AUSTRALIAN-BUILT. V8-powered. Mid-engined. Dreamed to vanquish the competition at Le Mans, but also intended to stalk the streets as a road-registered car. These features formed the blueprint for the Joss supercar project that could have been Australia’s very own McLaren F1.
Started in 1998 by Matt Thomas and built on weekends in between his time as a clay modeller at Ford, the Joss finally appeared in prototype form at the 2004 Melbourne Motor Show as the JT1. The product of 17,000 man-hours, thanks to a team of skilled friends and colleagues who also helped create it, the aim was bold and far from original: take on the world’s supercars and win.
The JT1 employed unequal-length double wishbones front and rear, a spaceframe tube chassis and kevlar/carbonfibre body that housed a GM-based pushrod V8 with custom specs. The V8 produced 360kW and 650Nm, the latter delivered from just 2500rpm, and only needed to push 940kg.
With an LSD in its rear-drive manual transaxle, testing revealed it did 0-100km/h in 2.9sec. The cabin was fairly spartan but Thomas assured this would change, along with the chassis (which would become a carbonfibre tub), once the project found the backing it surely deserved.
The thing is, that money never came. There were glimpses of hope, the first being some crowdfunding cash that financed a clay model of the updated JP1-spec design. And then there was the now unfortunately infamous $35m Alex Hatzmihail investment, which fell over shortly after it was announced for reasons Thomas can’t legally reveal.
Then, finally, after so many dead-ends, Thomas sold the project. Again, he can’t share who bought it, but tells MOTOR it went interstate and “started the heart of the supercar potential in Australia”. The thing is, our only current supercar is the Brabham BT62. Which is built interstate, is V8-powered and will race at Le Mans. Coincidence? Maybe.