Spyker C8Enlarge Photo
The British bespoke car business is a customer's dream - if you have the money. For just under $70,000, for instance, you can buy a Noble M12 GTO. It uses a twin-turbocharged 2.5-liter Ford V-6, giving the driver 310 hp to play with in a car weighing just 2160 lb. The Noble's biggest claim to fame is its chassis, said by some road-testers to be among the best in the world.
If your pockets are deeper, and can stand $200,000, there were a couple of interesting newcomers in Birmingham. The Ascari KZ1 is a smooth coupe built of carbon-fiber around a BMW V-8 engine that's tuned to put out 520 hp. The Spyker C8 is another high-performance coupe, created by a Dutch company and carrying the name of a famous Dutch car of the early part of the last century. It also has a stylish two-seat body, but this one is made of more traditional material, aluminum, and it is completely hand-built by British craftsmen in Coventry. The engine is an Audi V-8, mid-mounted, and good for 400 hp. The plans are to build ten Spykers next year, and then 25 a year from then on. Unusually, there are plans to sell the Spyker in the U.S.
Among all these high-performance cars from the small manufacturers, there was one from one of the majors. Britain has always been a major market for hot Fords, and the company used Birmingham as a launch pad for a new one, a 200-horsepower version of the Focus called the Focus RS. The success of the Focus in the U.S. market has come as something of a surprise, so Dearborn might be encouraged by the big sales of its Euro-sized family car to offer Euro-style performance variants. Maybe there's a Focus RS in America's future…