Luc Chartrand has always been fascinated with long, low exotic cars. We call them supercars. One day, the self-taught auto-builder decided to design, develop and produce his very own exotic vehicle, right here in Canada.
An avionics specialist by trade, Chartrand’s previous experience was in aeronautics and avionics. But in his spare time, he meticulously worked on exact reproductions of Italian sports cars – Ferraris and Lamborghinis especially.
In the mid-nineties, when he was in his thirties, Chartrand started dreaming up a sports car of his very own. One sketch followed another, and by 1998 he had his first to-scale design drawn “just for fun.” In actual fact, it was pretty good – good enough to convince a first client to put a deposit on the car.
This client was Carl Descoteaux, a dental surgeon with a passion for mechanics who would go on to put a deposit on Chartrand’s future sports car. Soon enough Descoteaux became a partner in the business.
The project really started to see the light of day in 2000. Chartrand put aside his other activities to dedicate all his time to the project and founded Locus Technologies, as the firm was initially called. A first full-size mock-up was produced in 2002. His original idea was to build a car on a widely known and modest mechanical base, but he soon decided to go the extra mile and build a real supercar with no holds barred.
Attracting crowds and money
The very first Pléthore was unveiled at the Montreal Auto Show on January 19, 2007. This black beauty was displayed with its V8 engine sitting next to it. Carl Descoteaux and Sébastien Forest had the honour of sliding the black drape off the vehicle. The two had met at HEC Montreal before Descoteaux went into dentistry and Forest into law. The latter would become the President of HTT Technology (which stands for “High-Tech Toys”) in fall 2008.
Carl Descoteaux continued investing in the firm and increased his participation to 40 hours a week – in addition to his work as a dentist. “I didn’t get much sleep, but time really flies when it’s something you’re passionate about.”
HTT made numerous applications to government agencies for research and development grants. It received support from Quebec’s Ministry of Economic Development, Innovation and Exports as well as the Economic Development Agency of Canada. To date, the company has collected approximately $1.5 million, which it has invested in developing the Pléthore. Most of these funds were spent in the last two years.
On with the show
After the Montreal Auto Show, Luc Chartrand joined forces with John Dorrington, a seasoned coachbuilder, and the two put their minds to producing a more refined version of the supercar, this time with a central engine. Chartrand kept himself busy making modifications and thinking of what changes would come next. After a year of tireless work, HTT unveiled a new orange Pléthore at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, the mecca of unusual and modified cars. The Quebec creation was a hit, making headlines around far and wide.
Next stop: the famous Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, in January 2010. This opportunity, however, caused the car to miss its debut in Montreal. It caught up with its scheduled appointments at the Toronto Auto Show in February before crossing the Atlantic to join the Top Marques Show in Monaco in mid-April.
Next up: production
Luc Chartrand spent 15 years working on the spectacular big-boned car we see here, displayed unpretentiously at the HTT workshop near the Autodrome St-Eustache. Chartrand described it as “worth a couple million” before reconsidering and saying, “Actually, it’s priceless.” In fact, this is not the car that HTT is planning to produce. As it stands, it’s too big to be shipped in a container; the risks of it being damaged are too high. And since HTT plans on selling most Pléthores outside the country, this is an important thing to consider.
The production model of the Pléthore will be 8 cm narrower, but 10 cm longer too. The wheelbase will gain most of these centimetres, but Chartrand assures us that the cockpit will actually be longer so that taller people can fit inside more comfortably. HTT has made the interior entirely digital using Creaform3d. They’re also analyzing the finished components and virtual ventilation with the people from Lx. Both of these firms are based in Quebec and offer leading-edge expertise. Luc Chartrand is especially proud of his creation’s drag coefficient, which is 0.37. Not a bad achievement, even for an aerodynamics specialist!
If the Pléthore’s exotic appearance is its body, then its engine is its heart. HTT assures us that the Pléthore will be equipped with the Corvette ZR1’s fabulous supercharged V8 LS9, which delivers 750 hp (which is where the LC-750 name comes from). The engine will be specially made by American specialist Pratt & Miller, which proudly saw the Corvette team to victory at the Daytona and 24 Hours of Le Mans events.
Racing is Luc Chartrand’s other dream. He’d like to see his cars at the American Le Mans Series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans races. The Pléthore already has a safety cage integrated into its carbon fibre structure, ready to meet FIA standards. Buyers will be able to speed onto the racetrack without having to add a cage (as was the case with the McLaren F1, for example).
The current modular suspension can be replaced with a pure race suspension in just a few hours. For now, the Pléthore comes with modified Corvette suspension parts. Chartrand is hoping to equip it with air springs that will make its ground clearance adjustable and improve comfort on the road.
HTT aims to produce four or five cars a year, and Chartrand claims that they will all be made in their current facilities with John Dorrington. If the backlog of orders grows beyond their capacity, he will consider a production system in which each vehicle has its own space, like on F1 teams.
Prudent but promising first drive
Guess who was the first to have the chance to drive the Pléthore outside of HTT? I was! First, I had to ease myself into the centrally positioned driver’s seat, a feat that requires some acrobatic skills, much like getting into a racecar. The driving position was just right for my medium frame. A stretched interior will be a must for taller drivers. Then I pressed the start button – which is on the ceiling, like on a plane – and heard the V8 rumble. The sound that comes from the exhaust is truly exceptional, but Chartrand is tight-lipped about the recipe.
With the clutch in, I pulled the short electronic lever and I was off ! Shifting was very smooth. Though it was just a short, prudent test drive, I was immediately impressed with the Pléthore’s solidity. I may have been driving a prototype, but it was one well-made piece that didn’t creak in the least. Driving comfort along the bumpy straightaway on the St-Eustache circuit was reminiscent of the Audi R8, the benchmark in the field.
The Pléthore LC-750 certainly inspired my confidence, but its real test was still to come. Just as I was leaving, the first buyer – and American – arrived on site. He drove the car much more energetically than I had (which made Chartrand break into a sweat) and was absolutely thrilled with the car. He admitted to liking the Pléthore more than the Lamborghini and Ferrari he already owned.
There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done before the first Pléthore comes out of HTT Technologies. But the LC-750 is already knocking people’s socks off with its excellent design and handling. What’s next? The LC-1300 Devil. You guessed it: 1300 hosepower! And here’s a word to the wise: don’t bet your money against Luc Chartrand and his team!