5 cars you (probably) didn’t know were developed by racing drivers | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 01, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 01, 2020

5 cars you (probably) didn’t know were developed by racing drivers

Ayrton Senna and the Honda NSX

In February of 1989, a gaggle of Honda engineers were awaiting the newly crowned World Champion's verdict on the company's most ambitious project ever; The New Sportscar eXperimental as Senna was asked by Honda to fine tune the suspension, in a spur-of-the-moment request by McLaren's engine supplier. What was to be a last minute minor adjustment, led Senna requesting the entire chassis to be comprehensively reinforced, after the engineers were met with disappointment from the world champion as they have been just told that their car was good but not good enough. It's safe to say Honda burned the midnight oil as the NSX was due for launch next year and later in the year, the R&D department regrouped and met Senna at the Nurburgring after engineers managed to stiffen the chassis by 50%. Senna's further input honed the all-aluminium NSX to be as forged and honed as a perfectly balanced katana.

Would the NSX that we know of be where it is today had the Maestro not give his seal of approval?  The 4th gen Honda Prelude certainly has Senna's seal of approval as he starred in a number of adverts aired in Japan, driving down the coast of Amalfi in a silver prelude.

Sebastian Vettel, Sebastien Buemi and Infiniti

Whilst developing the q50, Infiniti, main sponsor for Redbull Racing, started to cash in on its association with RBR's star f1 outfit Sebastian Vettel, giving extensive input to the Q50's driving dynamics, advocating with regards to its vehicle dynamics being stiffened. RBR's reserve driver Sebastien Buemi took the prototype saloon clad in camo-wrap to the green hell.

Although what took everyone by surprise wasn't the dynamic Q50 that resulted from the RBR-Infiniti marketing exercise, was the FX50 Vettel Edition, a limited edition of the FX50 SUV.

Michael Schumacher at Fiorano

Alongside his ten year stint at the Scuderia Ferrari F1 team, the seven time World Champion spent hundreds of hours of seat times inside Ferrari test mules incorporating formula one technology and experience garnered by Ferrari into their road cars, including restricted technology (back then) in F1; active aero. Schumacher's portfolio includes the Posterchild Enzo with an F1 styled sloping nose (now you know why) and the track only version it spawned with a face and howl of a banshee: the FXX. The F430 Scuderia was christened by the star as well.

Walter Rorhl and Porsche

The two time World rally Champion, most famous for piloting the group B behemoths like the Lancia 037's and the Audi S1 Quattro's and now in present day Porsche's came from humble beginnings and with the image of a Porsche being held with high regards since his childhood- his first car was a damn 356C!

After retiring from WRC, the "Genius on wheels" as dubbed by Niki Lauda was picked up by Porsche as a test and development driver. Porsche's technological marvel at the time- the 959 has had Rorhl's imprints on it, as did the Carrera GT, which he took to the green hell and set a blistering time of 7:28 at the Nordschleife. He's still seen all over YouTube thrashing his company car (an array of whimsical Porsches) and talking to the onboard GoPro on Porsche's official YouTube channel. 

Colin Chapman

Being an ex RAF pilot, studying structural engineering and becoming one of the great innovators and minds in motorsport and revolutionizing Formula one, suggests he knew a thing or two about making cars go fast; Simplify, then add lightness resonates with Lotus Engineering Ltd. What may surprise you is that he built a time machine.

John DeLorean being no stranger to the automotive industry himself and his creation, made instantly recognizable by Doc Brown's time machine from BTTF owes in no small part to Colin Chapman penning the design for DeLorean's car of the future; the DMC-12. The back story and what followed suit later on might have been more interesting than the car itself, as there are stories as to how the factory in Ireland was fashioned into a barrack as the Northern Ireland was at war and blueprints for how the gullwing doors are meant to stay open were lost. After DeLorean got caught up in a drug trafficking fiasco, Chapman's design was sold to Toyota, intended for the AW11 MR2.

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