What happens when you take a Ferrari 430 Scuderia and build from it the most badass-looking endurance racing car on the planet? You get the P4/5C.
(Full disclosure: I wanted to ride in the P4/5C so bad that I was an abnormally nice guy on the internet, and so lucked out in making friends with the right people. Also? I had pizza and Italian ice with Jim Glickenhaus.)
Before we go any further, let's make sure everyone here knows about the P4/5. It's okay; go read while I wait. Everyone good now? The only real setup here is that I received an invite from my friend Bradley Farrell to join him and his crew to film the P4/5C for a day. Thus our review begins.
It's a bare carbon fiber race car: duh. But that gives it a pretty awesome high-water mark to start. I could fault it for its panel gaps, but then again, that's makes this car so incredible to me. It is not some silky-smooth piece of art; it is a living, breathing, demonstrably powerful race car that you just happen to be able to drive on the road.
Look at those switches, folks. JUST LOOK AT THEM! I wanted to touch them all, but did not, because I had a KERS system at my feet, and do not wish to die.
Despite being a race car at its core, there are a few creature comforts in the cockpit: A/C, Bluetooth, backup camera, and a mount for an iPad mini for navigation needs (More on those specific needs later). As a 6'1" human being, it was a tad cramped in the car, but not that bad. What's more, unlike other race/performance cars, like Porsche GT2, a five point harness feels right at home in this car.
My ride in the P4/5C was brief, but there were a few key take-aways here.
Most race cars sound like they are fundamentally broken when traveling at legal/"normal" speeds. The P4/5C's gearbox makes plenty of loud clanks and bangs as you chug along at slow speeds, but the shifts themselves are not overly violent. The brakes, too, generate notable noise, but again nothing ear-shattering as the car eases through dense neighborhoods.
As we blast around a reservoir in downstate New York, I cannot help but notice how easy the car is to handle for Jim. The steering seems to be plenty light. While I was expecting a spine-shaking ride along rough, weathered roads in the low-slung P4/5C, it fares no worse than any other exotic on the roads here. You feel the mechanical thrust and soul in the seats, but I never quite felt a wincing discomfort, even upon dipping into potholes. As Jim and the car's engineers pointed out, this car is set up for The Ring. Between the carousel turns and the unforgiving changes in track surface, you cannot afford an overly stiff setup.
Earlier I mentioned navigational "needs," so let's loop back to that. While the car may ride pretty well and the steering may be light, you are still driving a race car on a public road; you are limited as to which roads and turns you can take. While filming a longer trip for Return to Desire, the crew and I needed to be much more conscious of the roads we were headed down, and the availability of areas to turn around. Despite having a fairly large glass canopy and a backup camera onboard, visibility is pretty tricky in a car like this. That, and the engine cooling for road speeds is still being tweaked, so long stops are best avoided.
This score is not based on the exhaust note alone, but more the complete audio package. The exhaust note is fairly tame, no fire and brimstone here. What good is a road car that makes everyone deaf? That being said, it might still set off every car alarm nearby. What really makes this car great in the audio department is the combination of engine, brakes, and gearbox. Being in a machine like this opens up your ears to what an engine does, what the road sounds like at high speed, what makes a car race.
I am sure (this being the web) there are plenty of people that question the worthiness of someone embarking on a project like this; to those persons, I suggest reading Autoblopnik instead. This car is a true masterpiece. The work Jim and crew are doing to develop a brand new car for endurance racing is inspirational and fascinating. It is a shame more folks are not taking the risks that Jim has taken with projects like this. The P4/5C is truly something new, special, and exhilarating, and that is why we make race cars.