Seven months later, things are much sunnier for what's now known as BXR Motors. Neal has moved the project out of his garage to a much larger facility at MotorSport Ranch in Cresson, Texas; hired a consultant to help work out a business plan; and, most importantly, attracted a private investor, which has allowed Neal to focus on the car's development full-time.
"Getting an investor has not changed development process of the Blade at all," Neal told us via email. "However, developing a business plan and strategy has greatly educated us in the world of business and venture capital investments. There is a great deal to learn as developing a business plan like this is almost as difficult as developing the car itself. The business plan and marketing strategy has helped us to focus on making sure that we succeed. It forces you to take a deeper look into the project and apply real numbers to see if this dream will produce real profits. As for pressure from our investor, there has been little involvement. The investor has seen our plan and the engineering behind it and simply wants us to succeed."
Neal says with the investor's funding, he has confidence he'll have at least one -- hopefully three -- Blade prototypes ready by October for road testing. Neal has stayed true to the original design, applying just a few tweaks to update the look.
Click through the jump to read much more about the Blade's development.
The first alteration Blade followers will notice is the glaring absence of those chrome side pipes. His latest renderings show four rear exhaust outlets, but he says fans of the side-exit exhausts needn't worry. The rear-routing of the pipes is for customers and municipalities that still think side exhausts are dangerous.
Neal was also forced to rework the rear taillights due to a sourcing issue. "Those were a design pain for me since the beginning," Neal tells us. "I always intended the car to have simple round tail lights, but could never find anything that I liked. It's amazing but it's actually difficult to get modern round taillights. So after many months I finally found what I was looking for but it required me to change up the back end a little."
This wasn't as big of an issue as one might expect, since he had already decided to stretch the whole car 4 inches. The extra length meant the original car's lines didn't flow as well, leading to the new, more aerodynamic back end. Also missing from the new design is the mid-line ridge that ran through the doors.
"The midline on the doors was something I added to break up the space a little," Neal said. "However, after looking at it more, I felt it was only adding clutter to the overall lines of the car. I always intended this car to have a slightly retro feel but with very clean lines. When I developed the car, I wanted every part to have a function and purpose. Therefore, every hole, vent, intake, splitter and diffuser all serve a function. It drives me nuts when I see a new sports car, and you go to look into the vents or scoops only to find a plastic blank. I feel cheated every time I see that."
Which brings in to question a couple of photos on the BXR Motors' Web site showing the Blade sporting a huge rear wing. "Yes one of the images does show the car with a huge rear spoiler, this is to represent a possible track edition and what it would look like."
Last March, Neal told us he hoped to sell his muscular roadster for between $50,000 and $80,000 depending on options. Since then, reality has set in and as his costs have grown, so has the projected asking price.
"Yeah pricing is always an issue," he said. "I intended to keep the Blade as affordable as possible and still do. However, in the beginning the price was just a projection. Now that we have gone though our business development and have a clearer picture of building materials, facilities, employees etc. This all factors in to our current price range in order for us to be profitable. We feel even at a price range around $100K this keeps us out of the super car market, where everything is $250K and up."
Ouch, that's quite a jump in price. But how many other cars are available that allow you to actually watch the design process as it happens?
"What we are doing is not really all that uncommon, but it's how we are doing it and our willingness to share it with the world -- that is unique," Neal says. "Most cars are developed in secrecy, and I decided to approach this differently. Instead of hiding the project I wanted to share it with the world to show just how it can be done, and not only building the car but also building a successful company around it."
Plus, Neal says the initial production run will be limited to only 50 cars. Which means you'll likely be the only Blade owner in town.
Neal says that if he meets the October deadline for having the prototype ready, and all goes well in testing, BXR Motors will begin taking orders pretty soon thereafter. We'll be sure to have another update around that time to see how things are going. Until then, don't forget to save us a seat, Neal.