Well, after months (probably years actually) of wanting to get my hands on an Ultima, today I finally took the plunge and went to Ultima's factory in Hinckley to see Ted Marlow and Co. and ended up ordering the first parts for my GTR!
If you've found yourself here from visiting my Locost-Racing site then you'll know the long road of car building that got me here. However, if you've found this site through an Ultima link then you might like to check it out. Be warned however - there's a lot of info there!!
Back to the story. I don't really remember where I first saw an Ultima but it really made an impression on me when I visited the Stoneleigh Kit car show in 2000 where I took my not-quite-finished Locost for an interview with Ian Stent of Which Kit. They had their silver GTR demonstrator on the stand and I was in love with it! What a savage bastard of a car it looked. Graceful curves, aggressive stance, steamroller rubber and exhausts that a badger could hibernate in were enough for me. I HAD to have one. Of course, at the time, I was building the Locost and my sights were set somewhat lower in the kit car budget scheme of things. But as Wayne Campbell said to his beloved Stratocaster: "one day you will be mine, oh yes, you will be mine". Anyway, that day is TODAY!
We were a bit late getting to the factory. Who's we? Well, a mate of mine, James 'Slappy' Hall - well, I say a mate, more of a pisstaking bastard with a sense of humour that's drier than Bedhoin's dandruff ;) Anyway, Slappy had offered to give me a lift to the factory as he was working in Birmingham at the time and I found myself on an exhibition stand at the NEC. Not only have I pestered him with 'will I, won't I' mails over the last 2 years, he has a MKIV Sports which he races and had never made it to the factory for a visit either. So, as I was saying. We were late getting there and I was conscious of the fact that time would not be on our side so a test drive would be a bit tricky. Whilst I had warned Ted that I'd be coming, we were an hour late. But I did finally get to sit in the car!
It must of been the easiest sales job in the history of Ultima (well, probably not as those who fall in lust with an Ultima all give in to the desire to buy one someday), I just chatted with Ted about the various options - there are quite a few - and then ordered enough of the kit stages to get me started. In Ted's opinion this equated to stages 1-9 which gets you pretty much to a rolling chassis state although, it's important to consider what the final spec will be as you may have to make some provision for work/parts that will happen later on. With this in mind, I also ordered the a double skin kit for panelling the floor/radiator scoop, clutch pipe (braided/stainless) and accelerator cable. I decided, as the majority of GTR builder do, that the RAC spec. rollcage with front/rear hoops and bracing was the best bet from a safety point of view. It's not a cheap option at £920 - ouch - but how much is your life worth? It's not from the perspective of 'flipping' the car but imagine what would happen if you ran into the side of a truck with no front hoop before your head!
Then, it occurred to me that the chassis wouldn't be 'rolling' unless I got some wheels! There are two options from the factory, well, that said if you have any sense of taste in what's decent there is only one! Ultima make a bespoke set using billet centres bolted to OZ rims. Now, those beany-boy Nova drivers and the Max Power brigade would wet their pants at these puppies. Fronts are 235/35/ZR/18 (that's 9" x 18") and - get this - 355/30/ZR/18 (that's 13" x 18" - yes 13!!!!) at the rear. You'll struggle to get them wedged in a rut but a canal might squeeze them in!
So, with an order to the tune of about 10 grand, I wrote out the cheque for the deposit and Ted duly gave me the only piece of the Ultima I could take away. The build manual on CD-ROM!!! It's the most expensive CD I've ever owned that's for sure! :) In all the excitement and impulse buying, I'd forgotten to take any snaps. By this time the chaps in the unit were putting stuff away making it pretty clear that it was home time (if it was left to me I'd still be there!). So I hastily clicked off a couple of pics that are pretty nondescript below. I didn't even get a chance to shoot the beautiful silver GTR demonstrator and the yellow Can-Am. Still, I intend to go back to the factory with my other half for a proper test drive and a good poke around!
So, order placed, snaps errr... snapped, it was time to go home. It still hadn't really sunk in and I suppose it won't for another 12 weeks which is when the first bits are due to arrive. This is gonna be a LONG 3 months! :( Still, it gives me time to consider the spec. more closely.
Flushed with the thought of almost being and Ultima 'builder' I celebrated by going out and buying an air-rivetter and some fixing bits. Well, I've got no car yet so I might as well make sure that the workshop is well kitted out!
On to July