In January 2013, the GT 001-R will make its debut at the 24 Hours Of Dubai. Built by Belgian motorsport team VDS Racing, plans are afoot to produce limited series of road-going supercars, powered by Maserati's 480bhp 4.2-litre V8 and six-speed sequential transmission.©VDS
Thank you for your interest.
You will find in several emails different high resolution pics.
You will find also two interviews about this project.
VDS GT 001 & VDS GT 001-R
Raphaël van der Straten: “A dream come true … “
This is a well-kept secret … Quite amazing, we’re talking about the latest and newest Belgian car to date! On Thursday 4th October, the superb Autoworld museum, in Brussels was the background setting for the presentation of the VDS GT 001 and its competition version the VDS GT 001-R. A double realisation of Raphaël van der Straten’s dream, an automobile enthusiast of the highest level. Not only satisfied with running his VDS Racing Adventures team, which has been travelling throughout the world for many years, this great character, from a car loving family decided to make the big step. A very big step in fact … A story that in no way is trivial, with at the end a car that is definitely no less either …
VDS GT 001
Raphaël, where did this idea come from to set-up the VDS GT 001 project and for you to become a car manufacturer ?©VDS
First and foremost it’s a return to the roots! During three decades, my grandfather, Count Rodolphe van der Straten Ponthoz, experienced an incredible adventure by brilliantly promoting the Belgian national colours in the four corners of the world. He hired racing cars and finally opted to build one bearing his own name: the VDS 001, which performed brilliantly in the Can-Am races at the beginning of the ‘80s. This saga, with those red-blue and white striped muscle cars always fascinated me. Somewhere in a corner of my mind I always told myself that one day I would follow that same path, a question of perpetuating a certain family tradition. That day has now come …
VDS GT 001
Between gently pondering over your dream to build your own car and officially presenting same, a fair amount of water has flowed under the bridge. How did the project materialise ?©VDS
The initial idea was to produce a Vertigo with a different “touch” (a.6). When talking to Tony Gillet, I asked him whether it was possible for someone like myself to build my own body. This is when I started drawing cars again, something I hadn’t done for years. And in all honesty I don’t rate my sketches very highly! Tony then introduced me to Charles van den Bosch, to whom I gave a few ideas and requirements. Very quickly he came up with a few projects that were quite unconventional and which up to a point I liked. Then one day, in a series of sketches, the one that was to become MY car appeared. That was it, it couldn’t be anything else. Charles had managed to reproduce on paper something I had in my head.
And then came Patrick Bataille, who had studied the project’s feasibility and produced a 1/1 scale model. Then followed a lengthy period of styling tests, proposals, some small dilemmas regarding the car’s details (lights, grill, exit for the exhaust, etc.). Patrick had succeeded in making the project three dimensional. As for Tony Gillet he was the conductor, it was he who introduced me to all the people that have allowed me to make my dream come true today.
