Having lucked into an opportunity to buy the Blue Rays at a low price when he was a teenager, Jim lovingly restored and owned Blue Ray 1 and Blue Ray 2 for over 30 years. In 1991, Jim was invited to the SEMA auto show to show Blue Ray 1, the original Nardi concept car from 1955. The evening before the show's public opening, Jim met for dinner with Doug Speer, then director of Nardi USA. This meeting led to Nardi's announcement of Jim as designer and builder of Nardi's next concept car. The car was set to debut at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance the following summer to celebrate Nardi's 60th Anniversary.
Following very rough early sketches, Jim created 6 distinct scale models to test the most promising design directions. These drawings & models were reviewed by Dr. Sportelli, head of Nardi's product development in Italy, zeroing in on the final design that would become Blue Ray 3. The next 6 and a half months following design approval were a mad dash to the finish line to bring the car to life in time to show at Pebble Beach with the other Blue Rays in 1992. Adding further pressure to the incredibly short production deadline, 1992 also saw the birth of Jim's son halfway through the build. While Nardi eventually withdrew from Pebble Beach and the car was never shown as originally planned, all 3 cars wound up featured as the centerpiece of the Concorso Italiano that year.
Marking the beginning of a long-standing relationship with Mazda, Simpson Design- then called "Blue Ray GT Engineering"- was provided a pre-production Mazda 929 concept car. The chassis would be shortened 12 and 1/8" to become the basis for Blue Ray 3's construction. Mazda Motorsports was also kind enough to provide a 5-speed manual gearbox to replace the 929's automatic transmission.
Nearly every aspect above the platform and drivetrain in Blue Ray 3 was custom built in-house for the car. The all-leather interior and dash were custom-fitted to the car, upholstered in Bridge of Weir Scottish leather by master craftsman Ken Arnold, who also restored the interiors for Blue Rays 1 & 2. Paint materials were contributed to the project by Sikkens.
While we're certainly fans of their excellent racing harnesses and enjoy the ironic naming coincidence, Simpson Design is not officially affiliated with or related to Simpson Performance Products in any way. Simpson Performance Products did, however, kindly contribute this set of seatbelts to the project.
6 early small-scale conceptual models of alternate unused designs surround the final design proof model for Blue Ray 3.
Blue Ray 3's conceptual model contrasted against a small model Jim built of Nardi's Blue Ray 1
Blue Rays 1, 2 and 3 loaded up and ready for transport in Houston, TX in the summer of 1992.