What is it?
In case you aren’t familiar (I wasn’t) Veritas is a German manufacturer with a history stretching back to 1949. Although it hasn’t produced a car since the 1950s, Vermont, who acquired the brand, are hoping to rejuvenate the name with this, the RSIII.
If it looks a little familiar, that’s because we first saw a concept car back in 2001. But with the company due to unveil a full production version at the Salon Prive show in July, we’ve now got an opportunity to drive a pre-production prototype.
There are quite a few significant differences though. The prototype you see here is powered by a 5.0-litre V8 from the previous generation M5, except with a little light fettling pushing the power up to 434bhp. The production version will get the current M5’s 500bhp V10. And that’s the standard engine. If you ask Veritas nicely they’ll bore the V10 out to 5.5-litres to produce 600bhp - which is awful lot when you consider the RSIII weighs only 1050kg.
The styling will also change slightly for production, most notably with the pronounced power bulge more neatly incorporated into the overall shape. Today the body panels are made from plastic, but on production version they will be carbonfibre. Underneath is a steel ladder frame chassis.
Where this prototype does mirror the production version is that both are open-topped 1+1s (a single-seater with an occasional flip up passenger seat) with a front mounted engine powering the rear wheels. And both have power to weight ratios north of 400bhp/tonne and minimal safety systems.
This prototype has neither traction control nor ABS; the production car may get switchable traction control. So while not exactly representative of the version you will actually be able to buy, this prototype goes a long way to describing the Veritas experience.
What’s it like?
In a way, exactly how it looks. Despite looking unapologetically futuristic, Veritas claim the RSIII is styled to look like a modern interpretation of the original 1940s cars. Which sort of makes sense when you see the two together, and even more so when you drive it. The best way I can describe it, is to say it is exactly how I image a 1950s Formula One machine would be like to drive.
Despite use of some flash new materials, in its layout and operation the cockpit is entirely conventional. A row of toggle switches, minimal dials, three pedals, a steering wheel and a conventional H-pattern gearbox are all present. Even how you sit relatively upright looking out over that long curving bonnet, is refreshingly old fashioned.
Thankfully Veritas has made full use of modern technology when it comes to the tyres, fitting massive 325/25ZR20s Dunlops at the rear. Despite this, and bone dry test conditions, you need to be judicious with the throttle even in third gear in a straight line. It will spin its way through second even on half throttle, and that’s only with the prototype's 434bhp.
Such instant ferocious power could be intimidating if the RSIII wasn’t so nicely balanced and the control weights so well defined. The throttle pedal has a long travel, but almost perfect weighting and modulation, such that you can accurately and intuitively meter out the engine’s performance. The pedal spacing is also ideal for heal and toe downchanges.