It wouldn’t be a major international auto show unless attendees saw the debut of a boutique super car. Luckily, at the 2016 Detroit auto show, newly minted automaker VLF yanked the covers off its own couchbuilt supercoupe, the Force 1 V10.
First, a bit about the masterminds behind the striking sports car. VLF is run by three key figures, two of whom are household names within the automotive industry. First founded by ex-GM chairman Bob Lutz and Gilbert Villareal as VL Automotive, the company made headlines in 2013 with the reveal of the Destino sedan, which essentially was a Fisker Karma with a 6.2-liter supercharged LS9 V-8 shoehorned under the hood. For design, the pair turned to veteran Henrik Fisker to shape their boutique lineup, adding Fisker’s initial to the company, resulting in the creation of VLF.
The VLF Force 1, however, is built on the bones of a Dodge Viper, though designer Fisker says it’s much more than just new bodywork.
“It has the base of a Viper chassis, and the base of a Viper engine, but that’s about it,” Fisker told AUTOMOBILE.
Visually, the Force 1 hardly has any resemblance to the Viper, with a sharper front nose that gives way to a swept profile. Large, four-spoke wheels fill widened arches on all four corners.
“I had to decide how to design an American supercar, and how would that look. It is almost the opposite of many European brands, who are all about understatement,” Fisker said. “For me, American style is all about showing who you are, showing what you got. Especially when you look back to the golden ages of the ‘50s and ‘60s. So I brought a bit of that back, by saying, ‘Ok, we got this big engine, lets emphasize the hood, let’s put the air intakes where we need them. Let’s emphasize the wheels.’”
Aside from the wild exterior, the supercoupe hides a swank interior, with top-tier leather and suede covering most surfaces. In the center of the two seats lies one of Fisker’s trademarks, a pair of belted holsters for transporting champagne bottles.
To eke out further performance from the Dodge Viper platform, VLF turned to Ben Keating, who races Vipers professionally and owns a string of 14 different dealerships, including the aptly named Viper Exchange, the highest-volume Viper dealer in the world.
The VLF team wasn’t revealing too many mechanical secrets, but new camshafts and higher-flow headers and exhaust systems reportedly unleash another 100 hp. The modifications bump power up to a stratospheric 745 hp, enough to hurtle the Force 1 to 60 mph in a claimed three seconds, on its way to a top speed of 218 mph.
Power is routed to the rear wheels through a choice of either a six-speed manual or an automatic transmission, the first time an automatic transmission has found its way inside the third-generation Viper. According to Fisker, it’s a traditional automatic, and not a dual-clutch design. No specifics were given about the gearbox, but it must be a beefy set of cogs to handle the modified engine’s 638 lb-ft of torque.
Despite the fact that the car’s new bodywork is composed almost entirely of carbon fiber, the Force 1 weighs in at just over 3,300 pounds, right around the same as the production Viper.
Underneath the skin, Keating and his team worked tirelessly to fine-tune a special adaptive suspension, based on components from suspension specialists at Tractive. The system, according to Keating, is able to make 10,000 adjustments per second, and works by supporting the car on the damping system, and not the spring itself. This trick damping system means the Force 1 is far more comfortable and tractable than standard Viper, allowing the driver to enjoy the Force 1 on a daily basis rather than being relegated to a weekend-only position in the owner’s garage.
Comfort isn’t the only benefit of the Tractive system, as track-testing resulted in a three-second lap-time difference between the Force 1 and a regular Viper, at least in Keating’s hands.
The VLF Force 1 starts at $268,000. VLF hopes to start limited production of the Force 1 by April, with initial deliveries beginning in June.
Take a look at VLF and Henrik Fisker’s vision of an American supercar in the photo gallery below.