Is the world-fastest-diesel Trident Iceni the real deal, or is Archimedes screwed?

Trident Magna

Trident Magna

Archimedes famously said, “Give me a place to stand and I shall move the Earth.” Archie, of course, was talking about levers, which is another way of saying torque multiplication. And its torque multiplication that the blokes at Trident Cars say will make the Trident Iceni top out at 190 mph, along with going naught to sixty in 3.7 seconds.

At least that’s what they’ve said in a press release that’s gotten more mileage in the digital automotive press than the Iceni’s reputed 2000 miles on a tank of fuel.

They also say they have customers waiting in line.

The problem is that British almost-a-carmaker Trident Cars has been saying things for a long time. More than fifteen years, per a casual web search. That’s how long the Iceni has been in development, starting in 1998 at its first airing. What was later been described as little more than a styling buck was purchased by Eric Broadley  of Lola fame to develop into a classic British cottage industry sports car. The car made its British International Motor Show debut in 2000, and deposits were even taken. A “final prototype” was actually road tested in 2001 by the Brit website PistonHeads and six months of production was said to be in the order books.

But by late 2004, however, having burned through £2 million (where do these people get this money?), the project was dead. Eric Broadley reportedly refused to start selling the cars before their time and their time never did come. Wrote Graham Bell in PistonHeads, “Maybe there’s still an outside chance that the car could still become a production reality if a wealthy buyer comes up with the right deal very quickly, but sadly the likelihood is that the Iceni – just like the tribe it’s named after – will be consigned to the history books.”

Well, not quite. A new company was formed in 2005 and in 2006 a Trident Aceni prototype powered by the GM diesel took to the track in British GT series. l Not much about accomplishments, however.

The Trident Iceni, “designed, developed and manufactured by Trident Performance Vehicles Ltd,” shows up again in 2007 when the car, powered by a 6.6-liter GM Duramax diesel V-8, will do a publicity stunt by Trident Sales Director and former racing driver, Kelly Bevan and “motoring journalist” Suzannah Sorrell, starting from Norwich, England, and driving to Monaco, where it was to be driven around the grand prix circuit, all on one tank of fuel. And oh, said the report, you can buy one for £60,000.

Alas, the exhibition was cancelled at the last minute. A spokesperson for Trident said “We are really sorry for the inconvenience caused, but it was out of our control. We have been let down by a supplier of a gearbox. However, the 1,000-mile run is going to happen and we hope to do it for the Monaco F1 Grand Prix next month,” she added. Multiple stories on the plan, by the way, with few on the result.

A year later, the Trident Iceni was back, this time with a price of £75,000, and a press release whining about not receiving a government grant: “Trident have applied to all…agencies for grants and have received nothing – not a penny.” One wonders why, what with Trident’s scientific breakthrough. “Their fantastic fuel economy is achieved through technology called torque multiplication and it can be applied to all diesel cars…. It’s available now, requires no further research and development and can make an immediate difference to the amount of emissions diesel vehicles produce. In short, Trident have the solution to what we’re told is a huge problem.” 

There were still believers among the automotive press, however.

And not completely without justification. The company took a Trident Iceni to Salon Prive 2012,  for a debut.

Trident Magna

We’re not aerodynamicists, but in profile, the Trident Magna looks like it would be unstable at speeds approaching 200 mph.

But with today’s announcement, came with the opening sentence, “Trident, the British sports car brand, today announced the global availability of its flagship Iceni sports car, the world’s fastest & most fuel efficient diesel sports car.”

At this point, call us skeptical, but we’ll play along. Trident introduced two new models to the Iceni range, the Iceni Magna (fastback) & Iceni Venturer (wagon), joining the Iceni sports car. All three models have the same specifications, particularly the 395 horsepower Duramax V-8 (though Trident doesn’t say so) with 700 lb-ft of torque, with upgrades to 660 horses and 1050 lb-ft of torque. And they all run on bio-diesel, from used cooking oil (UCO) and rapeseed methyl ester (RME, which includes linseed, rapeseed, olive and palm oils). Bevan’s original eight-speed transmission has been replaced by a six-speed automatic.

“We’ve been doing prototypes for nearly eight years,” Bevan told British car magazine Autocar. “It’s perfecting our innovation of torque multiplication. And it’s been a tortuous route having to make our own gearbox and differential and make our own engine ECU to capitalise [sic] on the torque we are producing.”

Trident says there’s already a waiting list for the car, with pricing starting at £96,000, and fully spec’d to around £126,000.

We’re not sure whether Archimedes has signed on.