VDS GT 001
What were the project’s main guidelines ?©VDS
I was looking for a car with a neo-retro styling, which had to be aggressive, racy, and somehow inspired by my passion for the American GT cars. A question of wanting to emphasise the continuity of the VDS adventure. The radiator grill had to be of the inverted type, similar to the 1970 Mustang. My father, Hervé van der Straten, had been the proud owner of a Ford Mustang Boss 302, in which we all went down to the Côte d’Azur. Such a car was even entered, by my grandfather, in the 24 Hours of Spa in 1971 for Serge Trosch and Martin Birrane. Once again we come across this notion of continuity. Somehow this VDS GT 001 is a bit like daddy’s car … I wanted it to be different, seeing I never really enjoyed driving the same car as everyone else. Which was at times reflected by the choice of rather astonishing cars in competition, with notably the BMW M5, then the different Ford Mustang FR500 GT3 and GT4. This VDS GT 001 resembles me. In a certain way it is a rather personal project, perhaps even egocentric ….which nonetheless I hope to share with as many people as possible! The car could well come straight out of a Michel Vaillant strip cartoon, which would please me no end. I want to link this car to two “objects”: In the first place the Empire State Building for what it symbolises. When one has seen the Empire State Building for real, it is impressive and you cannot forget it. It’s one of the most imposing New York monuments. I would like it to be the same for the VDS. The second object is Andy Warhol’s Marylin Diptych. Each VDS will be a work of art. A common base, but each car will be unique …
Technically, the choice fell on an existing structure, as in the deep entrails of this VDS GT 001, one comes across that of the Gillet Vertigo so dear to Tony Gillet…
As you can imagine, building a car costs an enormous amount of money. So why try to be more catholic than the Pope, when an excellent base existed! However, this VDS GT 001 is not just simply a bodywork dropped onto the chassis and mechanics of a Gillet Vertigo. We started out on that basis, with as initial mission to adapt it to my project. The carbon chassis was in fact lengthened by some fifteen centimetres. I would dearly have wanted to fit an American engine, a big V8 under the bonnet, but this wasn’t possible. We therefore decided to go for the 4,2 litres 8 cylinder engine of Maserati origin, which is also to be found under the bonnet of the Vertigo .5 Spirit. It produces a lively 480 bhp, for an overall weight of a little bit more than 1000 kilos. Pure pleasure guaranteed …
VDS GT 001
What are the plans regarding the commercialisation of this VDS GT 001 in its road-going version ?©VDS
The intention is to build a limited series of 22 models, with the essential particularity that they are all personalised! Basically, being able to acquire the VDS with everything in it that one really wants to own. A unique Supercar, a work of art created as one single, unique model so to speak. The future will tell whether I got it right … The most important part now will be to present the car here and there, in order to awaken the taste buds and the curiosity of all aficionados of exclusive machinery. I must add that the car will be built upon request, and based upon the client’s specific requirements.
VDS GT 001
And what about the competition side ?©VDS
The ultimate project would be to enter the VDS GT 001-R in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This will necessarily take a bit of time. Its racing career will take off at the 24 Hours of Dubai, in January 2013, going out from the principle where the car is directly able to be homologated in the SP2 Class of the 24 Hours Series organised by Creventic. The team will be made known at a later date, based on proposals from the partners. Following that everything will be implemented to allow us to enter the car in the 24 Hours of Spa. This VDS GT 001-R is in the same vein as the Ascari KZ1. I therefore hope that she will be able to integrate a category specifically reserved for the Supercars that do not originate from the mass series. Discussions are in progress …
VDS GT 001
The story’s sequel; after this presentation, what will be the next step ?©VDS
First and foremost we will be continuing the development of the VDS GT 001-R, which will be competing in the 24 Hours of Dubai. José Close will be offering his experience to the team around me, with in the first instance a series of tests scheduled at Mettet and Chamble. At the same time the road-going version will be going from the 1:1 scale model state to one of a fully fledged car, and its commercialisation can start.
VDS GT 001
It’s a rather crazy adventure, isn’t it ?©VDS
On reflexion, it probably wasn’t reasonable … but that’s why it was worth taking on this adventure. This 4th October is an initial step, and as such an important and highly symbolic one since the launch of the project, in fact with my first sketches made some thirty months ago. This motivates me even more for the future …
VDS GT 001
VDS GT 001-R
VDS GT 001-R
VDS GT 001 & VDS GT 001-R
Tony Gillet: “The VDS GT 001 is very much a car of its era…"
Everyone knows Tony Gillet. The progenitor of the Gillet Vertigo has long since become a master in the art of working with carbon, and his expertise in the automotive environment has made him an individual respected by one and all. Should we therefore in any way be surprised that Raphaël van der Straten should have called on him when considering the building of the VDS GT 001 and its competition counterpart, the VDS GT 001-R ?
Tony Gillet, how did you come to ensure the building of the VDS GT 001 ?
