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This Ex-Mazda Designer’s Passion Project is a Handmade Supercar

Can Carlos Salaff turn his dream into reality?

Carlos Salaff has worked with Mazda’s finest designers. On the Nagare Concept, the Furai Concept. The new Miata, even. But in 2012, he left Mazda’s Southern California design studio with a single goal: To build his own car.

Project Caden is personal. The named comes from Salaff’s son, and it was originally a solo effort. But, recently, he has started adding staff; now, he’s manufacturing components. Project Caden actually looks as though it will be built.

Carlos Salaff

“For the past three years I have been sketching, creating physical models, and working in the computer to develop and finalize my design,” he says on his blog. “This has been primarily a solitary experience, until recently when I brought on several experienced craftsmen to help bring my dream from the digital world into reality.”

Carlos Salaff

Salaff cites a love for hand-built racecars of the Sixties as inspiration. So Pete’s Custom Coachbuilding in Ohio is forming the aluminum body, by hand, to sit over CAD created, laser-cut MDF body bucks. Old School, meet New. It’s partially open to show selected glimpses of the all-aluminum, inboard pushrod suspension. The engine is a BMW V-10 with six-speed manual, possibly combining battery boost. Vintage race specialists Metcalf Racing are responsible for the aluminum body tub, and further components will be CNC milled from aluminum. It’ll seat three, McLaren F1-style. All the gauges and switches are analog.

Carlos Salaff

“At the moment, in order to experience a connected, analog machine, one can turn to vintage cars,” he writes, “but there aren’t many new vehicles that can offer that feeling. I wish to deliver vintage soul within a new design. To create a fresh experience built on timeless values.” What’s most remarkable is that it shows every sign of coming together as a real car, and not in some indefinite future, but right now. And if it succeeds, he promises to build it in limited production run, too, “the first production car for SALAFF.”

Now that would be truly spectacular.

For more on Project Caden, check out Carlos Salaff’s build on Ferrari Chat.