There's nothing like a simple, easily defined goal that keeps a small team focused in developing a new brand – one intent on cracking into the niche world of hypercars, those rarefied machines a step above mere supercars. Except the target for the newly-formed Rodin cars nominates – if met – could have Ferrari or Lamborghini heading back to the test track.
"The aim here is to build maximum high-performance cars for the track," says David Dicker, a man who has created a highly successful ASX-listed computer data company and someone intent on carving a tiny niche from very the mature performance car market. Replete in gleaming carbon fibre, the single-seat track machine is for those who love the thrill of speed but don't want the hassle and cost of owning an old Formula 1 car.
Dicker acknowledges a one-seat car has "a few negatives – my wife thinks it's a terrible idea" but says standing out with an unknown brand against established players requires a point of difference. Not that he is underestimating the task. "It's a massive undertaking and probably something only a crazy person would do," he says frankly, in between explanations of his efforts maximising aerodynamics and cooling while ensuring it can go the distance.
He also acknowledges the market for people paying seven figures for a single seat race car is limited. "We're not even thinking about building the most number of cars, we're thinking of building the best."
That includes fabricating everything from carbon fibre to metal components, right down to the seat custom-fitted to each owner. Almost everything is handcrafted at his facilities among rolling hills on New Zealand's south island. Three-dimensional printing is key to being able to craft metal components, from suspension arms to bolts.
Dicker nominates an annual build target of 50 cars, with boutique brands Koenigsegg and Pagani the most logical competitors. The first car, called FZed, is a heavily revised version of the Lotus T125 that was originally planned as a customer F1 car more than a decade ago. Dicker brought the project but spent years redesigning various details and beefing things up to improve durability, ensuring the cars can be driven hard (regularly) on a track.
While early cars will be fitted with a proven Cosworth V8, it's the 4.0-litre V10 he's having custom made in the UK that provides serious promise. That car will ultimately grace the FZed as well as the still-secret FZero, a ground-up design with covered wheels and a roof rather than the F1 look of the Zed. The FZero is a 900,000 Euro proposition – before taxes. If you want the road going version you can add at least half a million Euros, something that would make it close to $3.5 million Down Under, once GST and luxury car tax enter the equation.
Dicker isn't benchmarking other road cars for performance, but modern F1 machines. The raw numbers tell a potent story. It weighs just 589kg, around half the weight of a Mazda MX-5. The 3.8-litre V8 revs to 10,500rpm making 503kW along the way. It'll hit 100km/h in 2.9 seconds en route to 300km/h.
But it's the driving experience that is key – and the claim "you can pound it" on a track. "We focus on all those engineering details because it's not just a utilitarian device, it's an art piece."