By most accounts, the Nissan Zeod RC is one of the oddest-looking race cars we’ve seen. If anything, it looks like the kind of car that belongs at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah than it does in Le Mans. Yet there it was, racing around the famous race track on its way to setting the electric speed record at Le Mans. A car with such a unique background is deserved of the attention it gets, so much so that Top Gear actually brought the car to its own track to run a few laps around it.
No, Jeremy Clarkson didn’t drive it. Neither did James May or Richard Hammond for that matter. The Zeod RC was actually driven by Top Gear Magazine Motoring Editor Ollie Marriage, who himself has a background in auto racing.
That’s probably a big reason why Nissan gave him permission to drive the Zeod at full throttle, which is far easier said than done for neophyte race-car drivers like us. But Marriage was able to control the Zeod RC enough to post a picturesque lap. It’s definitely worthy of the three minutes you’re going to spend watching the video.
The Nissan Zeod RC is powered by a 1.5-liter, turbocharged engine that produces 400 horsepower and combined with a pair of electric motors that helps put the total output to an impressive 750 horsepower.
Not only does the Nissan DeltaWing prototype resemble something out of batman rather than a racer which will take up a grid position at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, but it may also suggest what the future of racing could look like. Unfortunately for many motoring enthusiasts, that does include the elongated, tapered front end and the aircraft inspired hind quarters.
However, the effectiveness of this design will not be proven until after the Le Mans endurance race and despite the car being largely experimental, the guys over at Top Gear recently teamed up with English car customizer, Andy Saunders, to produce a replica of the DeltaWing concept.
Andy Saunders is no rookie when it comes to producing the weird and wacky, and his very own DeltaWing will be testament to the belief that what’s worth doing, is worth overdoing. In order to create the one-off piece of art, Saunders will search the scrap heap for components which not only resemble certain elements of the original but can also be tweaked to get the look just right.
So far, Saunders has borrowed the wheels from a Ford Mondeo, the rear axle from a Ford Escort, and has combined components from the Fiat 126 and Morris 1000 bonnet to shape the rear deck of the car.
And that list will continue to grow as the rear pod sections will be created from old Mazda MX-5 bumpers, while the “DeltaWing kick-ups on the rear” will be formed around the air intakes of Australia’s last F1 champion, Alan Jones’ 1975 Formula One racer.
It’s currently unclear what engine, drivetrain, and transmission Saunders plans to utilize for the car, but you can be sure of two things: they’ll be recycled and when finished, the Top Gear DeltaWing will be significantly heavier, less powerful, and slower than the real racer.
Nonetheless, we respect Saunders’ ambition and wish him all the best!
Top Gear’s 17th season flew by just like that, didn’t it?
The sixth and final episode aired over the weekend, and unlike the past episodes, this one more than lived up to the expectations. Richard Hammond got the show off to a promising start with a great segment about the Lamborghini Aventador. From there, the show picked up some steam with a pretty hilarious segment featuring Jeremy Clarkson and James May as they embarked on an electric-car crusade around town. Some unforeseen circumstances resulted in a few mishaps, but all in all, the duo managed to make the most out of their respective cars - Clarkson had the Nissan Leaf while May had the Peugeot Ion - to finish their adventure in one piece. But even that wasn’t enough to convince the two about the potential of electric cars in the future.
Fittingly, the final segment of season 17 took a more serious turn with an inspiring story about a Cross Country racing team in Wales for disabled British soldiers. It’s a humbling way to end a very interesting season and puts into perspective what the human spirit is capable of accomplishing despite the challenges that seemingly lies in front of it.
Details after the jump.
Top Gear has never been shy of dealing with controversies and lawsuits, having spent an inordinate amount of their time and resources deflecting complaints left and right, including a recent dispute with Tesla over the state of their electric sports car.
Turns out, Top Gear’s electric car curse has come back and bitten Jeremy Clarkson in the hiney a second time. In the middle of their EV test drive with the Nissan Leaf and the Peugeot iOn, the former’s electric power runs out on the Britishman, leaving him stranded and at a loss of what to do with the latest debacle. Worse off, the whole incident happened in the city and outside of the Top Gear test track. After much deliberation and a few requests to boot, the two crackling hosts - together with a number of good-hearted volunteers - were able to push the stricken Leaf into the University of Lincoln where an outlet was ready, willing, and waiting.
In the event that Nissan decides to file a lawsuit against Top Gear similar to Tesla, the British show at least has visual evidence of what transpired, probably saving them a whole truckload of money.
Nissan’s QASHQAI has picked up another gong, rounding off a great debut year for the compact crossover whose all round qualities have captured customers’ imaginations. The BBC Top Gear magazine team have named it best SUV in their 2007 Awards issue, on sale now.