Jannarelly Design-1 prototype. FIRST DRIVE. Dubai, UAE

The man who penned each W Motors’ hypercars has created a 1960s-esque roadster. And we’re the first to try the Jannarelly Design-1 on-track

Engine Power Torque 0-100kph Top speed Weight Basic price
V6, 3498cc (Nissan) 304bhp @ 7200rpm 371Nm (274lb ft) @ 4000rpm 3.8secs 240kph 790kg (385bhp/ton) $62,000

Just imagine if W Motors had given its design director Anthony Jannarelly a Lykan company car. I mean, cruising to and from work everyday in the product of his own creativity, it’s less likely Anthony’s imagination would have wandered, and his dream of a ‘glamorous’ Caterham Seven with ‘60s roadster styling may never have hit the design easel. It’s unlikely too that the man who penned the W Motors Fenyr Supersport, the Lykan Hypersport and the Zarooq Sand Racer, would even have met business partner Frédéric Juillot, nor discussed how the latter’s years as a boat-builder – and thus his team’s expertise with fibreglass bodies – would ultimately prove so beneficial to their joint venture.  

It’s even less likely that conceptual art of the Jannarelly Design-1 (first teased HERE) would have caught public imagination the way it did in 2015. Granted, the pair might have saved themselves the headache of establishing an independent car company in the Middle East – the paperwork alone took close to six months – but we doubt the first prototype would have been built at all. Kiss goodbye to the two-dozen payments that got the production ball rolling too. Genesis of the Jannarelly Design-1 goes deeper than that though…

“When I was designing cars for W Motors, everyone just assumed I was driving a Lykan everyday,” Anthony explains. “But it’s a $3 million supercar. It’s just not possible. Instead I drive a Caterham 160S most days, and Frédéric actually has a Donkervoort GTO-RS” – Holland’s answer to the Caterham – “so that’s how we met.

“Eventually we discussed designing something with the cool shape of a Porsche 550 but with the precision and control of a Caterham. I’ve always admired the Porsche 550, but engineering-wise it’s a bit dated. And with the Caterham you have an old school car with modern handling, but it’s not particularly glamorous. So it all started from that. At first this was just a side project. Then about a year ago we produced some pictures to see how people would react. It wasn’t too long before we started taking customer orders.”


Fast-forward 18 months, and Anthony’s enthusiasm for the project that bears his name hangs almost tangibly in the air as he walks me through the prototype. Testing at the Dubai Autodrome – the Jannarelly team’s home circuit – has paused temporarily as half a dozen engineers in matching black ‘Jannarelly’ t-shirts discuss tyre pressures, suspension geometry and rev mapping over a portable tool chest. I shamelessly eves-drop, but Anthony, in full flow, barely pauses.

“I always considered the ‘60s the best era for car design,” he continues. “Everything was more straightforward, and in a way, more human. I love the flow of those old shapes, so I started from that. I had the Ferrari 250 Testarossa very clearly in my mind during the design stage, and wanted to offer my tribute to this beautiful machine. So we built these ‘pontoons’ around the headlights and a deep front grille, because you just don’t see these on modern cars.

“I always loved that the Porsche 550 was almost symmetrical, front to back, so I included that in the design too as best I could. Also, if you look closely, you can see four ‘rises’, like shoulders, on the wheel arches. That’s probably the biggest throwback to the 60s.”

“I had the Ferrari 250 Testarossa very clearly in my mind during the design stage”

Little wonder the Jannarelly design triggered such a response, and standing in the flesh today – complete with deep blue paint and red racing stripe – it’s lost little of its eye-popping impact, even if the yellow seats aren’t the best combination in this writer’s thoroughly untutored opinion. Indeed, the more we wander around Design-1 waiting for the engineering team to swoop back into action, more and more 60s icons begin to tease their inspiration. The deep inlet between the front ‘pontoons’ is pure Ford GT, the rounded slope of the headlights in side profile reminiscent of the Jaguar E-Type. Then there are the wide rear axle and rollover hoops, surely pure Shelby Cobra? Apparently not…  


“To be honest the Cobra wasn’t much of an inspiration. We really wanted to keep the cabin narrow and the rear track wide to bring out those curves, a bit like a woman’s hips. From an engineering side this made sense too, because we only have so much room to fit a V6.”

Ah yes, the engine. The words themselves seem to ignite a flurry of activity from the engineers, several of whom remove two small pins to open the bonnet panel while others start jacking the nose for a closer look at the front tyres. Frédéric meanwhile, back from a recuperative smoke break, lands a hearty pat between my shoulder blades, offering an equally warm handshake as he dives into the technical side of Design-1.

“The Jannarelly weighs just 780kg, meaning a power-to-weight ratio of 385bhp/ton. That’s more than an SLR McLaren”

The tubular chassis under all that fibreglass and occasional carbon fibre was designed in-house. The lightweight double wishbone suspension meanwhile was studied by Campos Racing, a Spanish team notable for their championship success in GP2 and Formula E (the latter under the NextEV Team China banner). The setup works in tandem with lightweight – spot the theme – wheels sourced from 7Twenty in the UK and semi-slick Pirellis, an upgrade over the road-going Toyos initially used during development.

Power and torque meanwhile are an admittedly steady 304bhp and 274lb ft of torque, but that’s not the figure that springs my right eyebrow into action. The Jannarelly weighs just 780kg – 200kg of which is the drivetrain – meaning a power-to-weight ratio of 385bhp/ton. That’s more than an SLR McLaren, and more than sufficient for the UAE sports car to hit 0-100kph in less than four seconds (3.8, a confident Frédéric assures me) and a 220kph top speed.


So, from where has the 3.6-litre V6 and its mated six-speed manual transmission been sourced? The new Camaro Six? Perhaps a current gen GT-R?

“The Nissan Maxima”

Beg pardon?

“It’s a VQ35, so it’s pretty much the same base as you’ll find in the 370Z and the GT-R,” explains a clearly amused Frédéric. “It’s a small base, plus on the Maxima and the Altima, it’s mounted transversely with the gearbox, which is helpful for us with such a small car. Nose to tail, it’s about the same size as a Mazda MX-5, so even if we wanted to add turbochargers, they just wouldn’t fit. Don’t worry, there’s more than enough power.”

And in just under an hour, I discover just how right he is.

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