Two young car designers have turned their final-year project into a business reality
The ‘Toniq-R’ is the fruit of four Huddersfield University students’ final-year labours.
In 2002, the Transport Design students exhibited their concept car at the University’s 3D end-of-year design show. Three years later, the production car has now been officially launched at the recent National Kit and Performance Car Show at Donington Park.
Initially, students Colin Williams, Will Baxter, Angus Fitton and Paul Phillpot intended the Toniq-R as a static design study - but things have moved on apace. While Paul took up postgraduate employment designing computer game characters and Angus walked into CAR magazine as their staff writer, Colin and Will decided that the Toniq-R’s petrol tank had leaked enough fuel into their veins to keep them running for a few more years.
During the concept stage at the University, the four were able to develop their project thanks to numerous companies that recognised the task that lay ahead of the team.
Jaguar provided the team with a number of parts and allowed two members of its advanced design department – Julian Thompson and Stuart Norris – to provide styling tips. Manchester firm HMG supplied free paint for the prototype and Aspley Autoparts of Huddersfield – part of the A1 Motorstores chain – donated wheels and accessories worth £1,500. And when it came to logistics, the RAC stepped in.
“We can’t thank people enough for their kind help,” said Colin. “The team was at a real low about finances, but then we spoke to Aspley Autoparts about our project. They decided on the spot to give us some brochures and pay for any set of wheels and tyres we wanted – we were all gobsmacked by their goodwill!”
Following on from the University foundation, Colin and Will took the car off to the London New Designers exhibition, the Birmingham NEC International Motorshow and the Donington Kit & Performance car show.
After shifting through offers from a number of production partners, the pair opted to produce the car in partnership with kit/race-car manufacturer Stuart Taylor Motorsport in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, which is now taking orders. The car will soon be available in kit form from £4,000 or ready to run for £16,995.
The launch model features a 900cc, 125bhp Honda FireBlade engine but a 1,000cc Suzuki GSXR-powered alternative will be available this summer for about £23,000, which is rated at 150bhp – more than 400 per ton. For now, though, customers will have to be satisfied with doing 0-60mph in 4.2 seconds en route to a top speed of more than 120mph.
“Interest has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Ian Gray at Stuart Taylor’s. “There are lots of companies building things that look like the original Lotus Seven, but this is refreshingly different.
“Take a look at many other kit cars and you’ll notice they’ve all been designed by men in their forties. The Toniq is fresher and promotes the spirit of the Seven in a much more modern way. It is genuinely a car for the 21st century.”
Colin Williams, who has spent time with TVR’s design department, and Will Baxter, who has previously worked at Caterham’s, are fanatical about their product. And rightly they should be, as they are the first-ever students, globally, from any university to have taken their car design through to production.
Will became obsessed with cars from a young age, after being given a Ferrari F40 model for his 10th birthday: “From that moment, I have always wanted to run the Ferrari design team and to drive a Ferrari F40,” said Will. “It has taken a lot of work and tears to get this far with the Toniq-R, but it feels as though we’re going in the right direction.”
Further details can be found by visiting the teams web-site http://www.toniqr.co.uk
or by contacting Ian Gray at Stuart Taylor Motorsport on 0115 944 7644.