Polish spirit

There’s this saying in Poland, “A Polish man can”, which implies that a Polish man can make the best of any tough or impossible situation. The problem is that 99% of the time, he doesn’t want to…

 

Take the Polish car industry as an example. There isn’t one. Of course, that’s all due to the country’s complicated history—namely, its physical and virtual nonexistence during the years of Europe’s (and America’s) peak industrial development in the 19th and 20th centuries. There was, however, a short, twenty-one-year break from 1918 to 1939 during which Polish engineers developed cars, planes and aerodynamically advanced locomotives. Take for example, the streamlined PM36, which won a gold medal during the Paris International Technical Fair in 1936, or the RWD6 plane, which flew pilots Franciszek Żwirko and Stanisław Wigura to victory in a 1932 international air rally, the famous Challenge. But ever since these brief ‘glory days’, Poland only managed to produce dreary rubbish like the ‘Warszawa’, ‘Syrena’ and ‘FSO Polonez’ cars—Communist nonsense-mobiles that were already 30 years behind their time on the day they were first introduced. But let’s not dwell on the past, because a brand new Polish car is (kind of) here.

It’s called the Arrinera Hussarya. ‘Arrinera’ stands for something that sounds vaguely Italian (although the company claims that it’s a mash-up of a Basque and Italian word), and ‘Hussarya’ is supposed to evoke the spirit of the legendary Polish cavalry—the ‘Husaria’ (or Winged Hussars). These are the guys who in 1683 won the battle of Vienna, fighting under King John III Sobieski and beating the living hell out of overwhelming Ottoman forces that were blocking the city. These were a very special type of cavalry, mostly due to the way their armour was built. Attached to each cavalryman’s back was an enormous wooden frame adorned with eagle, ostrich, swan or goose feathers. That not only made him look really cool (like some horseman of the apocalypse), but also made a lot of deafening noise while he was charging on his enemy. It was that raucous sound that put the fear of God into said enemy’s heart, making him unable to defend himself properly. The Winged Hussars had to train their horses to be immune to all battlefield sounds and in Poland are considered a legendary, fearless and noble formation. That might explain why a couple of crazy investors from Warsaw decided to name the first ever supercar/racing car to come out of the ‘the land on the Vistula’ after them.

Enough about history. Let’s talk about the actual car. Its body is all carbon fiber, wrapped around a meticulously built tubular spaceframe/rollcage comprised of British BS4 T45 seamless steel tubing. It’s the exact same kind that was used in the structures of Hurricanes and Spitfires flown by Polish pilots during WWII (sorry about that, I know I promised no more history lessons). The efficient aerodynamics of the body were designed by Professor Janusz Piechna of Warsaw Technical University and then honed further in the MIRA wind tunnel in the UK.

The current car is a racing car development unit. Built to FIA GT spec and powered by a 6.2 litre V8 engine, it is capable of developing between 420 and 650 bhp depending on its state of tune. The ample torque is delivered to the rear wheels via a Hewland LLS sequential gearbox with paddle shift actuation and a limited-slip diff. The suspension is bespoke and uses F1-style pushrods and a set of Öhlins 4-way adjustable dampers. Braking is handled by a quartet of 380mm discs with Alcon 6-pot monobloc calipers, aided by a racing Bosch ABS system. The whole car is built in Cambridgeshire. And as we all know, Britain is the number one spot if you want to build a properly good racing car in a glorified shed.

 

Although the Hussarya was already shown at various car shows and events in Poland (mainly to lure investors), it’s true debut was made at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, where it tackled ‘the hill’ during the Michelin Supercar Run as the first Polish car in history. Its exterior donned a light blue colour, reminiscent of the hue of the photo-reconnaissance Spitfires, which, unarmed, flew higher and faster than regular variants of Reginald Mitchell’s magnificent creation. Of course, this makes a lot of sense as in 1940, during the Battle of Britain, among those who fought bravely to repel the invaders were two Polish fighter squadrons, 302 and 303, staffed by experienced veterans of the 1939 campaign in Poland and the defence of France earlier in 1940. These Poles quickly learned how to best use Hawker Hurricanes to their advantage and contributed greatly to the success of Winston Churchill’s ‘The Few’. In November, 1940, 302 Sq. (Polish) was transferred to RAF Westhampnett, which is now known as Goodwood Aerodrome.

 

Is the Arrinera any good? It definitely goes fast and sounds like rumbling thunder with that Chevy-derived engine. You can see and hear that for yourselves if you search for ‘Arrinera Goodwood’ on YouTube. Aimed at gentlemen racers, it’s supposed to be a cheap and solid alternative to a second-hand GT4 Ferrari 458 (the company claims that the showroom price will be a modest £150 000). Is it any good to drive? We will only be able to determine that once finished cars will be presented to automotive journalists this October in Spain. It will certainly not move the supercar game any further forward, but it might be definitive proof that if ‘a Polish man puts his mind to it, then he definitely can’.

 

Words and Images: Błażej Żuławski

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Polish spirit