Rare Rides: A 2001 Spectre Supersport R45, One of Two

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides a 2001 spectre supersport r45 one of two

Ever hear of a sporting automotive manufacturer called Spectre? I hadn’t either, until I watched a very old Top Gear clip on YouTube in which Clarkson and some other people visit the 1997 British International Motor Show.

Intrigued, I decide I’d find one for sale. Turns out the listing I found was for the rarest Spectre of all.

The Spectre story started in the early Nineties, with replica car man Ray Christopher. Experienced in creating replica versions of the legendary Ford GT40, Christopher dreamed of maintaining the racing spirit of the GT40, but in an all-new sports car. He started design work in 1992, and by 1993 a prototype was ready for its debut at the London Motor Show. Shown by Christopher’s company GT Development, its new car was the R42. The name was an homage to the original GT40’s height.

With the advantage of modern technology and know-how, Christopher incorporated design elements from other exciting cars, namely from the likes of Lamborghini and Ferrari. However, he mandated the proportions of his new car be similar to the GT40. The R45 which resulted was mid-engine, rear-drive, and fittingly was powered by a 4.6-liter Mustang Cobra V8 (350 horsepower). A five-speed manual was the standard transmission offering; a six-speed optional.

Though originally planned in carbon fiber, construction of the R42’s body was entirely fiberglass. The shell was mounted on a honeycomb monocoque chassis, with the subframe and roll bars made of steel. Overall length was just 162 inches, width 73 inches, and the height stayed very low at 43 inches.

Before the R45 could enter production, however, GT Development went into bankruptcy as the early Nineties economic recession took hold. Assets were purchased in early 1995 by GT Development’s former salesman, Anders Hildebrand. Hildebrand named his new company Spectre Motors Inc., and put the R42 into production four months later in Dorcet, England.

Between 1995 and 1998, the R42 was sold to literally some excited customers across Europe. However, at a cost of $172,000 (inflation adjusted), most buyers stayed away from a car with no pedigree, MR2 door handles, the tail lamps from an Acura 3.5RL, and interior components from a Ford Fiesta.

Over its four year run, a total of 23 R42s were sold. Hildebrand thought a more powerful car would entice more customers, which leads to today’s R45. While the R42 was still in production, the R45 was developed. The lightly reworked model featured a carbon fiber body, and the same 4.6-liter V8. Other details are scant, but it’s assumed more modifications would have occurred to the engine for greater power.

Two examples of the R45 were created: One an unspecified color, and the other painted yellow. The yellow one was shown in 1997 at the London Motor show, and Spectre made the claim that a full production version would debut at the same show in 1998. But Spectre was out of money, and closed up shop before 1998’s show.

What was left of Spectre were the two prototype R45s. The yellow auto show example eventually made its way to a dealer called The Hairpin Company in Wiltshire, just 59 miles from where the R45 was born. They listed it in 2016 for an unspecified sum, but the ad has since been removed. If you see a yellow R45 for sale in future, it’s most assuredly this very car.

[Images: seller]

Join the conversation
2 of 14 comments
  • Garak Garak on Jul 26, 2020

    Keeping that thing running might be surprisingly easy, what with the Ford engine.

  • Noble713 Noble713 on Jul 26, 2020

    It's very attractive from the front and front quarter. The back gives me an "ugly Koenigsegg" vibe though.

  • Kwik_Shift I like, because I don't have to look at them. Just by feel and location while driving.
  • Dwford This is the last time we are making these, so you better hurry up and buy (until the next time we make them, that is)
  • FreedMike @Tim: "...about 40 percent of us Yanks don't live in a single-family home."Keep in mind that this only describes single family **detached** homes. But plenty of other house types offer a garage you can use to charge up in - attached single family homes (townhouses, primarily), or duplex/triplex/four-plexes. Plus, lots of condos have garages built in. Add those types of housing in and that 40% figure drops by a lot. Regardless, this points out what I've been thinking for a while now - EV ownership is great if you have a garage, and inconvenient (and more expensive) if you don't. The good news if you're looking for more EV sales is that there are literally hundreds of millions of Americans who have garages. If I had one, I'd be looking very closely at buying electric next time around.
  • Matthew N Fanetti I bought a Silver1985 Corolla GTS Hatchback used in 1989 with 80k miles for $5000. I was kin struggling student and I had no idea how good the car really was. All I knew was on the test drive I got to 80 faster than I expected from a Corolla. Slowly I figured out how special it was. It handled like nothing I had driven before, tearing up backroads at speeds that were downright crazy. On the highway I had it to about 128mph on two occasions, though it took some time to get there, it just kept going until I chickened out. I was an irresponsible kids doing donuts in parking lots and coming of corners sideways. I really drove it hard, but it never needed engine repair even to the day I sold it in 1999 with 225000 miles on it, still running well - but rusty and things were beginning to crap out (Like AC, etc.). I smoked a same year Mustang GT - off the line - by revving up and dumping the clutch. Started to go sideways, but nothing broke or even needed attention. Daily driving, only needed the clutch into first. It was that smooth and well-synced. Super tight, but drivable LSD. Just awesome from daily chores to super-fun.To this day I wish I had kept it, because now I have the money to fix it. It is hard to explain how amazing this car was back in the day - and available to people with limited money - and still the highest quality.
  • Cprescott Well, duh. You will pay more to charge a golf cart than an ICE of the same size if you charge externally. Plus when you factor in the lost time, you will pay through the nose more than an ICE on lost opportunity costs. Golf car ownership savings is pure myth.