First displayed back in 1979, the updated AR-1 is back packing a real punch and is ready to join the growing list of American-born exotics.
In 1979, an unknown American fiberglass manufacturer named Alessi Fiberglass went to the New York Auto Show to display their AR-1 sports car. At the time it housed a Buick V6 engine and, of course, a fiberglass body. Following a warm reception, a few models were reportedly built before the car vanished from the automotive scene and the company returned to manufacturing fiberglass, which it has been doing very successfully ever since.
After a 33-year hiatus, Alessi has come back to New York with an updated version of the AR-1. And instead of the Buick V6, power now comes from a mid-mounted Corvette-sourced 6.2-liter V8, whose power is sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual 'box. When combined with a supercharger, the V8 produces 600hp and 580lb-ft of torque. If that's too mild for your taste then the supercharger can be replaced by two turbochargers, which bumps output to 750hp and 690lb-ft of torque. The new AR1 weighs just 1,450kg thanks to a hand-laid fiberglass body, which carries steel reinforcements at various stress points.
The chassis was built from eleven gauge steel and welded with a 100,000 pounds-per-square-inch tensile strength giving the latest American-born exotic plenty of strength. Inside, a race-inspired instrument panel has eight analog gauges on a fiberglass cluster and standard equipment includes a Sparco tilt steering wheel, cut pile carpeting, a rear-view mirror with back-up camera, and power bucket seats. Other standard gear on the supercar includes dual power side mirrors, power-operated tail section, and run flat tires with sensors.
There are no official performance figures, but Alessi estimates the AR1 can shift from standstill to 60mph in 3.4 seconds, run a quarter-mile in 10.7 seconds and hit a top speed of 200mph.
Only 50 examples of the Alessi AR-1 will be built, joining a growing list of American niche supercars such as the Saleen S7 and Hennessey Venom GT; prices have yet to be confirmed.