You may be wondering why tales of the ambitious lone designer or engineer fighting against the status quo to create her or his dream machine seem to drop in number after the 1970s. One reason could be that producing a vehicle for sale gets more difficult as regulations are added for safety and smog, another plausible explanation is that vehicles have gotten so good—why make your own car, when mainstream makes do it so well?
Of course, there are dreamers in every decade. Turns out the one behind the IDR Arex was named "Child Actor of the Year" at seven.
Upon seeing the IDR Arex—American Roadster EXperimental—I know what you're thinking: "Wow, that looks like a villain's car from the short-lived TV show Viper!" (As far as I can tell, it hasn't been featured on the show.)
First shown in 1991, the car is a bulbous take on the mid-engined sports car, as if a Campagna Motors T-Rex crashed into a Ford Indigo, but predates both. It's the creation of David Stollery, former child star, who is best-known for playing Marty Markham, the lead character in the 1950s Disney show Spin and Marty.
Stollery gave up acting for design, attended California's Art Center College of Design, and first worked for General Motors before joining Toyota. His most notable design while there for seven years was the second-generation Toyota Celica.
Responsible for the Firearrow kits to transform a motorcycle into a very fast three-wheeled car, after setting up a firm called Industrial Design Research he's found a lot of success designing lifeguard towers—ones that dominate the Pacific coast and are also in select Florida locations…and all of Hawaii.
A project designed simply to both showcase his firm's capabilities and be a blast to drive, the Arex has taken decades to develop to Stollery's satisfaction.
There isn't much information around on the car, but an interesting piece found on luxuryautodirect.com puts it at the scene of an event called the Caruso Concours d’Elegance at The Americana at Brand. (Caruso Affiliated is a real estate development firm; The Americana at Brand is an outdoor shopping mall in Glendale, California.)
Shown as part of, as the press release says, "…a rare first-hand look at the most striking automobiles ever created whose performance and eye-catching style is superior to any of its contemporaries earning them the name Supercars."
Awkward sentence and capital "S" is theirs.
Presumably hand-picked by the hosts of the show, the Petersen Museum, it sat alongside such heavy hitters as the Bugatti EB110, Bugatti Veyron, Cizeta-Moroder V16T, Jaguar XJ220, and Maserati MC12. I even found video from the show—including the IDR Arex—in a piece shot by the Petersen Museum.
The clearest picture of the car emerges thanks to Automobile Magazine, who did a feature on the car in 2009. Its specs are quite impressive: small-block Chevrolet V8 engine topped by a Roots-type supercharger, classic ZF five-speed transaxle; a basic, water-resistant interior…and just enough top to get you home once it starts to rain.
Its roughly 600 horsepower is thanks to Gale Banks Engineering, and with a curb weight of just 1179 kg (2600 lbs), the whole package is said to be capable of a 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) run in 3.4 seconds, with top speed at a nice, round, 200 mph (321 km/h).
I'll leave the conclusion to Robert Cumberford of Automobile Magazine: "The Arex is the contemporary equivalent of that greatest California automotive invention, the hot rod. Just as a 1927 Ford T-bucket roadster existed solely for the purpose of going fast and looking (very) cool, so is the Arex a pure, perfect, in-your-face, go-fast, go-to-hell-if-you-don't-like-it toy car for big boys. We love it."