The Ultima Can Am is your £40k ticket back to the swinging ‘60s
Sporting Bear’s most recent event gave car enthusiasts the chance to experience the bonkers Ultima Can Am - here’s how it was.
The Ultima Can Am is one of the most unique looking cars on the road today but what’s more is its £35,000 price tag. Sporting Bears kindly invited me to their most recent event, The Supercar Event, at which they allowed me to experience the Can Am along with some other unique cars - more on Sporting Bears later.
What is it?
The name ’Can Am‘ originates from a historic racing series which took place between 1966-1987. With its full name being the Canadian-American Challenge Cup, it allowed for group 7 sports racers to participate in two races in Canada and 4 in the USA.
With no limits to engine size, plenty of freedom regarding aerodynamics, along with the option to turbocharge and supercharge; the group 7 category is one of the most open racing categories in the history of motorsport. Because of this, the Can-Am Challenge Cup saw the participation of a wide variety of cars. Often, teams would be racing in cars with over 1,000 horsepower - Porsche once claimed its 917/30 produced 1,500 horsepower in qualifying form.
In 2001, Ultima decided to produce the Can Am; a car which embodies the spirit of the legendary group 7 racers which raced all those years ago.
My experience in the passenger seat
As soon as we started to pick up speed, I got to understand what the Can Am‘s all about. My eardrums exploded from the sound of the V8 situated just behind you whilst my chest was compressed by the sheer acceleration force of the car.
0-60mph takes just 2.9 seconds. From then on, the Can Am will continue to accelerate until it exceeds 200mph.
It doesn‘t have ABS, power steering, or anything that may interfere with you and the car, making for the purest possible driving experience. Back when it was new, the Can Am was available with the choice of two different V8 engines, both being 6.3-litre small block Chevrolet V8s. The less powerful variant produces 355bhp while the hotter version produces an impressive 530bhp - this is the version I got to experience.
Speed isn’t lost when cornering. In reality, the Can Am is one of the flattest-cornering cars I’ve ever been in. This is thanks to the car’s downforce, lightness, and sheer grip. Speaking of grip, the Can Am is rear-wheel-drive. Due to the lack of driving assists (including traction control), it’s easy to lose the rear end and regaining control is essentially impossible because of the Can Am’s grippy tyres.
The cheapest example in the UK can currently be purchased for roughly £35,000, a bargain when you take into account the Can Am’s performance. But back in 2001, it was even cheaper as it started from a mere £28,000. Unlike the majority of kit cars, the Can Am is not impersonating another car. Additionally, it doesn’t borrow much from other cars - almost every single one of its parts are specifically for the Can Am.
The Can Am‘s looks reflect the car’s performance. Its wheels bulge out as if they can't be contained by the body and the unnecessarily large wing screams the word ‘SUPERCAR’. The car also sits very low to the ground which is something you'll be reminded of each time you encounter a cyclist as your head will actually be below the wheels on the bicycle.
Though a hardtop version is available, I’m rather fond of the Can Am’s roofless characteristic. Not only does it amplify the car’s flamboyance, but it also amplifies the driving experience. You get to hear the roar of the Chevrolet V8 whilst feeling more and more of the air as you accelerate.
Although it is surprisingly affordable, the majority of people won’t find themselves buying Ultima Can Ams. This is because, since the ‘60s, automotive design has changed but so has society. Gone are the days where people buy cars to have fun, enter the days in which we seek for what’s practical and sensible.
And that’s why the Can Am holds a special place in my heart: it ushers back to a time where cars had no limits or specific purpose other than to put a smile on your face.
As you’ve probably gathered, I don’t actually own an Ultima Can Am… I can’t even drive but that’s a whole other story.
Sporting Bears is a UK-based charity dedicated to putting a smile on the faces of disadvantaged children. Currently, Sporting Bears has raised over £2,500,000 for charity. I was kindly invited to their most recent event, The Supercar Event.
From a 910 horsepower Dodge Challenger Hellcat to a Mercedes-AMG A45, there was a wide range of cars at the event. Like with Sporting Bears’ other events, all present vehicles were available to book for passenger rides for cash, all of which goes to charity - the money does not even contribute to the fuel costs of all the cars.
You can view their list of upcoming events along with more information about what they do by clicking here.