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  Ascari Ecosse      

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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced from:1998 - 1999
Numbers built:17
Introduced at:1999 Earls Court Motor Show
Designed by:Lee Noble for Ascari
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:December 08, 2008
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Click here to download printer friendly versionIt seems that at least one new supercar manufacturer is established every year. The ambitious launch is more often than not followed by a long silence and the almost inevitable news of the closure of the fledgling company's. This is usually due to inexperience or a lack of funds and in most cases a combination of the two. Fortunately Ascari was spared this fate thanks to a very enthusiastic and more importantly wealthy backer.

Named after legendary racing driver Alberto Ascari, the company was founded in England in 1995. Talented engineer and designer Lee Noble drew the lines for what would become the first Ascari. Dubbed the FGT the mid-engined sports car was shown at all the major motor shows in Europe. It caught the eye of Dutch racing car driver Klaas Zwart. He commissioned the construction of a racing version of the FGT, which he campaigned in the British GT Championship.

Zwart eventually bought the entire company and pushed forward with the development of a proper Ascari road car. The FGT design formed the basis for the road car but there were some fundamental differences. What remained was the simple yet very efficient steel tubular spaceframe chassis. Following contemporary sports car design, the Ascari chassis sported double wishbone suspension on both ends.

Bigger changes were found in the engine bay where the original Detroit muscle was replaced by a BMW sourced V8 engine. Not satisfied with the stock performance, the V8s were sent to specialists Hartge for upgrades before being installed in the Ascari. Initially the BMW/Hartge unit displaced 4.4 litre and produced a healthy 300 bhp. Shortly after the road car's launch a larger, 4.7 version litre became available which put out an additional 100 horses. The engine was mated to a ZF supplied five-speed gearbox.

Lee Noble's delightful exterior styling was also carried over from the FGT racing car. Unlike most 'supercars' of the era Noble's design was very civilized, topped off by a modest wing bolted on the engine cover. Executed in glassfiber and Kevlar the body added very little to the exceptionally light chassis. Completed the Ascari only weighed 1250 kg. Much of that weight was found very low and inside the relatively long wheelbase. This contributed to the car's great handling capabilities.

The new Ascari was launched at the 1999 Earls Court Motor Show. It was dubbed Ecosse presumably because oil-man Zwart earned much of his wealth in Scotland. The ambitious newcomer to the already crowded market was priced at 89,000 Pounds, which was almost certainly less than each example cost Ascari to build. Despite the Ecosse's great styling, chassis and finish only a handful were ever sold. It is believed that only 17 examples were built several of which are reported to have been destroyed.

Despite the apparent failure of the Ecosse to get a foot between the supercar door, Zwart persevered. In 2003 Ascari launched its second road car, suitably badged the KZ1. Production was limited to just 50 examples. A racing version was also built and raced in the various GT3 championships. Zwart also built the Ascari Resort in Spain complete with a full-sized track. Featured is one of the surviving Ecosses, which was displayed at the 2008 Essen Motor Show.

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  Article Image gallery (4) Specifications