The Italian Junkyard

Thoughts, ideas, criticism about cars. Interesting news and facts from the world of the automobile. Events in Italy and Modena. What you can find elsewhere, filtered through the eyes of a discerning enthusiast. Design, style, everything on the chopping block. Nobody is safe anymore.

Monday, April 20, 2009

2.5 The Mantide will use you, and then eat you. Be afraid.

As already reported, in the last weeks designer Jason Castriota and coachbuilder Bertone teased the automotive world whit bit and bites about their new project, a one-off car.

At first called just "Project M", the car appeared in the first videos (by Bradley Farrell's Kinetic Fin) as a unformed mass of white plaster, slowly showing some more details.
It lately came out the car had been photoshopped to appear yellow or green, while it actually was red since the beginning.

A pool on the web site was made to let users to guess the color and the chassis of the actual car. It was also possible to send mail suggesting a name.

Last week the chassis was revealed being that of the Corvette ZR1 (C6). It was also stated that the whole mechanical part was unchanged. The non functioning air intake on the hood was removed as the car was supposed to be more than a stylistic exercise but actually an huge step forward from the ZR1, being completely styled after its function.
Aerodynamic has been increased with drag reduced by 25% and downforce improved by 30%, and the weight has been reduced by 100 kilograms with even more extensive use of carbon fiber, even for the wheels.
The theme was quite inspired by the racing world, with the form of the car following its function of being a thoroughbred supercar, while still maintaining the artistic and peculiar design of an Italian one-off.
Expect a carbon fiber dominated cockpit too.

As the car has now been unveiled on the internet, and at the same time exposed at Auto Shanghai 2009, we finally get the chance of seeing it as a whole product.
Unveiled in China is just the red moke up. The 23rd of this month, if I remember correctly, the actual car will be privately unveiled at the Fiat's Balocco test track, while making its official debut at this weekend Concours d'Elegance at Villa d'Este.

Now, the car.
The first details that strike out are it's angular and futuristic shape, the P4/5-ish roof (another car designed by Castriota) and a very busy rear end.
The front clearly reminds of a Mantis (Mantide being the Italian world for Mantis), and perhaps exactly the presence of an actual theme on the car makes it different from the others.
Even the rear seems to have an insect-like expression too, like a second face, and a rather menacing one as if it was a sort of warning for those trying to overtake it.

It has a really dynamic shape, expressing movement even while standing, especially with a series of lines converging to the center of the rear. The last video gives a better opportunity to appreciate this rather than the few pictures released up to now. Jalopnik already has more shots to show-off though.

There are plenty of air vents and wings all over the car, some of them almost hidden to the eye as the small wings right after the front wheels and developing under the car. The whole rear arches seem to be sculpted by the air flow too, providing an air intake in the lower part and a wing in the upper one, somehow reminding what Castriota himself did on the Ferrari 599 GT Fiorano, if not even on Ferrar's own the 599XX experimental evolution.
They also seem to be exactly like those after the front wheels, just upside down.

The rear is quite busy. At first it looks weird, but familiar too. That's because of the Citroen GTconcept. Even being quite different, both has the upper part of the tail prolonged for aerodynamic purpose, but the Citroen was never meant to be a road going car, despite rumors, therefore its even more peculiar styled.
The main air vents, the central one, is a bit difficult to understand. While continuously thinking of the Gumpert Apollo and it's mean aspect, this seems to be more coherent and while still aerodynamically forged, more pleasant to the eye.

There are no images of the interiors, but the roof, following the profile as in a sort of Sting Ray revival, looks promising for a roomy environment, part Le Mans prototype, part space age. It has a couple of ribs flowing to the rear end, which aren't visible at a first glance.
The doors seem to be a la gullwing now.

Note the rear wheel arches, and the front ones with them, designed as those of another truly futuristic car, the Lamborghini Countach, another Bertone's masterpiece.
The wheels look from the seventies too, and even if generally three spoked wheels aren't good looking, these fit the car quite well.

The hood, which maintained the ZR1 window in some way, is hard to decipher, mainly due to the weird reflections and the peculiar color.
According to Jalopnik, the car is even better in the flesh.

Another reason, as if it was required, to visit Villa d'Este.

I think this is worth a billions of teenagers' room walls. Truly Italian, truly Bertone.

here is the last video, Episode VII.

for more video, check this out: InsideProjectM youtube's page

Bertone Press Release

Stile Bertone is proud to present the ULTRA HIGH PERFORMANCE one-off MANTIDE.
Few, if any, automobiles have been as awe-inspiring as the show-stopping prototypes and "fuori serie" cars designed by Stile Bertone - the Alfa Romeo Carabo, the Lancia Stratos Zero and the Lamborghini LP500 prototype to name just a few

Stile Bertone has a long history of creating one-off prototypes based on the mechanicals of Chevrolet's sporting automobiles spanning over 50 years. Today, Stile Bertone is proud to utilize the mechanicals of the formidable 2009 Corvette ZR1. Employing know-how from the Le Mans winning Corvette C5R, the ZR1 is the greatest all-round performance car in the world, the undisputed "King of the Ring", posting the fastest ever lap time for a true production car at 7:26:4 seconds on the famed Nurburgring Nordschleife in Germany, long considered the benchmark for a car's true performance. Mantide has been designed and fully engineered in collaboration with the renowned Danisi Engineering and aims to be the world's greatest street legal performance car, wrapped in an iconic and radical Stile Bertone design.

Mantide's futuristic design draws equal inspiration from modern aerospace and the world of Formula One. The iconic theme is clear to see: a teardrop-like fuselage which tightly encases the mechanicals and the passenger cell which is embraced by two prominent wrapping aerodynamic appendages. While shockingly bold and technical, Mantide's unique design maintains a sensuality unique to Italian sports cars thanks to a futuristic interpretation of the classic Kamm Back two volume silhouette.
The aerospace inspired design aesthetic is further characterised by innovative yet beautiful forms which are fully driven by performance: the low-slung nose, jet fighter style teardrop canopy and butterfly opening doors, as well as the numerous air inlets and exhausts for maximum air efficiency.

Mantide also boasts cutting edge aerodynamic performance fine-tuned in an advanced full scale wind tunnel. Features include a Le Mans prototype-derived flat floor and diffuser as well as "flying buttresses" which help to increase aero efficiency, guarantee a lower drag coefficient and greater levels of down force. The final aerodynamic results are class leading, with drag reduced by 25% (Cd 0.298) and a 30% improvement in down force. The Mantide not only delivers greater speed and stability, but also more efficiency and therefore lower fuel consumption.

The Mantide promises even greater performance than the ZR1, due to significant weight savings and its highly advanced aerodynamics. Using carbon fibre for all body panels, interior trim, seats and even the wheels, the overall vehicle weight has been reduced by 100 kilos. The result is a staggering 0-62mph in 3.2 seconds and a top speed of 351 kph (217mph) Safety and chassis rigidity have been increased with the incorporation of an FIA regulation triangulated roll cage, light-weight carbon fibre racing seats and 4pt racing harness for track use.

Stile Bertone invites you to follow Mantide on its year-long journey as it travels to major auto events around the globe at

I love this picture.
Images sources: here and here

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