6 Prime Cuts Of British Beef
Road runners

As far as launch platforms for new cars go, Autosport International might not have the glitz and glamour of Geneva, nor the big manufacturer turn-out of Detroit. What it does have however is a core of dedicated attendees who are all looking for performance. I’m not just talking about big horsepower figures either, but balanced examples of engineering that offer exciting driving thrills for both the layperson and the privateer race team.

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

Detroit might have started to renew our faith in the direction the motor industry is taking, with the release of concepts such as the Toyota FT-1 and the Kia GT4 Stinger. But flying just below that high-level radar, Autosport offered a reassuring glimpse of what the British can do if we put our minds to it. You want light, RWD cars? Well then, you’ve come to the right place…

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

Autosport International was the launch location for a number of low-volume production sports cars, and the Caterham AeroSeven Concept was the first of them. It’s touted as being the first of a new generation of cars from Caterham, which for so long have stuck with the classic body design of the Lotus Seven. It’s not a complete departure from what they know best though – the low-slung, open-top feel of their previous cars is still very much in force.

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

The body is completely carbon fibre and has been developed in conjunction with the Caterham F1 team, so you can expect it to be incredibly light and very strong. With the car being powered by an NA 2 litre Ford Duratec engine that’s been fettled by the Caterham team to make it one of the world’s highest-revving EU6-compliant engines, an aim to deliver just under 400hp per tonne and an expected 0-100km/h (0-62.5mph) time of under four seconds, it’s going to need it too!

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

Power will be transferred to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox and, in a bit of a departure for Caterham, the AeroSeven Concept will be the first time any of its cars will offer traction control and launch control. They can both be disabled and will be controlled from the F1-inspired steering wheel, which will also enable switching between race and road modes. And in a move that’s completely endeared the car to us, it’s set by default to be in race mode. There’s also that huge screen in the centre of the cockpit, offering information to the driver to replace the standard gauges, as well as fuel and oil levels. And maybe a fancy graphic or two as well…

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

Of course, what Caterham are perhaps best known for is the way their cars handle and it seems the AeroSeven Concept will be no exception. With fully independent rear suspension and an inboard push-rod system at the front, both using double wishbones, this looks like being one seriously fun bit of kit to drive. With production models rolling out this autumn, we won’t have long to find out.

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

Although the capabilities of the car aren’t in question, I’m not quite convinced by the styling. For some reason, the first thing it brought to mind was a rolled up newspaper that had been sat on. I don’t think that’s quite what Caterham’s designers had in mind! With this car set to give hints for their future styling though, they’d better get it right. I guess it’s all time to practise for the sports car Caterham will be developing with Renault in 2016…

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

There’s another reason for Caterham to make sure it gets things right though and this is it: the Zenos E10. Also launched at Autosport, the E10 is the first car to come out of the Zenos stable. But they’re not exactly a stranger to the market… The two co-founders were previously CEO and COO at Caterham and originally met when they both worked at Lotus, so they know this sector well. And indeed, the Zenos has been purpose-built to dominate the affordable, lightweight sports car space.

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

Of course, that all sounds great, but these guys really mean business. There’s some fantastic decision-making that’s gone into the E10: firstly, the car has been designed from the ground up to come in at a certain cost – one that the team felt was both reasonable for the end user and reflective of the qualities of the car. Every decision made has been done so in order to reach that final price. It’s a pretty unique way of approaching things, but from a business point of view, it makes perfect sense. There are lots of similar cars out there but many of them are pretty pricey – the KTM X-Bow, the BAC Mono, etc. So how much will the E10 cost? Prices start at just £24,995!

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

Ok, so right now, you’re probably thinking that they couldn’t possibly have made a decent car for that money – especially without the backing of a big manufacturer. But you’d be wrong and much of it has been down to some very clever design. With the car being aimed at track day enthusiasts – people who wanted a pure driving experience – a good foundation was essential. A carbon tub would be a great way to start of course but would be prohibitively expensive. Instead, Zenos is using recycled carbon-fibre over a core of plastic tubes (think drinking straws). This innovative solution is up to 70% as strong as normal carbon fibre and much, MUCH cheaper. That’s our kind of recycling!

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

The tub will sit on top of a single aluminium backbone to which the suspension is directly mounted, with the engine and gearbox at the back being supported by a subframe. The body panels which sit over the top of the tub have also been designed to be easily replaced, should you have a bump. The result is a rigid, lightweight platform: the finished E10 weighs in at a mere 650kg!

