Blackjack Zero : 2006

Since 1995. UK.
Filed under:  Not For US
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If you take pre-war racing Morgans as inspiration, and contemporary racing sidecars and other high performance trikes as "proof of concept", the question to ask could be; Why ever not?


The Zero delivers the excitement of a bike with greater comfort, more sociability and reverse gear! Light and elemental, the Zero involves you with the driving experience, evoking the delights of vintage sports car motoring in a thoroughly contemporary way.

Light, compact and reduced to essentials the Zero evokes the purposefulness of a big bike, a fighter plane or sports racing car. Its character and individuality leave in no doubt that its form has been dictated by function.

Its HAMMERHEAD layout puts the drive, the power, a large proportion of the weight and roll stiffness at the front where it belongs. Single rear wheel drive trikes too often display alarming characteristics where the rear threatens and can overwhelm in a variety of ways.

With the Zero, the planted bit of the car does the work, the rear trails obediently and faithfully contributing the least possible weight and an absolute minimum of roll effect and weight transference from the rear. Result; an ultra compact car that is instantly responsive, lightly loaded and tremendously quick as it unlocks the maximum potential of its comparatively modest powerplant.

Its worth bearing in mind however just how much power can be liberated from the VW flat four and the bang for the buck available from this light, plentiful and stout donor engine.

The Zero delivers a visceral motoring experience, a sensation conspicuous by its absence, in the contemporary "sports car". Bikers will understand this. But it delivers it with comfort and security. Bikers will appreciate this!

Colin Chapman's famous dictum surely applies here. The Zero is an expression of automotive efficiency, a sporting vehicle reduced to essentials with driving enjoyment the aim. While the fit and finish are impeccable, nothing is permitted to burden the Zero with excess, or dull the driving experience.

A 360 degree fibre glass tub with reinforced bulkheads is underpinned and clamped by a multitube chassis. Light weight with stiffness is the result and the Zero's responsive acceleration, cornering and braking will be a revelation to drivers used to more more flabby, or indeed, flimsy, products.

Front suspension is via fabricated tubular wishbones and modified Golf GTI uprights, acted on by AVO adjustable coil over damper units. A dedicated swing arm is used at the rear with an AVO adjustable coil over damper unit. Braking is well taken care of by VW 260mm cross-drilled discs and four piston "Hi-Spec" alloy calipers at the front and at the rear a Golf GTi disc with Bendix alloy caliper. These purpose made and carefully selected components ensure low unsprung weight and fine balance.

VW's legendary type 1 air cooled flat four was selected for its relatively light weight, simplicity, availability and vast range of tuning options. It's magnesium cased 4 speed gearbox is equally well served by after market options. In the Zero application this well proven and durable powertrain is used back to front, by the well established expedient of moving the crownwheel to the other side of the differential.

VW drivetrain options including 5 speeds and a limited slip diff are available, thus the builder has access to relatively low cost options ranging from the relaxing to the frenetic, with torque characteristics better suited to the car than those offered by air cooled motor cycle engines.

The torquey nature of the VW engine means that the Zero, while every inch a performance machine, is more enjoyable to drive than some of its highly stressed rivals. Combine the planted nature of its front wheel drive layout, with 2.5 turn lock to lock rack and pinion steering and quick, accurate responses from the pedals and you have a faithful and reassuring drive. Bags of torque and instant response, it delivers performance you can enjoy.

The cockpit is a pleasing place to be too, with complete instrumentation, 12 inch steering wheel and controls that fall logically and easily to hand. Deep sides that you climb over, (no doors to compromise rigidity) and an available tonneau, plus heater vents, make the cockpit quite cosy. A storage locker in the front scuttle area and a surprisingly roomy area behind the seats will swallow enough luggage for (well organized) touring.

The Designer.
Richard Oakes, A one man brand.

