The rise of the open-cockpit supercar
Nowadays, if you're especially wealthy, you can drive a car that will rearrange your entire face. Welcome to the world of the speedster.
Supercar manufacturers have long catered for customers who wish to feel the wind in their hair plugs. Roof down, skin invigorated by the rare dose of vitamin D, and an even more unfiltered connection to the music provided by the rampant stallions in the engine bay. Now however, the world is beginning to embrace a whole new trend in the field of roofless motoring: by amputating the windscreen along with the roof.
These open-cockpit speedsters cost vastly more than the cars they’re based on, and allow owners the opportunity to bejewel their entire faces with many insects and bacteria that the cost-shrinking windscreen would usually protect them from. The idea, as far as the manufacturers are concerned, is that they offer a heightened sense of connection when compared to their more traditional supercar kin. However, while the experience they provide may be like no other, the sense of connection is more focused on the surrounding world rather than the car itself.
Speedsters are usually confined to the fantasy world of concepts, designed purely to show a zany side of the manufacturer that they’d be too frightened to display when actually making a production car. Cars like the Lamborghini Aventador J and Aston Martin CC100 were capable of turning your face inside out - but never made it to production. In fact, if it wasn’t for the Mercedes SLR McLaren Stirling Moss, speedster supercars would be a complete anomaly from the production car world. Within recent memory however, a number of manufacturers have committed to making speedsters for the road.
Firstly, there was Ferrari with the Monza SP1 & SP2 - with the number in the name referencing how many seats each model is fitted with. Based on the 812 Superfast, the Monza carries the same 6.5L normally aspirated V12, turned up ever so slightly to produce a nice round 800bhp. Translate that power into forward motion, and you can get from 0-60mph in just 2.7 seconds, 0-100mph in 5.5, and 0-186mph in 20 seconds - at which point, your face may begin to resemble a dropped tray of eggs.
Ferrari pledged 500 Monzas for production - the majority of which have been specced as SP2s - with an asking price starting at £2.3million! Once owners begin looking to see a return on their investment however, we can expect them to fetch a whole lot more than that under the auctioneer’s gavel.
The Monza is a car that inspires you to visualise its origins for the sake of gaining the requisite perspective for appreciating it. The 812 Superfast on which it’s based is not a car particularly in need of sprinkling with any additional insanity, for it has packed so much power and performance into a shape typically associated with grand touring that it can now be thought of more accurately as a front-engined hypercar. The Monza however is designed to take each of the sensations one would feel while captaining an 812, and intensify them to a level that makes Class-A substances seem like sedatives. It is, quite simply, a godly machine.
It’s no surprise then that McLaren looked upon the Monza and decided that it wanted a slice of the speedster-pie. So, a few months ago, they gave us the not-at-all-rude sounding Elva.
Named after the company who constructed the chassis for McLaren racers in the 60’s, the Elva makes the lunacy available in the 720S appear relatively tame. The Elva is powered by the now ubiquitous 4 litre Twin-Turbo V8 - only showcasing more potency than it has done in any other model. Tuned all the way up to the giddy heights of 804bhp, the Elva achieves a specific output of 201bhp-per-litre - one of the highest of any car available today. Unleash all that power, and the Elva will soon become an instrument of face rearrangement.
With 60mph happening in under 3 seconds, the Elva continues to accelerate hard, pushing through the 124mph barrier in just 6.7 seconds - faster than the Senna! In a Senna however, the power of the wind moving over the body helps generate its circuit-dominating speed. Whereas in the Elva, your face has the potential to become a feature of the car’s aerodynamics. Given McLaren’s obsession with slipperiness, I think they would rather you drove one of the 399 examples being made without so much as a single hair cluttering your cranium.
Given the amount of speed already available in the 720S, and how the Elva leaves the occupants exposed to the consequences of that speed, it’s most definitely a car for people of a particularly insane predisposition. Luckily, insanity is a privilege for the rich only - which is exactly what you need to be in order to afford the £1,425,000 starting price.
Whilst McLaren & Ferrari may constantly be entangled in a tit-for-tat battle where one must always tread where the other’s footsteps lay, Aston Martin have felt it necessary to generate some much needed income and create their own open-cockpit supercar that they’re calling the V12 Speedster.
As mentioned previously, speedsters aren’t an alien entity to Aston Martin. To commemorate the company’s centenary back in 2013, the CC100 concept (pictured below) brought their now sadly defunct normally aspirated V12 into a speedster body. With 565bhp, it would’ve been a car capable of keeping your facial features and eardrums surfing the tightrope between pleasure and pain. The V12 Speedster however is set to be even more extreme.
Sharing the underpinnings of the DBS Superleggera, Aston’s 5.2L Twin-Turbo V12 will power the Speedster with around 700 horsepower. While that may be slightly less than the DBS, given the lack of weight that is typically intrinsic to speedsters, I doubt any of the owners will miss those few escaped horses.
As of yet, no official photos have been released showing what the V12 Speedster will look like - but it wouldn’t surprise me if it resembled the DBS that it’s so closely linked to. Wouldn’t exactly be the worst thing in the world! Aston Martin will be making 88 examples, and while they haven’t confirmed how much it’ll cost, the price is thought to sit somewhere north of £750,000. Compared to the other cars I’ve been talking about, that makes it something of a bargain, and definitely the speedster to go for if you’re counting the pennies (!) In all seriousness however, we should be seeing the Speedster in the flesh later in 2020.
Given how manufacturers have embraced the speedster trend, it’s only a matter of time before another comes to fruition. Perhaps Lamborghini will enter the fray with a suitably crazy rendition. But of the ones we have at present, which one is your favourite? Let me know by voting below, and in the comments.
You may also like...
It's an age old question that will have a different answer for each person...
Your definitive look into the automotive performance car future...
Given the coming of electric cars, I thought it wise to investigate whether they will possess the most important attribute of all: soul.