First Drive: Mosler Photon

A stripped-down, track-focused variant of the luxurious MT900S, the Photon has an interior of mostly exposed carbon fiber. A powerful A/C system keeps the interior cool--important, since the side windows are fixed.

While mainstream exoticar makers (now there's an oxymoron!) like Lamborghini are just now starting to get serious about lightweight construction methods, Mosler has been quietly building featherweight monsters crafted from carbon fiber and Kevlar for years. This kind of cutting-edge engineering isn't what you'd normally expect from a tiny, low-volume manufacturer from Florida, but it's the result of founder Warren Mosler's clear mission: to build amazing cars, not to sell them. Mosler doesn't seem to care if people buy his cars. "I want to do something great because I can," he says. "If we sell some, great. There will be some happy owners." And during a recent visit to Palm Beach International Raceway, Mosler Automotive made sure there was at least one happy journalist.

Director of engineering J. Todd Wagner surprised us by showing up and handing over the keys to a $394,500 Photon. At the time, we knew basically nothing about the car. As we were strapping ourselves in, every eye in the paddock was on the orange thing with the exhaust note so violent it could set off air-raid alarms. Wagner yelled over the exhaust, rattling off a ludicrous horsepower number (550), that ridiculous curb weight, and explaining that the Photon -- which has a custom Hewland sequential-manual racing gearbox -- uses a flywheel with about as much rotational inertia as a spinning, dying housefly. It'll stall if you look at it sideways. No pressure.

Having never once been around PBIR's track, and not even knowing if the Photon had antilock brakes (it doesn't, we would learn), we begged for a pace car. When a volunteer stepped forward, he hopped into his track-prepped Porsche 911 GT3 on slicks. When we were told that he was the local Porsche club's fastest instructor, we asked him to take it easy.

Hello Mr. Mosler,I just have to say I echo the previous poster's comments and that I feel guys like you can bring America its soul back.I also think your cars are amazing and I know I certainly can't afford one. That's why, since you're not really concerned about selling them, I'd like to ask you to give me one. For free. In return I promise to drive it all around and be an absolutely awesome ambassador of good will for Mosler Auto!Much mahalo & aloha,Steven
To get a sense of the performance advantage of my cars, when raced in GT3 around the world, under the 'equalization formulas' the Mosler's are required to carry approximately 400 lbs of ballast and the engines are restricted,while running against the likes of the latest Porsches and Ferraris allowed to run hundreds of pounds lighter than their street weights.
America needs more "hyper-exotic" and "boutique" automakers. In automakers like this is where you find a nation's soul and passion for cars.
Excellent write up, thanks!My goal has always been to produce the world's top performance car manufactured US road legal, and to the best of my knowledge the Photon continues that tradition. Performance enhancing changes from the MT900s include the narrowed body work that substantially cuts drag and improves acceleration, top speed, high speed handling/cornering as it further lowers the record lap times of the MT900s. And it was probably capable of going at least 5 seconds a lap quicker than the 911 you were following.Note that the quotes presumably from me were not my words.Also, Todd is a consultant, and not an employee, with aspirations of buying Mosler Automotive. I know of no partnership with Santa Fe though from this article it certainly looks attractive! The forecasts, visions, and opinions are entirely his own. (And the power steering is optional)The Photon offers the experience of extreme performance. Warren Mosler

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