|Great Western Kit & Car Builder Show Highlights|
Posted by Madabout News on Sunday, November 25th, 2007 at 11:27 PM
Written by Chris Pickering
For the past 13 years Westpoint Arena on the outskirts of Exeter has played host to ‘The Great Western Kit & Car Builder Show’. This year the entire hall was packed with manufacturers, accessories and trade stands; whilst outside Westfield were offering fright-rides to potential customers and Neil Porter was wowing the crowds with his Superbike Stunt Show. The weather – changeable on Saturday and downright torrential on Sunday – did little to dampen people's spirits, with everyone we spoke to declaring the show a great success. There was a whole raft of interesting vehicles on display from across the kit car spectrum, including some notable launches and fresh news on many recent designs.
One debut attracting a lot of attention at Exeter was the OM Sportscars Scorpion GTZ. This handsome Datsun Z-car panel conversion bares an unquestionable resemblance to the Ferrari 250 GTO racers of the 1960s. In the UK many people may have reservations about using an increasingly valuable 240Z as a donor, but OM reckon the less prized 260' is an ideal candidate; still available from around £3,000. In addition to the donor car’s straight six, various engine conversions are possible such as the Chevrolet V8 or for a more authentic soundtrack, a choice of BMW and jaguar V12s. The Nissan 350Z’s V6 was being considered as a future option and there is talk of a purpose-built spaceframe chassis to replace the donor floor pan.
Glorious OM GTZ Ferrari 250 GTO replica. Photo by Mark Sansby
If you prefer to draw your inspiration from 1950s Stuttgart, look no further than The Tygan Motor Company who have been producing their gorgeous “Speedster” 356 replica since acquiring the project from Chesil. The car oozed retro charm with white-wall tyres, lashings of chrome and an immaculate cream leather interior. It was surely one of the prettiest vehicles on show, with fabulous attention to detail and a high level of finish. Mechanically speaking, the trusty VW Beetle base is used; with a range of engines options available from a standard 1300cc Vee-dub unit to a 3.2 litre 911 engine. Prices start at £3,950 for the basic kit and the total build costs are estimated at around £25,000. The company says they have big plans for expansion in the near future, including the release of a Porsche 550 Spider replica and rumours of an entirely new model.
Quality Porsche Speedster replica by Tygan. Photo by Mark Sansby
Sticking with replicas - the Nostalgia Cars' Jaguar XK120 and C-type recreations were glorious to behold with highly authentic bodywork available in either aluminium or fiberglass. The oily bits also came with the options of Jaguar XJ6 or Mk2 donor parts. Westfield meanwhile, had their achingly pretty XI alongside the old guard of seven-style roadsters, whilst Gardner Douglas were showing their superb '427' Cobra replica alongside the epic Lola-inspired T70.
One genre that seems to be gaining popularity at the moment is the minimalist lightweight, with mid-engined car and bike powered designs emerging from several manufacturers. Seen in completed form for the first time, was the SDR V-Storm. It's hard not to draw comparisons with the Ariel Atom given the car's bare exo-skeleton aesthetics. It does however possess several rather unique features. First up is a modular construction similar in ethos to the 'platform sharing' designs produced by bulk manufacturers. Although totally exposed currently, the car will eventually be available with a choice of two further interchangeable body styles - three quarter enclosed and fully enveloping. All three designs feature an unusual central driving position and no less than three seats in total, care of two passenger places set slightly behind and to either side of the main seat. Furthermore, the entire rear section of the car is detachable, making it possible to swap powertrains 'off the shelf'. The car uses an Aprilia RSV Mille V-twin that is sure to add to the design’s unique presence with its staccato tones and lively power delivery. SDR are taking orders now and expect to start delivering customer cars in January or February 2008. Meanwhile, the MEV Rocket with which it shares a number of styling ques is enjoying continued success as a hardcore two seater. The company claim the Ford Focus powered design is the "easiest kitcar on the market to build" with even inexperienced constructors capable of finishing one in under 100 hours and for a total cost of around £6,000.
SDR Storm very nearly complete and looking top quality
Exeter also saw the launch of Image Sportscars' Monaco. This mid engined, bike powered two seater tips the scales at a scarcely believable 360kg, whilst power on the demonstrator comes from a Honda CBR unit mated to a Quaife sequential gearbox. The car is aimed predominantly at the track day and competition market, yet it has been designed with the SVA in mind. It uses a conventional tubular steel space frame with rocking arm front suspension and pushrod activated double wishbones on the rear. One particularly exciting development in progress is the production of a paddleshift conversion for the gearbox, allowing full-throttle upshifts and automatic downshifts. The demonstrator is expected to be running by January with total build costs of around £15,000.
Image Sportscars new Monaco track car. Photo by Mark Sansby
For those who prefer their trills combined with slightly more creature comforts; the Murtaya from Adrenaline Motorsport looks set to offer mind-blowing performance combined with everyday practicality. It uses early Subaru Impreza running gear allied to an extremely stiff GRP monocoque to produce a four-wheel drive supercar weighing in at just 930kg in road trim and approximately 800kg in lightweight guise. The results are a sub-4 second 0-60 time and well over 160mph top speed in a car said to be 'docile enough for your granny to drive'. The comprehensive kit retails for £10,995 with a total build price of approximately £18,000. The highly accomplished Impreza base and tuning options up to 600hp means that the Murtaya should be a true giant-killer for the price of a family saloon. The demo car had a very smart interior with full carpets and electric windows, whilst the option of hard or soft tops means it would be ideal for everyday use. Alternatively, on an altogether more minimalist note, the same team offers the striking 'Toniq-R' open wheeler. Available either as a complete kit with a chassis supplied by Westfield or a panel conversion for most seven-clones, the Toniq's unique looks bring the genre into the 21st century. Engine options for the factory-supplied cars include the Ford Duratec and Zetec units, alongside the ubiquitous Honda Fireblade engine.
Subura powered Adrenaline Murtaya at Exeter 2007. Photo by Mark Sansby
Toniq-R providing bang up to date styling and performance to match. Photo by Mark Sansby
Another distinctive design and one of the undoubted highlights of the show was a curious device known simply as 'The Flier'. The brainchild of mechanical engineer, hot-rodder and former Hawk fabricator Greg Murrell; this concept was quite unlike anything else at the show. It's gloriously over the top cartoon styling wouldn't have looked out of place in the garage of Cruella de Vil and it's beautifully elegant folding roof is surely one of the nicest design features ever seen on a kit car. The unfinished prototype looked superb with or without the roof down, but seemed to take on entirely different character in each situation. Greg is considering the possibility of starting kit production using 2CV running gear and a bespoke chassis. If the reaction it received on Sunday is anything to go by, he is on to a winner.
Flier - 2CV based new comer, one of the show highlights. Photo by Mark Sansby
So once again, Exeter has provided us with tantalizing glimpses of some very interesting machinery. Proof if any were needed that British kit car industry produces some of the most exciting and individual vehicles on the planet. There was something to get the cheque book twitching on virtually any car enthusiast and a great chance to catch up with events in the industry. We look forward to seeing even more at the next annual pilgrimage to Exeter's kit car show.