Lost Stories: The worlds fastest accelerating car from Belgium
How a tiny Belgian company created the fastest accelerating car in the world!
Many stories get lost in the history of the car. Events that are overshadowed by other stories or simply forgotten over time. Today we take a look at when a car from Belgium became the fastest accelerating car in the world.
The muscles from Brussels
That is all it took for the Gillet Vertigo to reach 100 km/h in 1994. This made the exotic brand from Belgium an official record holder. The fastest accelerating two-wheel drive car according to the Guiness Book of World Records. But how did an unknown brand from Belgium suddenly have a speed record? For that we need to go back a few decades to find out.
The Gillet brand was created by engineer and driver Tony Gillet. Who has proven to be quite the speeddemon, becoming the Belgian hillclimb champion in 1979 and 1980. In 1982 Gillet decided that he wants to enter in the car industry as an importer of the Dutch Donkervoort. The Donkervoort cars would inspire Gillet that horsepower isn't everything. Like Colin Chapman before him, it's a matter of 'Simplify and add lightness'. In 1991 Gillet decided to set up his own car brand in Gembloux with the aim of keeping the car as light as possible.
The name of Tony Gillet's first prototype and production car is chosen by his daughter Sophie. Inspired by the great director Alfred Hitchcock, she comes up with the name Vertigo. In 1992, the Vertigo is officially presented at the Brussels motor show. With its carbon fiber chassis weighing just 58 kilograms, the Gillet Vertigo weighs in at 853kg. It turns out that Tony also has a good eye for engines. Because he started with a 2 litre Cosworth engine from the Sierra, then went to a 3 litre V6 Busso engine from Alfa Romeo and now he uses a 4 litre engine from Maserati. The car itself has a very unique look, with a blend of the then newly introduced Dodge Viper and a Donkervoort.
Gillet Vertigo 1994
After the Cosworth block has been significantly adapted to the high wishes of mister Gillet. A record attempt is made in 1994 to become the fastest accelerating car in the world. Bugatti at that time with the EB110 has a 0-100 time of just 3.46 seconds. Gillet, with its very light Vertigo, is the complete opposite of the heavy four-wheel drive EB110. The thought of being faster than this complicated heavy machine mean everything to Tony Gillet. It may seem an impossible task, but Gillet still believes that his car accelerates faster because of its low weight. With a time of 3,266, the Gillet Vertigo turns out to be 0.2 seconds faster than the Bugatti. This is enough to officially enter the Guiness Book of World records in 1994 as the fastest accelerating car in the world.
So what came next for the Vertigo?
Well, the Gillet Vertigo proved to be ideal for racing. It therefore decided to enter the FIA GT Championship with the Gillet Vertigo Streiff. A follow-up model that gets its name from former Formula 1 driver Philippe Streiff. To participate, the Vertigo Streif falls into the G2 class of the Fia GT. Which has been specially developed for non-homologated street cars. The Gillet Vertigo Streiff proves to be very successful and becomes champion in it's class in 2006, 2007 and 2008. What isn't mentioned on the website however, is that the Vertigo is the only car in the G2 class...
Gillet competing in FIA GT chamionship
But it does make a great sound, so we'll let them have that one.
Gillet Vertigo in 2020
The Vertigo had proven that the philosophy of low weight and quality can still deliver impressive results. It's record has since been broken, but the Vertigo has been immortalized in the game Gran Turismo. And It's still going strong! Is has had several facelifts and nowadays it comes with a very tasty 4 liter V8 from Maserati. The Gillet Vertigo is a definite marmite car, you either like it or you don't, there is no middle ground. But that probably won't keep Tony Gillet awake. After all, his life motto is; "Je dis, Je fais, which translate to; I do what I say.
Gillet Vertigo in 2020
Let me know if you remember the Gillet Vertigo or what your thoughts are in the comments below!