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

Talking of suspension, the E10 offers a similar set-up to the AeroSeven Concept, with a push-rod set-up at the front and double wishbones all-round, and the guys are working with Multimatic to develop the chassis, partners of Aston Martin Racing and entrants into several racing series themselves. Zenos know they have to get the handling right in order to make the package work, but with the background of their team, it seems an entirely plausible challenge.

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

The car will be powered by a 2 litre, four cylinder engine pushing out around 200hp to the rear wheels, and it’s expected that this will give the E10 a 0-60mph time of around 4.5 seconds. So it seems the company’s co-founders have ticked all the right boxes: intelligent design, excellent handling and perfect pricing. With a roadster and a coupe also potentially in the pipeline should everything go according to plan, Zenos looks set to become a name to keep your eye on.

Racing pedigree
The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

Of course, for a show focused on motorsport, it wasn’t just road cars that were on display. I touched briefly on Chevron Racing Car’s line-up in my first post from Autosport International, and their GT3 car is really a stunner. You might not be too familiar with the name, but Chevron are no beginner in the scene, starting way back in 1965. Founded by owner Derek Bennett, who had his own brief racing history in Formula Three, they produced some of what many have called the most beautiful racing cars of all time, most notably the Chevron B8 and B16.

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

They’ve been supplying GT cars to privateer teams for a number of years now in the form of their GR8, but Autosport has allowed them to show off the latest changes in the line-up. The GR8 will now represent its basic GT model with its 2 litre engine, with the GT4 and GT3 models coming in above that with their more meaty V8s.

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

This lithe and nimble little racer will sport a 6.2 litre LS3 V8 from Chevrolet, custom-tuned to produce a conservatively estimated 440hp. Power will be fed to the rear wheels via a six-speed sequential Hewland LLS trans-axle unit, which overall should see 60mph approaching in less than four seconds. And you have to admit the engine bay with its acrylic cover looks pretty damn cool.

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

Everywhere you look, the car is teeming with a host of aerodynamic additions, from the widened, riveted overfenders to the NACA-style duct helping to supply cool air to the radiators. A huge rear wing, rear diffuser, front splitter and those cut-away front arches round the package out.

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

It’s a testament to Chevron’s design capabilities that everything works so well together. Alright, so I know the car wasn’t built for people to lust over its looks but when it does look this good, it’s hard not to be completely beguiled. God, I’m so shallow. There are rumours floating about of the possibility of a Chevron road car in the future though, so there may be hope for me yet!

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

Up next was the impressive Trident Iceni Magna R GT3 car. This brutish racer is designed specifically for the GT3 class and it’s based upon the roadgoing version. What’s that? Never heard of a Trident Iceni before? Well, neither had we actually, but a talk to the engineers confirmed that they’re not just some automotive unicorn – they do exist. Currently, each car is built to order, which is why you won’t see many any on the road.

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

But while the road-going car is certainly interesting, this GT3 car is a different matter entirely. Built to go racing in the 2014 Endurance and GT Championships, Trident have certainly set their sights high. They’ve nailed some pretty unique design with the car too – from the sexy curve of the rear arch, to the glorious double bubble roof.

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

The interior’s a focused place to be, with the FIA-approved roll cage extending right through the dash. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a converted six-speed automatic transaxle, with a manual paddle shift. But what’s pushing it all along? Well, there’s the really trick bit…

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

The Trident is a diesel! Of course, Trident are hardly the first company to use a diesel engine in a race car, but as far as I know, they’ll be the only ones to use it in the world of GT racing. A 6.6 litre V8 turbo diesel provides 660hp, with a whopping 1057lb/ft of torque! It can also be run entirely on bio-diesel, meaning it will have zero carbon footprint. Who said eco cars are boring?

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

It also features Trident’s patented ‘Torque Multiplication’ technology implemented on its road cars, which means that at a constant 70mph, the engine will be running at a mere 980rpm, but still developing 700lb/ft torque. That would result in an impressive 68.9mpg! Although it’s less likely that it would win them any races of course…

Crazy creations
The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

Of course, not every car at Autosport was being newly released to an eagerly awaiting public. Some have been around for a while, and while the original model may have already proved a solid foundation to start on, a little educated fettling never goes amiss.

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

While we were admiring the collection of Nobles assembled in the Owners’ Club area, this bright green example particularly caught our eye and it wasn’t long before we struck up a conversation with the owner. Actually, talk might have begun when I was checking out the Silverstone and Spa track maps on the front wings – a chance to discuss the merits of the corners at Spa should never go wasted!

