Interview of Tony Gillet



Tony Gillet, how did you come to ensure the building of the VDS GT 001 ?

Initially Raphaël had this idea of having a Vertigo built just for himself. Hence the reason why he actually came to find me. So in fact I didn’t provoke this initial approach, it took place quite spontaneously.
He had suggested styling it with a different bodywork. Based on that we then considered creating a car that would not at all be a Vertigo, but an entirely new car, bearing the VDS badge. And that’s how the project was born …


What were the first steps of this new challenge for your company ?

Raphaël’s priority was to develop a racing car, from which a road-going version would be derived. This brief is highly important when planning the various studies, and to create the car by computer aided design.
In no way could anything be neglected, and with the knowledge that all the solutions withheld for racing would in the future be required for adaptation for road-going purposes.


In fact, at the time when he came to find you, what did Raphaël van der Straten have in hand ?

When it came to design Raphaël had very precise ideas, insisting on several details close to his heart. As from that moment our role was to extrapolate, and try to image this car.
Each evolution of the concept was submitted to him, and he was the sole person to decide whether the proposal would be retained or not.
This is an important way of working, in as much that it demonstrates that this VDS GT 001 (-R) is not a modified Gillet Vertigo, but an entirely new car.
The chassis required lengthening by 15 centimetres to retain an American inspired neo-retro styling. Basically the idea was to launch the first outlines of a new make of car.
This time we were working as an executive constructor, being constantly attentive to Raphaël’s wishes…
This manner of working might appear to be somewhat complicated, but at no time did the principal in question block anything. On the contrary, he was open to discussion, always willing to listen, and prepared to review his data when the requested solutions involved a worry of a technical natur…


In a nutshell, it is not because the VDS GT 001 saw the light of day in the Automobiles Gillet workshops that it should be considered to be a cousin of the Vertigo…

Not at all! I’m obviously delighted that Raphaël had decided to put his trust in us for this great adventure, but he could just as well have called on other companies to achieve a similar result.

So this VDS is definitely not your car ?

No! And I insisted that in no way would it be my car! My duty was not to influence the choice of Raphaël van der Straten, but to advise him. For example this inverted type radiator grill.
My company’s job was the following: we took precise notes of all Raphaël’s requirements, and we then carried out a feasibility study.
Was what he required achievable ? If yes, under what conditions ? If not, what might the alternatives be ?
In addition, everything is evolutive on this car. If Raphaël tomorrow decides to fit it with another engine, there would be no problem. So we are far from the phenomena of copying and pasting.


As might well be imagined carbon is ever present in the construction of this VDS GT 001. It’s your signature. An inevitable path ?

Several aspects plead in favour of carbon. In the first instance thanks to its rigidity. Following that, it’s a lightweight material.
So in fact for a car also designed for competition, weight is the main enemy.
The road-going version of the VDS GT 001 will distinguish itself by having a quality of lesser-known materials. The gearbox is of the six speed sequential type, with billeted rims, to name but a few … In all truth, the owner of this car will definitely have his or her moneys worth
We left nothing to chance. Such was Raphaël van der Straten wish.


If we were to compare this VDS GT 001 to another car presently on the market, what car would you think of ?

For me the VDS GT 001 is a creation in the spirit of the Pagani. It’s a limited series, which differentiates itself for example from a Supercar of the McLaren MP4-12C type.


You also talk about this car as a type of return to the roots of the automobile. In what way ?

In days gone by, a constructor, big or small, produced chassis, which were then fitted out by coachbuilders.
As an example take the Bugatti Type 57. There are innumerable models, which all have a common denominator: the basis of the car. In our particular case it’s the same approach.
We took on an existing base, namely the Vertigo, and we then took on an entirely different direction by ensuring careful attention to adapting the entirety. We could call this a versatile chassis able to take on different bodyworks.
It’s a process well in tune with the times, in an era where there are no small savings. Why launch into long, fastidious and costly studies to create a new chassis when we have a solid base to hand, which is only crying out to be adapted.
This makes me state that with the VDS GT 001 we have a car definitely of its era …