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The car Aston Martin tried to block: Fisker's VLF Force 1 V10

Published: 13 January 2016

► Henrik Fisker unveils the VLF Force 1 V10
► Based on the Dodge Viper, packs 745bhp
► VLF also plans to sell V8-engined Karma

Designer Henrik Fisker has pulled the wraps off the Force 1 V10, at the Detroit motor show, and it turns out the car that got Aston Martin vexed is a rebodied Dodge Viper.

Before Christmas, the British sports car company requested its former designer refrain from showing the Force 1 at Detroit, having seen a plan view and concluded the design infringed on the DB10's copyright. Fisker hit back with a lawsuit, then unveiled the Force 1 anyway.

Fisker VLF: what the name means

The Force 1 is a new American supercar from VLF Automotive, named after the initials of its three key executives: Fisker, legendary car boss Bob Lutz, and former Boeing executive Gilbert Villarreal.

There's a fourth significant party involved, Ben Keating, a racing driver and America's biggest Viper dealer. Keating helps source the Viper, which is then upgraded with active suspension, engine modifications and the Fisker-designed, carbonfibre body and 21-inch rims.

How fast is it?

The Viper's 8.4-litre V10 gets bumped up to 745hp and 638lb ft, both generated at 6100rpm. All that grunt is sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual or paddleshift auto: VLF claims 0-60mph in 3.0sec, a standing quarter mile in 10.97sec, and 218mph flat out.

The Fisker VLF: a pretty serious bit of kit

Dodge's Viper has a reputation for taking no prisoners, but Fisker vows Keating's active suspension transforms the handling. The wheelbase, windscreen and side exhaust position remain the same, and the form is very obviously Dodge.

'If it has the proportion of any car, it's the cab-backwards Viper,' says Fisker. 'Aston cockpits sit more in the centre. I'm not going to get intimidated by them. There's a lot at stake, our investment, people's work on the car. I filed the lawsuit and I'm not going away.'

Lutz on the Fisker VLF

Bob Lutz, the octogenarian ex-BMW, GM and Chrysler executive who originally commissioned the Viper in the '80s, pegs VLF volumes at below 100 cars a year. The start-up is also selling the Destino, which pairs the design of Fisker's hybrid saloon, the Karma, with a Corvette V8.

'VLF is America's newest, smallest and highest priced OEM,' says Lutz. The Force 1 retails for $268,000 (£186,000). There is a plan to sell the car in Europe and the UK, though it won't be available in right-hand drive.

Read more of CAR's Detroit motor show coverage here.

Inside the Fisker VLF Force 1 cabin

By Phil McNamara

Editor-in-chief of CAR magazine

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