When you think ‘V10’, images of thoroughbred Carrera GTs, Dodge Vipers and Lamborghini Huracans probably course around your brain. But did you know that a renowned British engineer once built a ten-cylinder supercar that could have topped the production car top speed chart?

The Melling Hellcat was its name and it was conceptualised and developed by Al Melling, a slightly mad engineer and designer who had dealings in F1 through Lamborghini, Chevrolet, Leyton House Formula One and Benetton. Melling Consultancy Design became a hive of engine development and helped TWR win at Le Mans with Jaguar four years in a row. The firm also developed the TVR Speed Six block used in numerous modern TVR cars.

By the mid-Noughties, Melling decided he didn’t want to just build customer engines and instead would take on the establishment with his own bespoke supercar. He had experience with V10s via engine development for the Lola F1 team which never came to fruition, but the engine he built for his own supercar was something else.

The 6.0-litre quad-turbo V10 produced 1,175bhp and 880lb ft of torque, with the head and block milled from a huge single billet of Aluminium. The entire car came in at 1,200kg and could reach 60mph in just 2.6 seconds, a time that was staggering for 2006. Heavily influenced by TVR in terms of design, the Melling Hellcat also had touches of Marcos TSO GT within its thunderous lines.

The Hellcat was built due to Melling’s motivation to enter Le Mans after his time with TWR, with the aim being to produce a GT1 variant of the road car to take-on the endurance world. Only 50 production cars were due to be produced but, sadly, the number of cars never got close to that figure.

The interior could be described as sparse but functional

Despite the lack of production numbers, the proposed top speed of the Hellcat was something of nightmares for the Bugatti Veyron. Melling quoted 295mph at full chat but, if we’re honest, that claim was frankly laughable. Sure, it had four turbochargers like a Bugatti but aerodynamically there was no hope of getting up to anywhere near 300mph.

The frontal area and general dimensions of the car just wouldn’t allow such a speed to be achieved, especially with ‘only’ around 1,200bhp. At £185,000 it could almost be seen as a bargain even if it made it to 230mph, but the headline top speed claim almost made it a bit of a joke.

So the Hellcat never made it into any showrooms and the Bugatti Veyron had the Noughties speed record all to itself. It was a fantastic hypothetical piece of V10 British muscle that could have asserted itself as a performance legend but it was simply too big for its boots.

To learn about another tragic British V10 hero, click the link below:

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