Every car crafter worth his lug nuts wants a car that's just a little bit different. Jeff Schwartz took that concept to its ultimate and radical corner-burning conclusion. The concept is pure and simple--combine a lightweight chassis with all-American torque and horsepower and glue to the ground with steamroller tires. If this looks like a road-going GTP car, it should because that's what it is. Why is it in Car Craft? Because it'll run 10.90s at 131 mph and pull 1.1 g on regular street tires, that's why.
If the name Jeff Schwartz sounds familiar, it's because this is the same guy who won last year's Real Street Eliminator contest in a monstrously rotund Cadillac. This year, he showed up in a car that is the heavy-metal Caddy's antithesis in the guise of a flyweight GT. Go figure. Jeff's plan was aimed at simple performance. Start with an excellent tube chassis and monster brakes, stuff in gigantic tires for grip, and then drop in a warmed-over small-block bolted to a five-speed transaxle, and you have a screamin' roller skate that can take on a Trans Am car on a road course, cruise comfortably for days on end, and still run 10s without changing so much as a spark plug. That, gang, is a true 21st century performance car.
The Ultima GT goes way beyond a "kit car." Think of it as a street-driven GT Prototype race car that you can finish assembling in your garage. It all starts with a square tube chassis from Ultima Sports, a British company in Hinkley, England, that builds both this coupe and an open-cockpit Can Am style car similar to those amazing Jim Hall big-block beasts from the '60s. You buy the chassis and body system and assemble it in your garage, or Ultima can send you a completed car ready for an engine. It isn't cheap--the car comes in several configurations all the way from a basic package with just the body to a complete rolling car minus engine and transaxle. Expect to start at $27,000 and work up from there.
The Ultima is a tube chassis mid-engine design that places the engine behind the driver, using a transaxle instead of a transmission and rear axle assembly. The transaxle is a G50 Getrag that was originally designed for a Porsche Turbo. This positions a majority of the Ultima's weight over the rear axle that improves traction both from a dead stop and coming off a corner. Even though this only represents around 1,320 pounds over the rear tires, that's 60 percent of the total vehicle weight, leaving 40 percent over the front! With a short 102-inch wheelbase and a 63-inch track width, space is at a premium, but the chassis does include a rollcage.
With a high-tech car like this, you don't just bolt in any old powerplant. In keeping with its image, Jeff chose to power his street GTP car with a late-model GM LS1 that he built to LS6-style specs, controlled with a GM Racing ASA circle track computer. The all-aluminum small-block is configured exactly like the ASA engines, including 11.2:1 compression, the ASA cam, and airflow assistance from a set of Lingenfelter Performance Engineering-ported LS6 heads with 2.00/1.60-inch hollow stem valves and stock 1.7:1 rockers. All this breathes through a custom-built aluminum sheetmetal intake with a carbon-fiber plenum cover and 38-lb/hr GM injectors. Just for fun, Jeff also added a hidden 100hp NOS fogger nitrous system just in case the Ultima's 10-second quarter-mile needed a little boost. To complete the steamroller effect, Jeff bolted on a set of 18x9-inch front and 18x13-inch OZ Racing wheels and mounted them with the ultimate in road rubber: a set of P245/35ZR18 and P335/30ZR18 Goodyear F1 Fiorano tires.
Taken from any angle, the fiberglass-bodied Ultima GT just screams performance. The wing i
This is what you call a fully functional interior. The Sparco seats are firm yet comfortab
Nordskog supplied the digital instrument package that includes air-fuel ratio, oil pressur
The interior is racer spartan as you might expect. Jeff configured the dash with a Dakota Digital tach and speedo and then mounted eight more Nordskog digital tickers to keep track of everything from air-fuel ratio to the time. That's a Sparco steering wheel that matches the Sparco seats, and when you slide in under the gull-wing doors, it becomes instantly apparent why the wheel is squared off at the bottom. Squeezing under the wheel of the Ultima GTR is best left to the limber and slight of stature. This is not a car for big guys. Once you're in, you instantly start searching for a road course offering an open track day. The windows don't roll down, but comfort is controlled by the heating and air conditioning system, and Jeff reports rear vision from the twin mirrors is surprisingly good with the narrow cockpit despite the fact there is no rear window.
This may look like a race car with license plates, but don't be fooled. Jeff drove the Ultima throughout the entire Hot Rod Power Tour of 3,750 miles, along with the Car Craft Nationals in St. Paul, Minnesota (where he won the Best Engineered award) and capped off with Year One's Bristol Bash in Bristol, Tennessee. Clearly this is no trailer queen since those trips add up to roughly 9,000 miles this year alone, based out of Jeff's Crystal Lake, Illinois, home.
Jeff's mission statement was succinct and dead-on: "To be the ultimate street car with respect to acceleration, handling, braking, and top speed." He has certainly achieved his goal, but to us he forgot to mention an important one--his Ultima GT is just plain cool.
That's an all-aluminum LS6 with a sheetmetal intake, ported Lingenfelter LS6 heads, and an
Power is transferred with a Porsche Turbo Getrag G-50 transaxle that is fed by a Sachs mul
Jeff blasted the Ultima through the Bristol Bash autocross and managed to set low e.t. for
Car: '02 Ultima GTR
Owner: Jeff Schwartz
Engine: '02 LS6 5.7L all-aluminum small-block, 11.2:1 compression
Heads: Aluminum LS6 CNC ported by Lingenfelter Performance Engineering, 2.00/1.60-inch hollow stem valves, stock 1.7:1 roller rockers
Induction: Custom-fabricated sheetmetal aluminum intake with carbon-fiber plenum cover, 38-lb/hr GM injectors, ported throttle body, NOS 100hp fogger nitrous system
Exhaust: Custom stainless steel 13⁄4-inch headers and exhaust
Camshaft: GM Performance Parts ASA racing cam 228/236 at 0.050-inch lift, 0.525/0.525-inch lift
Transaxle: Porsche Turbo Getrag G50 five-speed with Kennedy Engineering flywheel and Sachs full metallic clutch
Front suspension: Complete tube chassis with unequal length tubular control arms, Intrax springs and shocks, Ultima rack-and-pinion steering, and urethane bushings, no sway bar
Rear suspension: Unequal length tubular rear control arms, Intrax springs and shocks, Rosen Racing Delrin bushings, no rear sway bar or Panhard bar
Brakes: AP Racing four-piston calipers with 12.5-inch rotors front and rear
Wheels and tires: 18x9 OZ Racing wheels with P245/35ZR18 Goodyear F1 tires front; 18x13 OZ Racing wheel with P335/30ZR18 Goodyear F1 tires rear
Interior: Nordskog digital instrumentation, Sparco steering wheel, Sparco Sprint seats, 2.5-pound fire-suppression system, complete F1-approved cage assembly, Omega A/C and heater system
Paint: Gelcoat yellow supplied with the Ultima GT body
Cost to build: Basic chassis and body starts at around $27,000
Weight: 2,210 pounds with full fuel load
Performance: 388 rear wheel hp at 6,300 rpm 480 rear wheel hp at 6,300 rear wheel with nitrous
Best e.t. and speed: 10.92 at 131 mph
Lateral g: 1.1 with real street tires