British kit car specialist Ultima Sports has released a documentary chronicling its 39-year history. The roughly hour-long documentary has everything you need to know about this small-but-prolific builder of performance cars.
Ultima’s story begins in 1983, when Lee Noble (who would go on to start Noble Automotive) founded Noble Motorsport and designed the Ultima Mk 1 race car. It had a square-tube spaceframe chassis, the V-6 engine and transmission from a Renault 30, and other components borrowed from Ford, Lancia, and Austin.
Before customer deliveries of the Mk 1 could begin, Noble launched a modified Mk 2 version. The Mk 2 became fairly successful in racing, especially after Ted Marlow, the company’s first customer, fitted a Chevrolet small-block V-8.
Ultima Mk 3 with McLaren F1 V-12
Meanwhile, Noble Motorsport launched a Mk 3 version with a new body. Two of these were sold to McLaren, which used them as testbeds for its F1 supercar, which was undergoing development at the time. One car, nicknamed Edward, was even fitted with the F1’s BMW-sourced V-12. Both were destroyed after testing was completed.
Marlow purchased the Ultima brand from Noble Motorsport in 1992, including all rights, jibs, and molds for the Mk 2 and Mk 3. He sought to make the Mk 3 more refined and more usable as a road car, and also began exporting cars to the U.S.
The new direction resulted in the Ultima Sports coupe and Spyder roadster, both launched in the mid-1990s. They were superseded by the GTR coupe and Can-Am roadster in the early 2000s, which in turn were replaced by the Ultima Evolution (available in both coupe and convertible form) in 2015.
Shortly after the Evolution models were launched, work began on a new flagship dubbed the Ultima RS. Unveiled at the 2019 Goodwood Festival of Speed, the car is designed to support a variety of engines, the most powerful being a tuned version of the LT5 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 from the C7 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. That engine produces 1,200 hp in the Ultima, getting the RS from 0-60 mph in 2.3 seconds, and on to a 250-mph top speed, according to the company.
Ultima’s current lineup includes the RS and the Evolution coupe and convertible. The company offers turnkey builds but, like the early Mk 2 and Mk 3, customers also have the option of ordering components for self assembly.