At the 2015 Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix, an outfit called Zarooq Motors introduced the SandRacer 500GT, a high-speed dune runner with a 300-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 mounted in the middle. The SandRacer was meant to be a limited edition that formed the seed of a one-make dune racing series in the UAE. That never happened, and Anthony Jannarelly, who designed the buggy, moved on to start his own car company and just launched the Design-1. Yet Bruno Lafitte, who was the operations director of Zarooq Motors, wouldn't let the creation die. His company, Lafitte Supercars, continued developing and polishing the SandRacer, with the help of G-Tec and Team Virage. The new beast is called the Laffite G-Tec X-Road, and it's come a long way.
We can't judge performance credentials without seat time, but it appears Laffite secured a worthy development partner. Philippe Gautheron, the man behind G-Tec and Team Virage, has been a motorsport engineer and team owner for more than 20 years, with time in Formula 3, Formula 2, LMP3, and the European Le Mans Series.
The overall lines are familiar from the five-year-old inspiration, but there's less spleen in them now, more harmony. We never saw the interior of the SandRacer, but the X-Road's cockpit looks delicious, filled with leather, carbon fiber, and what looks like genuine metal switchgear. Gone is the 3.5-liter V6, replaced by a 6.2-liter GM LS3 V8 with 405 horsepower in standard guise. Bolting an optional supercharger on top raises output to 700 hp. Transmission choices are either a five-speed sequential or six-speeder with paddle shifters, either of them sending power to the rear wheels. The package weighs 2,866 pounds and top speed is 143 miles per hour, which will make the 17 inches of suspension travel a welcome friend in the wilds.
No telling yet how that will translate to the pavement, since the X-Road is street-legal in the U.S. Laffite will build just 30 X-Roads in a small factory near Los Angeles, and is taking orders now. Prices start at $465,000 for the 405-hp version, or $545,000 for a coming all-electric model. Deliveries are scheduled to begin before the end of this year.