Initially Raphaël had this idea of having a Vertigo built just for himself. Hence the reason why he actually came to find me. So in fact I didn’t provoke this initial approach, it took place quite spontaneously. He had suggested styling it with a different bodywork. Based on that we then considered creating a car that would not at all be a Vertigo, but an entirely new car, bearing the VDS badge. And that’s how the project was born …
What were the first steps of this new challenge for your company ?
Raphaël’s priority was to develop a racing car, from which a road-going version would be derived. This brief is highly important when planning the various studies, and to create the car by computer aided design. In no way could anything be neglected, and with the knowledge that all the solutions withheld for racing would in the future be required for adaptation for road-going purposes.
In fact, at the time when he came to find you, what did Raphaël van der Straten have in hand ?
When it came to design Raphaël had very precise ideas, insisting on several details close to his heart. As from that moment our role was to extrapolate, and try to image this car. Each evolution of the concept was submitted to him, and he was the sole person to decide whether the proposal would be retained or not. This is an important way of working, in as much that it demonstrates that this VDS GT 001 (-R) is not a modified Gillet Vertigo, but an entirely new car. The chassis required lengthening by 15 centimetres to retain an American inspired neoretro styling. Basically the idea was to launch the first outlines of a new make of car. This time we were working as an executive constructor, being constantly attentive to Raphaël’s wishes… This manner of working might appear to be somewhat complicated, but at no time did the principal in question block anything. On the contrary, he was open to discussion, always willing to listen, and prepared to review his data when the requested solutions involved a worry of a technical nature…
In a nutshell, it is not because the VDS GT 001 saw the light of day in the Automobiles Gillet workshops that it should be considered to be a cousin of the Vertigo…
Not at all! I’m obviously delighted that Raphaël had decided to put his trust in us for this great adventure, but he could just as well have called on other companies to achieve a similar result.
So this VDS is definitely not your car ?
No! And I insisted that in no way would it be my car! My duty was not to influence the choice of Raphaël van der Straten, but to advise him. For example this inverted type radiator grill. My company’s job was the following: we took precise notes of all Raphaël’s requirements, and we then carried out a feasibility study. Was what he required achievable? If yes, under what conditions? If not, what might the alternatives be? In addition, everything is evolutive on this car. If Raphaël tomorrow decides to fit it with another engine, there would be no problem. So we are far from the phenomena of copying and pasting.
As might well be imagined carbon is ever present in the construction of this VDS GT.
001. It’s your signature. An inevitable path ?
Several aspects plead in favour of carbon. In the first instance thanks to its rigidity. Following that, it’s a lightweight material. So in fact for a car also designed for competition, weight is the main enemy. The road-going version of the VDS GT 001 will distinguish itself by having a quality of lesser-known materials. The gearbox is of the six speed sequential type, with billeted rims, to name but a few … In all truth, the owner of this car will definitely have his or her moneys worth. We left nothing to chance. Such was Raphaël van der Straten wish.
If we were to compare this VDS GT 001 to another car presently on the market, what car would you think of ?
For me the VDS GT 001 is a creation in the spirit of the Pagani. It’s a limited series, which differentiates itself for example from a Supercar of the McLaren MP4-12C type. When one goes in to taking on the production of a car one really needs to know what one wants. We would not be able to produce 25 VDS annually. In that case it means focussing on original solutions, and making no concessions when it comes to the overall quality. I truly believe that
we have achieved this …
You also talk about this car as a type of return to the roots of the automobile. In what way ?
In days gone by, a constructor, big or small, produced chassis, which were then fitted out by coachbuilders. As an example take the Bugatti Type 57. There are innumerable models, which all have a common denominator: the basis of the car. In our particular case it’s the same approach. We took on an existing base, namely the Vertigo, and we then took on an entirely different direction by ensuring careful attention to adapting the entirety. We could call this a versatile chassis able to take on different bodyworks. It’s a process well in tune with the times, in an era where there are no small savings. Why launch into long, fastidious and costly studies to create a new chassis when we have a solid base to hand, which is only crying out to be adapted. This makes me state that with the VDS GT 001 we have a car definitely of its era …