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Orange track day toy from Zolfe

2009-01-14 08:50
From a man who makes plastic mouldings for bathroo

From a man who makes plastic mouldings for bathrooms comes the new Zolfe Orange. Weird name, neat looking car.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Zolfe
Model Orange
Engine 2.3l, four-cylinder
Power 138kW
In the West Midlands of England they play rather average football and build rather brilliant low-volume, lightweight performance cars.

The latest addition to the West Midlands sporstcar manufacturing guild is Zolfe. Though it might sound quite continental, the Zolfe Orange originates from vacuum moulded plastics manufacturer Spatz Arlon.

Strong idea

Nic Strong, Spatz Arlon’s owner, is an incurable performance car enthusiast. After building electric vehicles for Modes back in 2004, Strong wanted to produce his own traditional, British lightweight trackday car.

From the outset, despite having former Caterham technical director Jez Coates onboard, Strong did not want a Lotus Seven clone or a simple open-topped, motorcycle power tub. The Zolfe Orange had to have some redeeming GT touring features and refinement – it had to be a genuine ‘drive to the track and back’ toy, not a trailer queen.

The net result has been a diminutive GT with a strong hint of squashed original Lotus Elise styling from the front (check those headlights) and classic Opel Mantra from the rear (again, check those brake lights and the curved bootline).

Coated with Caterham skills

With former Caterham man Coates responsible for reconciling the performance parameters with Strong’s budget, it’s unsurprising to find the Zolfe employing a space-frame chassis.

The Zolfe Orange body, interior design and chassis were all manufactured by the UK engineering and design specialist Stadco.

Coates believes Stadco’s experience and expertise - it supplies various original equipment sub assemblies and car bodies to major manufacturers - was essential to circumventing many of the ergonomic foibles which bedevil low-volume, niche manufacturers.

Coates is mum on the exact dry weight of the Zolfe Orange, calling it at ‘around 700kg’, which is still well within Lotus Elise territory.

Ford power

Powering the Zolfe is a Ford sourced Duratec, 2.3l, four-cylinder engine producing 138kW. Traditionally, West Midlands built low-weight specials have employed Ford engine is various states of tune – some even still featuring carburettors.

The rear-wheel drive gearbox is MX-5 sourced which importantly gives Zolfe customers option on a limited-slip rear differential. Ratios are five- and six-speed manual augmented by an auto option for two-pedal obsessed US customers.

Stopping power is provided by an all-round disc set-up supplied by motorsport experienced AP, whilst Avon supplies the rubber.

Most of the first year’s production – expected to be some 30 cars – will be going to the US, but a handful of UK cars will be built too priced at approximately £27 000.

The Zolfe Orange range will feature four trim levels, with electric windows and air-conditioning (try finding that box to tick on the Caterham option sheet) available, as well as Eibach springs and Blitstein dampers on the higher end, track focussed models.

Top of the range GTC-4 race models have a built-in roll cage, racing fuel cell and 206kW tuned version of the 2.3l Duratec engine.


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