Everyone who has followed the last three decades of British Car design, cannot fail to recognize the name of Richard Oakes. Richard, the self effacing genius behind, amongst many others, the Nova, the Midas, the Pegasus (Paradine) the GTM Libra, and the Blackjack Avion, brings a wealth of knowledge and a steely focus to the business of car design and development.

It's no accident that he has been associated with so many landmark designs and is a consultant to manufacturers large and small. He has an unusually deep comprehension of the many components that must come together to deliver a vehicle that is as pleasing to drive, as it is to look at. His vision is unique, his solutions original; he is truly a designer, not merely a stylist.

It's a rare designer whose name is indelibly associated with a classic, rarer still are those who have been associated with a stream of classics. Richard's relentless pursuit of excellence has delivered designs such as the Nova, the Pegasus, the Midas, the Libra and the Avion.

The Nova, was hailed in its time by writers on both sides of the Atlantic as one of the most beautiful cars in the world. It was an astounding debut and an early encounter with the potential of VW's robust power train.

The Midas with its clever fiberglass monocoque was the only complete car ever presented as a RCA degree show project. The light and focused Libra is held by many to be the car the Elise ought to have been.

The Avion trike is cherished by its owners, many of whom are engineers themselves. They've appreciated the completeness of the kits, the engineering that has simplified the build process, and the pleasing characteristics of the finished car.

The Zero's antecedents are most evident in the Avion, but pleasing and sophisticated style and a fulfilling driving experience are the hallmarks of all Oakes designs.

blackjack zero

Blackjack Zero.

blackjack zero set

blackjack zero det


VW Type 1 air-cooled 4 cylinder boxer, 1300-1800cc (many internal options.) Weber 40DCOE/ Dellorto 40 DHLA carburettor on unique Blackjack inlet manifold. 304 Stainless steel exhaust system and remote oil cooler and oil filter.

VW Type 1 gearbox with four forward gears and reverse, standard final drive ratio approx. 3.8:1. Double jointed drive shafts driving the front wheels through Golf GTI steering uprights.

Front Suspension:
Unequal length double wishbones with AVO adjustable dampers and springs. Bulkhead mounted 22mm anti-roll bar operated by lower wishbones through long pull-rods.

Rear Suspension:
Unique trailing swing-arm with AVO adjustable damper and spring

Rack and pinion, 2.5 turns lock to lock.

Front brakes:
VW 260mm cross drilled discs with four piston "Hi-Spec" alloy calipers.

Rear brakes:
Golf GTI rear disc with Bendix alloy handbrake caliper.

Fuel tank:
Rear mounted welded aluminium fabrication with mounts, neck and large Aston filler cap. Approx. 25ltrs capacity.

Body tub:
Substantial high quality 360 degree fibreglass moulding with stressed bulkheads, bonded facia/front luggage compartment and rear diaphragm/ rear luggage compartment. Produced with grey gelcoat surface. Recommended finish-2 pack paint.

Full length multi-tube subframe in round CDS steel tube which extends from engine and suspension mounts at front to swing arm mounts at rear. Laser-cut brackets and yokes- bolts to body tub in three planes.

Wheels and tires:
Three 7" x 17" cast aluminum wheels with 215/40 ZR 17 tyres.

Two side by side space saver lightweight seats with removable leather or vinyl jackets. The seats have tilt and slide facility. Seatbelt mounting frame incorporating headrests. Generous stretchy side pockets. Comprehensive facia with all switches, fuse box, speedometer, tachometer, oil pressure, bolts and fuel gauges. 12inch leather rim steering wheel. Four piece cockpit capping trim in leather or vinyl. Other equipment includes centre-mounted stainless handbrake, gear lever and battery cut-out switch. To cover it all, a tonneau cover in PVC or mohair.

Wheelbase: 2500 mm. Overall length 3500mm. Width 1670mm.

Weight (Dry):
Approx. 450kg.

(source: Blackjack)

blackjack zero logo

Blackjack Zero logo.

Blackjack   Cornwall, UK.
Blackjack   Official site.
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