This is a prototype, but the Smits are looking at a price of $450,000 (£365,000) for an Oletha with the V8. If they stuck with the straight six, it would still be $350,000 (£285,000).
The brothers are still tweaking the dynamics, yet to settle on a set of suspension bushings that don’t allow kickback through the steering and decide on settings for the adjustable KW suspension, currently set overfirmly. Plus they think the steering is too light. But they tell me they would like to set up the Oletha as a road car primarily, rather than as a track car, and that we should go for an afternoon drive on some good roads to find out how it feels. So we do.
You sit low in the Oletha. The driving position initially feels slightly offset, but after a minute I forget it. The steering wheel adjusts broadly, the gearlever sits close and the pedals have their standard, weighty BMW feel. The engine starts to a woofle, the bonnet stretches out ahead and, as in a Z4, I feel like I’m sitting near the back axle – with shades of muscle car, grand tourer, old-school sports car.
Like a used car seller who gives you a list of things that are wrong with the car, I think it shows a lot of confidence when engineers tell you which jobs are still left undone.
We tour briefly up the coastal road and I see what the Smits mean about the ride (a bit firm), steering weight (a bit light) and kickback (a bit kicky). But then we turn onto what Americans call canyon roads, which you and I would know as some of the twistiest, emptiest, best hillclimb roads you could come across, and it all gets better. Much, much better.