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Saturday, January 21, 2023

The forgotten Wolfrace Sonic six-wheeled masterpiece

~Unique ONES~ How sad we are when we are forgotten, but there are many ways we can do so that we can continue to be remembered. One way is to create something different or something that has never been made before. This is also what many companies have done in the past such as by creating one great attention-grabbing supercar as their best effort to offer the products to the market.
The Wolfrace Sonic debuted at the Geneva Motor Show 1981, which immediately attracted the attention of the world automotive public at that time. (Picture from: ViaRetro)
It turns out that this effort is not only carried out by car manufacturers, but also by other companies. For example, in the early 1980s, there's a British alloy wheel manufacturer Wolfrace Wheels Ltd. released a one-of-a-kind supercar called the Wolfrace Sonic. As quoted from Hotcars, this eye-catching concept car was created as the company's intention to showcase its new range of Sonic alloy wheels at the time.
The Wolfrace Sonic was created as the company's intention to showcase its new range of Sonic alloy wheels at the time. (Picture from: ViaRetro)
For such reason, Wolfrace Managing Director Barry Treacy then contacted a creative car builder Nick Butler to create the Sonic, a wild six-wheeled supercar concept powered by two Rover V8 engines, lifted a design of the Batmobile, and an automotive oddity lived there. This unique car's designer was more widely known as an aeronautical engineer with credits for the Harrier Jump Jet, and Hawk aircrafts. As a result, Wolfrace weird looks vehicle unlike anything else on the road, if we ignore the Batmobile.
The Wolfrace Sonic is a wild six-wheeled supercar concept powered by two Rover V8 engines, lifted a design of the Batmobile, and an automotive oddity lived there. (Picture from: ViaRetro)
The unique two-seater supercar has a long nose, and aerodynamic designs which fuses the Adam West's Batmobile with those grittier cars that followed such as the Tumbler. Meanwhile the construction work of this wild designed supercar was completed in about 2 years with a total cost of production around £100,000, that includes the bodywork shape, interior layout, colors and materials that give the car its unique appeal.
The Wolfrace Sonic is designed by Nick Butler, and had a moulded GRP bodyshell built on a space frame chassis. (Picture from: ViaRetro)
As quoted from AllCarIndex, the Wolfrace Sonic took the shape in stages, due to the complexity of the work, where each new element posing problems that had to be tackled, many in areas where only speculation existed before, so added to the design element was extensive development programme for both components and concepts. Well, originally the Sonic only existed in the imagination was then realized into the real world by bringing all the uniqueness that surrounds it, such as instead of one engine, it has two, instead of four wheels, this car has six. 
The Wolfrace Sonic is not only an ordinary showcar, it's road-legal to drive in public roads due to it was registered in UK, and has plate number of YNK 135X. (Picture from: Sixmania.fr)
The combination of art and technology succeeded in delivering the Sonic shape that is said to be able to convey ideas of air flow and penetration dramatically. As the result, it was set that Nick Butler's imaginative design was inline to become the futuristic showcar of Wolfrace Wheels.
The Wolfrace Sonic is fitted with two pairs of 13-inches wheels up front, and a pair of specially cast 15-inches rims at the back, all shod with Pirelli Cinturato P7 tyres. (Picture from: CarsThatNeverMadeItEtc)
While regarding to the vehicles name was tied in with its primary advert Sonic, the flagship model alloy wheel that produced by those British alloy wheel manufacturer at the time (that later to be sold to Ford and used on the XR2 range). As you can see, the Sonic white alloy wheels is featured with 12 holes drilled into their frame, most likely inspired by the Lamborghini Countach wheels.
When the Wolfrace Sonic cockpit fairing was opened; so the steering wheel moved up and allow anybody to get in and out. (Picture from: Sixmania.fr)
The Wolfrace Sonic cockpits were stuffed full of buttons while the instrumentation in front of the driver was duplicated for the passenger, so they could be even more scared by what was going on around them. Then there was the fact that the driver's cockpit was so compact, that the 11.5-inches steering wheel was too big to allow anybody to get in and out. 
The Wolface Sonic cockpits were stuffed full of buttons while the instrumentation in front of the driver was duplicated for the passenger. (Picture from: Sixmania.fr)
The solution to this latter problem was to fit a sliding splined steering column with an assortment of universal joints, so the steering wheel moved up and out of the way as the cockpit fairing was opened. The other problems were solved by fitting various spiroid gearboxes and universal joints, which fed the steering input around the V8s and to a Rover SD1 rack.
The Wolfrace Sonic is powered by two 3.5-liter Rover V8 engines, and controlled by a complicated drive-by-wire system. (Picture from: Hotcars)
How about its performance? Surely, under the Sonic name, the Wolfrace's unique supercar has the ability to run up to the speed of sound. Especially, its drivetrain specifications placed in between the rear and front axles are impressive with two 3.5-liter Rover V8 engines, controlled by a complicated drive-by-wire system.
The second copy of the Wolfrace Sonic is built shortly after the original ones has been sold in 2015. (Picture from: Sixmania.fr)
However, the power burst sits only at 320 horsepower with a torque of around 295.02 lb-ft, not to mention its weight which is quite heavy of around 3,000 lbs, so the unique-shaped car is not able to produce good acceleration time. In fact, the Sonic took about 7 seconds to accelerate from rest to 62 mph, and likely had a top speed of around 150 mph. Underneath the Batmobile-style looks, there was a spaceframe chassis, with rear-wheel drive through a Jaguar rear axle and differential.
The Wolfrace Sonic (in pictured the second copy) built based on a spaceframe chassis, with rear-wheel drive through a Jaguar rear axle and differential. (Picture from: Sixmania.fr)
This car was completed in September 1980, and then debuted at the 1981 Geneva Motor Show, which immediately attracted the attention of the world automotive public at that time, besides that the Sonic also managed to make the similar six-wheeled car like the Panther 6 of 1977 seen old-fashioned.
Which do you think is more interesting between 1981 Wolfrace Sonic and 1977 Panther 6? (Picture from: Trussty-Jasmine)
Uniquely, the Sonic is not only an ordinary showcar, it's road-legal to drive in public roads due to it was registered in UK, and has plate number of YNK 135X. As the result, Wolfrace achieved what it set out to, to get the alloy wheels company more attention. Since that the Sonic made regular appearances on the motor show circuit for a couple of years before disappearing out of view.
The second copy of the Wolfrace Sonic is built shortly after the original ones has been sold in 2015. (Picture from: Sixmania.fr)
Reportedly in 2010, the original Sonic car reappeared and went up for sale for an exorbitant price of around £1 million. Eventually in 2015 the original car came up for sale again on eBay. Selling for around £18,100, this ultra rare car disappeared once more. Instead, Wolfrace built a red-colored second copy. Much speculation related to why this unique car is sold at such a price. According to Sixmania.fr, when the car was sold in 2015 it was in such poor condition (the car that could no longer drive due to broken computers) that it needed a complete restoration to get it back to its former glory.
For this reason, the owner at that time whose felt unable to bear the restoration cost and then let it go with such of prices, in the hope that the new owner would be able to carry out the restoration process that would be needed lot money. We can only hope that one day the Sonic will return to greet the world's automotive enthusiasts like its glory days then. Let's wait and see.😲 *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | WOLFRACE | NICK BUTLER | HOTCARS | ALLCARINDEX | VIARETRO | ARONLINE | BELOW THE RADAR | SIXMANIA.FR ]
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