Chevy V8 Diesel Power for Unlikely Economy Car

By Andy Bannister

04.02.2009

iceni-frontHeard the one about the GM-powered V8 turbodiesel two-seater that’s more economical than a Smart Fortwo?

That’s the slightly jokey-sounding claim being made for the Trident Iceni, a new 175mph British sports car said to be close to production.

There’s a long tradition of low-volume Brit sports and luxury cars powered by big American V8s – AC, Bristol, Jensen and so on.

This is the first time, however, a diesel unit has been used. It’s the 6.6-litre Isuzu-developed unit which powers the likes of the lumbering Chevrolet and GMC heavy-duty pickup trucks.

trident-iceni-side-viewThe engine fitted to the Iceni provides 550hp at just 3800rpm and produces mountains of torque, with the help of a modified Dodge truck gearbox with eight forward speeds. This transmission is rear-mounted, to help weight distribution.

The Iceni’s secret weapon is its light 2700lb weight, thanks to its one-piece glassfibre body, plus the low revs its mighty power unit delivers.

It looks as swoopy as you might expect, with removable roof “bubbles” being one of the more distinctive features of what is billed as a luxury GT with plenty of luggage space.

The Iceni hails from the county of Norfolk in the flatlands of eastern England, where there is a surprising level of expertise in low volume sports car manufacture. Lotus is the most famous marque to hail from the area.

The company’s website says orders are currently being taken, with the car priced at a not inconsiderable £75,000 ($106,000).

All in all, it’s an interesting approach, and very different from the headlong rush towards electric power which many manufacturers have indicated they are pursuing.

The Iceni name, incidentally, comes from the Ancient British tribe whose revolt, led by the warrior-queen Boudicca, was crushed by the Romans.

The fear for an unknown manufacturer like Trident, particularly in these hard times, is that the Iceni, like its ancient namesake, will end up another footnote of history.

trident-venturerIt doesn’t help that the Trident name itself has a rather inglorious past. In its previous incarnation, Trident was a very low volume manufacturer of British sports cars from 1966 to around 1977, selling models such as the Clipper, Venturer and Typhoon.

Less than 140 of all versions were produced, with the mid-1970s economic slowdown and accompanying fuel crisis largely to blame, plus the fact that the company was too small and largely run as a cottage industry, not a professional undertaking.

Trident had links with another British sports car maker, TVR (alas, much missed), with the Clipper prototype being originally developed for TVR but sold on when the company hit one of its many financial crises.

The original Tridents had a mish-mash of different engines, from a Triumph straight-6 to big American V8s from Ford and Chrysler.

It’s hard to imagine the engineers of the 70s ever imagining a diesel-powered supercar – times are certainly a’changing.

COPYRIGHT Autosavant – All Rights Reserved

Author: Andy Bannister

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3 Comments

  1. “It’s the 6.6-litre Isuzu-developed unit which powers the likes of the lumbering Chevrolet Suburban and its SUV stablemates.”

    Erm, it *doesn’t* power the Suburban or stablemates; it powers HD trucks

  2. Indeed, Mark – thanks for catching that. Post updated. In Andy’s defense, he doesn’t live in the US. As his editor – and someone with more than a passing knowledge of the US auto market – I should have caught that before posting.

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