Numbers can say a lot, so here are some. 1,400 horsepower. 1,160Nm of torque. Zero to 100kph in 3.1 seconds. Zero to 200kph in 6.8 seconds. Zero to 300kph in 13 seconds. A top speed of 437kph – that’s a breathtaking 271.54mph. It’s the 24th fastest car in the world to 60mph, has the fourth best performance to weight ratio and is currently the fourth fastest car ever. The 9ff GT9 Vmax presents a veritable table of numbers and raw data, a physics-defying equation of how to bend time and space. I could stop the feature here: is there actually much more to say?
Well, as ever, it’s the way that you achieve those numbers that makes the difference. The how is one question. The why is quite another. 9ff have the answers to both.
This video says a lot about the GT9 Vmax. It’s the ideal visual representation of what those numbers mean when applied in extremis to a brutal road car. It’s not that the car in the video is particularly powerful itself, more that it’s doing over 100mph – a not inconsiderable speed in most legal circumstances – and the 9ff breezes past like it was going backwards, at well over twice that speed. Pretty much on tick over. With a metaphorical arm out of the window. Whistling nonchalantly.
Last month we took a tour around the 9ff factory, courtesy of company founder Jan Fatthauer – here’s a man for whom the word ‘fast’ is a moving target. Going fast one day just means wanting to go even faster the next. It seems like he’s provoking players who should outgun 9ff in every sense – the Bugattis, Paganis, Koenigseggs and so on – and taunting them to do better. And when they do, he just raises the bar again.
The GT9 Vmax was the most recent taunt, the two fingers stuck up to the competition for 2012.
All the cars in the 9ff workshop were special creations, but the two complete GT9s on show were particularly spectacular. We’ve already taken a look at the GT9 Club Sport, seen here in the background, but that’s a pussycat compared to the Vmax. After all, it only has 750hp!
The GT9 Vmax was unveiled at the 2012 Essen Motor Show, where it made everything else look silly. Building on the previous GT9s – a limited edition, bespoke programme of individually tailored, turbocharged monsters – the Vmax was the ultimate iteration of the line. Jan’s dream was to make the fastest production car in the world – and he’s one of the very few people who can legitimately say they’ve laid claim to that title at one stage or another.
The menu available to choose from when you decide to purchase a GT9 allows a number of routes to be taken depending on what you want to do with your toy. Country roads, city commutes, occasional track days, all-out time attack weapon – or the quickest car on the planet?
In context, all GT9Rs are powerful, but there was a singular concept behind the Vmax: take all the highest spec, speed-orientated options and refine them to build the quickest ever machine in a straight line. Buy this, and people will be ripping down their shots of sluggish Veyrons and putting up a picture of your car on the wall – your car.
Corners aren’t an issue. Of course, yes, it steers and goes round bends, but the Club Sport would likely run rings around the Vmax if they were ever pitted against each other on a track. But that’s a spurious argument: it’s like asking why a puma isn’t very good at flying.Retro stealth-fighter style
Starting on the outside, everything has been done to lighten, smooth and streamline. All the panels except for the bonnet are carbon fibre, with the weave visible on certain panels – after all, paint has weight. Overall it has a retro stealth-fighter style.
Showing that the GT9 platform was a fine starting point, the main body difference with the Vmax is the redesigned rear section.
The open rear of earlier GT9 cars was replaced with this sculptural, curving tail with lip spoiler, with the body’s aero refined in the Audi wind tunnel to bring the drag coefficient down to 0.265.
The unfussy body shape is balanced but the underfloor aero: a flat bottom with integrated rear diffuser. Drag is the enemy, so any extraneous wings are not just unnecessary but unwanted.
Combined with the wheel covers, I think it gives the Vmax rather a retro look, almost like the speed record cars of the ’30s.
The wheels are all-important. Their weight is a big factor of course, being unsprung mass, but at the speeds the Vmax travels at, strength is critical. They’ve been specially designed and constructed for the Vmax for maximum aero efficiency; the rims are a solid-looking 9″×19″ at the front.
At the rear, 12.5″×20″. I do like that the rear wheel fairings sport an illustrated version of the physical design used up front. Kind of Death Star style, which seems appropriate. This is, after all, the Dark Father of the GT9 lineage.
The rubber is a bespoke high-speed compound from Continental: 255/35 ZR19 at the front and 335/30 ZR20 at the rear.
The cockpit interior is spartan, but perhaps less so than you’d expect: the flocked dash gives it a racing car feel, but it’s not all bare metal and roll cage. It could almost be described as comfortable! The back and side windows are made from makrolon, which is a lightweight, high tech polycarbonate, and the windscreen from double safety glass with E-homologation.
Like the exterior, the driving controls are minimal, with just what’s necessary presented in clear line of sight. The Vmax’s sequential six-speed gearbox is controlled from the steering wheel-mounted shift paddles, and the dash readout is a MOTEC unit. A pure sequential is unusual for 9ff, with frequent rebuilds expected: though of course the Vmax is not expected to play the part of daily driver.
The GT9 Vmax has a curb weight of 1,340kg: not the smallest number in the world, but this is a car that needs to be solid. Cooling is a major issue, with air to air intercoolers and big gearbox coolers in use.Power on show
Everything on the outside is there to manage what’s on the inside, and that’s a flat six 4.2-litre Porsche boxer engine fed by twin turbos. Engineered and hand-built by Jan, it’s an impressive piece of kit, with titanium connecting rods, heavyweight forged pistons and many bespoke parts fabricated in-house to maximise the unit’s potential. It uses large double injectors, which required a lot of specialist welding work on the intake manifolds.
This being 9ff, it’s the Garrett turbos that sit on either side of the engine that do the heavy lifting, with ballbearing internals minimising internal friction, cast housings and bespoke size billet wheels. The turbos themselves are big but not enormous, with a boost pressure of 2 bar. This means they deliver maximum power at 7,950rpm and maximum torque at 5,600 rpm.
Looking at the rear compartment, there’s little difference between this and a pure-bred race car. With the engine mid-mounted, all the ancillaries are tucked down low for optimal centre of gravity, and the structural cross-brace providing maximum torsional stiffness.
The rear suspension uses inboard coilovers to keep the car planted in the face of the buffeting air flow at high speeds.
Bilstein dampers were specially fabricated for the build. Jan has experimented with JRZ and H&R on previous projects, but settled on Bilstein’s solution as the optimal route for this speed king.
The Vmax was originally advertised for a bargain €540,000 at the Essen show: the neat equivalent of about one thousand pounds sterling for each kilometre per hour. Compared to a Veyron, that’s pretty much a bargain, and with a 9ff you get considerably less bling and rather more bang for your buck. The car recently sold for far more than that; just after my visit, the Vmax was due to be shipped off to its new owner in the Low Countries. Jan was pleased to report that the car would very much be active: he was never going to sell to someone who would reduce this numbers-busting icon to display status.
So, with the Vmax gone, is that the end of 9ff’s hypercar provocation? The twinkle in Jan’s eye says that’s very, very unlikely…