1985 Consulier GTP LX
The great melting pot — America. A country whose rich diversity is reflected equally in its car culture, imbued for generations with the international tastes of its enthusiasts. While the nation’s love of American muscle is unmistakably loud and proud, it also embraces and celebrates the gamut of everything weird and wacky from the motoring world.
WORDS MALIA MURPHY
IMAGES IAN WOOD
A Saturday morning jaunt down to your local Cars and Coffee stateside would reward you with glimpses of exotics straight from the Amalfi coast, right-hand drive street racers from Tokyo, Bavarian station wagons prepped for the Green Hell, dune-ready Baja Bugs, and deluxe coupes untouched since the Roaring 20’s. Captivated by a homemade kit car, it would take you minutes to realize you hadn’t even made it down one row. Stock, modified, hand-built, popular, rare, expensive, beautiful, ugly and sometimes just downright weird—the Land of Opportunity has it all. But it’s those cars that make you do a double take that really stand apart, the ones that aren’t recognizable. Those that exist without recognition, but deserve it. The nameless machine in question? Uncle Sam’s supercar: the Consulier GTP.
Unlike other automotive visionaries of the late 80’s, Warren Mosler didn't hail from racing or engineering roots. With professional expertise in macroeconomics, monetary policy, and politics, the hedge-fund manager and research financier’s interest in the automotive sector came somewhat out of left field. In 1985 he followed through with his interests, founding Consulier Industries, a Florida-based American sports car outfit that would later be rebranded to Mosler Automotive in 1993. Strategically headquartered in Riviera Beach, Palm Beach’s “Gateway to the Caribbean”, Mosler intended to capitalize off of the supercar allure that had been flourishing as a result of the era’s entertainment staples, such as Miami Vice and The Cannonball Run.
Rather than turn towards pricier, higher-displacement options, Mosler’s business intuition told him that Chrysler’s 2.2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder was the key, and his first step to implementing his design ideology. Securing the powerplant was only phase one of his plan—the entrepreneur would then turn the scrap bin upside down, dumping out a menagerie of parts that once found themselves on an equally-long list of production cars. Sifting through the options before him would yield favorable results: a five-speed manual plucked from Dodge’s Shelby line, tail lights torn from El Camino station wagons, rear brakes from Pontiac Fieros, and a clutch slave cylinder from an early 80’s Datsun 310. The contrivance of such a gadget meant that Mosler was not only determined to birth a supercar for the great American melting pot, but also cannibalize the United Nations of production vehicles to get there.
Introduced to the world in 1985, the mid-engined Consulier GTP would certainly turn heads on pavement, but on the track, looks didn’t matter.
A first for the time, the GTP made use of a carbon-kevlar body laid over a fiberglass monocoque; the entire car would weigh in at a feathery 2,200 pounds, allowing the first series plenty of giddy-up with its 175-horsepower. A second iteration, designated as the Series II, would boost the power output to 190-horsepower out of the improved version of Chrysler’s power plant, good for a triple-digit top-speed of 155 miles-per-hour and a zero-tosixty time somewhere a touch over five seconds. Just prior to 1993, when the GTP would ultimately cease production, the now re-branded Mosler Automotive released the GTP LX. Acting as the luxury trim of the sports model, the souped-up LX came outfitted with a collection of stylistic and luxury upgrades that included Recaro seats, Fittipaldi wheels, a sunroof, an Alpine sound system, revised instrumentation, and in true 90’s fashion: a car phone. While documentation of these curious cars remains slim, it is estimated that only around 83 GTPs were ever built, with 20 of them being racecars, eight targas, two roadsters, and the rest sport coupes.
The motorsport philosophy was certainly there—mid-engined, lightweight, rear-wheel drive, limited-slip differential, fully-independent suspension and rear-mounted radiator. It had three-way adjustable Porsche Carerra shocks and a front roll bar standard. It outran a ZR1 Corvette in Road and Track’s 1989 Manufacturer’s challenge with ease, thanks to a curb weight that was over a thousand pounds less than its competitor. It ran the quarter mile in the mid-13s and was even rumored to get 30 miles-per-gallon on the highway. Devoid of a racing pedigree or birthright, but nevertheless deserving, the GTP would threaten those that did have one on the tarmac. Indeed the $60,000 price tag did put a damper on things, but where exactly did it all go so terribly wrong?
Perhaps Mosler Automotive’s downfall was due in part to its owner’s very ostentatious (and very public) challenge to the motorsport community and his direct industry competitors: defeat the GTP’s time around any track in the United States with a street-legal production car, and cash-in a bounty of $25,000. Car and Driver took the gamble, their weapon of choice coming in the form of a C4 Corvette. Reportedly, the Chevy’s best run around Chelsea Proving Grounds was 1:21.01, 1.55 seconds faster than the GTP. Contested by Mosler, the results would go unacknowledged and unrewarded by the businessman, who argued that the journalists had used a run-down, 1988 GTP in need of service for the race, which ultimately affected the outcome. Culminating in a back-and-forth between both parties, Mosler offered to supply a track-worthy GTP to a rematch in addition to allowing the use of whatever driver they wanted, but the magazine refused. Instead, they disgraced the Mosler name and the GTP line in an article, insulted at the fact that Mosler had not upheld his end of the bargain.
It clearly wasn’t entirely the fault of the car itself—the GTP regularly went toe-to-toe with Porsche’s 911 Turbo, Saleen’s Mustang, Lotus’ Esprit, and Chevy’s ZR1 Corvette in the IMSA Supercar Championship and came out unscathed. Hot off of a handful of wins from local SCCA races and the 1990 24 hours of Nelson Ledges, four GTP Series II were entered into the IMSA Supercar World Championship. Seemingly without much contest, the automaker would walk away from their 1991 debut race at Lime Rock with a pole position and a subsequent victory. Repeat performances ensued, and IMSA officials finally decided that the GTP’s presence was affecting the competition so much that a 300-pound weight penalty was created as a result, the American supercar eventually becoming banned from the series. While details of the exile remain nebulous, we do know one thing—the GTP’s racing prowess was undeniable.
In the wake of the GTP’s victories in IMSA, Mosler increased his wager to $100,000 on the original bet—the only difference would be that the GTP Series II would be the challenger. Rumor has it that Chet Fillip was able to surpass the Series II’s time in a RUF Porsche GT1 around Sebring, but because the car was modified and on slicks, the result was discarded. Following the press controversy and extradition from racing, Mosler Automotive would rebrand the GTP in 1993 as the Intruder and in 1997 as the Raptor, both of which bore similarity to the original GTP but were powered by small-block V8s instead of the original four-banger. Regrettably, the revised models did not see the same level of public reception nor racing wins as the original, and were eventually succeeded by the Mosler MT900 in 2001.
Unfortunately for Mosler, following bad press and finally succumbing to the corporation’s monetary vices, his brainchild would go the way of the dinosaur in 2013 and join the likes of DeLorean, Avanti, Panoz, and Callaway in the ranks of America’s now-extinct automakers. Mosler Automotive may be dead, but that absolutely does not mean that the Consulier GTP deserved to die with it.