Billionaires racing car dream nearing goal
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The Australian billionaire building the ultimate mega-millionaire boy's toy in New Zealand is on schedule to have a prototype racing car finished in months.
IT mogul David Dicker has also bought out a Lotus track car project that terrified Jeremy Clarkson and that is as close to Formula One that anyone not named Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg will get - if they have a spare $1 million.
In January, the Herald on Sunday revealed Dicker has chosen a remote corner of rural North Canterbury - two hours' drive from Christchurch - to design, test and build the world's fastest track car.
The article prompted an approach by legendary British sports car manufacturers to see if Dicker would be interested in buying its T125 project.
The Lotus T125 is a V8-powered lightweight single-seater racer that looks like an F1 car, with more down force, similar dimensions, tyres and set-up, and is nearly as fast.
Dicker leapt at the chance to buy the project, rebrand it Rodin FZed, and add it to his existing Rodin Cars Ltd stable, which includes the FZero - described by Dicker as a "Formula One car with fenders" - and could cost anywhere from $650,000-$1.2m.
"The Rodin FZed is quicker than a GP2 car, very similar to a contemporary F1 and only slightly slower, but only by a few seconds a lap," the 63-year-old told the Herald on Sunday.
"This gives us a two-car-model line-up, and a more entry-level car that will be cheaper than the FZero, which gives us a huge advantage."
Dicker, whose hardware distribution company Dicker Data surpassed $1 billion in sales last year, has already sold a Rodin FZed to a German buyer.
The car is being checked over at his impressive Waiau factory before it is shipped next month.
He already has five other original T125 carbon fibre monocoques at the factory which his team of engineers will soon start building.
Despite British TV host Clarkson being terrified behind the wheel of the Lotus T125, Dicker thinks it's not beyond the talents of an average enthusiast.
"It's a good challenge. It won't be easy, but you don't have to be on the ragged edge for it to be enjoyable."
Dicker says buyers will be given technical and engineering support along with all the spares required - many of which will be made by high-tech equipment, including carbon fibre autoclaves, milling lathes, and 3D printers at Waiau.
"Buyers won't have the issues that people have with classic racing cars, where there are no parts, support or knowledge," he said.
Work on the FZero is also progressing, Dicker said. Chinese engineers are "very busy" working on many crucial parts. The main chassis will be delivered next month, and Judd engine manufacturers have just finished its first FZero engine.
Dicker, who divides his time between Waiau, his native Sydney, Jumeira Beach in Dubai and Italy's Dolomites mountain range, plans to test the cars at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia after the F1 GP in October.
He bought the isolated 567ha Wandle Downs a decade ago, dreaming of making a track car for the wealthy that was as fast, or faster, than a modern F1 car. Dicker spends four to five months a year at the property, which is owned by his second wife, Delwyn Loris Dicker.
A sealed 3km test track is completed and excavations are under way for a stage 3 extension to include a near 1km-long straight to test the limits of the incredible 300km/h machines.
Dicker's long-term self-confessed "vanity project" envisages 40-50 cars being made every year, across all models. "The cars are pretty much unique, there's really nothing else available like this. They will be exciting to drive and I think there's definite market for it," he said.
"I've been working on this project for ages ... but we've already sold a car, it's real, it's happening. I'm confident we can sell them. "I'm certainly keen to get into one."