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Elemental RP-1 may be world's lightest sports car, weighs under 1,000 pounds

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The British boutique sports car industry is fascinating when you think about it. For such a relatively small country known for its wet weather for much of the year, consider all of the open-top Caterham, Ariel, Morgan products, not to mention many other small brands pumping out cars. The latest company hoping to fill the need a street-legal, track day racer is called Elemental Cars, and its first creation is the featherweight RP-1.

To stand apart in the crowded market, you have to do something special. The RP-1's trick is its planned weight of just 992 pounds (450 kilograms) in a carbon fiber tub with under-car aerodynamic aids to create downforce. Propulsion comes from a mid-mounted, tuned, 2.0-liter Ford EcoBoost engine producing 280 horsepower, mated to a six-speed sequential gearbox. With so little weight to push around, the small, turbocharged engine should be plenty powerful.

Beyond just the claims of power and light weight, Elemental says that the RP-1 will be road legal in the UK, and inside the two-seater there will be a racing-inspired, feet-up driving position with an adjustable seat and pedals to fit drivers even over six-feet tall. It will have a few amenities for occupants, too, like a heated footwell and traction control, plus data logging and an on-board camera for the track.

It's generally best to take a wait-and-see approach for the launch on any new sports car, especially one from an unproven company. However, the delay for more info on the RP-1 won't be long. The company will unveil the car at the 2014 Goodwood Festival of Speed from June 26-29. Elemental Cars' Finance Director Jeremy Curnow told Autoblog via email that it will release more information and images then. According to its website, production will begin in the UK in 2015. Scroll down for the full details on this lithe, little roadster.
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Introducing the Elemental RP1

Elemental Cars Ltd today released initial details of a new British designed and built, high-
performance, road legal track car, the RP1.

Elemental Cars is based in Farnham, Surrey. The company consists of a small, highly experienced team of designers and engineers with a combined 120 man-years of experience in the fields of Formula one, Supercar, Aerospace and Automotive design and manufacturing.

In development for the last 5 years, the RP1 is an open top, 2-seater mid-engined sports car that embodies state of the art road and race car concepts and technologies.

At the heart of the car is a custom-designed, lightweight, carbon-composite structural tub that features an innovative, formula one style "feet-up" driving position. The design of the tub and sub-frames allow significant under-body aerodynamics, with tune-able vehicle dynamics.

The bodyshell and interior follow the same lightweight/high strength design philosophy of the chassis, featuring extensive use of carbon composites in their construction.

Powered by a mid-mounted, race-tuned 2litre Ford Ecoboost engine mated to a 6 speed sequential racing gearbox, the car has an output of 280bhp resulting in a 500bhp/ton power to weight ratio.

Bespoke electronics and ECU, linking the Dash and Vehicle Controller over a CAN system supports paddle gear shift, traction control, data logging, on-board camera integration, driver defined steering wheel functions and vehicle diagnostics.

Despite the unashamed focus on exceptional performance and handling, the RP1 offers road going usability, with large secure storage capacity, footwell heating and a long fuel range. With contemporary GT race car inspired Design and detail inside and out, the car looks equally at home on both the racetrack, or out on the open road simply "for the love of driving"

RP1 Technical Director and Elemental Co-Founder, John Begley said that: "After almost five years of design and prototype development, the whole Elemental team is very excited to unveil the RP1. I am really looking forwards to the 2014 Goodwood Festival of Speed where we will have the opportunity to show the car to the public for the first time"

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