The Farbio GTS is a dream come true. Whether childhood doodlings or merely idle musing, who among us hasn’t harboured dreams of building the ultimate supercar. It would have 2000bhp! Eight turbos! Afterburners!
Every now and then someone has a go. Most fail. Credit due to Arash Farboud – he did at least build his for real. His eponymously monikered supercar was a fast and beautiful beast, packing a snorting twin-turbo Audi V6 and plenty of high-tech features. First seen in 2004, roadtesters gushed, stardom in a videogame followed and then … nothing.
Farboud moved off to pastures new and the project was picked up by Chris Marsh, son of Marcos co-founder Jem Marsh and a chap well versed in the challenges of small scale sports car production.
So the Farbio GTS seems familiar…
A reality check, four years of work and a complete ground up reengineering later, the Farboud has emerged as a production reality, renamed the Farbio GTS.
The Ferrari-chasing ambitions are gone, however, and with them some of the Farboud’s more exotic features. Sensibly Marsh has barely touched the styling and has instead concentrated on making it more cost effective, without diluting the spirit of the original.
Marsh’s race car experience shows in the choice of carbonfibre for the bodywork. Underneath it’s more conventional, with a steel spaceframe chassis and double wishbone suspension, power coming from a normally aspirated Ford V6.
So it's a British 911 beater then?
Shh – don’t mention the P-word! But given the price tag and lack of obvious competition the comparison is an obvious one though. But the Farbio’s true competition is yet to be seen in the metal, giving the fledgling company something of a head start. Something that pleases Chris Marsh no end.
His car has already been mistaken for the baby McLaren, not to mention the forthcoming Lotus Eagle. And you can be sure there are some long faces at Hethel – after all the Farbio successfully takes the lightweight Brit-built sportscar blueprint Lotus considers its own and moves it upmarket in a way the Europa tried, and failed, to achieve.
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Yes, yes, but how does the Farbio GTS drive?
The Farbio gives off the right vibes immediately. Access is easy, with long doors and no Elise-style sill to hurdle. The seating position feels decidedly cab forward and, by virtue, properly exotic but the view out is excellent, the wings sloping up and marking the extremities while the glass hatch and rear quarterlights offer useful rear vision.
Turn the key – also donated by Ford – and the engine spins for a couple of seconds before firing into an aggressive idle. Straight away the growl of six-cylinders underlines the fact this is a grade up from the Elise crowd, even if the surroundings seem superficially similar.
Trundling along the bumpy concrete driveway out of the Farbio factory reveals a stiff chassis and firm set up, but one blessed with compliance too – one especially large pothole passing with barely a thump.
Easy access, comfy ride - doesn't sound that special...
Farbio has deliberately avoided going the path of hardcore for hardcore’s sakes. Our pre-production test car was running at the lowest extremity of the available ride height but can be set up with more clearance. The dampers are also adjustable. Even slammed to the deck as you see here we only heard the tarmac skimming front splitter skerf the road once – proof that the damping is well up to the task.
With just two turns lock to lock it sounds as if the steering might be on the nervous side. It isn’t, although with so little weight to carry direction changes are rapid and lag free. There is some camber sensitivity and this, combined with the 39:61 front to rear weight distribution, makes for an occasionally lively nature drivers of more benign machinery might find a little eye opening. There are no nasty surprises though, the drive proving exciting rather than scary.
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A British sports car for British roads then
You feel immediately at home in the Farbio, giving you the confidence you need to fully explore its abilities.
ABS and ESP are absent, a Racelogic traction control system available as an option. The brakes themselves are mighty – 350mm front discs and four-pot AP Racing calipers on a car this light are never going to be anything other than extremely powerful. As proof of this less aggressive pads will be fitted to customer cars to tame the fierce bite, especially from the front end.
On the road it might look compact but the Farbio flatters to deceive – it’s 221mm wider than an Elise for instance and even a smidge broader in the beam than an F430. But, again thanks to the lack of weight, it never feels anything other than small and nimble.
Ok, so it's fast. But what about my creature comforts?
In keeping with Farbio’s everyday sports car aspirations the interior is no stripped out pseudo racer’s. Alcantara covers the roof, the Sparco seats are leather upholstered and there’s carpeting and more hide on the dashboard. There’s also plenty of exposed carbon – beautifully finished too.
Taking pride of place in the centre console is a very nifty touchscreen controlling everything from heating to ICE and navigation. This cuts clutter without skimping on the toy count but is more than a gimmick, offering a wonderfully intuitive menu system.
There’s plenty of room too, thanks to full adjustment in the seats and a dose of extra headroom over the original Farboud design. It’s even got a proper boot. Sure, there are a few rough edges under close examination but this being a pre-production hack we’ll give Farbio the benefit of the doubt there.
In Chris Marsh Farbio has a great ambassador, not to mention plenty of hard earned experience. But while he’s warm and approachable there’s a steeliness and focus about the operation that impresses immensely. Marsh knows that building a car to wow people is the easy bit – making money out of the whole enterprise is the real challenge.
To that end the 400-plus orders Farbio has already taken demonstrates there are plenty of people out there willing to take a chance - the pressure is now on to deliver the kind of car those paying £60K expect.
In time there will be a seriously quick supercharged version with 384bhp but for now the policy of starting conservatively is a sound one. As it stands the Farbio is quick, stunning to look at and beautifully made, all the while relying on solid, proven running gear and parts. If it can deliver on the considerable promise the future looks rosy.