Last week we brought you the previously little known story of the Kawasaki race car. Well, Yamaha also had a factory effort focused on the design and construction of, not a race car exactly, but an exotic supercar using a detuned version of Yamaha's then Formula One V12 engine and built to the highest levels of automotive engineering and sophistication, the car was known as the OX99-11.
One of the key individuals involved in the project, Dave Sullivan, tells us how this car came about. You might notice the extreme contrast between this effort and the Kawasaki race project. Of course the purpose was completely different but nevertheless, it tells the story of forays into the automotive world not well known outside of those who were directly involved. Unfortunately, however, there is a similarity to these two very different stories, at the end, events derailed both projects just short of ultimate success.
There's little I can add so I'll let Dave tell you all about it:
In 1991 I was working for a company called IAD on the south coast of England. IAD were a design and engineering consultancy for the motor industry, we had worked on the Mazda Miata, Lincoln Town Car and Bentley Continental, to name but a few. I started as a structural engineer on the Town Car in 1988, and I was also doing chassis work by 1991.
Yamaha had conceived the OX99-11 several years earlier, but had been struggling to find a partner who could help them realize their ambition. Strangely it was the sporting goods division (with products ranging from Yachts to squash racquets), rather than the motorcycle arm, that was leading the project, and it was part of a master plan that included the Formula 1 engine program.
To support the Formula 1 project Yamaha had set up a subsidiary company called Ypsilon Technology in Milton Keynes, UK, where the engines would be serviced. The factory was chosen to be big enough to produce the OX99-11 and a small team, mostly from the Aston Martin race team, were hired to set up the factory and help engineer the car.
The Yamaha Supercar
A German company had had a go at the project, and produced a prototype that looked a lot like the sports racing cars of the time, (Aluminum fabricated chassis), but Yamaha were not happy with this. I’m not sure how the initial contact with IAD was made but it was probably through Brabham, who were using the Yamaha V12 engines in F1. Anyway, I was invited along to one of the first meetings because of my interest and knowledge of racing (I was racing a small formula car at the time). I immediately connected with the Yamaha project manager and had a good understanding of what he wanted. At the next meeting, in Japan, I presented some sketches I had done of the chassis, and we came back with the project in the bag
The design we completed, in under 12 months, had the following spec:-
Yamaha 3.5 litre V12 (De-tuned version of Formula 1 engine). Approx 400bhp at 10,000 rpm.
Carbon Fibre “tub” with engine mounted directly to rear bulkhead (Manufactured by DPS composites)
Aluminium panels hand made using traditional rolling techniques and hammer form tooling.
Double wishbones from Aero section steel tubing, fabricated uprights, push rods to inboard coil over damper units
Double wishbones from Aero section steel tubing, fabricated uprights, push rods to inboard coil over damper units mounted directly on gearbox.
Transmission FF Developments 6 speed transaxle with limited slip differential and multi-plate AP racing clutch
AP Racing 6 piston (Front) and 4 piston (Rear) billet machined calipers with Cast Iron discs.
Goodyear Eagle F1
Single central seat with small “pillion” seat just behind and to one side of the driver. Minimal trim
Single “Gullwing” door.