Sports cars don’t get much purer than the N1A, a back-to-basics RWD machine that takes inspiration from the McLaren M1A, a Group 7 race car prototype from the 1960s. That one was McLaren’s very first car, and has now been spiritually revived as a road-legal performance vheicle by Nichols Cars. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, the company was founded Steve Nichols, who was one of the first to implement carbon fiber on Formula 1 cars.
His resume includes designing the McLaren MP4/3 and the iconic MP4/4 before working with Ferrari, Jaguar, Jordan, Sauber, and eventually returning to McLaren in late 1990s. Speaking of the MP4/4, the first batch of 15 cars will be individually numbered as a nod to the 15 victories achieved by the legendary Formula 1 race car. F1 fans know that one was one of the most successful cars ever, managing to win 15 out of a total of 16 races in the unforgettable 1988 season. The N1A will be assembled in 100 examples, all of which will feature a massive 7.0-liter V8 engine making a healthy 650 horsepower.
Nichols Cars developed the eight-cylinder mill from an LS3 block with a dry sump, drive-by-wire throttle bodies, custom pistons and conrods, along with new steel liners. The V8 is going to be assembled by hand by experts at Langford Performance Engineering (LPE) where old V8 and V10 F1 engines are currently being restored to their former glory. The beating heart of the N1A will work as standard with a six-speed manual gearbox but there will be other transmissions from Graziano.
By tipping the scales at only 900 kilograms (1,984 pounds), the Nichols Cars N1A weighs 10 percent less than the lightest ND-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata and has a formidable power-to-weight ratio of nearly 700 hp. You get traction control as standard equipment, but ABS and power steering are options. The design takes after the classic Can-Am racer but the car is wider and carries a longer wheelbase. It rides on 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires and boasts fully independent front and rear suspension with double wishbones and anti-roll bars.
The chassis uses a combination of carbon fiber and aluminum while the driver-focused interior is refreshingly simple, with only the essentials and nothing to distract you from having fun behind the wheel. Like in the old days, the two-seater features a lovely gated manual shifter and fender-mounted side mirrors.
Pricing hasn’t been announced, but given how bespoke the Nichols Cars N1A, the speedster certainly doesn’t come cheap.