Zarooq Motors, a United Arab Emirates-based automotive startup, began production earlier this month on its wild SandRacer 500GT, an off-road specialized sports car that first appeared as a concept in 2015 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Amusingly, “Zarooq” means “sand racer” in Emirati, so technically, this car is called the “Sand Racer SandRacer 500GT,” a fitting title for a two-seat car its maker claims is equally at home bashing sand dunes as negotiating bumper-to-bumper traffic on your daily commute.
The SandRacer’s specs are compelling: Zarooq calls out a General Motors LT1 6.2-litre V8 engine good for 525 hp and 487 lb-ft of torque; and a Weddle sequential off-road racing transmission, both of which are bolted into a purpose-built, lightweight racing chassis with height-adjustable suspension and an integral roll cage.
Zarooq doesn’t provide much detail in the way of technical specs, but the SandRacer’s power figures fall somewhere between those of the LT1-powered Chevrolet Camaro and Corvette engines, and the supercharged 6.2-litre LT4 that powers the Camaro ZL1 and Corvette Z06.
Regardless how the SandRacer’s engine generates its 70-hp bump over the Camaro’s LT1, 525 hp is a lot for a car whose 1,300-kg curb weight is about the same as that of a Mazda3 sedan. Credit the extensive use of carbon fibre for that: German custom car specialist Mansory uses that exotic material to craft the 500GT’s body, while interior surfaces consist of carbon fibre and hand-stitched leather.
Zarooq says power-to-weight ratio allows a 220-km/h top speed and a zero-to-60 mph sprint of less than four seconds, fed by a 130-litre fuel tank we’d bet doesn’t last long with that engine launching the 500GT off the sand dunes outside Abu Dhabi.
Assuming you’ve got enough left in the tank for the drive home, the 500GT has air conditioning (a must-have in the Middle East, we’re sure) and an infotainment system.
The 500GT’s price is a bit of an if-you-have-to-ask thing, at US $450,000, a third of which is due at order time. If you have that kind of coin, act quickly: Zarooq says it is making 35 examples of its first production model, all with numbered chassis, with the first cars expected to be delivered in the first quarter of 2018.