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

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

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]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

More by Corey Lewis

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.

  • Tassos I listen to Andrew Tate podcasts. Also, the voices in my head provide plenty of entertainment. Biden dollars
  • Zerofoo “Can the sedan be saved?” Sure - just lift it a bit, add a mild all wheel drive system, and make the trunk a lift back. I don’t know a single middle-aged woman who doesn’t drive a CUV. Precisely none of them want to go back to a sedan. The sedan may not be die completely, but sedans will not replace CUV/SUVs any time in the foreseeable future.
  • Jeff Stevie Ray Vaughn Flood Down In Texas and almost any song from him.
  • Kjhkjlhkjhkljh kljhjkhjklhkjh bectha they don't get the key...
  • Aja8888 That's such a horrible car and ad, I can't even post about it.