The history of the automobile in America is filled with dreamers who saw an existing car or idea and thought to themselves “I can do better.” People such as Henry Kaiser, John DeLorean, Malcolm Bricklin, Henrik Fisker, and countless others held that dream for a short time, only to watch it slip through their fingers. Starting a car company is really, really hard to do – even for those who are blessed with talent, ideas, money, and a whole lot of luck.
Enter Jeff Lemke, an entrepreneur from Holly, Michigan (a small town about 50 miles outside of Detroit). Lemke has years of experience in building aftermarket parts for Dodge Vipers. In 2009, he decided he wanted to do his own car and started a company called Falcon Motorsports.
The company debuted a concept vehicle called the Falcon F7 at the 2011 North American International Auto Show. A year later, the production-ready version was displayed at the same show. The company plans to build just 12 vehicles per year!
My first look at the Falcon F7 was during the 2014 Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction at the DuPont Registry booth (the car was not consigned to sell in the auction). The car’s unusual design drew me in; it looked like a hodgepodge of elements borrowed from other vehicles.
The overall shape reminded me of a Ford GT. The front looks a bit like the Chrysler ME Four-Twelve concept car. The rear borrows heavily from the Factory Five GTM, with the quad round taillights and the way the exhaust comes out the rear bumper. The way the gauges sit in their own “pods” on top of the dashboard resembles the Pagani Huayra, while the side vents are pure Lamborghini Murcielago.
The narrow-slit headlights and deep canyons of sheetmetal in the hood are unusual, while the flared fenders and low roofline give the car a stocky, muscular look – sort of like a bodybuilder. There’s a lot going on here, and I can’t decide if the pieces work together as a whole or not. Design wise, I think the jury is still out on this one – so let’s move on to the rest of the car.
The F7 is a mid-engine, rear drive car which uses a 7.0L V8 engine from the Corvette Z06. While the Falcon F7 uses the Corvette’s powerplant, do not write this car off as a ‘Vette with some different sheet metal. The F7 is very different from the Z06.
For starters, the Corvette Z06 makes 505 horsepower. The F7 uses a custom intake manifold and different tuning to produce 620 horsepower from the same engine. The Corvette Z06 sprints from 0 to 60 in 3.8 seconds (Motor Trend, April 2011 issue). The F7 does 0 to 60 in 3.3 seconds. The Z06 weighs in at 3,175 lbs while the F7 is just 2,875 lbs – thanks to its lightweight aluminum chassis and carbon-kevlar body panels. The Z06 tops out at 198 mph while the F7’s top speed is “over 200 mph” according to the manufacturer. Also, don’t forget that the Corvette is a front-engine car while the F7 is a mid-engine car.
Okay, so we know that the Falcon F7 is faster, lighter, and has 115 horsepower on top of the Corvette Z06. The big question now is: what does it cost? Well, Falcon sold their first car in 2013 to a businessman in New York for $225,000! The 2011 Corvette Z06 (as tested by Motor Trend) cost $98,010, and that was with a huge list of options including a $9,500 performance package.
So is this car better than a Corvette Z06? Technically, yes. But is it $126,990 better? I don’t think so.
Automobile manufacturing is a very competitive industry, especially if you are a new company trying to break into the market of high-end, limited production vehicles. The odds are against Jeff Lemke and Falcon Motorsports (historically speaking), but I really, sincerely hope they make it, because while the design may be a tad unrefined, the right concepts are all there.