A genetic hybrid takes components from two creatures and melds them into a single entity. Ideally, the end result is an improvement. Ligers and tigons are curiosities. Horses and donkeys produced mules that helped advance human civilization. A skunkopotamus would make a poor house pet. When it comes to machines, however, mechanical hybridization becomes a fine art.
All little boys covet supercars. I drooled over them when I was a lad. My boys plastered their bedroom walls with them. Rarefied high-end automobiles not only get you from place to place in comfort, but they also make a statement. Driving a supercar is like having a superpower. You may not be the most handsome dude in the neighborhood, but if you are rolling in a Ferrari or Lambo, you are instantly, indisputably cool.
SandRacer 500 GT: Where It All Began
What might the ultimate motorized conveyance look like? You’d want killer performance and styling that would conjure the licking of chops by your friends while reliably turning the heads of the ladies. The car would also need to perform like the Tumbler from Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies. You would want to cross a high-end supercar with a sandrail. In short, you’d want the Zarooq SandRacer 500 GT.
In November of 2014, Mohammed Al Qadi, Iannis Mardell and Bruno Laffite met in the United Arab Emirates to discuss the possibility of producing a car unlike anything else on the market.
Al Qadi is a UAE national who has been immersed in motorsports since 1994. Starting out as a volunteer for the Emirate Motorsports Association, he ultimately became the chief operations officer for the Formula One circuit of Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi.
Mardell holds citizenship in Britain, Ireland and France and has 20 years’ experience in strategy consulting for top-tier business firms. He manages finance, strategy, and global marketing for Zarooq Motors.
Laffite is a Frenchman with 25 years’ worth of practical racing experience in everything from Karting to Indy cars.
Together, these three guys tapped into their vast reservoir of experience to design the ultimate off-road supercar.
A year later, they had the basic layout in place and the first chassis welded. A year after that, the subcontractors were established for parts and components, and the naked car was assembled around a twin-turbo V6 power plant. After switching to a naturally aspirated V8 for better resistance to desert heat and finalizing the interior design with Verstappen Design, the car was ready for final testing.
As of early 2018, the first production models will be rolling out of the factory.
SandRacer 500 GT: Vital Statistics
The SandRacer 500 GT starts as a handmade, racing-grade, tubular chassis with a 1,300-kilogram curb weight. The Intrax racing suspension sports 450mm of travel and has two settings for both road and sand. The 6.2-liter LT1 V8 engine produces 525 horsepower and drives a five-speed sequential Weddle racing gearbox. The vehicle’s fuel capacity is 130 liters.
The car sports six-piston caliper ventilated brakes and a full-carbon-fiber body made by Mansory, a luxury car modification firm located in Brand, Germany. Mansory starts with vehicles from Aston Martin, Bentley, Bugatti, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce, Maserati and Porsche, and the company’s 180 employees are renowned for their expertise in carbon-fiber design and construction. Along with the vehicle’s body, Mansory also produces the hand-stitched leather interior.
The car comes with a full infotainment and air conditioning suite to keep you comfortable and informed anywhere in the world. The final car is street legal for use both on and off the road. Its top speed is 220 kilometers per hour. That’s 132 miles per hour for us Anglophiles, and it tackles sand dunes, too.
Campos Racing worked on technical development. In business since 1998, Campos Racing has decades of experience in high-end motorsports and exotic car design. Campos Racing built the SandRacer’s unique lightweight racing chassis and its built-in roll cage.
Verstappen Design is the Belgian arm of Mansory. Verstappen is internationally recognized in the rarefied field of renovation and transformation of top-end luxury vehicles. In addition to top-tier motorcars, Verstappen also works on private watercraft and aircraft. As mentioned, Verstappen Design supported the interior and body design of the cutting- edge SandRacer 500 GT.
Quick & Unstoppable
The SandRacer 500 GT is a two-seat, rear-wheel-drive, mid-engine supercar that is designed and built using state-of-the-art techniques and materials. The designers wanted a car that would be as comfortable on the track during weekends as it would be on a busy city commute while also remaining sufficiently robust to tackle off-road terrain. The car was born on the dunes of the Arabian desert, and it thrives in such harsh environments.
The gestalt one gets when studying this car for the first time is a seamless melding of grace, power, grit and anger. The chassis is at once lithe and elegant while dripping pure unfiltered testosterone. The car looks both quick and unstoppable. With a compact footprint and plenty of power, the Zarooq SandRacer 500 GT is maneuverable, fast and cool in comparable measures. Top Gear described the SandRacer 500 GT as a cross between a BMW X6, a Range Rover Evoque and a Dakar Racer.
There is a strange dissonance to the design. The carbon-fiber body is bug-like, exuding a Porsche-esque ambience, while the heavy, knobby tires render a sort of Humvee vibe. The details both front and rear really do provoke an otherworldly science-fiction flavor. You expect the door to open and Batman to emerge. While lots of folks produce very expensive, high-end street machines, and a similar number of companies build rarefied off-road vehicles, Zarooq Motors is the only company to produce a single car optimized for both disparate environments.
The Real Skinny
The first run of these remarkable machines is limited to 35 copies. To put one in your garage, you will need to write a check for a cool $450,000. Not many folks, to certainly include yours truly, will ever be able to sign the title on a vehicle of this caliber. However, if price were no object, the Zarooq Motors SandRacer 500 GT is the ultimate end-of-the-world bugout vehicle.
You might struggle to find room inside for your shelf-stable food, water filter and defensive weaponry, but when the zombies finally come staggering up the driveway, and you know they eventually will, whoever is rolling in the SandRacer 500 GT will be the guy to face the coming apocalypse in comfort and style with a grateful supermodel hanging on each arm.
Ours is a consumer society, and I lust after tools, gadgets and cars at least as much as the next guy. My wish list is open-ended. That hole has no bottom. However, if Publisher’s Clearing House ever came knocking on my door, the third call I would make — right behind my mom to celebrate and my job to tell them I would not be coming in again ever — would be to Zarooq Motors.
The SandRacer 500 GT is the rarefied stuff of which dreams are made.
For more information, visit ZarooqMotors.com.
This article is from the spring 2018 issue of Ballistic Magazine. To subscribe or purchase individual copies, please visit OutdoorGroupStore.com.