- - - - - - - - - - - 1971 - - - - - - - - - - -
Epoch had been researching the market for quite a while now, with the intent of avoiding a repeat of the 1963 economic failure that was the M30 3.3. Realising that their prior offering was behind the times to begin with, and then failing to execute the idea with any consideration of market demand, both the designers and engineers had been wracking their collective brains for many years. Eventually there emerged two camps who’s opinions divided the organisation, with one group arguing for a downsize in engine capacity and a reduction in ‘luxury’, whilst the other argued for keeping the larger engine and better equipped interior but sacrificing quality and reliability.
Eventually the second camp won out, and the 1971 Epoch M30 Regalis was born; a move that would later be described “as if the executive of the company, looking at the failure of the previous model, turned to the market and said ‘you think that was something? Just wait and hold my beer…’ before committing probably the worst decision the company had ever followed through with.”
The M30 Regalis was a monstrosity of American proportions, featuring slightly ungainly styling, awkward chrome trim, and an overbearing presence. Under the hood was a gargantuan 5491cc (335cui) inline 6 that somehow only produced 126kW (169HP) at 4400rpm, although did manage an impressive 378Nm (279ft lbs) of torque. The engine was surprisingly quiet and smooth, however, which allowed passengers to fully appreciate the luxurious interior and beautifully designed radio system. Once up to speed on a highway, the M30 Regalis came into its own, where the combination of pillowy suspension, torquey engine, solid construction, and hydraulic steering meant that the car felt like it could cruise for days.
Whilst the comfort, safety, and practicality were exponentially better than previous offerings, the driving dynamics were woeful due to its massive 1714kg (3779lbs) kerb weight, solid rear axle, and soft suspension. With a purchase cost of $2,673 ($16,604 adjusted), sales were minimal in the UK and disastrous in Europe, with only the American market posting anything close to a profit.
In case the M30 Regalis wasn’t enough of a money pit for Epoch, the US branch of the company managed to convince the head office that Epoch needed its own Muscle Car in the M30 Regalis Rex. As there was no existing engine in the Epoch stable that was deemed suitable, Epoch US received approval to develop the first US designed and built engine to go with it. Unfortunately for Epoch Head Office, but fortunately for the few buyers who managed to get their hands on one, the approval paperwork contained mistakes that were not picked up until work was almost complete in developing the new engine. In a comedy of errors, a transcription mistake in the capacity meant that whilst Epoch Head Office had thought they were approving development of a reasonable powerplant of up to 4200cc (256cui) capacity, they had actually specified a capacity of 526cui (8619cc). To make matters worse, the approval was written in a way that this capacity was to be exact (rather than a maximum), and instead of mandating a maximum fuel usage figure in US MPG they had specified an exact figure in UK MPG. Investigations into this matter after-the-fact did alleviate some of the blame from the US arm of the company, as they did go back to Epoch Head Office to question these mistakes, however again there had been a breakdown of communication and the mistaken directions were confirmed as correct rather than be checked properly.
Development of the engine was fraught with challenges, as it was almost twice as large as any previous Epoch engine, and the US engineers and technicians were not experienced in engine design from scratch. Eventually, Epoch USA bought a handful of other V8 powered cars to pull apart and try to reverse engineer, such as the Pontiac GTO, PMI Usurper Scud Sabre, Dodge Dart, Everette Bellevue, and Ford Thunderbird, and even a Bogliq Maverick Enthuse! In addition to this, several leading engineers were brought in as consultants and experts to assist in specific areas where Epoch needed help, such as engine cooling and forge works, as the company did not want to lose Epoch’s reputation for reliability. All of this combined to make the development of this a very expensive endeavour, although the finished product was a very competent engine. The production engine eventually came in at 8619cc (526cui), with performance figures of 270kW (362HP) at 4500rpm, and 634.5Nm (468ft lbs) at 2400rpm, all whilst being unleaded-fuel compatible.
The finished package was a mixed bag, as whilst the engine was a gem (albeit rough around the edges), the base chassis and suspension was obviously rushed and corners had been cut to lower costs after the budget blowout on the powerplant. Where the standard M30 Regalis was disappointing and wallowed badly on the road, the M30 Regalis Rex was downright unpredictable and dangerous, and whilst the engineers had tweaked the 3-speed automatic gearbox to achieve the fuel economy target, when combined with the monstrous engine, allowed the M30 Regalis Rex to reach a theoretical top speed of 233 km/h (145 mi/h) and dispatch the 0-100km/h sprint in 7.1 seconds.
Whilst the development and sale of the vehicle has been used in university and business courses as a textbook case of commercial failure and project mismanagement, the car itself sold in more numbers than people would otherwise think, partially helped by its eventual cost price of $2,710 ($16,832 adjusted).