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

But this Noble isn’t just about eye-catching looks with that bright green wrap. The Noble was never a slow car by any means, with 352hp coming from its 3 litre twin-turbocharged V6 and a body that weighs in at just 1050kg. But why stop there when you can have more? This particular example is now running around 620hp at peak power.

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

The owner is keen to implement cost-effective, but proven modifications and the car runs a water methanol injection set-up to keep temperatures down and reduce the chance of detonation, plus a widened rear track for extra grip. He’s also beefed up the wishbones after hearing about a fellow club member’s incident with one that snapped. Not something you’d want happening on track!

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

The interior of a Noble is a surprisingly pleasant place to be for such a track-focused car, but there have been a few modifications in here as well to improve things. A custom carbon-fibre panel in the centre provides the home for a host of extra gauges and the buttons on the steering wheel are set up to activate the water meth injection and provide high boost – changing the map on the fly and giving a push of extra power to overtake on track. Pretty cool eh?

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

As we wandered the halls of the NEC, I was first alerted to the presence of this next car when Jonathan let out what can only be described as a squeak before darting off in one direction. As soon as I began to follow, I caught a glimpse of what had got him so excited and in turn made my own ridiculous noise. Could it really be the only existing TVR Speed 12? The legendary car that was supposed to be a McLaren F1 and Jaguar XJ220-beater, then had the brakes applied on the project at the last minute when Peter Wheeler, the then-owner of TVR, declared it ‘too powerful for the road’?

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

Well, no. But despite not being the real deal, this Tangerine British Racer is still a pretty insane build. It’s based on a real TVR – a Cerbera to be precise. There’s not a huge amount of the original car left though. The Speed Twelve-inspired bodywork has replaced most of the original panels but underneath that long bonnet is a bit of an intruder: an Aston Martin-sourced 7.7L V12 (presumably based on the power unit to be found in the One-77) that’s had two turbos fitted to it. The result will supposedly see over 1000hp, so if anything, it’s even more wild than the Speed Twelve it’s impersonating!

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

So what’s the purpose of the car? Is it the product of some crazy scientist, or a race team that’s looking for a new platform? Well it’s actually being used to demonstrate the products of Helical Technology, namely its exhaust, complete with flap valves which control the exhaust note. It’s quite the demo car don’t you think?

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

The interior looks like a pretty imposing place to be, with bare metal everywhere and that huge transmission tunnel dominating the space. A luxury tourer this is definitely not! The freaky blue light doesn’t come as standard either…

The 2014 Autosport International Racing Car Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre

The original tube-frame chassis has been extended, and the car has been converted to run pushrod suspension, so it’s a pretty serious set-up. The intention is apparently to sell the car off… dedicated track machine anybody?

The TBR concludes this spotlight-o-rama of some of my favourite British cars of the show. Who needs glitz and glamour anyway when you’ve got Birmingham?

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48 comments

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1

First comment! yeah!.... xD hahaha... well now go to read it!

2

That TVR! Mother of go...... tangerine racers.

3

Can't type much. Picking up jaw off floor.
However, despite that ailment I can still type that hopefully next year the owner of a noble who has replaced every panel with carbon fiber versions will be in the noble owners group.

4

Can't type much. Picking up jaw off floor.


However, despite that ailment I can still type that hopefully next year the owner of a noble who has replaced every panel with carbon fiber versions will be in the noble owners group.

5

Can't type much. Picking up jaw off floor.
However, despite that ailment I can still type that hopefully next year the owner of a noble who has replaced every panel with carbon fiber versions will be in the noble owners group.

6

Glad to see that the British sports car industry isn't dead, there was a couple of new faces I've never heard of before. I agree that Caterham is .. well .. ugly, but since when were Caterhams about the looks? :b That TVR Speed 12 wannabe is insane, I remember the car very clearly from Gran Turismo 2 :D There was some race you did over and over to get it and sold it for 500'000 credits. Good times. I think it's been in every single GT since. Anyway love the post, always great to find out about new makers you didn't even know existed.

7

And to quote James May: "Put a windscreen on it!"

8

"X-box" haha.

9

Is that Zenos going to be offerend in the US? at that price tag I'd probably consider buying one in a few years!

10

The countryside around the NEC has some amazing little roads hidden away.
And the public raceway known as the M6 toll starts from there too.

11

You brits know how to make some bad-ass low volume niche machines! All are well done!

