The Vencer Sarthe will not be to everyone’s taste, and deliberately so. It purposely eschews all the regular electronic trickery that you’ll find in a contemporary supercar from Ferrari, Porsche or McLaren. “I believe there are still some people who want a road car that is pure to drive, and which isn’t compromised by electronic interference. And which has a manual gearbox,” says Cobben.
Yet Cobben doesn’t claim to have built anything as straightforward as a racing car for the road. “This is a street car so it’s got to be comfortable and usable,” he says.
So it’s more like a GT-style supercar, I suggest, one in which you could drive to the south of France without being too uncomfortable. “Exactly!” exclaims the Sarthe’s enthusiastic creator, who, by the way, used to own a rather successful plumbing business, which he sold just before the last recession to realise his boyhood dream to build a supercar.
So what lies beneath the Sarthe’s beautifully finished, Le Mans prototype-inspired, carbonfibre bodywork? At its core, it features a Hennessey-tuned 6.3-litre V8 engine from GM, featuring bespoke heads and a supercharger to provide 622bhp and 618lb ft.
This sits in a hybrid aluminium-chrome molybdenum spaceframe mid-engined chassis that’s also bespoke, with double-wishbone suspension at each corner. The V8 is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox built by UK engineering firm Ricardo.
At the rear, there’s a limited-slip differential and 20-inch wheels that wear 295/30-profile tyres, made for Vencer by Dutch tyre company Vredestein. The 245/35 ZR19 fronts are a bespoke size for Vencer.
Amazingly, the carbonfibre bodywork is created, baked and finished entirely in-house at Vencer’s factory in Vriezenveen, on the border of the Netherlands and Germany. Initially, Cobben tried to outsource the making of carbonfibre body parts, but he couldn’t find anyone who met Vencer’s price and quality criteria, so he bought his own oven and decided to make the stuff himself.
“It’s not cheap, of course, but we can guarantee the quality if we make the carbonfibre ourselves. And for me, that was always a really key element to the car,” he says. This alone tells you almost everything you need to know about Cobben’s mildly unhinged but thoroughly endearing obsession with ‘doing it right’.
In the raw, the Sarthe looks pretty spectacular. It’s long and wide and low, just like a supercar should be. But it’s also distinctive and intriguing because its shape and its proportions, especially around that long tail, are so unfamiliar. The fit and finish of body panels and quality of paintwork are also genuinely incredible for a first-time effort at a production car. Ferraris don’t come any better painted or finished than this.
And the same ultra-high-quality theme continues when you thumb the invisible door release, and the door raises in a half-scissor, half-conventional, wholly different kind of way to reveal a simple but luxuriant-looking interior.
It smells right in here, it looks right in here and it is right in here. And as you sit behind the multi-adjustable, leather-lined steering wheel, staring out at an unusually clean view of the road ahead (because the main instruments are all housed within a big, centrally mounted TFT screen), you can’t help think: how on earth did they manage to get all this stuff so spot on, first time out of the box?