CarBuzz spoke to Apollo's design chief about what's in store for the new hypercar company.
Designing hypercars is rewarding and challenging, but when free to create something truly unique and not bound by brand tradition, the sky’s the limit. It’s every automotive designer’s dream, and Joe Wong is living it. The former McLaren designer, mentored by the great Frank Stephenson, is now chief designer for Apollo. He’s the guy who came up with the radical yet stunning Apollo Arrow concept that premiered last March at Geneva. We fell hard for it immediately.
Apollo's plan was always to put the Arrow into production, and this will start soon from the same German factory that Gumpert built the original Apollo. We spoke to Wong about the huge design task he’s currently working on, what it is like working with Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus (SCG) engineers in Italy, and how much resemblance the production-spec, street legal Arrow S and its track counterpart, Titan, will have to that insane concept. Graduating from the UK’s University of Huddersfield in 2013, Joe Wong spent a brief, yet extremely productive, time at McLaren before being lured to Apollo.
With the Arrow concept’s debut behind him, Wong is now finalizing the design of both cars in Italy where a “deep understanding of aerodynamics enables (him) to create incredible forms (and) at the same time constantly improve the performance airflow through and around the body of the car.” If you liked the design of the Arrow concept then you’re going to be quite pleased, if not outright thrilled, with the production versions. “The two cars will be very much alike,” Wong explains. “I expect the Arrow S will have very insignificant changes (from the concept). The only changes that will be necessary are only to please the regulatory requirements, such as the rear wing, for example.
“I retained areas which I believe were unique to the Arrow, such as the dominant side aero fins which control the outtake of the air through and behind the front wheels. The F22 Raptor (fighter jet)-like rear wing mounts, which helps control the flow of air, aggressive shark-like snout, however, are now highly evolved. The new design is so much more focused.” As for the Titan, Apollo is “designing and building a true race car that is to be adapted and used for the road,” says Wong. “A lot of people use the term ‘race car for the road,’ but not all are built to legitimately compete in any real race classes.
In the end, some are really just road supercars adapted for racing; we are going to deliver a product that is genuinely derived from racing.” Enter SCG. James Glickenhaus, who CarBuzz recently spoke to, and his expert crew of racing engineers also don’t like to play by the so-called industry rules. Wong describes SCG as “highly focused in engineering (and that) everyone works extremely well together, destroying the old notion of the conflict between designers and engineers.” In fact, Apollo has only two designers, Wong and Jakub Jodlowski, who’s responsible for 3D development.
“In my opinion, having a small yet focused team means we can really carry some of the craziest ideas into production without having to go through several layers of management.” Without the suits getting in the way, thing are moving along wicked fast, as the Titan will debut at the 2017 Goodwood Festival of Speed with the explicit goal of taking on the Hillclimb. Speaking of which, Wong isn’t blind to the fact that the Titan could be one of the last of its kind with its naturally aspirated, high revving V12. The Arrow S will come powered by a twin-turbo V8. Point being is that Wong fully intends for the Titan to make a huge impression. Same deal for the Arrow S.
“As a designer, my aim for Apollo and Arrow is to really capture and express the excitement and mystery with the idea of a myth into something that can be observed, heard and that is tangible,” he explains. Expect to see both cars’ surfaces express a much higher degree of tension and energy. Wong claims he’s pushing the boundaries of the original (concept) design given the new SCG chassis, aerodynamic and package requirements. Translation: don’t expect a watered-down design. In fact, the production version is going to be “even wilder.” As for performance, the Titan will be put to the test on several European tracks, including the Nurburgring.
The aim is to set a new record, and given SCG’s history of crushing records Apollo’s goal seems totally feasible. The Arrow S and Titan are just the beginning for Apollo. Big plans are being laid out and while Wong couldn’t go into specifics, he refused to rule out “electric powertrains and various interesting technologies.” Apollo plans to succeed where Gumpert couldn’t. It’s called survival. Thanks to fresh talent like Joe Wong and the new partnership with SCG, Apollo could become the next successful hypercar company, alongside the likes of Pagani and Koenigsegg. We’ll see in June whether or not these guys have the right stuff.