The RML GT40 is regarded by some informed members of our community as being possibly the rarest of them all. As you will read, it also spawned some very surprising connections.
Launched at the London Racing Car Show, in late 1990, just five were built over a period of two years. An interview with Ray Mallock helped Club Member Chris Notley compile this fascinating story as to how the RML GT40 came into being. During the mid to late 1980s Ray Mallock was involved with Peter Livanos, the then owner of Aston Martin, and that company’s Group C race car projects, not only as a driver, but, importantly, also in the development of the Nimrod and the AMR1. It was with their decision to design and build a new Aston Martin Group C car for the World Endurance Championship 1990 season that Proteus Technology was formed, with Ray as Engineering Director and driver.
What they had not seen coming was a late rule-change involving engine capacity, and apparently instigated by a certain Mr Bernard Ecclestone, who was concerned at the number of manufacturers turning their attention (and enormous budgets) away from F1 in favour of Group C. Coupled with this, Aston Martin was sold to Ford Premier Automotive Group, as had been Jaguar, who already were having success on track with their Silk Cut sponsored XJR-9.
This change of ownership resulted in the demise, during late 1989, of Proteus Technology, and Ray was left with a highly skilled team of designers and manufacturing staff, so out of this was born RML (Ray Mallock Limited) as an independent company.
Around this time, Ray was asked by his friend and fellow BRDC board member Martin Colvill (of Bell & Colvill) to drive Martin’s Gulf-liveried GT40 (chassis 1084) at the opening of a new circuit in Japan, and this sparked the idea of producing what would become the RML GT40.
Also at this time, as luck would have it, Peter Thorp of Safir Engineering decided to call it a day on the production of his beautiful MkV, and with this came the opportunity for RML to purchase from ZF the remaining stock of new GT40 transaxles. In Ray’s mind a key element of the GT40 design was the ZF transaxle, so the time was right to press the RML team into action, and thus the RML GT40 was born.
Ray’s then head-of-design, who had just completed the highly-acclaimed Nissan R90C project, began work to produce a series of some 300 engineering drawings for the RML GT40. Also, Ray’s father, the pioneering race car designer and constructor Major Arthur Mallock, was asked to verify the suspension design geometry and pickup points, for which he had developed a computer simulation program. This, coupled with an approved roll-cage structure, enabled Ray personally to conduct, on a defined driving route around local roads, a development programme to optimise springs, damper settings, toe-in, roll-bar rates, ride heights, tyre choice and pressures.
It was this DNA of the RML GT40 which came to set it apart for its ride quality and which would come to be significantly recognised. These choices were key to the ride and handling, and remain to this day very much a core skill of RML.
High on Ray’s priority list was the production of a car not only having impeccable road manners but also capable of race-track winning ability. Worthy of note is that, unlike with most other GT40s of the period, all cars were correctly road-registered as RML GT40s, at the time each was built. Back in the early ’90s all that was required of RML by the local DVLA office, to register them as new, were receipts covering purchases of new engine, transaxle and steering components plus an RML Certificate of Newness. Only the first car required a DVLA physical inspection, such was their trust and confidence in the RML reputation.
Chassis 01 was initially built as a road car then quickly converted to a race car and to a similar 5.4-litre engine and chassis specification as chassis 04, but with AP Racing brakes. Ray and its owner immediately found winning track success. It is now back in 5-litre road/track-day specification, owned by a GT40 Enthusiasts Club member.
Chassis 02 was built as a 5-litre road/trackday car with air conditioning, as the well documented maroon RML demonstrator which on one occasion was driven to Brands Hatch, dampers, springs and tyres changed, raced to a win by Ray then driven home.
Ray’s car, driven by Tiff Needell, was also featured on Top Gear, and appeared in many magazines and press articles; all were highly complimentary of its exceptional range of capabilities. The car was recently restored with a 7-litre motor and sold to a Gulf state royal family, owners of an F1 circuit.
Chassis 03 is a 5-litre road car, built for the founder of a world-famous British gearbox manufacturer who still owns it to this day, occasionally venturing out at BRDC track days.
Chassis 04 is a lightweight race car with composite body mouldings, Brembo brakes and Koni dampers; its owner was at that time (1991/92) a gentleman touring car driver for RML. Swindon Racing Engines were contracted to build a 5.4-litre, 450bhp, engine to meet the race series rules where the car and driver combination proved unbeatable, going on to win the series two years in succession.
Chassis 05 is the writer’s car (see photos), built as a joint effort between RML and its owner as a road/track-day car and possibly to the highest of specifications of the previous RML GT40s.
It may interest you to learn of a surprising connection I unearthed. During 2000, and within less than a year, RML designed and built on behalf of their client, the Saleen S7R which competed very successfully in 2001, winning the European Le Mans Series, the Spanish GT Championship in 2002 and FIA GT Championship in 2004. In many ways the Saleen S7 road car and the S7R race car bear a striking resemblance to the RML GT40 philosophy as the mid-mounted big capacity engine is from Ford, and in S7 road-going guise the transaxle is an RBT ZF. This is no coincidence, as RML used the RML GT40 as a reference not only for choice of transaxle but also for ingress and egress, cockpit ergonomics and driver position reference points. The RML GT40 was also referenced as a starting point for choices of wheels and roll rates, and also suspension setup.
I mention these little-known facts and would add that chassis 05 also benefits from a similar Ford Motorsport aluminium engine of 7-litre capacity, fuel injection, similar Motec management plus the singular comfort and practical luxury of air conditioning. These intriguing connections don’t just end there, as in 2002 Saleen Automotive were nominated by Ford Motor Company to build the Ford GT.
Another remarkable fact which came to light when doing the recent interview with Ray for this article is that he was contacted at the time by Gordon Murray, probably in 1991 or 1992, and asked by Gordon if Ray would share details of the suspension natural frequency data of the acclaimed RML GT40 for a new car Gordon was designing… the McLaren F1!
This, together with the wide applause from the motoring Press for the road car’s impeccable manners, together with its immediate race success, proves that to this day the RML GT40 is a true testament to the engineering prowess, ethos and DNA of Ray Mallock and his Wellingborough-based team, and which runs through every one of their projects.