If Robert Lutz has his way, both his grand touring car and his virtual car company could be running in less than three years.
He acknowledged the job ahead. The "car of heroic proportions'' Lutz plans has just two investors, no designers, engineers or factories. But the 48-valve, V-12-powered, all-wheel-drive 2+2 grand touring car could be in select showrooms within three years, he said.
Lutz pulled no punches in separating his car from many of those that fill Cobo Center: "I have to apologize that it doesn't look like a toaster; it doesn't look like a trash compactor; and it doesn't look like a snow plow attached to a nonexistent car. The Cunningham is designed to look like an automobile."
The Cunningham is designed "to be a no-holds-barred automobile" he said. Collision-avoidance electronics are planned, as is an active suspension for lowering the car at speed. Engine size is planned to be about 6.8 liters and should produce 600 hp.
The estimated price is $200,000. Two hundred and fifty could be produced the first year, with production at up to 600 annually.
Lutz, chairman and CEO of battery maker Exide Corp., said he was not concerned about the recent downturn in auto sales. "The car will be ready for the upturn," he said.
Before that, he must convince investors to put up something less than $100 million in a series of stock offerings. Lutz expects his ownership to be diluted, but not his voting power. Lutz does not plan to sell voting shares to the public.
The virtual company Lutz envisions will rely on Tier 1 suppliers. They will supply engineering, development and manufacturing.