Following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Belgian Raphaël van der Straten has in recent years entered a wide variety of racing cars in national and international championships under the VDS banner. While predominantly using machinery manufactured by other companies, the team also briefly fielded its own 'VDS' cars in the early 1980s. This tradition has now also been revived with the introduction of the VDS GT 001 early in October of 2012. Considering VDS' racing heritage it was not surprising that both a road going and competition version were announced.
Building his own car was a long held dream for Van der Straten. To turn this into reality, he turned to compatriot Tony Gillet. The two men had previously worked together when VDS fielded various incarnations of Gillet's Vertigo. Van der Straten initially approached Gillet with the question if it was possible to combine a custom body with the existing Vertigo .5 chassis. As development progressed, it became clear that to meet all of Van der Straten's requirements, the Vertigo chassis could not be carried over without modifications. So instead, Gillet created a bespoke version of its sophisticated carbon fibre monocoque for the VDS GT 001.
For the exterior design, Van der Straten drew inspiration from American muscle cars like the Ford Mustangs originally owned and raced by his grandfather as well as the current generation Mustangs, which are fielded today by VDS. His thoughts were converted into a design sketch by Charles van den Bosch and subsequently into a 1/1 model by Patrick Bataille. The bold design features a wide grille with integrated circular headlights that are reminiscent of the 1970 BOSS 302 Mustang. The vents behind the front wheels are also an unmistakable nod to a typical BOSS Mustang feature; the 'hockey stripe'. The tail combines a thoroughly modern diffuser with neo-retro lights.
Compared to the Vertigo, the VDS GT 001 boasts a 15 cm longer wheelbase to match the bolder, American inspired design. What was carried over was the double wishbone suspension, complete with in-board mounted springs and dampers. Considering the theme of the car, it was not surprising that Van der Straten had ideally incorporated an American V8. The Vertigo chassis, however, was optimised for a slightly different but equally potent engine; Maserati's quad-cam V8. This 4.2 litre, all-aluminium unit is good for 480 bhp in road trim. It is mated to a competition-inspired 6-speed, sequential gearbox. Thanks to the extensive use of exotic materials, the VDS GT 001 weighs only a tad over 1,000 kg.
Each GT 001 will be hand-built to custom order and production will be limited at just 22 examples. In addition to the road car, VDS also announced the GT 001-R racer at the official launch in the Brussels Auto Museum. This will be developed alongside the production car and Van der Straten hopes to debut the car at the next Dubai 24 Hours in January of 2013. One of the ultimate goals is to bring the VDS GT 001-R to Le Mans.