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Meet the Redback Spyder: one of only two cars in the world

Nick Tomkinson with his two-of-a-kind in the world Red Back Spyder will be on display at the biennial Classics by the Coast on May 24. Photo Tamara MacKenzie / The Morning Bulletin
Nick Tomkinson with his two-of-a-kind in the world Red Back Spyder will be on display at the biennial Classics by the Coast on May 24. Photo Tamara MacKenzie / The Morning Bulletin Tamara MacKenzie ROK060515tknick

A SNEAKY fishtail here, an adrenaline-pumping gear change there - it's all for the thrill of it for Nick Tomkinson.

The former Londoner, now Emu Park resident, is the owner of one of only two Redback Spyders in the world - that's what he's called his very own car creation.

Mapped out on a serviette years ago with a friend while at Le Mans 24 Hour Race (France), the birth of what would become one of his greatest engineering creations was made.

That's right, the two Redback Spyders, the only two, built in the world, were both built by Nick.

This particular car (pictured) has attracted a massive following of motoring enthusiasts, media and celebrity attention, starring in multiple publications and television shows including Top Gear Australia, Top Gear Magazine and Performance Buildups

"The Stig wanted to drive it, but when the car arrived to the closed off airport (in which the car was to be driven in Sydney, the car's suspension had been damaged in transport." Nick explained.

"I can still remember Top Gear Australia co-host Shane Jacobson exploding with excitement about the car."

 

Birth of a builder

NICK recalls his days of school filled with absentees and often getting into trouble.

He knew deep down his time could be better spent doing something he was truly passionate about.

"I enjoyed things like woodwork and metal work at school. I liked working with my hands," Nick explained.

Upon leaving school, Nick pursued a carpentry apprenticeship, which was also short-lived due to a lack of demand in the industry at the time and so was encouraged to seek after any form of building projects he could come by to build his experience up.

"I spent my time building rooves and staircases and getting a lot of experience along the way.

"At the time I had a great love of motorbikes, dirt bikes and started building ones, expensive ones that I loved the look of, but couldn't afford.

"I ended up building eight of them in my late teens."

By his 20s, Nick was racing the bikes he was making, learning how to make them even faster.

"In 1992, I ended up winning the inaugural SuperMono championship. I crossed the Nullarbor, 11 times that year. I also met my wife at the same time. It was a great year.

"It was at this time I had realised I was finally doing what I loved to do."

 

Building takes a detour

FROM bikes to cars, the challenges grew as quickly as Nick's passion for building.

If he wasn't building bikes for himself or others, he was tinkering on replicas: his first a Lamborghini Countach.

"I bought a kit from England and got straight to work," he said.

"But I didn't stop at one.
"I got a phone call from a guy in NSW, who called asking if I could build one for him - and so I did."

Nick's list of replicas includes Lamborghini Countachs, Diablos as well as a number of chassis for other motoring enthusiasts.

That and of course the two one-of-a-kind Redback Spyders.

Front view of Nick Tomkinson's Red Back Spyder. Photo Tamara MacKenzie / The Morning Bulletin
Front view of Nick Tomkinson's Red Back Spyder. Photo Tamara MacKenzie / The Morning Bulletin Tamara MacKenzie ROK060515tknick

Enter: The Redback Spyder

A TRIP back to see his family in the United Kingdom in 2000 birthed the beginnings of his unique dream car.

"I took my wife back to my home country to meet my family and journey through Europe, call it a voyage of discovery," Nick laughed.

"I met up with a friend of mine, Andrew, who also made replica cars".

"We decided if we can build replicas, what's stopping us from building our own one of a kind car?'"

From our concept drawn on a serviette, the dream started to unfold into reality.

Nick got to work on his new creation as well as a motoring magazine Performance Buildups who agreed to publish updated stories on the progress of his car.

"I ended up getting 10 stories out of the magazine on the Redback, I also posted progress photos and updates on the car on my website.

"With the magazine coming on board, Nick boldly approached several motoring companies to use their product in the creation of the car.

"In the end we had up to 40 companies on board."

With things going according to plan, Nick was set on making the car of his dreams a reality.

But it was one phone call from the states (USA) that transformed his life completely.

"His name was Mill, and he must have been looking at Redback Spiders (the animal) online when he came across our website, my Spyder project.

"We had a photo of the Spyder on the webpage, but it was only a mock up, not the completed vehicle.

"He called me one night, we spoke on the phone for about 30 minutes, and basically said 'I don't know what it is but I want one.'"

"I was a bit taken back, but once he had hung up, I realised I hadn't even gotten his name, let alone a number to call him back to give him a price. I was worried I may had blown it.

"But sure enough in a weeks' time he called back, and I had worked out a price for him and without a formal shake of the hand, I had been given the green light.

"So instead of making the car that I could afford, I could make the car that we wanted. At this stage a good friend of mine Michael said he would love to be involved."

The Spyders took a total of three and half years to complete.

Boasting a 350 cubic inch LS1 engine and reaching speeds of up to 257kmh, aggressively sporty curves and striking paintwork, thrilling doesn't begin to describe Nick's four-wheeled friend.

The car has made many appearances across Australia including Brisbane Melbourne (Albert Park Grand Prix three years in a row) and South Australia.

For more information on the Redback Spyder visit www.carbontech.com.au.

 

Did someone say Jay Leno?

HALF way through the making of the Spyders, Nick received a call from his funding friend (Mill) with a modification that would essentially make the Spyder the car it is today.

"'I got a call from Jay Leno,' Mill said casually," Nick said.

"'He loves it, he wants one. Is there any chance of making it a coupe?' I said 'Sure' - of course it was a little more than just that word that I had gotten myself into.

"Originally the car was designed with no roof, so this idea opened up a massive undertaking including water proofing, building air conditioning, mechanisms to open and close the door just to name a few.

While it was a challenge, the car speaks for itself today as the eye-catching, rubber-necking sporty vehicle it is today.

"Mill considered selling his vehicle to Jay Leno, but then decided against it - he said ''I could be the guy who sold his car to Jay Leno, or I can keep the car that Jay Leno wants.'"

Topics:  cars, motoring, rockhampton




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