THE DRIVEN ART
1985-1996 Mosler Consulier (Series I)
Genre: Modern Classic
Price: Mid ($30k - $100k)
By Adam Wosneski, Service Advisor at The Driven
June 25, 2017
Screw conventional wisdom, screw your underhanded tactics, and in general, screw you. I’m rich, I don’t need your money, and I know better. And I’m going to just go out and do it.
You may think this was excerpted from one of President Trump’s recent press conferences, and you could be right, but I am attempting to paraphrase Warren Mosler’s unfiltered inner thoughts. And I like this guy already.
ICM is not where you go for simple car reviews or price guides, e.g., sticker prices and numbers of cupholders. We are not only about interesting, rare cars that make a decent return on investment from a monetary and/or experiential perspective, but about the interesting stories of the people involved -- the engineers, the racers, the designers, the builders, even sometimes the marketers.
Warren Mosler wore all of those hats, and may be the most interesting person in this realm you may ever run across.
Do you know any other Wall Street hedge fund managers that are straight-talking, unconventional, and published economists; race car drivers; sports car designers and engineers; and, independent political hopefuls who have run for office multiple times? Neither do I.
In the early 1980s, Warren Mosler was already a successful, wealthy investment manager that raced Volkswagens at the amateur level and sponsored Ferrari teams at the professional level. A racing buddy introduced Warren to a home-built race car project, which centered on a Mazda rotary engine and a garage-formed fiberglass body; it was about half the weight of the VWs Warren was running at the time.
Predictably, the buddy never got around to finalizing the project. Intrigued, Warren bought the project and linked up with a local shop brave (or stupid) enough to attempt to finish it.
“Adding lightness”, as is the Lotus Cars core philosophical catch-phrase, was essentially nothing new. Combining lightweight chassis with powerful, reliable engines and taking them to the track was a famous trend in the 1960s (ala the Shelby Cobra). However, by the late 1980s, those memories had long faded in the automotive landscape. Increasing safety regulations, cheapening pump fuel, and stagnated design departments was leading to bigger, heavier, more powerful sports cars, some based on barely-refreshed decade-plus-old platforms. Not one to go along with the masses, Mosler saw an opportunity.
In 1985, Mosler purchased his own 15,000sf shop and continued developing self-fabricated lightweight cars, with the conviction that “everyone” would want to buy a 30mpg sports car that ran rings around any other production sports car. Hence the birth of Consulier Industries, and its first creation, the GTP Series I.
The GTP Series I sported a light, strong, and very advanced-for-the time fiberglass, foam, and carbon-kevlar monocoque chassis, four-wheel independent suspension (with rocker-arm-activated upper links), and large disc brakes. It used a somewhat discordant mix of off-the-shelf production parts, most notably the 175hp 2.2L Chrysler Turbo II powertrain, mounted midships in the rear.
What? A world-class sports car with a Chrysler K-car engine??
When you consider the GTP tipped the scales barely over 2,000lbs, this rather pedestrian powertrain propelled the advanced chassis to world-beating performance. Mosler, drawing upon his appreciation for and relationship with the aforementioned Carroll Shelby, had studied many available off-the-shelf powerplants suitable for the GTP. The Turbo II engine (ala the Shelby Omni GLHS) offered the best combination of weight, compactness, power, reliability, and price. Warren ordered 100 of the units, which were already coupled with sturdy Getrag A555 transaxles. Between the not-so-sexy body and componentry, the GTP was far from the prettiest, most elegant, ground-up design, but that is not the point. Economist, racer, and engineer Mosler focused on results, namely lap times, and sought the most efficient path there.
Mosler, confident in his creations, also knew Consulier Industries would only be profitable at scale, and set up several well-publicized events to ramp up interest in the GTP.
In 1991, Consulier offered the $25,000 Challenge, which offered $25,000 to anyone who could run faster lap times, back-to-back, with a stock, street-legal production car, versus the GTP. The details are a bit hazy, but Car and Driver somehow got ahold of a pre-production 1992 Corvette and a worn-out, bald-tire 1988 Consulier GTP test car, and put one second on the GTP at the Chrysler Proving Grounds in Chelsea, Michigan. Crying foul, Mosler refused payment, and Car and Driver subsequently wrote a scathing article about Mosler and the Consulier.
