Almost every week some new hotshot car company announces a better vehicle than anything else. And sadly, in this day and age it’s more about volts and watts instead of controlled blasts and exhaust chatter. I often have mixed emotions about this push for “green” energy, because on the one hand I’m not convinced it’s the right answer for reducing pollution, and on the other hand I see the obvious performance benefits that come with electrification. Thing is, I love emotion in cars, and the sound a car makes when it’s thrown around a track or at a traffic light to ambush the person in the car next to it is a big part of the deal for me. The second is the design of the car, and I’m sometimes disappointed by most modern EVs. Not so much the case with restored car maker Wiseman, as they still style their cars as modernized 1960s sportscars and roadsters. And luckily, Wiesmann still has room for a V8 engine!
The Weismann story In 1988, brothers Martin and Friedhelm founded the company under the name Weismann. The idea was to build a car that defied everything that had been done before, and while that may seem like a bit of a stretch, the cars certainly looked different from others on the market at the time. The first product to bear the brother’s name was the Wiseman MF30, launched in 1993 in 18 years. It is powered by a 3.0-liter straight-six engine with 228 horsepower, powered by BMW. The MF30 was followed by the MF3, which had a similar design but came with a different engine. The MF30 is equipped with the iconic BMW engine from the E46 M3. With 343 horsepower on tap and a curb weight of 1,180 kilograms, the MF30 is a quick machine; It accelerates from zero to 100 kmph in 5 seconds and reaches a top speed of 255 kmph. You can check out Part 1 of the Top Gear clip on the Wiesmann MF3 Roadster below (Here we go with part 2)
If you include the MF30, the MF3 Roadster has been in production for an impressive 18 years. At the 2005 IAA Motor Show in Frankfurt, Germany, Weissmann showed a car with a fixed roof for the first time. This Wiesmann GT MF4 has a redesigned chassis from the MF3 with room for a larger engine. Also, Weissmann installed a 4.3 liter V8, such as the BMW E92 used in the BMW M3 GTS. Power increased to 367 horsepower and then 400 horsepower, which pushed the GT MF4 closer to 300kph in terms of top speed and reduced the zero-to-100kph time by a tenth. The M4 Roadster was introduced in 2009, around the same time the even more bonkers MF5 was launched.
The very special Wiseman Roadster MF5 V10 and closed-top GT MF5 V10 had a total production run of less than 200 cars. Wiesmann upped its game from 6 cylinders to 8 when it moved from the MF3/MF30 to the MF4, which once again added two cylinders to the MF5. And yes, it comes with a V10 engine under a very nice front-end. In fact, it’s the 5.0-liter V10 engine from the BMW E60 M5, up from 500 horsepower in the M5 to 555 horsepower in the Wiseman. As the V10 ceased production in 2010 it was replaced by the twin-turbo V8 used in various BMWs. The V10-powered MF5’s top speed is close to 320kph (it’s slightly reduced with the V8) and the zero-to-100kph sprint takes under 4 seconds. Check out this YouTube clip by Car & Driver on the V8 GT MF5;
Before both Wiseman brothers left the company in 2012, a few more variations on the theme set by the MF3/MF30 appeared. Until then, they had produced around 1,600 cars over a span of 25 years, which was quite impressive for such a niche. Brand! A year later the company filed for bankruptcy, apparently in dire straits. A restructuring plan was presented but not intended to turn things around. A few months later all the assets were liquidated and that was the end of YSR.
The gecko returns
Now though, the name is back! Under new management following a whole load of legal decisions and changes, Weissmann is back once again. London-based investor Roheen Berry is now the owner of the Wiseman name and is looking to revive it as a once-prolific specialty car builder. With two different projects coming up, one called Project Gekko and the other called Project Thunderball, Wiseman is poised to capitalize on the recent surge in demand for high-powered specialized vehicles.
Project Gekko, which Weissman always used as its logo, was set to use a twin-turbo V8 sourced from BMW and an 8-speed gearbox. The proposed top speed is 320km/h and the sprint to 100km/h takes no more than 3.5 seconds. It basically continues where Wiseman left us with the MF5 cars in terms of performance. Sadly, no details or hints about the car’s styling have been shared yet, so there’s little we can tell you. What Weissman is sharing is the label “Re-engineering an icon,” which leads one to believe that Project Gekko has undergone a massive overhaul of one of the earlier cars. While the details are lacking, what I’m happy about is that the new management isn’t going all-electric and is still looking at the market for petrol engines.
Thunderball is the second project announced by Weissman, and the most prominent project in the company’s revival. It echoes the styling of the cars we know (and love) from Wiseman, launched by the MF3/MF30 and perfected with the MF4 and MF5. So in essence we once again have a retro-chic-style traditional roadster (ie soft-top) with a long nose and short rear. Usually follows the phrase “engine up front, drive to the rear”, but here Project Thunderball shakes things up a bit.
Project Thunderball may look like a retouched MF-series car from the outside, but the very attractive exterior houses the latest technology. Electric technology means two electric motors and a battery pack hidden in the chassis. It also features a 5-mode Selective Regenerative Braking System, harnessing the energy generated under braking to boost the engine braking feel you normally get from a petrol-powered car as well as charging the batteries. Total power output is 500 kW or 680 horsepower and 1,100Nm of torque. Wiesmann also claims a range of 500 kilometers on a full charge thanks to the 800 volt 92kWh battery capacity. The production car is said to weigh less than 1,800 kg, which is slightly more than the 1,200 kg MF5s but still moderate compared to other sporty EVs.
Each car is hand-built at the Weismann factory in Dulmen, Germany, and a wide range of personalization options are available to each owner. The exterior panels are made of carbon fiber and the Project Thunderball car will feature the clamshell front section we know from previous cars. The front gets the same egg-shaped grille, while the vertically aligned dual headlights carry over from the MF5 (albeit slightly reworked). At the rear, a slight ducktail spoiler aids traction, with tail lights protruding from the bodywork on either side. Normally you would find a dual exhaust system under the rear bumper, but in this case, only the aerodynamic diffuser is visible. While the Project Thunderball has been showcased as a soft-top roadster, for now, a coupe version is also said to be coming somewhere.
The interior of the car is complete with all the features you would expect in such a unique car. Hand-stitched leather covers the seats, center console and dash, and is surrounded by carbon fiber elements. The small steering wheel appears to be covered in Alcantara, with a digital screen mounted behind it, keeping an eye on the most important bits of data while driving down some beautiful country road or blasting up a Swiss Alpine mountain. It’s undeniably a thrilling experience, and I think Weissman calls it a grand touring roadster, and not some hopped-up hyper-EV is the way to go. The Wiseman is not a hardcore, record-setting track weapon, but rather a unique car. A unique car that you can ride in, instead of rushing along like a passenger hanging on for dear life.
If this piques your interest, pun fully intended, Wiesmann is currently taking orders. The car starts EUR 300,000 Without taxes, with a EUR 3,000 A deposit is required to reserve your build slot. A lot of money obviously, but this will be one of the most unique electric vehicles you’ll ever own!
For more information, please visit Wiesmann.com