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What Gumpert did next: an 800bhp methanol racecar

The man behind the Gumpert Apollo reckons his Nathalie sports car can change the future

Published: 07 Mar 2019

Remember the Gumpert Apollo? While the utterly bonkers Apollo Intensa Emozione appears to be the car that rose from its ashes, there’s another to consider. The is the Roland Gumpert Nathalie, a methanol-powered sports car from the man behind the original Apollo.

It’s a complete change of direction, from a hardcore, gullwinged track special that set Nürburgring lap records to a car that will apparently change the way we look at future propulsion. While all around him go fully electric, Gumpert reckons the answer is a fuel cell vehicle driven by electric motors fuelled not by hydrogen, but the significantly cheaper, significantly less explode-y methanol. Well, if it works in drag racing...

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“Hydrogen has all of these disadvantages and I wasn’t happy with any of the solutions as an engineer,” says Gumpert. “As an engineer you have to look at the solutions that are realistic. Methanol is not dangerous and it’s a third of the price of gasoline. It will be the future, industry wide.”

It’s a bold claim given no one else is shouting about it yet, but he’s confident the Nathalie – an 800bhp, 186mph, 0-62 in 2.5secs sports car – might bring the idea to their attention.

“Our car is eye catching. We don’t want to have this propulsion only in a super sports car; the ambition is to have it in the normal, affordable, people’s cars.”

Like all tech, he hopes an expensive tech showcase for the early adopters is how to plant the seed in everyone’s head. Thus the Nathalie will cost half a million euros, and if you buy one, he promises to personally arrange the fitment of a methanol pump in your home town so that you can actually drive the thing.

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“If you would sign a contract today I will guarantee a fuel station in your town will have methanol,” he says. “I will negotiate very easily for one of the existing pumps to be turned to methanol.” If he sells all 500 Nathalies he plans to make, that’s at least some of the infrastructure sorted, huh?

While his old Apollo was a mainstay at the Nordschleife – and a ‘Ring record holder before it was cool – the Nathalie’s nous will instead be proved in actual motorsport. Gumpert says it’ll be eligible to take part in the Electric Production Car Series, currently populated only by Teslas, but with Audi and Porsche among the names touted to join.

And because its electric motors are powered by methanol, endurance races aren’t out of the question, either. “Maybe in the future the Nathalie will achieve 24 hours racing at Le Mans or the Nürburgring, for now maybe three-hour races. In the moment want to participate in electric car races which are already existing. I think we’ll be competitive.”

What about Pikes Peak, where Volkswagen gave electric cars a bit of a watershed moment with the I.D. R’s record-breaking time in 2018? “It’s always a question of budget for the publicity! If someone gives me the order and the budget then I will be in Pikes Peak tomorrow,” he says.

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Reckon he’s onto something? Or are you more taken by the unashamedly old-school, V12 powered Apollo IE?

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