Every summer, racers gather at Pikes Peak mountain in Colorado, USA to see who can get to the top the fastest. Big power, huge tyres and a truck-load of bravery is needed to get a good time on the 12.42-mile course that covers more than 150 corners.
You might think these mad-cap cars are taking part in a ‘who has the biggest spoiler’ competition but all that aero is needed when they hit more than 140mph on the Peak’s winding roads. There are already some exciting cars taking part but here are the 10 cars we’d love to see racing to the clouds.
Suzuki Vitara S
If you ever played Gran Turismo, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with our Suzuki Vitara S’s forebear – the Suzuki Escudo. Our Vitara S borrows the Escudo’s bright red livery in the hopes of emulating its success. Additional spoilers have been fitted to keep the Vitara’s blocky body glued to the road surface as it spears towards the mountain’s summit.
Nissan Leaf Nismo RC
The electric Nissan Leaf might not be your first choice for a Pikes Peak contender but, with a few software updates and some extra aero kit, this Nismo RC version has the go to match the show. Competing in the ever expanding electric category at Pikes Peak, the Leaf Nismo RC proudly shows off its eco credentials with its bright white ‘zero emissions’ livery.
Hyundai i30N (Elantra GT)
Hyundai’s i30 – or Elantra GT, as our American friends call it – might, again, look a little too sensible to be racing up Pikes Peak. Add a brace of spoilers, vents and blistered wheelarches, however, and it looks more than ready to monster the tricky course. We’ve picked the upcoming high performance ‘N’ version as our starting point and painted it in the light grey/blue livery favoured by the firm’s successful rally team.
As a popular motoring show once proved, almost nothing can kill a Toyota Hilux pickup truck – including a death-defying race up a mountain. Naturally, our version is extensively reengineered to cope with the demands of the climb. Foremost is the relocation of the engine to the truck bed – helping weight distribution for enhanced agility and aiding traction when accelerating out of tight corners. The white, green and red livery has graced many iconic racing Toyotas in the past and certainly looks the part here.
In a departure from the cars on the rest of this list, the Ariel Nomad was already so extreme that it didn’t need much modification to race up Pikes Peak. Nevertheless, a set of spoilers and some bright paint for the bodyframe helps it stand out that much more as it catapults to the summit. The Ariel’s racy Honda engine will have been turbocharged to cope with the lower oxygen levels as the car climbs upwards.
Mini JCW Challenge
Mini has a long pedigree at rally events but has yet to take the Pikes Peak crown. If it were to field this modified JCW Challenge, however, it might have a fighting chance. Its short wheelbase – so useful on tight twisting back roads – is more of a hinderance on Pikes Peak’s fast, open corners so it gets a full aero kit to help keep all four wheels pushed into the road surface.
The Abarth 124 is an appropriate choice for Pikes Peak because it’s the car Fiat and Abarth hope will reignite the USA’s love affair with the brand. To keep the driver safe and to improve its aerodynamic profile, a permanent hardtop has been fitted in place of the convertible soft top. Bright red livery – Italy’s racing colour of choice – marks this Abarth out on the 12-and-a-half-mile course.
The Audi Q2 might have only just arrived but we can already see an opening for it in Audi’s motorsport fleet. Our Pikes Peak version gets the requisite flared wheelarches, vented bodywork and gigantic spoilers to handle the extensive performance modifications. In addition, the white and yellow bodywork harks back to the original Audi Quattro of the ’80s when Audi was the dominant force in rally racing.
Peugeot – annoyingly for the American teams – currently holds the Pikes Peak record with Sebastien Loeb completing the course in 8:13.878 with his 208 T16 race car. To try to maintain grip on its title, our 2016 Pikes Peak challenger features Peugeot’s dinky 108 city car with the aggression turned up to 11. The short wheelbase will be mitigated by vast spoilers and huge tyres to help it claw at the road surface.
Ford Transit Supervan
We know what you’re thinking… Surely a van should be in the pits, not out on the actual race track? Not in the case of this one, however – this is the Ford Transit Supervan. This beast sticks with the boxy van body but adds monumental power in the form of the turbocharged V6 from Ford’s GT supercar. Combined with the usual aircraft-grade spoilers, this is one van in with a shot of Pikes Peak glory.
Check out our other bonkers creations…
If you enjoyed this list, check out the Le Mans cars we’d love to see race, the rally cars we’d like resurrected, the touring cars we think should be on the grid or the cars Star Wars characters should drive. Alternatively, if you want a great car of your own, head over to our car chooser or regularly updated deals page.