Home / Social media / Cars / A British supercar icon - the complete history of the Ultima from '83 - '20


The Ultima range of sports and supercars dates back to the early 80s England, which is where most of them can be found, but there are versions scattered around the world. They’re quite rare to spot outside of the UK, but there are those motorsport fanatics who made a point of getting hold of one. It was also actually easier to get hold of one than a conventional car though, because the Ultima platform was offered as a kit car that owners could build up in their own time and that meant costs could be spread across the time taken to do the build. European clients were and are the ones lucky enough to be able to buy the Ultima GTR as a turnkey project. The PRV V6-powered Ultima Mk1, which is the first one as the name suggests, was limited to a single model in 1983 when it was built by Noble Motorsports though. This was because a redesign (better suspension and brakes) was already in the works that would go on sale by 1989 as the Ultima Mk2, of which just 13 units were sold. Even in limited numbers, the Ultima was making a name for itself in motorsport, and its progress hit the cover of Sports Car Monthly, Kitcars & Specials Magazine and Autochromes Magazine. In 1989 the Mk3 arrived with a new fibreglass body, and it was the last one at the hands of Noble Motorsports, It was just after this that the rights to the Ultima were sold to Ted & Richard Marlow and Ultima Sports was created - that was in 1992. 

While the first incarnations featured that PRV V6 engine, the Ultima GTR is suggested to use a Chevy V8, one will drop right in, which is how kit cars are meant to work. If you’re buying a kit you can always option one of the American Speed-built engines that produces 480 kW (640 hp), the same setup used to set some speed and performance records with the car. They say you can also option a 760 kW (1 020 hp) version if you want to get really ridiculous. The best part about kit cars is that you can shoehorn any engine that you like. The SXdrv crew saw one compete in South Africa for many years at private motorsport events with performance to rival serious purpose-built machinery and so this local one was powered by a twin-turbocharged Alfa Romeo V6, an odd choice but one that no one could catch. This car, and his driving skills earned him the nickname The Flying Doctor, because, well, he was a doctor.

Early versions of the Ultima aren’t the prettiest, but that’s judging by today’s standards. Back then in the early to late 80s, one of these Ultima street race cars must have been as pleasing on the eye as a Huracan is for us today. The production has spanned many years now, and there have been some really good versions too. The original Ultima Sports saw official production run start in 1992 and it carried on through to 2000. A year later it was followed by the Ultima Spyder that had a kind of T-top configuration, this was produced until 2002. The Ultima Can-Am is very pretty indeed with it’s open top, an awesome convertible with supercar performance is never a bad thing. The most famous car, the Ultima GTR saw production run for 17 years, from 1999 to 2016, and there were a few tweaks and changes to the styling and the setup along the road. The latest version is amazing, we have one in the final stages of production a town or two over from the SXdrv offices featuring a massive 600 hp normally aspirated V8 with all of the best bits and pieces money can buy added in. We’re keeping tabs on it.
In 2006 with a 720 hp (760 kW) American Speed re-engineered Chevy V8 in play in the GTR720, Richard Marlow was took the car from a standing start to 100 mph and back to zero again in just 9.4-seconds, which was a World Record for a production road car with street-legal tyres and exhaust.  In the hands of the right person, these cars are frighteningly fast, The Stig even managed to beat the Top Gear test track time set by Michael Schumacher with his Ferrari FXX. Ok, so the car needed to be fitted with slicks to get it done, but considering the rare and performance of the Ferrari, it was a David & Goliath fight and we all know that outcome. There’s so much more to the Ultima GTR, and it’s just so amazing that there’s something like this documenting the history of this iconic British creation.

Take a look at the YouTube video below about the full history of this iconic British supercar, the Ultima, from its start in the early 80s all the way through to 2020 in this fact-packed and feature-length documentary: The History of Ultima Documentary | UltimaSports. Take note of the comments on the video, you know when the internet has the chance to comment and all the comments are positive, that's saying something.

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