quite stout, and there are no difficult-to-reach places. The dash and all electronics are readily accessible from the engine compartment and there is ample room in the engine bay in which to work. The Ultralite is available with a variety of engines, but the Honda S2000 engine and transmission are standard. The car was engineered specifically to fit this drivetrain, unlike other Seven clones. And it fits the chassis beautifully. Also, the suspension is much more advanced than similar cars. It has fully adjustable shocks and coil-over springs, with full IRS derived from the Subaru WRX.
The Ultralite is an impressive package that should be easy to assemble and a real treat both on road and track. Tom ordered a custom road car kit with some of the race car features such as higher-rate springs. He's also thinking of going with a carbon fiber nose/hood piece that weighs only eight pounds, compared to the stock fiberglass piece's thirty pounds.
The kit is expected to be delivered in July. A brand new 2.2 liter S2000 engine and transmission are sitting in Tom's Garage ready to be transplanted into the Ultralite chassis.
After an extended period away from home, work has started on the project. The car wasn't ready until August, just in time for Tom to make the trip to Texas to pick it up, bring it home and do a quick inventory of what he had before leaving for McMurdo Base in Antarctica. He found that several parts were missing and immediately contacted Brian about them. Since August Tom has had several contacts with Brian (yes, they have good telephone and Internet access from Antarctica now) and a few parts have arrived, but not all of them. So the car is partially assembled and is in somewhat of a hiatus until the parts supply issues can be resolved.
The car is completed and on the road. It looks fantastic. The carbon fiber hood with the polished aluminum panels and fenders set the exterior tone, a combination of high tech and nostalgia. But the car is all high tech under the skin. The new photos below show the car on a beautiful late spring day.
Tom has acquired a 1991 NSX, a red one this time, and has to make room for it. The Ultralite has been sold to a father/son team from Ohio who are planning to race it in the SCCA CenDiv Solo Series.