Driving the 2012 Iconic AC Roadster
It is into that groundswell of economic recovery among the elite that Iconic Motors is launching a very exclusive AC Roadster in early 2010. Much more than a kit car or mere Cobra knockoff, the AC Roadster, which will start at $475,000, has a start of the art chassis and electronics, as well as exclusivity since only about 100 will be hand-built.
Built in Livonia, MI, in the shadows of GM and Ford by former Big Three engineers, the AC is hell on wheels, but perfectly capable of handling daily commuting provided you are in sunshine and relative warmth. Having had the chance to drive the car at Ford's Dearborn, MI proving ground (leased by Iconic), I can attest that the 3.0-second 0-to-60-mph time is perfectly achievable. The difficulty may be in hearing yourself scream "Yee-Ha" over the roar of engine.
The V8 engine is built by Ernie Elliott in Dawsonville, Ga., having started out in life as an aluminum 427-cid Ford NASCAR block, with mostly forged steel guts. The fuel injection and intake manifold were developed by Iconic. It all produces 750 horsepower at the rear wheels. But beware if you attend one of Iconic's ride and drive events at a racetrack. There are no electronic stability electronics and no anti-lock brakes. This is wide-open driving fun.
Important specs: a 98-inch wheelbase; pushrod front suspension with horizontal shocks; carbon-ceramic brakes; curb-weight--2,400 pounds; front mid-engine, rear-drive roadster; drivetrain is a 7.0-liter cam-in-block V8, 800-plus hp, 660 lb-ft; six-speed manual transmission; 500 pounds of downforce at 175 miles an hour. The electrical system is quite the thing, a first, according to the company. Supplied by Veedims LLC, it is the first Ethernet-based electrics in an automotive application, with data and electricity carried through the same network--no wiring harness and its own IP address. That allows the folks at Iconic to uber-monitor the expensive ride they sold you for maximum maintenance attention, and the owner can read engine telemetry and performance data on a smartphone.
Iconic was founded by inventor and entrepreneur Claudio Ballard, whose Data Treasury Corp. owns the patents for systems the banking industry uses for secure check transfer. Automotive expertise comes from Robert Nowakowski, president of Technosports Inc., known for its contribution to the Ford GT and Shelby GR-1 concept.
Each buyer will get track-based driving instruction by former Grand Am Daytona Prototype champion Terry Borchellor.
Iconic's AC will remind many of the Cobra. And there is good reason. AC Cars in Britain is the company that still builds the modern versions of its Cobra, such as the AC MkVI, and it licensed the name to Iconic Motors.
"The ICONIC AC Roadster is more than just a car, it's among the world's most refined and beautifully designed super cars. It's the lightest, strongest, most well engineered, high performance roadster of our time. The engine, drive train, support electronics and overall chassis make this one of the most complete vehicle packages on the market today and is made right here in the USA," said Claudio Ballard, chairman and founder, ICONIC Motors.
Gallery: Iconic Motors AC Roadster