Money. Luxury. Horsepower. Three words that seem to define the lifestyle aspects of countries such as Dubai. It’s certainly true of their police services with cars from companies such as Aston Martin, Porsche, and Bentley.
But what of a native car industry? Famous for the world’s tallest building, sweeping sand filled vistas, and real estate development, Dubai’s automotive development seems non-existent.

However, there is one company that flies under the radar: Devel. The car? The Devel Sixteen. The numbers? Staggering. Devel is looking to offer three variants, all using LS V8 inspired components from Chevrolet, with the entry level version starting at $1.6 million USD. Engine output is aiming for 1500 horsepower. That’s a sole turbocharged V8 with the engine fettled by a US based company called Steve Morris Engines.

Spend another $200,000 and a quad turbo V16, comprising elements of two LS V8s joined together, is the powerplant, with a proposed 3000 horsepower. The top road speed target is “just” 320 miles per hour.

Step over the $2 million mark and Devel will have you in a 5007 horsepower vehicle weighing 2300 kilograms that’s intended for one purpose and one purpose alone. Drag Racing, a rapidly growing part of the automotive and racing scene in the area. What’s important to note here is that the 320 mph target isn’t the aim of the drag car. It’s more for those that wish to drive a road car and do it inside a slippery, almost aerodynamically perfect, vehicle.

Up front, there’s forgiveness for thinking this is yet another attempt at building a hypercar by people with money. However, those in the know nod their heads and grin when they hear the name of the Chief Engineer. It’s Paolo Garella. Paolo was the head of fabled design company Pininfarina, specifically their one-off division. He’s also been involved in the design of cars for Jim Glickenhaus, whose Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus has recently been granted low volume manufacturing status in the US, and races at the Nurburgring.

The Devel Sixteen itself was first put forward as a concept in 2008. Development work saw the very first prototype unveiled at the Dubai International Motor Show in 2013. It’s fair to say that jaws dropped and measures of incredulity were felt.

But there’s solid engineering in the Devel Sixteen. Steve Morris, based in Michigan, was given an initial design brief of a V16 with four turbos. Asked for a price, Morris quoted something with six figures. Devel came back to him a year later with the go-ahead and Morris got to work. Using billet blocks of aluminium as the base and which took Morris eighteen months to design the basic engine block, he says: “The billet for the block alone cost US$13,500, and there was a huge amount of work in designing the crank and cam, especially things like firing order so that you don’t have cylinders on opposite sides and at opposite ends of the engine firing.”

Videos available online of the engine being tested on a dyno would appear to show that Morris has solved those issues. It sounds thunderous, demonic, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Billet blocks are difficult, to say the least, to machine in oil galleries and cooling passages. Morris used production cylinder heads and engineered the block and heads to work together. More work saw the oil pan made from a billet, custom made manifolds for the initially used 91mm turbos, with the production engine using 81mm units, even a one piece nine main cap girdle for the bottom end.

Final figures for torque and power come out at 2407 ft-lb and 3008 horses using standard 92 octane fuel. Engine capacity itself is 12.3 liters and is in a 45 degree vee configuration. All of this is good for a zero to sixty mile mph time of 1.8 seconds.

The car’s design itself is a mix of fighter aircraft design cues and an understanding of physics. That’s something that Garella lives and breathes. He says: “When you calculate the power that you need, when you’re below 310mph (500 km/h), you can make it with 1500-1800 horsepower. But when you start to go up, you immediately need 2700-3000 horsepower. Otherwise, you’ll not go through, with all the wakes coming in. The drag coefficient goes from 0.3 Cx to 2.5.”

Garella also points out that at the speeds the Devel Sixteen is expected to achieve that underbody design and airflow are trickier than what’s normally considered…normal. “Underneath, we have those vortexes that are disturbing the airflow. So, we need to work on those things to optimize the back.” There’s active aero on board as well; essential, one would presume, at plus 300 mph velocities.

From the top an immediate point of visual interest is at either end. The Devel Sixteen is notably a cab forward design, with the engine located behind the driver’s position and built on a carbon fiber monocoque. It also looks like something found in a computer game, with elegant flowing lines tapering to a point ahead of the two exhaust outlets looking for all the world if they’ve been donated from an F15 Eagle or Sukhoi jet fighter. The body itself is of a carbon fiber composite material and features forward hinged, upward swinging doors.

Somewhat unusually, the overall look is smooth, lacking the gaping air-vents and intakes that festoon some other hypercars. In essence, it has more of a look akin to a Pagani than a Ford GT.

As yet there’s no firm release date for the Devel Sixteen as it appears more aero work is required. There’s no doubt the engine can deliver and when the numbers stack up the right way, the Devel Sixteen should deliver on its once almost incredulous promise.