Vintage Views: Consulier GTP
Written by David S. Wallens
From the June 2016 issue
Posted in Buyer's Guides
When it comes to sports cars, lots of people think they know how to build the better mousetrap, though few have the resources or sheer tenacity to follow through with their ideas. Even when they do manage to produce that dream car, these visionaries usually end up with something closer to a nightmare. Want proof? Consider the Bradley GT or the DeLorean DMC-12. The Bradley is probably the single biggest factor in making the term “kit car” into a slur, while the DeLorean was an overwhelming disappointment despite having industry insiders as well as a whole European government behind it.
Undaunted by these inescapable truths, in 1985 financial marketer and club racer Warren Mosler decided he knew how to build a better sports car. Thus began a journey that would lead to some of the most capable cars ever put on the road or track.
The first Consulier GTPs emerged in 1988, and while they were never lauded for their looks, no one could argue with their performance. Taking a page from the Colin Chapman play-book, the Mosler team focused on making the cars as light as possible–some versions came in under 2000 pounds–by making generous use of composites and lightweight materials that before that point had not been widely used in the auto industry.
They also used off-the-shelf components where they could, like the Chrysler-sourced 2.2-liter turbo engines from the Omni GLH. Even though they barely cracked 200 horsepower in most trims, early Consuliers were capable of sub-6-second zero-to-60 sprints and had lightning-fast reflexes thanks to their low weight and mid-engined configuration.
You may have noticed earlier that the word “engineer” appears nowhere in Mr. Mosler’s descriptor, although it’s a common misconception that he is one. True, Mosler has the technical, precise demeanor of an engineer, but his real background is in international financial trading.
Still, smart guys are smart guys, and his singular, uncompromising drive to produce a fast and capable car led to a genuinely better mousetrap. It also led to some rather contentious relations with the media and other manufacturers. The drama ended up overshadowing the fact that no one ever legitimately claimed the $25,000 bounty Mosler offered to any other series-produced car that could out-lap the Consulier GTP.
Although Consuliers were never produced in significant numbers, in time improvements and refinements were made and variations were introduced. Convertibles and Targa-roofed options became available, and Turbo-II engines were replaced by later evolutions resulting in even better performance.
The performance of the cars was further highlighted in 1991 when Molser entered two Consulier GTPs in the new IMSA Bridgestone Supercar Championship. Mosler drivers Chet Fillip and Lance Stewart dominated the field from the beginning, and IMSA pretty quickly took issue with an “independent” manufacturer embarrassing premier marques like Porsche, BMW, Corvette and Lotus. Consuliers were hit with weight and power penalties until they simply couldn’t overcome the handicaps.
This is sort of the overarching theme of the Consulier story. Everywhere the car was taken, it succeeded. It won races, produced great numbers in magazine road tests, but somehow never got the respect that the performance seemed to deserve.
No, the looks didn’t help, although it bore a striking resemblance to the first generation of IMSA’s Daytona Prototypes that debuted decades later.
The GTP set the stage for the follow-up model, the 1993 release of the V8-powered Intruder and its split-windshield evolution, the Raptor. Performance was, likewise, insane.
In all, probably less than 100 Consuliers were ever built. We say “probably” because some cars were repurposed more than once as development mules or engineering exercises. The most common actual production number you hear kicked around is 85.
Warren Mosler has largely retired from the car business, but not from the innovation business. He currently resides in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where he is active in local politics and community welfare. He still designs cutting-edge vehicles, and recently developed a revolutionary quad-hulled passenger ferry that just hit the water for the first time. Very soon it will carry passengers from St. Croix to St. Thomas, and we predict that it will transport passengers comfortably, quickly and efficiently, yet somehow never get the respect that it deserves.
Shopping and Ownership
Warren Mosler has been a longtime fan of our magazine, and we have a long history of enjoying his cars that dates back to the first model–and have campaigned them ourselves for extended periods of time. The following advice comes from Mr. Mosler, our own experience, and Jacob Mosler, Warren’s son.
Restoring a Consulier can be tricky. First, you have to find one. Consuliers have turned up on eBay and Bring a Trailer in the past couple years, but there’s so few it’s hard to define any sort of market for them. A very nice 1990 Series 1 LX model (LX models featured lots of creature comforts like a/c, power windows and mirrors, extra insulation and a nice sound system) sold last year for $28,000. That seems rather reasonable for the capability and history you’re getting.
Consuliers were the first series-built cars to make use of a carbon/Kevlar composite monocoque tub, which is awesome because they’re both light and strong. Carbon/Kevlar monocoque tubs are expensive and complicated to repair if heavily damaged, though, which is not awesome. Fortunately, most of the cars we’ve seen recently are holding up very well. They were overbuilt from the start, which has aided them in their aging years. Still, have any tub repairs thoroughly examined by someone who knows composites, and have any future tub repairs performed by someone who knows what they’re doing.
