By SHELLEY TOPP
David Dicker is turning his supercar vision into a reality. David Dicker’s dream of creating a Formula One-style supercar for the super rich is nearing completion at Waiau.
It has been a long haul.
The multimillion-dollar journey began 18 years ago, but next February the Australian computer distribution tycoon will showcase the Rodin FZed to a select group of international motoring journalists who will be invited to Waiau for the launch on a date yet to be confirmed.
The FZed is one of two supercars David and his team have been working on at his hi-tech Waiau motoring engineering plant.
“To succeed in any project you have got to have a strong commitment bordering on obsession, because if it doesn’t you are not going to get there,” he says.
The FZed will be ready for sale in February.
The more advanced FZero needs “a lot more work”, he says.
The Rodin project, named after French artist Auguste Rodin, who created The Thinker, began in 1999 with initial plans to build supercars at Methven.
“We had land there but it wasn’t entirely suitable. Dust was the main problem.
“We were 900 metres up a dirt road. In the summer, when it is like this, the dust is 30 metres in the air and it is impossible to keep the cars clean.”
He sold the Methven property to his neighbour, then spent two years “driving up and down” the South Island with his wife, Delwyn, searching for a replacement property.
They chose the 587-hectare Wandle Downs at Waiau, mainly because its relatively isolated location satisfied council noise restrictions, but also because of the tar-sealed access road.
The former sheep farm has been transformed into a pristine state-of-the-art motor engineering plant, where every part used in the cars is made.
A tar-sealed, world-class training track (six kilometres long in two configurations) has also been built for test-driving the cars.
However, driving the FZed is not for the fainthearted, or even the average thrillseeker. “You couldn’t put someone with no experience with racing cars in the car. It is just far too difficult. It is just a long way away from a regular car in a lot of areas,’ he says.
“It is, by comparison, massively powerful. The acceleration is just not something the average driver would have experienced. The braking forces are much higher and the forces in the turns are way higher, too. They are .. forces that you don’t experience in everyday life.”
The Waiau complex is designed to cater for the super rich who want to buy the super-fast cars made there. Luxury accommodation is planned and a huge garage is already under construction “so we can run the cars properly and look after the guys”, David says. A graduated training programme is also being developed to teach clients how to drive the supercars.
Although the New Zealand market for these high-priced motoring thoroughbreds is limited, international demand is much higher. “If you look at the expensive cars that Mercedes, McClaren and Aston Martin are currently building .. the market is there but entering that market is difficult,” he says.
The FZed is a car for the super rich to play in, with a maximum speed of 300kmh and a price tag of $US615,000, which is just shy of $NZ900,000.
“It is a car for the track, although we are going to build a road car later on, but it is basically a fun car,” David says. “You still would be able to run the car in amateur racing, but it is not a car for any professional racing. They are just fun. You go on the track. Driving on the track you don’t have all the issues you have on the road.”
He does not consider the isolation of his engineering enterprise to be a marketing problem in today’s world of international air travel. He was born in Sydney and his business, Dicker Data, a computer distribution company, is based in Cronulla, 26km south of the city. He still has a home in Cronulla but only visits under sufferance.
“To be honest, I am completely over Australia,” he says, describing it as too authoritarian for his liking.
He also has homes in Dubai, where he resides, and Italy.