The Chevrolet-powered Ascari prototype that preceded the Ecosse will go under the hammer next month in London
To give Ascari some credit, the manufacturer made it a hell of a lot further than most start-up supercar companies. While the majority don’t get much further than the dreaded ‘vapourware’ stage, Ascari put multiple models into production and – shock horror – even sold a few of them.
‘Few’ is the operative word, here, though. The British firm, which took its name from two-time F1 champion Alberto Ascari, only made around 80 cars before being wound up in 2010, just 16 years after its founding. These days, its former premises in Banbury houses the Haas F1 team.
Completed Ascari products are hard to come by, then, and today we can present the rarest of the lot – the FGT. It’s a one-off prototype based on the blueprints of a car of the same name by Lee Noble, which he’d created some years before founding Noble Automotive and building stuff like the M12. A burgeoning company called Ascari bought the rights to the design, which would eventually yield this green FGT.
The prototype is said to have caught the eye of Dutch entrepreneur and racing driver Klaas Zwart at the 1995 British Motorshow. He then snapped up Ascari and commissioned a racing version powered by a Ford Modular V8. It made various appearances at British GT Championship races (including one entry shared between Zwart and Top Gear presenter Tiff Needell) over three seasons, proving to be competitive but unreliable. It picked up a smattering of podiums, but more often than not the car failed to finish.
The road-going prototype uses Chevrolet power rather than Ford, with a 6.0-litre V8 upgraded using ARP components making around 420bhp. The mid-mounted unit drives the rear wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox.
The FGT eventually spawned the ‘Ecosse’ production version. The Chevy engine was switched for a Hartge-tuned BMW 4.4-litre V8, but from the outside, it looked much the same, save for the FGT’s pop-up headlamps making way for fixed light clusters. Boo.
The FGT prototype’s current owner found the car in a farm building, having apparently languished there for 13 long years. Getting it back on the road, an ordeal that included a full engine and gearbox rebuild, was a three-year process. It’s set to go under the hammer on 6 November at RM Sotheby’s London event. Included in the sale is an extensive history folder including invoices, promo material, magazine features and photos of the restoration work. Being a prototype, the fit and finish remains a little rough and ready in places, but that’s half the charm.
Given how infrequently Ascari supercars come up for sale, it’s hard to say how much the FGT might go for. One of the 19 Ecosse models Ascari built was listed by the same auction house earlier this year with an estimate of €155,000 – €195,000 (£131,000 – £165,000), but it didn’t sell.
Would you be tempted by this over a new entry-level supercar like an Audi R8?