SEE | These F1-inspired road cars will have you feeling like a true racer

Ariel Atom 4. Image: YouTube / Top Gear
Ariel Atom 4. Image: YouTube / Top Gear

Formula 1 cars are among the fastest vehicles on the planet.

With modern-day derivatives said to produce around 750kW (1000bhp), you best believe when they claim a 0-100km/h time of under 2.5 seconds.

That kind of power is extremely intense, and it eggs you on to imagine just how it would feel to steer one of these beasts.

Unfortunately, it's near impossible for an ordinary person to slide into the driver's seat; let alone purchase one!

But a few companies did the world a favour by building cars that cross the line between a road-legal sports car and an F1 car. They are open-top versions that are bound to excite and entice, without law officials pulling you over for driving a non-road-legal vehicle.

Do you know of any F1-inspired open-top road cars? Email us.

Ariel Atom 4

Ariel may manufacturer its cars in low numbers, but these are some of the world’s most renowned open-top race cars. The Atom 4 is the latest in a strong lineage of Atom race cars and sets the bar just that much higher, as Calvin Harris explained in the above video.

The Atom 4 continues with the Honda Civic Type R’s turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine, but power has been upped to 240kW/420Nm. Mix that with a weight of 595kg, and you have a car that rockets from 0-100km/h in 2.8 seconds. That places it in the company of the likes of Ferrari, McLaren, Porsche, and Lamborghini.

If the Atom 4 was available locally, we’d be looking at an estimated price of R 1 000 953, before taxes and import costs. Still, we think it’d be worth it.

Ariel Atom 4

2020 Ariel Atom 4. Image: Ariel


What sets KTM’s products apart from other open-top race cars, is that it’s the world’s first production car with a full carbon composite monocoque that weighs 80kg. Furthermore, at 200km/h, the vehicle produces 100kg of downforce that allows up to 2G of lateral acceleration!

The KTM X-Bow borrows a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine from Audi and, for application in the X-Bow, power ranges between 223 and 270kW. A six-speed manual transmission sends power to the rear wheels.

KTM says that weight, performance and price are model dependent and what the client specifies. The X-Bow range consists of the R, RR, GT, and GT4.


2020 KTM X-Bow R. Image: KTM

BAC Mono

The BAC Mono is perhaps the closest you’ll get to driving and owning an F1 car. Without a roof and only a driver’s seat, the Mono looks the part in every way and form. From behind the steering wheel, drivers have a clear view of what’s in front, and the two bulging wheel arches are enough to encourage you to push the car to its limits.

Weighing only 540kg, the BAC Mono is powered by a 2.5-litre Ford engine that produces 230kg. A Hewland six-speed sequential gearbox sends power to the rear wheels, allowing the car to go 0 t0 100km/h in 2.8sec, and onto a 274km/h top speed. Oh, gear shifts are completed in only 35 milliseconds!

The model line-up consist of the Mono, Mono R, and Mono One, with pricing starting at approximately $212 177 (R4 007 387, est.). 

bac mono

2020 BAC Mono. Image: BAC

Caterham Seven 620

When it first came to market, the Caterham 7 impressed with its less-is-more approach. A simplistic design that did not mince its words on what it was about. And it was fun, judging by the videos and articles created on this car. The Seven 620 takes things a bit further, but retains the classic design of the car it’s built on.

Under the bonnet sits a supercharged Ford-derived 2.0-litre petrol engine that produces 230kW. Factor in a weight of 610kg, and you have a rear-wheel-drive hooligan of a machine. While it’s 2.79sec 0-100km/h time is fast, the Seven 620 is even better through corners.

That’s because its low centre-of-gravity allows for speed to be carried when the front wheels are turned. We can only imagine the fun we’ll have with this one! And if you were wondering, the power-to-weight ratio on this model is 380kW/tone! If this car was available in South Africa, you can expect to pay £50 390 (R1 161 374, est.), excluding VAT and other taxes.

Caterham Seven 620

2020 Caterham Seven 620. Image: Caterham

Donkervoort D8 GTO-RS

Perhaps the most unknown of the cars in question, the Donkervoort D8 GTO-RS is based on the Caterham Seven, but its design and engine would not suggest that.

Donkervoort, a Dutch automaker, focused its attention on making the D8 GTO-RS more aerodynamic. It achieved that by reducing air resistance by 20% over the preceding model. At 695kg, this car is slightly heavier than the Seven, but it makes up for it in the power stakes. An Audi-sourced 2.5-litre five-cylinder petrol engine with 280kW/500Nm on offer takes care of propelling this car forward. It goes from 0-100km/h in 2.7sec!

On a point of order, the windscreen and windows on the doors do negate it from being a true open-top F1 car for the road, but we let it slide because of its Caterham connection. 

Donkervoort D8 GTO-RS
2020 Donkervoort D8 GTO-RS. Image: Donkervoort
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