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ARTEMIS Designs GmbH | Balancing form and function


A turn-of-the-century collaboration between two Austrian engineering students, ARTEMIS Designs produce high-quality kit cars that aim single-mindedly to provide a driving experience bested by none – all hosted and run in a simple garage inside the city of Leoben, Austria.

Following in the footsteps of such names as Ginetta, Saker and Elfin, ARTEMIS isn’t strictly a business as such; but more as an artistic vent. Whilst of course one can purchase a DIY and ready-built car as you would with other vendors (and mechanically it certainly is sound), the focus is more on bringing attention to the aesthetic side of the engineering industry, and how machinations can harness the abstract concept of beauty. This ideology is precisely what ARTEMIS strives for, and knowledge is bettered by experience – hence here they are.


There’s certainly a hot debate arising out of which decade delivered the most beautiful car. In one corner, you have the 20th century appreciators, continuously and unendingly pointing towards the 60s Le Mans cars – the 330 P4 and XJR-13 invariably referenced once or twice during an argument. In the other corner; conversely, you see people (usually younger chaps) usher all those who would listen towards the 21st century – the Maserati GranTurismo and Alfa Romeo 8C unanimously revelled upon in much the same fashion.

The RP8 Barchetta is ARTEMIS’ crack at the whip, attempting to design a creation that would please both sides of the proverbial coin. The former’s prayer to finally see a shell which harks back to a bygone era will not be left unanswered – the low-slung mid-engined chassis is clearly set in a decade well before either of its designers… and by some margin. They will also be happy to see that despite the technology gap between the two very-different times, weight has been kept at exactly 1,000kg (2200lb) to keep handling pure to its roots.

However, don’t think that its internals are going to be as complicated as a stick. Underneath the bonnet you have a 4.2 litre V8 sourced from an AUDI Quattro, kept in check by various electronic stability systems, which shall certainly help it when it’s not required to shred rubber. Some purists shall complain that it spoils the barebone feel of a classic car – and ARTEMIS understands precisely why they feel that way… which is why you can turn it off by pressing the “R” button on top of the gear lever, hidden away under a fighter jet-style lid cover.

Press it, and all aids are turned off – and they mean off. It becomes a different beast entirely; no longer a circus lion, but now a carnivorous dinosaur in all its brutal simplicity. No longer will it have any restraint… treat it well, and it will serve you well. Rub it up the wrong way however, and it will send you into the nearest object along with a one-way ticket to purgatory.


The year is 2005. The reasonable success of the earlier RP8 Barchetta allows ARTEMIS to really stretch their legs and design a [kit] car like none before it. Five years of preperation and many round trips to the drawing board later, and the Austrian company hopes to avoid the sophomore slump. This is their entry, and they maintain it’s not just better than their debut coupe; but one of the best in its class.

Mechanically, the difference between the RP8 and the new ARACH RC6 is described as a gaping chasm. Whereas the former looked back on the 60s in reverie, the latter views forward to the future of automotive design. Even decades after its production it holds up stunningly – and the aesthetics aren’t too shabby either.

          The stillborn RC6 prototype; not lithe enough to cut the mustard.

Internally referred to as “Project 3,000”, the original RC6 blueprints detailed a fibreglass body/AHS-steel subframe housing a 2.8-litre twin-turbo V6 (bored out from the naturally aspirated 4GR-FSE a la IS250 donor car) – but it was calculated that both the centre of gravity and the overall weight were much too high; so the project was overhauled (at some cost) to fit a lower, more compact twinturbo 6-cylinder boxer engine in a carbon/AHS monocoque

This second, much more focused design crept under the 3000lb barrier, hence the project’s designation.

               The finished RC6 -- truly outclasses its predecessor.

The forced-redesign was in fact a blessing in disguise – the brand new 4.0-litre boxer engine required significantly less boost to reach the same power, and the subsequent reprofiling of the body to meet cooling requirements resulted in arguably a much prettier front fascia as well.