Lost In A Supermarket gets behind the wheel of the Zenvo ST1, the vehicle destined to put Denmark on the Ultra Supercar Map. Tested at the Willow Springs International Raceway, Nicolas Stecher got a taste of what it’s like to feel 1,104 horsepower at his disposal. One word? Ludicrous. All images taken exclusively for Lost In a Supermarket by the peerless Kerian.
If you’ve never heard of Zenvo, the nascent automobile manufacturer, don’t be surprised. Sure we previewed it last year when first announced, but seeing as only renderings were available the car has largely remained a mystery. Well, no more. The single prototype ST1 has now been completed, and this week it traveled to the West Coast to begin wooing bidders for a vehicle set to put Denmark on the illustrious map of ultra supercar makers — joining the ranks of France, Italy, Germany, Japan, UK, Sweden, Holland and America. And damnit, what a car it is.
We’ve had the pleasure of driving some world class vehicles in our time, such as the Lamborghini Aventador, Ferrari 458 Italia, Jaguar XKR-175, etc. But rarely have we ever seen a car more stunning, visceral, and just damn brutish than the ST1. It looks like it wants to put you in a headlock, take your lunch money and make your girlfriend pay for dinner. Its design is unlike any other car on the market, harkoning back to the halcyon supercar days of the 80s where cars had personality. The ST1 has it in gallons. Not charm, mind you — leave that to the elegant feminine beauty of the aforementioned Italia or Alfa Romeo 8C. No, the ST1 isn’t charming; it’s goddman frightening. Children will cower. Small pets will yelp and flee for the hills.
“To hell with the windtunnel” was the prime directive founder Jesper Jensen laid out when he and partner/head engineer Troels Vollertsen began working on the ST1 in 2004. Which partly explains the 233 mph top speed — Zenvo claims they could supercede this speed substantially, but once you attempt to surpass that range aerodynamics begin severely limiting the design potential. Hence the waterdrop — and moderately banal — design of rocket cars like the Bugatti Veyron or SSC Ultimate Aero. Their design is dictated by physics, whereas the ST1′s design is dictated by, well, design — the admirable work of Danish wunderkinds Christian Brandt and Jesper Hermann. The other reason the ST1 is limited to 233 mph is due to its tires, as its Michelins are only guaranteed safe to that speed.
Of course, talking about “limiting” a car to 233 mph is in itself ludicrous. Nevermind the legality of driving a car at those speeds, there just aren’t many places on earth where it’s physically possible. So what really makes Zenvo’s creation a marvel is its 7.0-liter V-8, which is both turbocharged and supercharged. The supercharger actually feeds the turbo, resulting in an even acceleration mapping — there is no turbo lag, just a withering blast of torque. Steady, even, and mindblowing.
“The ST1 looks like it wants to put you in a headlock, take your lunch money and make your girlfriend pay for dinner…”
And how exactly does it feel to take the ST1 to its full force? Well, the prototype was partly limited due to a malfunctioning gas pump trashed by bad fuel, so its remaining single pump meant that the car was mostly run on the Willow Springs track at Stage One — which has 650 horsepower. To put that in context, the mighty Aventador has 690 at its top setting — which the ST1 surpasses with its Stage Two’s 850 horsepower. But there is a straightaway on the racetrack where we could dial it to Stage Three — its full 1,104 horses unleashed at your disposal. And when that dial is turned, and the pedal is mashed to the floor… well…
The emotion is unlike anything ever experienced. The closest comparable sensation is the first instant of jumping out of a plane: the dizzying rush of G force, the brain scrambling fear, the wobbly gastric tract. The force is so strong your seat thrusts against your back, and the asphalt before you begins blurring like the Millennium Falcon going into Light Speed. Your stomach crawls up your esophagus, stakes camp around your tonsils, and you actually feel like you’re leaving Earth. It is an event. And the sound echoing forth from the V8 behind your neck is deafening. In fact if the ST1 has any detraction, its the sound level. Yes, the insides are aptly polished with leather, alcantara and carbon fiber trim — and Zenvo promises to be able to provide almost Bentley-like customization for its customers. But there’s no masking — or rather muting — its sound. There’s nothing polished about it, and although every gearhead likes to hear the explosions of petroleum being exhausted, the sound level might irk a luxury-pampered millionaire. The ST1 is loud, even at idle. But for us, the sound was exhilarating. You could lullaby me to sleep with the euphonic screaming.
The Zenvo ST1 at work on the Willow Springs International Raceway…
” The ST1 isn’t charming; it’s goddman frightening. Children will cower. Small pets will yelp and flee for the hills.”
As for the handling, the steering is incredibly tight and solid. The car feels as if it’s Sunday cruising at 160 mph. We couldn’t really challenge the ST1′s cornering, however, as the prototype’s front A-arm was cracked during the warm up laps when someone — we won’t mention who, to protect the guilty — accidently collided with a corner. Alas, we’ll have to reserve judgment on handling till the car is at 100%, and we can really push it to its limits. Or more likely, our limits. The only advantage we can see that the car was damaged was that Lost In a Supermarket were the only people allowed to drive the car — well us, one older seasoned car journalist and Jay Leno. That’s quite the exclusive group, and we’re eternally grateful for Zenvo’s generosity.
Only 15 of the ST1s will be built by Zenvo, and then will be retired (supposedly Jensen and Vollertsen are already working on the following two vehicles). Of those 15, only 3 will be imported to America — at a cost of about $1.3 million. Needless to say, that’s a lot of coin for a supercar, treading around the cost of a Bugatti. But Zenvo offers an unparalleled level of concierge service for its vehicle, ready to do whatever it takes to solidify its brand. Should anything go wrong with your ST1, Zenvo will fly out a “Doctor” to cure whatever ails it. Considering the power, viscerality and raw magnitude of the ST1, we just don’t see those 15 cars going unclaimed for long. And besides — who in their right mind would say no to that scowl…? That dude is just plain scary.