Ricardo to Spare

One of the challenges in building a high-powered, mid-engine car is finding the right transaxle. A transaxle essentially combines a transmission, driveshaft and differenal into one piece. Most street/track transaxles come from Porsche or Graziano, the OEM supplier to Aston Martin, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Audi (R8), McLaren and others. The problem with these transaxles is that they are designed for the high-revving, flat-plane engines found in European supercars, not the lower-revving, cross-plane engines found in an American V8. A Graziano will work, but the gearing won't be right. In addition, my 1,000HP engine is capable of shredding one.


Fortunately, Ford hired Ricardo to build a bespoke transaxle for their 2005-2006 halo car, the Ford GT. Ricardo developed a modern six-speed transaxle with advanced triple-cone synchronizers, an internal oil pump and a very high input torque rating.

The Ricardos are highly sought because they are the perfect match for an American V8 -- they can handle the power and they have the right gear ratios. When the Ford GTs first came out there was a constant stream of wrecked cars (yeah, boys will be boys) and guys building mid-engine cars were able to buy the transaxles out of the wrecks. As the Ford GT rapidly appreciated in price the supply of wrecked cars dried up and the Ricardos became very difficult to get. At this point, if a Ford GT owner needs a new transaxle they need to prove they own the car and Ford will consider selling them one. Beyond the transaxle, the starter and clutch are both expensive and hard to get.

So what did I do? I bought a new Ricardo from a race team. 18 months later, I'm stilling waiting for parts and I got to thinking, "What if it breaks? ... they will only become more rare and more expensive." That led me to look for a backup and after much effort it arrived yesterday. I bought it from the CEO/founder of Vencer Sarthe, a super car company located in Holland. Apparently several years ago he had purchased new ones directly from Ricardo.

I was a little worried about doing the transaction over the internet, but everything worked out great. I am having the gears REM polished, the box checked over and then broken in on a dyno. Here's some pictures.