Wiesmann Project Thunderball returns firm to retro form

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The last time we checked in with Wiesmann, three years ago, the boutique German maker of vintage-themed roadsters was emerging from the wilderness of bankruptcy with a mysterious new offering called Project Gecko. That project is still in the works. But at some point, it's possible someone at Wiesmann thought, "There hasn't been a battery-electric rear-wheel-drive performance convertible since the original Tesla Roadster. We should fix that." And voila, that might be how we now get Project Thunderball. The retro Wiesmann aesthetic is turned to its highest setting, an aluminum spaceframe draped in carbon fiber bodywork reminiscent of somewhere around 70 years ago.

The stitched leather cabin plays the part as well, with peeks of modernity in the carbon-backed seats and carbon trim, plus the digital gauge cluster and infotainment screen. Designers retained the seven traditional analog gauges across the instrument panel, though, and stuck to clean lines along the center tunnel with pushbutton gear selectors for the single-speed transmission.

Underneath, it's all 21st-century. Instead of the stock favorite, a BMW inline-6 or V8 or V10 engine, there's a 92-kWh battery (83 kWh usable) sending juice to two motors on the rear axle. Combined output is 671 horsepower and 811 pound-feet of torque, the only safeguards against those horses throwing the rider off being stability control, traction control and a limited-slip differential. After that, it's up to the driver's facility with the throttle and driving dynamics that can be tweaked with the adjustable suspension and adjustable roll bars. Handled properly, all that gallop is estimated to get the 3,747-pound droptop from 0-62 miles per hour in 2.9 seconds. Wiesmann tapped the expertise of German carbon and lightweight specialist Roding Automobile for the battery engineering, and to hit that entirely reasonable curb weight. Getting back to zero happens courtesy of six-piston calipers in front, four-piston units in the rear, and regenerative braking with five settings.

Speaking of which, the 800-volt electrical architecture can handle 300-kW DC fast charging, and there's a 22-kW onboard charger. The company says range should extend beyond 500 kilometers (311 miles) on the WLTP cycle.

The price is €300,000 ($316,200 U.S.), and Wiesmann says it plans to make just 1,000 units starting later this year. As usual, we expect none of them to come to the U.S.

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