The Consulier began to be the car the automotive press loved to hate. Mosler, unfazed, upped the ante to $100,000, invited the public to again bring any street-legal production car, but he would pick the driver and the track. Sebring’s Short Course was the venue, and the “street-legal/production” stipulation was clearly stretched, with modified twin-turbo Callaway Corvette and RUF Porsches in the pool of comers.
A full GT1-trim Porsche Turbo race car on racing slicks bested the street-tire Consulier’s lowest lap time by one second. When the Porsche race car was shod with street tires, it lagged behind the Consulier by 5 seconds a lap. Mosler once again invalidated the quicker lap time, and refused payment. As if on cue, another national magazine (Autoweek) published a decidedly negative article about Mosler and the GTP, ignoring the ‘finer details’ of the car and the competition. Years later in interviews (such as this one on the Grassroots Motorsports Podcast), Mosler admitted this article was devastating to sales.
Several Consulier GTPs were entered into local SCCA and eventually national IMSA competition in the 1980s. Consuliers were piloted to several 24-hour endurance wins, and won the Car and Driver One Lap of America challenge three years in a row. The GTP, safe, durable, relatively inexpensive, and fast, quickly became a dominant force in road racing, and as such was saddled with progressive competition weight penalties. It was ultimately banned by IMSA in 1991, and OLOA a few years later.
Consulier Industries split into Consulier Engineering and Mosler Automotive in 1993, and despite lagging sales, continued production of the GTP for several years, ending production with 83 units. Mosler Automotive continued to produce several other innovations, including other lightweight sport cars, electric vehicles, and one-off custom projects.
Perhaps sparked by the success of the Consulier, numerous manufacturers of lightweight, highly engineered, low-production sports cars using solid production powerplants sprung up in the late 1990s, with Factory Five Racing, Brunton Auto, and Noble coming to mind. In the same period, ‘big corporate’ manufacturers began producing supercars with similar performance and pricing, but with significantly higher levels of sophistication and general execution -- the Acura NSX and Lotus Exige, for example.
In 2013, after many years of nonprofitability, Mosler Automotive was purchased by Rossion Automotive, which, along with the purchase of Noble, allegedly continues the tradition of innovative coachbuilt supercars. However, Rossion ownership is indicated to reside in China, and it is not clear that Rossion actually has any cars to sell or make.
At the time of transfer to Rossion, most or perhaps all of the Consuliers sitting in Mosler’s Riveria Beach, Florida facility were sold. One of these lucky/smart nuyers picked up a rough one with a beyond-silly Beach Barbie/Ken Doll promotional livery, and started an informative restoration blog on his GTP. His site, ConsulierGTP.com, also appears to a good collection of data for these rare, near-mythical creatures.
Pictured in the header is one of the two Consuliers I have seen up for sale in the past three years; both have disappeared before this article fit into the ICM rotation, and on this 100th, and last, edition of ICM, I am breaking the formula and not actually featuring a current example for sale.
You might ask the dealer (World Class Automobiles in New Jersey) what happened to their white-over-blue December, 2016 Ebay listing, which ended [publicly] unsold at a $65k ask. Otherwise, you can do as I have done and set up saved searches in Ebay, Hemmings, and Google Alerts.
For what it is worth, the other Consulier publicly sold in the past three years went for $28,000 on BringaTrailer in December 2015.
Perhaps go straight to the source themselves – the north Florida-based Mosler family has apparently set up the “Mosler Redux” site to track their on-track exploits, including in Consuliers. If anything I have put forth here is erroneous or misleading – I hope they correct me.
Either place you poke around, if you find a current owner of a Consulier – you may want to drop them a line: not only for appreciation or advice – but to be the first one in line, when and if they want or need to sell.
Despite the super-low production numbers and world-class performance, the pedestrian componentry, awkward styling, and checkered press history of the Consulier GTP has kept values depressed. On the bright side – if you can find one -- you can have a revolutionary sports car that was the brainchild of a revolutionary man.
Besides a being a fantastic-performing street and track toy, a Consulier is an incredible conversation piece, and the historical context combined with low, essentially coachbuilt production numbers indicate a strong investment opportunity to boot. Hopefully you won’t have to wait until the generation that remembers the Chrysler K-car dies off to realize the upside.
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