In the first part of our series on the Skelta (see
Dissecting the Skelta - Part One)
we looked at its space-frame,
carbon fibre body and driveline. Well, now its time to check out the suspension,
steering, brakes, cabin, pricing and on-road performance of this incredible
Suspension, Steering and
With an emphasis on tarmac racing - not just
driving on billiard-table-smooth racetracks - Ray Vandersee has given his Skelta
sports car generous suspension travel together with finely controlled geometry
through bump and rebound movement.
The Skelta uses motorsport inspired unequal length
wishbones front and rear. Inboard ProFlex coil-overs are fitted at each end and
provide adjustable damping (with external reservoirs) and adjustable height
spring platforms. Front and rear suspension arrangements use cast aluminium
rocker arm actuation of the coil-overs by pull rods. The motion ratios of the
wheels and dampers are about 2.5:1 at both ends and Ray uses slightly firmer
springs at the front. Weight distribution is spot-on at 49:51 front-to-rear.
The suspension is designed to allow around 200mm
of travel front and rear and, over this range, front camber change is
approximately three degrees. Ray has also built in geometry to prevent
bump-steer, anti-dive and anti-squat. In Ray’s targa-spec configuration, there’s
up to six degrees of castor, one degree of negative camber at the front, half a
degree of negative camber at the rear and about a millimetre of toe-in at each
end. Interestingly, there are no swaybars as Ray says they shouldn’t really be
needed if the chassis is balanced and the springs and dampers are well spec’d.
However, he is soon to investigate fitting swaybars and testing the results.
Custom cast aluminium hubs are used at
both ends with the front using Holden wheel bearings and the rear using Honda
double race bearings.
Given its low weight (just 700kg) and focus on
competition reliability, it’s no surprise Ray has installed a non-assisted
steering system. The standard steering arrangement comprises a 3 turns
lock-to-lock Ford Escort rack while a quick-ratio 2.5 turn lock-to-lock rack is
also on offer. This noticeably increases steering effort during low-speed
manoeuvres but it’s not as heavy as you’ll find in some non power-steer ‘70s
cars. A Honda S2000 column is employed due to its lightweight and collapsible
mechanism which is an ADR safety requirement.
Given the mass of the vehicle, brakes are simply
gigantic. Interestingly, the same brakes are fitted front and rear – Wilwood
298mm ventilated and drilled discs and 4-pot calipers. Buyers can opt for
grooved front discs if preferred, through Ray points out there is a small weight
saving by using the drilled discs. A Wilwood master cylinder and in-cabin bias
adjuster are installed but you won’t find a vacuum booster.
Road-spec wheels are ROH 16 x 7s wearing 205/45 16
Kumho rubber. Race versions can be purchased with lighter weight wheels wearing
softer compound tyres.
As you’d expect, the cabin is pretty bare-bones.
There are no power windows (because there aren’t any windows!) and don’t bother
looking for air conditioning, a heater or sound system. Major features inside
the cabin include two race seats, harnesses, a Momo wheel (with a Skelta horn
button), aluminium shift knob and a vast expanse of carbon fibre. The sweeping
carbon dashboard is created using a custom in-house mould and a standard S2000
gauge cluster is built in. The S2000 cluster gives a highly visible bar graph
tacho and digital speedo. A battery cut-out, extinguisher and rally computer are
fitted to competition versions such as Ray’s targa car.
Occupants are protected from the elements by a
removable roof panel and acrylic rear window but, curiously, there are no side
curtains. Ray says the carbon roof adds a little bit of weight but it’s more
than offset by the aero advantage of improved airflow to the rear wing. In terms
of storage, there are pockets in the side panels and decent space below the
lift-off boot panel. This is typically where the spare wheel is stored but you
can also fit a couple of soft bags.
Production and Prices
At the time of writing, Skelta Sports Cars is in
the process of manufacturing its fifth vehicle. The first model was the
prototype (which won’t be sold), the second is Ray’s targa vehicle, the third
has been sent to England, the fourth is a road-spec version which is soon to be
registered and the fifth is a race-spec version.
So how does the Skelta gain legal road-reg
approval? Well, it’s treated like an individually constructed vehicle – just
like a Clubman. This means it’s exempt from crash testing but all other relevant
ADRs are fulfilled.
For a fully assembled, ready-to-go race Skelta
you’ll have to cough up AUD$134,000 (which includes GST, luxury car tax and a
conditional one-year warranty) but road versions are slightly cheaper. Obviously
134k is more than loose change but if you want to take on mega-buck GT3s and
Ferraris in competition, this is the way to do it. Sure, a Clubman racer can be
built for substantially less - but can’t possibly match the Skelta for all-round
If you can’t afford AUD$134,000, you’ll be
interested to learn that you can buy the Skelta rolling chassis for AUD$43,945,
the Honda mechanicals for around AUD$21,000 and an ADR approved fuel system kit
can be bought for AUD$1888. We suggest contacting the company to find which
package best suits your needs.
On the Road
AutoSpeed had the opportunity to drive Ray’s
targa-spec Skelta – and we can tell you it’s one of the most tactile automotive
experiences we’ve ever come across. From the lightening response of the
quick-rack steering to the scream of the VTEC engine and the machine-gun effect
of road grit hitting the floor, this is in ya face.
Perhaps surprisingly, the Skelta doesn’t have
explosive acceleration – it simply builds and builds speed as the VTEC engine
approaches 9000 rpm. But it’s obviously quick. You’d expect that when you take
the engine out of the already-quick Honda S2000 and put it in a car with just
over half the weight...
The quick-rack steering takes a little bit of
getting used to – especially at high speed over bumpy roads - but there can be
no underestimating the immense grip and balance. It’s obvious this is a car with
targa winning potential. The brakes are also powerful and resist locking.
From our perspective, the biggest downside of the
Skelta is its lack of doors. You need to swing your legs over the side panels
and, somehow, tuck them down into the footwell. It’s a very awkward exercise for
anyone, and damn near impossible is you are tall.
In the heat of motorsport, Ray says the Skelta is
very controllable, comfortable to drive for extended periods and very light on
tyres, brake pads and fuel. And, yes, it’s bloody quick. Ray was challenging the
top end of the field in Targa Tasmania ’06 until a freak mechanical problem put
an end to the run. But you can bet the farm he’ll be back next year with even
more pace. Suspension and aerodynamic development of the Skelta are ongoing and
Ray is considering adding an engine management piggy-back or interceptor to
extract even more power.
If you want pure performance without the frills,
you know where to go!
Contact: Skelta Sports Cars +61 7 4631 4801
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