The VLF Force 1 revealed today is the first bespoke supercar from the company calling itself “America’s newest, smallest and priciest OEM”.
Touted as the “only American supercar without excuses”, the VLF Force 1 is a Dodge Viper-based muscle car with an 8.4-litre V10 engine shoehorned into a carbon-fibre body penned by former Aston Martin and BMW designer, turned entrepreneur, Henrik Fisker.
Somewhat comically, the Force 1 drew ire from Aston Martin, which allegedly attempted to make VLF shelve the reveal because a teaser image indicated it would look like one of its products. Clearly, the Force 1 is about as far removed from a Vantage as a sports car can get.
The VLF brand was formed just months ago, and is a new iteration of the extant VL. It’s a partnership between ex-GM executive and industry legend Bob Lutz, successful yacht builder Gilbert Villarreal and now Fisker, who founded the eponymous brand that made the Fisker Karma until 2014.
VLF plans to produce a small number of cars in Auburn Hills, Michigan, for sale in the US and beyond, from this year. These cars will be the Force 1 and the Destino — the latter being a restyled Fisker Karma body with a Corvette 6.4 V8 under the bonnet in place of the PHEV drivetrain.
VLF will continue to source Karmas from that company's Chinese owner and turn them into V8 Destinos (by 'company', we mean the brand once known as Fisker before its 2013 bankruptcy, in which Henrik now has no involvement). The Chinese-funded version of the Karma, meanwhile, will be named as such and produced in California from this year as a plug-in hybrid, using BMW components.
Confused yet? Try writing it...
To the matter at hand. The brutal VLF Automotive Force 1 is headlined by a 550kW/928Nm 8.4-litre V10 engine — proper ‘Merican muscle — matched to a six-speed manual gearbox or optional six-speed auto with paddles, both obviously sending torque to the rear wheels.
VLF claims the Force 1 can dash from 0-60mp/h (0-96km/h) in 3.0 seconds dead, on its way to a V-Max of 350km/h. The quarter-mile is demolished in 10.97s.
Ben Keating, the Texan race-car driver and team owner, was involved in developing the Force 1, and helped fund the project before VL became VLF (when Fisker joined the triumvirate of show-runners).
Keating, an experienced Viper racer, developed a unique active suspension system for the Force 1, and you have to assume he knows his stuff. Other highlights include the carbonfibre body that keeps weight to 1538kg, and the 21-inch wheels with Pirelli P Zero tyres and housing Brembo brakes.
The exterior design of Force 1 shows “classic American sports car proportions” with a long bonnet, short front overhang, long tail and pushed out wheels.
“In the case of Force 1, there is an extremely pushed back green house,” Fisker said. “The sculpture on Force 1 is like a family succession to Destino, dramatic and powerful, relative flat surfaces on the high end of the body side, with lines full of tension, emerging onto a rounder lower section, where Force 1 has a large functional outlet.
“The sculptural hood has unique, large, negative surfaces, as in the family of the Destino, with six highly needed air intakes and outlets for the engine.
"The windscreen wraps around into the side glass, followed by an elegant, yet aggressive side line sweeping up towards the rear deck. The graphics are uniquely sleek with ultra-thin lights in front and UTV laser-blade tail lamps, the thinnest tail lamps in the world, at the rear.
“The day light opening (DLO), or side window, has a completely new and never before seen graffic that ends up in a sharp spear.”
The interior is luxurious, with hand stitched ultra-soft leather, Alcantara, suede with several other unique features, such as a champagne holder. We kid you not.
Production commences at the end of April 2016 in Auburn Hills, and deliveries begin in the third quarter of 2016, with the base price starting at $US 268,500 ($A$390,000). The Force 1 V10 will be produced in limited numbers with an initial production of only 50 units and available through Keating’s Viper Exchange dealer in Texas.
In time, though, the company hopes to sell both the Force 1 and Destino in Europe and Asia (notably China). Current platform limits mean it cannot make either car in right-hand drive, but its intended third model line might well be RHD-enabled.
Fisker told us today this model might even be an SUV, it’s up in the air. But he said the company was financially sound and committed to the future.
We’ll have our Q and A with Fisker up on the site soon. In the meantime, tell us below what you think. Could VLF be the real deal?