Many stories are lost in the history of the car. Events overshadowed by other stories, or simply forgotten over time. Today we take a look at the moment when a car from Belgium was the fastest accelerating car in the world.
That is all it took for the Gillet Vertigo to reach 100 km / h in 1994. This makes the exotic brand from Belgium officially a record holder. The fastest accelerating two-wheel drive car according to the Guiness Book of World Records . But why is it that an unknown brand from Belgium suddenly has a speed record? We need to go back a few decades to find out.
The Gillet brand was created by engineer and driver Tony Gillet. With his riding skills, he is the hillclimb champion of Belgium in 1979 and 1980. In 1982 Gillet decides that he wants to storm the car industry as an importer of the Dutch Donkervoort. The Donkervoort cars would inspire Gillet that horsepower does not mean everything. Like Lotus Colin Chapman before him, it is a matter of ‘Simplify and add lightness’. In 1991 Gillet decided to set up his own car brand in Gembloux with the aim of keeping the car as light as possible.
The name of Tony Gillet’s first prototype and production car is chosen by his daughter Sophie. Inspired by the great director Alfred Hitchcock, she comes up with the name Vertigo. In 1992, the Vertigo is officially presented at the Brussels motor show. With its carbon fiber chassis of only 58 kilograms, the Gillet Vertigo weighs only 853kg. It turns out that Gillet also has a good eye for engines. Because it is chosen to use the legendary 3 liter V6 Busso engine from Alfa Romeo. The car has a unique design, which most resembles a cross between the newly introduced Dodge Viper and a Donkervoort.
Gillet Vertigo in 1994
Fastest accelerating car in the world
After the Alfa Romeo engine has been significantly adapted to Gillet’s high wishes. A record attempt is made in 1994 to become the fastest accelerating car in the world. Bugatti at that time with the EB110 has a 0-100 time of just 3.46 seconds. Gillet, with its very light Vertigo, cannot make a greater contrast than with the heavy four-wheel drive EB110. The thoughts of being faster than this complicated machine mean everything to Tony Gillet. It may seem an impossible task, but Gillet still believes that his car accelerates faster because of its low weight.
After a brave attempt, the Gillet Vertigo with a time of 3,266 seconds accelerates no less than 0.2 seconds faster to 100 km / h than the Bugatti! That’s enough to officially enter the Guiness Book of World records in 1994 as the fastest accelerating car in the world.
The Vertigo sequel
The Gillet Vertigo proves to be ideal for racing. It is decided to participate in the FIA GT Championship with the Gillet Vertigo Streiff . That is a follow-up model that has been given the name of former Formula 1 driver Philippe Streiff.
To participate, the Vertigo Streif falls into the G2 class of the Fia GT. Which is specially developed for non-homologated street cars. The Gillet Vertigo Streiff proves to be very successful and becomes champion in this class in 2006, 2007 and 2008. What is left behind on the website, however, is that the Vertigo is the only car in this class. However, it does make a great sound.
What does the future hold?
The Vertigo has proven that the philosophy of low weight and quality can still deliver impressive performance. His record has since been broken, but the model has been immortalized in the game Gran Turismo. The model has had several facelifts and nowadays comes with the 4 liter V8 block from the also Italian Maserati. The Gillet Vertigo is a model you like or ugly, there is no middle ground. It is now clear that Tony Gillet is not concerned about this. After all, his life motto is not for nothing; “Je dis, Je fais” or “I do what I say”.