The R42

21 May 2022

The Spectre R42 is a 2-seater mid-engined rear-wheel-drive sports car manufactured by British boutique automobile manufacturer Spectre Supersports Ltd. The car was revealed in 1992 and designed to be a modern GT40.

Ray Christopher of GT Development, who was well known for building precise replicas of the Ford GT40, designed the R42. As to the name, you guessed it, the R from Ray and 42 referred to the car height of 42 inches.

He had high hopes for the R42 with plans of recreating the GT40 success at Le Mans; on paper, the car had the correct credentials; the engine was a mid-mounted Ford 4.6 V8, producing 350hp, with a drag coefficient of just 0.28, which was almost best in class. Furthermore, the car incorporated styling cues from such legends as the Lamborghini Countach, the Jaguar XJR-15 and the Ferrari 288 GTO.

A minimum number of cars must be manufactured to qualify as a race car. Meaning significant additional development costs were incurred; the net result of those costs drove the business into bankruptcy, having completed one prototype.

Little was heard of the R42 until 1995 when an American company Spectre Motors, took over the R42 project. Headed by Anders Hildebrand, GT Development’s former sales agent, he immediately set out to produce the R42 as quickly as possible.

Hildebrand brought in investors, reorganised production, and made 5-time Le Mans winner Derek Bell Chairman and development consultant.

What could go wrong? The car’s construction utilised numerous existing parts from a range of production cars; the motoring press, whilst complimentary about the concept, were highly critical about the build quality.

Sadly, poor build quality and a two thousand hour build-time meant investors became impatient and departed from the project. In a final attempt, as all else had failed, Spectre Motors managed to get a starring role in a 1998 film, RPM; after finding fame hitting the silver screen, the R42 suffered the ignominy of ceasing production due to ever-increasing development costs and eventually receivership.

In 1998, Spectre planned an R45; sadly, it never reached production.

A real pity, conceptually, the R42 was potentially a significant game-changer in the 90s Supercar era and possibly a Le Mans winner.