Finding parts is somewhere between easy and impossible. The good news is that most of the parts on the car were either repurposed mass-production components or hand fabricated by Mosler’s crew. This means that you can either find stuff at your local auto parts store or simply make new ones from scratch. Many of the bespoke parts–interior panels and such–are very simple and can be easily duplicated. Modern materials and techniques can make the replacements even better.
Some parts that were custom produced in small batches, however, are pure unobtanium. Good luck finding a windshield, for example.
While the engines and other parts came from the Chrysler bin, not all did. The front brakes are common Dodge Daytona pieces, for example, but the rears came from the Pontiac Fiero. Taillights are from a Chevy El Camino, but side marker lamps were out of the Ford parts bin. And frequent changes meant that what’s true for one car might have changed slightly on another. Make friends with your parts guy is what we’re saying.
With so few cars out there, there’s not much of a market for Consulier specialists. But Warren Mosler’s son Jacob owns a race shop in St. Augustine Florida where he has pretty much anything that remains from the Mosler Automotive days. Mosler Redux, his shop has restored at least one former race car that regularly runs with NASA and others in the Southeast. He’s getting some other historic cars back together, too.
PARTS & SERVICE
Consulier GTP page
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Very nice to see something nice written about these cars. Thank you!
A succint article summing up its interesting little place in history makes me regret not jumping on one of the cheap ones when it seemed like everyone else in the TM world was. As a person who spends most of his online car-forum time split between Turbo-Mopar and GRM, this is one of the cars that demonstrates the overlap of ethos of the two communities, along with turbocharged versions of the first minivan (see you at the Challenge!). Manna to a cheap speed enthusiast like myself.
I remember the articles when those first came out, with a lot of discussion about looks. That was when I learned that it doesn't matter how correct a design is if the perception is that it's ugly. The three-wheel market struggles with similar perceptions all the time.
I don't understand how it was "so much faster". 190hp, 2200lbs. Once my Celica (2400lbs) has its 1uzfe (250hp) it'll have a better power the weight ratio. Did imsa cars back then just suck that bad?
It's speed wasn't judged in a straight line. What made the Consuliers special is that they out-handled their competition. They were dominant on track....on the boulevard....not so much.
What was the suspension setup? Seems like all blue collar MR cars back then had weird geometry or bad designs.
A 13B Wankel would have done well in this car.
The Consuliers were one of those cases where 1+1 = 3.
So do we take that as it's more than the sum of its parts, or that it "just doesn't add up?"
Maybe the answer is "yes."
The Consuiler GTP suspension/chassis was designed at McKee Engineering.
kb58 wrote: So do we take that as it's more than the sum of its parts, or that it "just doesn't add up?" Maybe the answer is "yes."
A little from column A, a little from column B.
No, seriously, the Consulier had some definite advantages. For one, compared to most of its contemporaries, it cut a small hole though the air. The Consulier was also light, and that weight was nicely distributed. The car also made really good power for its day. Remember, in the early '90s, 200 horsepower was really impressive.
I ran one of Mr. Mosler's personal Consuliers at an import drag race. At the time, it was billed as the first import drag race in Florida.
For my first pass, I lined up next to a modified Honda Prelude. This was also my first time drag racing. The light turned green and we both took off. I got to the finish line like half a minute ahead of him. I actually came to a stop just past the finish line because I didn't know where to go next.
i can't say much about the car itself, but thanks to that pic i now know which colors of Rustoleum to get to paint my 84 Caprice beater..
How much better could these awesome things have done sales wise if only the were a bit of style added?
It took them 15 years or so, but they did eventually add some style to the Raptor:
The biggest problem was their looks. I think most people couldn't get past them
Article says, "Chrysler-sourced 2.2-liter turbo engines from the Omni GLH." BUT those were turbo 1 engines and the Consulier had the Turbo 2 engines from the Shelby Z Daytona.
markwemple wrote: The biggest problem was their looks. I think most people couldn't get past them
They probably look better over 100mph.
I think they look better in darker colors.
There was one in a race we ran once, and I can attest to the speed. It was seriously fast on track. And the later Raptor is great looking in person.
In reply to Trackmouse : It has cantilever suspension with inboard mounted coil overs.
As for comparing it with a Celica...you could probably stack 2 Consulier's on top of each other and it might be as tall as your Celica. I've had the awesome opportunity to ride in one (the blue one in the picture in this thread, actually), granted probably one of the most powerful ones in existence, but HOLY CRAP!! Halfway through the run I couldn't stop screaming "I NEED ONE OF THESE!!!"! I've ridden in A-mod cars before, and the Consulier was simply from another planet!
The blue one above has knocked on the door of a 10-second 1/4 mile pass.
I drove the blue one. It was insane. 10 second power and handled unbelievably well. It was hard to get it out of sorts, even with 400+ hp pumping through the rear wheels. I was sad when Mike sold it.
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