Back when Playstation took the world by storm with mind-blowing graphics and gameplay (that’s far from the quality we have today) there was one car that everyone playing the game aspired to “own”, it took a fair amount of playing and building up credit to get it, but once you did you could change all manner of settings to make it handle in any race scenario. The car is instantly recognisable, if you flash an image of it to anyone who likes cars and is over 35 you’re almost guaranteed to hear someone scream “MONSTER!” In the late 90s and early 2000s it didn’t refer to an energy drink, it referred to the driver of the most iconic hillclimb car of the time, Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima and his insane big-winged Suzuki Pikes Peak Escudo. The nam campaigned a few of these cars, and the XL7 Pikes Peak Version was one that made the competition rethink, well, everything. The car was powered by a 3.6-litre with twin turbochargers adding in the power that was claimed to be at 1020 hp with a matching 1020 Nm of torque, and with a mass of 1100 kg the car was almost spot on to the magical and very rare one horsepower per kilogram power-to-weight ratio.
In the games, the Suzuki racecars were the fastest to accelerate and corner, it was the car that couldn’t be beat, especially when it was tweaked and set up in the garage by players who had proper knowledge on cars and suspension. The mad thing is that the XL7 and the predecessor Escudo are easily the most well-known Suzuki racecars on the planet, yet most fans of the car have never seen the real life version in action, and that’s quite a weird fact. When classic race footage appears, like these clips from 2007 and 2008, it reminds of just how far we’ve come in motorsport. We’re not talking about the times and speeds, no in that area these old cars can still hold their own, we’re talking race layout and safety. While viewing competitions live like Pikes Peak, people have to sit in designated areas and can’t get too near the track, but back then people littered the uphill track with many being in very wrong places that would be guaranteed of catastrophe if a mechanical failure or driver error happened. It’s not quite as hectic as the old Group B rally things, but it’s far from today’s standards an that make it absolutely awesome to watch.
In 2007 and 2008 the XL7 never managed to crack the infamous 10-minute barrier, but it was close posting a time of 10:01.408 in 2007 and 10:18.250 in 2008. This was on a part tarmac and part gravel course, a much harder race than today. Take a look at the YouTube video that gives a taste of the absolutely insane Suzuki at the hands of Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima, an aggressive driving style that ensured the man and his machine became one of the most iconic hillclimb duos of all time: 1000+Hp Suzuki XL7 PIKES PEAK || 3.6 V6 Twin-Turbo LEGEND | HillClimb Monsters
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