Just who was "Joss"?July 7th, 2009.
"Hey, isn't that a Joss?"
In a strange, decidedly 21st-century twist on a rerun of last year's centenary "What car was that?" puzzle, we've got a new motoring question for you -- sort of. It goes like this:
Just who, exactly, was "Joss"?
First, the back-story: we received an email from Matt Thomas, who signs his notes as Technical Director of Joss Developments Pty Ltd, but that doesn't quite convey the depth of his commitment to the design and development of a locally-made project supercar, a wild-looking mid-engined, 2-door coupé which he has called the Joss. It has consumed several years of his life since development began in earnest in 2003 and a proportionately substantial amount of money to get it to the point where its launch is now imminent, following its very successful and wildly popular display at the Melbourne and Sydney Motor Shows.
It's an amazing-looking machine, with impressive mechanicals and quite astonishing claimed performance characteristics. In almost less time than it takes you or me to even think of it, it can be doing 100 km/h from a standing start, and its top speed will be somewhere north of 300 km/h. It will have a 6.8 litre V8 engine pumping out some 350 kW, or 500-odd bhp in the old currency for a vehicle that weighs in at less than a tonne.
"Now, that's a Joss!"
Matt, who designed the car and has overseen its development, has asked us if we can help jog his memory of a photograph that he claims he saw in a book about Walhalla that his brother showed him, some 20 or more years ago. We've checked all our usual sources, but without any success.
He thinks the book could have had a blue (or blue-ish) cover, and that it might have been something like 10 x 12 (inches, in the old currency); that it could have been called "Walhalla Gold Fields" or something similar (though that's not a name that's familiar to us); and that the picture in question might have had as many as five or ten miners in it (lots of "handlebar moustaches", he says), possibly in a "bush setting". But the one who clearly left a lasting impression on him was a miner in the photograph who was identified (he says) as "Joss", though he didn't say whether that was his surname or given name. He says that the picture left such an impression on him that he wanted to bestow that name on a son if he ever had one. Whether he ever did or not, we don't know -- maybe his wife wasn't so taken with the idea -- but he used it instead as the name for the car that he has been working on since 2003, and which is about to come to market. It looks like nothing so much as a full-on Le Mans series racer, and it's expected to sell for something on the jaw-dropping side of a half a million AU dollars, which -- believe it or not -- just means that it will probably be taken seriously by its target audience. With its launch now imminent, Matt has been hoping to clarify the origins of the name.
And the name wouldn't be the impediment to sales that you might think, in a market where the true high-fliers go by such improbable names as the Koenigsegg, Pagani Zonda, Gallardo, Saleen and even the Gumpert Apollo. And if (for example) that last name causes an involuntary snigger, consider that the car that wears it generates enough grunt to propel it from 0-100 in 3.1 seconds, en route to a top speed of 360 km/h.
These are all mid-(BIG-)engined, high-end, high-tech, high-performance, big-ticket road-going two-seater sports cars, all fairly new names in the motoring constellation, and all barely half a step removed from the track.
The Joss, likewise, will use a 6.8L V8 that will allegedly take it from 0-100 in UNDER 3 seconds, and regardless of what you or I might think of such an achievement, it's probably one of the major buying criteria among shoppers at this level, in this particular market, and a number that in no small measure accounts for the considerable international interest that the car has aroused.
For a long time, Matt Thomas's day job has been with Holden Special Vehicles. These days -- as a result of the V8 Supercar racing series -- they have an immensely respectable reputation among international motor-heads, and he's in the process of finalizing funding for the manufacture of the 10 cars that he has already pre-sold (out of the 25 he plans to build per year). I've added a couple of links below to sites that will tell you more about the vehicle, or you can google it for yourself, but if you know anything about Joss -- the miner, not the supercar -- we'd be just as interested as Matt would in hearing about it!
Drop us a note if you think you can help.