Liechtenstein – a tiny mountain state squeezed between Switzerland and Austria – is one the last places you would probably go searching for an exotic automobile. However, this lovely European country has several supercar stories worth mentioning and today here’s one of them…

Schaan town is the “largest” municipality of Liechtenstein by population with approximately only 6000 people living there. One of them is a visionaire Xaver Jehle (born 1945). He has also completed apprenticeships as a draftsman, constructor, and electronics technician. His portfolio includes even underground runway lighting systems for airfields! However, the “car builder” term suits him best.

Jehle not only prepared special vehicles to work on airfields, but he also built exotic leisure cars! Already in 1976, he released Safari model. A Jeep-like vehicle with space for four people, who had to enjoy the fresh air a lot more than comfort. The plastic body stood on a Citroen 2 CV floor pan and was powered by a 600 or 1000 cc engine. Approximately 30 examples of this car were made in total before 1980 when Jehle presented extreme wedge-shaped Saphir. It was mounted on the VW Beetle chassis and had a 75hp VW Golf engine installed. This allowed the 720kg car to easily accelerate to a top speed of 165 km/h. In 1988 a more environmentally-friendly version – Saphir Solar – was presented. Electric engine powered by zinc/bromine batteries gives the vehicle a top speed of no less than 130 km/h. The maximum driving range, however, was just 70km.

A small mountain company run by Xaver Jehle had six employees working on car projects. Probably the best known of them are transformations and upgrades of De Tomaso vehicles. Pantera and Longchamp were among them.

It was the early beginning of the ’90s when Jehle set a goal to develop an absurdly extraordinary, sophisticated, powerful, fast, and expensive supercar – the Artemis. Named after the Greek goddess of the hunt, the car was completely developed and made in-house in Schaan, Liechtenstein.

The Artemis project was born on Jehle's drawing board, as was its integral chassis, the safety cell with crash absorption cell, the braking system with extremely large aluminum four-piston brake calipers, the sensitive braking force compensation system, the plasma-coated aluminum brake discs, the optional 5- or 6-speed gearbox and even the aluminum pedals for brakes, accelerator and clutch as well as the steering wheel forged from one piece. The only part of the Artemis manufactured externally is the pistons provided by German company Mahle.

The integral chassis of the Artemis was specially designed by Jehle for the enormous power of its engine. Integrated roll bar such as high side protection zones are just as much a part of it as a completely smooth underside, which firstly encapsulates the engine and secondly ensures a ground effect that can otherwise only be found in group C. The progressive wishbone suspension has forged aluminum axle beams, and the axle stubs are made of high-strength steel - fully turned. Like the cylinder heads, the huge engine block is cast in an aluminum alloy and the crankshaft is turned from a piece of steel with a core strength of 130 kilograms per square millimeter. The connecting rods are milled from aluminum. Two overhead camshafts regulate the three intake and two exhaust valves.

The centerpiece and probably most amazing part of the Artemis is its V12 engine that Xavel Jehle developed from scratch. It is a 6.5-liter aggregate that could be tuned for 500 / 600 hp and even up to 1000hp! Well, the top version was not available for European or United States customers due to noise and other regulations. Anyway, one of the first (and probably the only one) customers for the Artemis was mentioned Saudi prince Ibn Al Faruk. He could not only order a 1000hp V12 beast but also get special gold-tinted windows that are completely opaque from the outside. This is yet another non-street-legal feature of the Artemis.

The Liechtenstein V12 engine was coupled with a 5- or 6-speed gearbox allowing acceleration between 3.4 and 5.1 seconds - depending on the electronic control. Artemis had front 10-inch wide rims with 285/40 tires while rear rims were 13-inches wide with 345/35.

Noticeably, the Artemis was intended as a supercar for 4 persons (2+2 seating). It had a telephone and HiFi system integrated into the side armrests. Front seats could be equipped with 3- or 5-point seatbelts. Its empty weight was claimed to be 1200kg meaning that its maximum power-to-weight ratio was 1.2kg/hp. Extraordinary numbers for a ‘90s supercar by an unknown company from an unknown country.

The Liechtenstein V12 engine was coupled with a 5- or 6-speed gearbox and the subjective top speed was 400 km/h. A small reminder for you - the 400km/h barrier was reached by Bugatti Veyron 14 years later, in 2005.

Artemis was priced at 552000 Swiss Francs at the time. This would be approx. 626000 EUR / 748000 USD in current money. Xavel Jehle intended to make up to 10 examples of this hypercar per year giving each of them a 10-year warranty. Promised delivery time was 12 months, however probably the Greek gods only know how many running examples have been made in total if any.


Photos: Archive