Kodiak F1

"Kodiak" is one of my favourite words, one that was originally used to describe a bunch of things that are located in Alaska. A southern word, it is not. But it's got tremendous stage presence, a word bound by two robust Ks. There's a kodiak bear, the largest of all brown bears, which is capable of running for quite some distance at its top speed of, apparently more than 50 km/h (30-35 mph). Its speed is attached to a gigantic lump of bear—complete with deadly just-about-everything.

Who sets the radar trap for bears? (And who gives them the ticket!?)

In the early 1980s, Stuttgart-based company Speed & Sport Cabrio-Verdecke GmbH, led by Mladen Mitrović, decided to get into the supercar game. The company specializes in convertible tops (that actually look quite well-made, I must say), and is still around today. Most websites that talk about the Kodiak never really bother to look up the company name or anything about the founder—there are a few mentions of Mitrović being a local Stuttgart slot car legend in the early 1970s.

Maybe that's where he got the idea for the fibreglass floor pan and Carbon Fibre-Reinforced Plastic (CFRP)-Kevlar composite bodywork, over a steel tube frame. In any case, it must have caused a stir at the 1983 Frankfurt Motor Show, years before the moon shot Porsche 959 and close enough in looks and construction to the C111 that makes you wonder why Mercedes-Benz never did bother to start production of their advanced mid-engine sports car prototypes.

Reports these days list a number of name-brand parts, with options like Connolly leather being available, along with Mercedes-Benz-sourced V8 engines. Truth is, only two well-finished prototypes are known to have been completed, the prototype in most photos being an example fitted with a Chevrolet Corvette V8 that was topped by Brodix heads and Bosch fuel injection. 

Something you'll notice is that German tuner cars and upstart car manufacturers often pick the very best parts for their prototypes. No different, Kodiak raided the brand-name shelf: Brembo brakes, Pirelli P7R tires (at 12 inches wide for the rears!), adjustable Koni sport suspension, ZF 5-speed transmission, power steering from the BMW 7 Series, and Momo steering wheel. 

I almost forgot: it also came with a 300-watt stereo with 22(!?) speakers. Let's hope that's a typo. Tail lights from the Porsche 944, too!

Weighing just 1080 kg (2380 lbs), the F1 could smash the 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) run in just 5.2 seconds.

The Kodiak F1 never did make it past two prototypes, one of which was offered on eBay a few years back, selling for about $50,000 Usd.

But just knowing that a Serbian-born German was able to graduate from slot cars to a sports car—without ruining the family business—is cause for celebration. Sports car startups are rarely so lucky.