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Nichols N1A | Modern take on a retro racecar

It would be comforting to know that the person who created the vehicle knew what he was doing if you were seeking to purchase a lethal road-legal track car from a little firm you'd never heard of. Don't worry; Nichols Cars has you covered there.

Ayrton Senna utilised the MP4/4 in 1988 to win the first of his three F1 Drivers Championships, and CEO Steve Nichols is credited with introducing carbon fibre to the sport. Additionally, he contributed to F1 projects for Ferrari, Jaguar, Jordan, and Sauber. Although the idea for Nichols' first car came from a far earlier period in McLaren's history, that is still a rather impressive resume.

Nichols' N1A bears tribute to McLaren's M1A, the closed-wheel racer constructed between 1963 and 1968, in both name and design. Midway through the 1960s, the M1A competed in both the extreme Group 7 class in Europe and the United States Road Racing Championships in North America, where it developed into the M1B and M1C for Can-Am racing.

The slick bodywork of the current N1A is unmistakably identical, although it is broader and longer and made of carbon fibre. It also boasts significantly larger 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels covered in contemporary Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. The aluminium chassis includes double wishbones all around, traction control as standard equipment, and the ability to add power steering and anti-lock brakes as options.

The 7.0-litre LS V8 behind the back seats of the N1A, though, is its beating heart. It drives the rear wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox with a traditional open-gate shifter. Original M1As produced between 310 and 550 horsepower (314-558 PS), but Langford Performance Engineering—whose boss, Richard Langford, was a member of the team behind the Cosworth DFV that dominated F1 for years—modified this one to produce somewhat more. Given the curb weight of under 1000 kg (2,200 lb), the resulting 650 horsepower (659 PS) should be more than enough.

The maximum number of vehicles Nichols expects to produce is 100, and that number includes 15 fully equipped launch edition cars with the 7.0-litre V8—one for each of the McLaren MP4/4's triumphs. Customers wishing to save money can choose a Chevy LT1 engine with 460 horsepower (466 PS) or a 520 horsepower (527 PS) version with throttle bodies to be installed in the standard production automobiles. Prices are TBD, but we want one regardless of the price.

TopGear Magazine May 2024