After 20 years spent designing and building the T-Rex 3-wheel performance machine, self-taught designer and fabricator Daniel Campagna chose to develop a solid, lightweight, 4-wheel performance machine to drive endlessly, on a track or an autocross course. He simply named it Talisman, “for good luck”, adding the acronym GV-1 as a subtle nod to F1 great Gilles Villeneuve, with whom he worked in his snowmobile racing glory.
A first prototype was ready and duly tested by fall of 2014 and a second one rolled out of Campagna’s shop, in Plessisville, Québec, two summers later, in August 2016. This second light-blue Talisman looked perfectly familiar, yet bore several significant changes. Foremost was a cockpit moved back 30 cm in the chassis to better center mass and bolster agility. Along with the necessary changes to the minimalist, bespoke fibreglass bodywork, this second Talisman sported a quicker steering rack and new, center-mounted, upswept tailpipe.
Bringing on the boost
These first two versions of the Talisman were powered by a 1.8-litre, 140-hp, 4-cylinder R18 Honda engine that was perfectly stock, except for that sweet-sounding, custom exhaust. The intent was to use engines from the best-selling car to pre-empt supply issues and help keep the track machine affordable and reliable. The Talisman already was plenty quick with it but Campagna, ever the gearhead and performance wizard, had another plan.
Fourteen months later, he and business partner Jean Gosselin carefully extracted yet another version of the Talisman from a shiny black trailer. This time, it had a turbocharged version of the trusty R18, entirely home-brewed. The first tests were so conclusive that the normally-aspirated version was dropped altogether.
Campagna chose a small Mamba turbo for its build quality and the heat resistance of its ceramic bearings, but to also preserve the engine’s flexibility. The only internal changes are more robust pistons and rods. The clutch and gearbox are unchanged. The turbo engine’s ratings are now 235 hp peaking at 6,100 rpm and 214 lb-ft of torque at 4,200 rpm. Total weight is 571 kg, only 25 kg more than the previous prototype. This means a power-to-weight ratio of 2.48 kg/hp, virtually matching the 2.46 kg/hp of a 650hp Corvette Z06.
Over the past winter, Campagna completed a second turbocharged Talisman that shows the attention to detail and meticulous build quality that are his signature. Identical to its sibling in dimensions and mechanical configuration, it rests on a space frame chassis made of welded, square-section steel tubing, reinforced with riveted aluminium panels, with a pair of sturdy, tubular roll bars.
A quick glance at the open cockpit shows a seemingly small change that makes a huge difference. Giving up on the “exotic appeal” of a left-mounted shifter for the Talisman’s 5-speed gearbox, Campagna moved the slender aluminium lever and typically quick and precise cable linkage to the center of what he describes as a “2-seat formula car.” The gain in sheer ease of driving, at speed on a track, is remarkable. Even for a highly-experienced driver.
Major body parts are made of fibreglass, painted bright orange, this time. Seat shells, in the same material, have been slightly reshaped for better lateral support. Covered with a thin layer of textured neoprene, these Spartan perches offer decent comfort on track. They can be adjusted, longitudinally, along with the alloy pedal cluster. The tiny, removable, Alcantara steering wheel can be adjusted in both height and reach, over a minimal range.
The same double wishbone suspension and gas shocks are now linked to Pirelli Trofeo R performance tires (205/50ZR15 in front and 225/50 ZR15 at the rear) mounted on new black alloy wheels. The gain in grip and balance is substantial.
Driving the Talisman on the full road course at Circuit ICAR is an intense and surprisingly physical experience. It takes your breath away, quite literally, at first. Steering action is extremely quick, amplified by the tiny diameter of the racing-style wheel, with instantaneous turn-in, Formula or kart-style.
The GV-1 will naturally take a 4-wheel drift stance, and then oversteer at the slightest provocation. Especially when the abundant torque of the turbo engine is invoked, mid-corner. A limited-slip differential will be tested and likely added soon, as suggested by development driver Charles Leclerc, an experienced Formula Ford racer.
Leclerc routinely catches other cars during track test sessions, including references such as the Porsche 911 GT3. All in all, the Talisman is a dedicated performance machine designed and built in much the same spirit as the skeleton-framed Ariel Atom. Although even the most affordable version of the British-made icon is much more costly.
With development now complete and jigs, templates and parts book ready, DC Competition is now taking orders for the Talisman GV-1, priced at $49,950 and delivered in four to six months. There is nothing like it in this country and very little elsewhere. Let the games begin.
NOTE: The author and carmaker thank Circuit ICAR for access to its road course.
Model: Talisman GV-1
Builder: DC Competition
Type: lightweight 2-seater for track driving, autocross
Configuration: rear-wheel drive with mid-rear mounted engine
Engine: inline, four-cylinder, 1.8-litre Honda R18 with Mamba turbocharger
Power: 235 hp at 6,100 rpm (claimed)
Torque: 214 lb-ft at 4,200 rpm (claimed)
Gearbox: 5-speed manual
Chassis: welded tubular steel reinforced with aluminium panels and integrated roll-over hoops
Weight: 571 kg
Length: 3,500 mm
Width: 1,778 mm
Height: 1,092 mm
Wheelbase: 2,286 mm
Suspension (front/rear): double wishbone, gas shocks (option: adjustable)
Brakes: four 280 mm discs, 4-piston Wilwood calipers front, 2-piston Wilwood calipers rear, twin master cylinders with adjustable front/rear balance
Tires: Pirelli Trofeo R (or equivalent) front: 205/50ZR15 – rear: 225/50ZR15
Steering: rack-and-pinion, 2 1/8 turns stop-to-stop, adjustable steering column with removable Alcantara racing wheel, diameter: 250 mm
Pedals: alloy pedals, adjustable in reach
Seats: fibreglass shells with neoprene cushioning, adjustable lengthwise, with adjustable aluminium side bolsters
Safety belts: 4-point racing belts (6-point with Hans device compatibility optional)