The SEMA Car show is the premier aftermarket car show in the US. Every fall (or Autumn for the rest of the World!), in Las Vegas, the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association puts on an incredible display of the very best that American engine tuners, racecar builders and chassis wizards can come up with...
So you'd probably expect the stars of the show to come from the US. Big-bhp muscle cars, dripping in Detroit heritage? Maybe a super-luxurious SUV, rolling on 24-inch chrome wheels? Well, on the Öhlins stand, the star attraction was something a little bit different…
For a start, it wasn't so much an American car, as a North American car. And instead of running a huge V8 motor, the Öhlins feature car was powered by a highly-tuned, 11k-redlined motorcycle engine. Because the machine was the incredible Magnum MK5 – a Canadian-built road-legal two-seater, that's perhaps the closest thing you can get to a race car on the road.
The MK5 is based around a super high-tech carbon fibre/steel tube chassis, housing a tuned Suzuki Hayabusa powerplant. The result is an incredibly lightweight car, with excellent power-to-weight characteristics – the MK5 weighs just over half a tonne, and its 250bhp output provides 460bhp/tonne. That means the 0-60mph dash takes just 3.2 seconds: truly supercar performance.
But it's not just about acceleration. Magnum's track heritage means it cares more about carving corners than slaying straights, so the MK5 chassis uses the very best in racing design and components. The wheels are super-wide light alloys, with Toyo R888 road-legal race tyres, and the brakes use radial-mount four-piston calipers all round.
But it's the suspension that really marks the MK5 out as a racetrack refugee. Rather than using a modified road car arrangement, Magnum has gone for a full track setup, with inboard-mounted, fully-adjustable Öhlins TTX36 shocks, operated by pushrods, and unequal-length double A-arms front and rear. This is the same suspension design philosophy that's used in ultimate car racing series worldwide – having the shocks mounted inboard reduces unsprung mass in the suspension, and allows improved aerodynamic performance.
Aerodynamics are also key to the MK5 design. Unusually for a road-legal car, the carbon fibre bodywork actually incorporates functional aerodynamics. That's to say, the internal front wing, front splitter, flat underbody and rear diffuser all help 'stick' the MK5 to the asphalt at speed. In the same way as open-wheel 'Formula' race cars, the MK5 uses the airflow over its chassis to 'push' the car into the deck, improving grip, and giving more secure cornering.
Inside the futuristic bodywork is a super-strong safety cell, with dual carbon fibre race seats, and six-point race harnesses. Under the hood is a small practical touch too – luggage space for two helmets, and a briefcase…
We spoke to company owner Bruno St-Jacques, and asked him about what inspired the MK5.
"Our racing background dictated the philosophy behind the MK5," he told us. "We agreed that the newest Magnum had to be exciting in every sense. Our main objective has been to achieve an experience that is pure and as close to driving a true racecar, in a simple to use and easy to drive platform."
Why did Magnum choose Öhlins as its suspension partner?
"We are driven by excellence and believe it is of the utmost importance to offer our customers a product that does not compromise on quality and performance. We pride ourselves on offering a high-end product that surpasses expectations. We only work with the best people in the business and we source only the best components."
Choosing Öhlins, which is a premium supplier of shocks within the motorsport world, was natural as they are a perfect fit for Magnum. Their fully-adjustable TTX36 shocks are high-tech and very responsive. Working with Öhlins Suspension on the development of the MK5 handling has been great. It has proved to be a very successful collaboration."
How has building the first new Magnum in nearly thirty years made you feel? "Seeing the Magnum MK5 drawing so much attention has been simply amazing. We have been overwhelmed by the positive attention the MK5 has received. People have shown huge interest during showcasing events such as the SEMA Show and the Montreal International Auto Show."
The Magnum MK5 costs $139,000: for more information, visit www.magnummk5.com
You've maybe not heard of Magnum – but the Quebec-based firm has been turning out top-spec race cars for almost fifty years. Set up by race car enthusiast Jean-Pierre St-Jacques in 1968, Magnum began by producing the Magnum Mk1 Formula Ford car, the first of a series of hand-built racers. Just five years later, Magnum was collaborating with an up-and-coming Formula Ford driver called Gilles Villeneuve. Villeneuve won the 1973 Quebec Formula Ford championship in his Magnum MKIII, kicking off a legendary career in competition.
Magnum built about a dozen race cars over the following two decades, culminating in the Magnum MKIV of 1988, before Jean-Pierre moved onto race car preparation and parts production for the whole range of auto racing disciplines. Meanwhile, the St-Jacques dynasty rolled on, with Jean-Pierre's son Bruno absorbing the family passion for motorsport.
Fast-forward a couple of decades, and the father-son team has returned to bespoke car building with a bang, in the shape of the Öhlins-equipped, road-legal MK5, starting the next chapter for this amazing firm.
- Power-to-weight: 460bhp/tonne
- 0-100 KM/H (0-62mph): 3.2s
- Maximum speed: 240 km/h (149mph)
- Handling: Up to 2G lateral force at the racetrack
Engine & Transmission
- Type: Inline-four, 1,340cc DOHC 16-valve - Peak power: 250bhp - Redline: 11,000rpm - Configuration: Rear mid-mounted, rear wheel drive - Transmission: six-speed sequential gearbox, with reverse - Differential: Limited-slip
- Bodywork: Carbon-fiber composite. Easily removable front and rear sections.
- Functional aerodynamics: Internal front wing, front splitter, flat underbody, rear diffuser
- Cargo area: Fits two helmets and a briefcase
- Fuel tank capacity: 35 liters
- Fuel filler: Lockable billet aluminum
- Length: 3,914 mm (154.1 in)
- Width: 1,884 mm (74.2 in)
- Height: 1,069 mm (42.1 in)
- Ride Height: 90 mm (3.5 in) Track | 110 mm (4.3 in) Street. Can be set at factory per your
preference, or can be interchanged by user.
- Dry Weight: 1,200 lbs (545 kg)
- Type: Adjustable pushrod activated, double unequal length a-arms, front & rear
- Dampers: Inboard, fully-adjustable Öhlins TTX36 shocks front & rear
- Anti-roll bars: Adjustable, front & rear
Wheels & Brakes
- Tyres: Extreme performance, road-legal competition tires, 225/40R18 front & 265/35R18 rear
- Wheels: 18", ultra-light alloy, front & rear
- Brake calipers: Four-piston calipers, radial mount, front & rear
- Brake discs: Ventilated discs, with CNC-machined aluminum hubs, front & rear
- Brake bias: Cockpit adjustable
- Pedal box: Custom CNC-machined, manually adjustable
- Gauges: Steering wheel mounted backlit digital dash-display, with integrated laptimer and data
- Steering wheel: 310mm, weather resistant suede, with quick release
- Seats: Carbon fiber composites
- Harness: Six-point, racing-type
- Accessories: Rear-view monitor & camera