12

JoseFickert good job, I'm afraid there aren't any cookies here, however

13

Loving the Caterham! I hope it comes with RHD (Another British concept that is LHD, it's a damn shame...)

14

Love that Chevron: it looks quick standing still!

Author15

TarmacTerrorist Yeah, didn't you know KTM branched out into the console market? :)

Author16

TarmacTerrorist Coming out of the M6 toll was the first place I ever tried my Evo on high boost. It was on the way back from buying it and having come from a car with 150hp less, I was working my way up the boost levels. Fond memories... :)

Author17

Jake d JoseFickert I ate them all.

Author18

Wildcardfox  Sounds interesting. Please tell me he's not painting any... <3

Author19

@randomswede Who needs windscreens when you live in a country where the weather's always glorious? Oh... wait...

Author20

RacingPast All of Caterham's past models have come in RHD, so I can't see why this wouldn't. Perhaps it's just to show off to the US market?

Author21

@zz We really do don't we? It was an impressive line-up.

22

SuzyWallace RacingPast  I guess you you are right, even the SP/300R was shown RHD... Salute! Here's to you you writing and Jono clicking! Cheers Keep up the good work!

Author23

tbtstt It's quite the sexy little number.

24

SuzyWallace Jake d JoseFickert Lol, and those cookies did not bend Suzi's fenders one bit!

25

So the Trident uses a Duramax LML diesel? Thats one rare engine in Europe. But one that can take a beating

26

Love the Chevron, it's a dead looker for the Porsche 918 at the front and for some reason the rear looks a lot like a GT Ferrari 458 (don't ask me why?).

The Lotus for me is the epitome of a car that just doesn't photograph well. I'd seen the press shots and was unimpressed, but in the flesh I really like it. But I can't get that damn 'rolled up newspaper' though out my head now! Thanks Suzy!

27

This guy paint his carbon? He wouldn't dream of it. He has spent too much work in making sure his car has the carbon v weave seen on zonda's and other cars. Here's a link before he took it apart to build the entire tub out of carbon fiber: http://www.talkcomposites.com/3600/Noble-doors?PageIndex=4
I think he's similar to Frank Profera over here in The states. A guy obsessed with having a 700hp engine in a car that weighs the same as a shoe. I'm definitely hoping that it will be at that show next year, but he'll be tearing up the roads around UK and the Track days around Europe in no time.

Author28

Wildcardfox  Nice! If I had my way, all cars would be made out of carbon-fibre and paint would be banned. Maybe.

Author29

Robo_No1 Yeah, you're right - definitely a 918 front on the Chevron! And you mean the Caterham? I really like the side profile of it and the rear's ok but I just can't get on with the front - it's just this big oval and completely flat. Maybe if it tapered out a bit, I'd prefer it. But apparently it's very aerodynamic, so who am I to argue?

Author30

@Acc I didn't actually catch the name of it (and I'm not that familiar with diesels!), but will take your word for it. That's some torque output it throws out!

Author31

robzor I spoke to Zenos briefly earlier and they confirmed that they're exploring a route into the US. If I get any more details, I'll let you know!

32

Haha! When I read your statement I heard Jeremy Clarkson saying "When I come to power... ."
I partial to paint. My car is 1/3 carbon and it's getting paint. Trying to get perfectly laid carbon is a bitch to do, and I don't think black and carbon work well together.

33

We attend the show and my stand out British car was the trident Eco friendly and beautiful which I thought I would never hear me say

34

SuzyWallace robzor Well if they are looking for a distributor for the western US I can probably connect them to a few capable and entities.

35

This might not be a big auto show like Detroit or Toronto, but I loved every example you and Jonathan highlighted! I can't say the same for Detroit, as an updated Nissan Maxima (FWD 300hp tire wrecker) appeals to me MUCH less than that Zenos. 

Hell, I would even take the Caterham with the odd looking nose; and I live in a snow filled wonderland!!!

36

Id like to know why Zenos painted the E10 in that orange/black livery. I instantly thought it looked like a lame toned down KTM X-Bow. Its probably a great car but I cant get over the fact that it looks like a cheap KTM. Too bad.

37

We're still developing the 7.7L for the TBR & to go under a different skin, as Stage 3, then twin turbo'd as Stage 4. At the Show we had the Stage 1 Development Hybrid Prototype to showcase our products & use as our Dynamic Test Rig. It's just got the baby brother engine, a used DB7 6L V12. Stage 2 is turboing that one.

Author38

Wildcardfox  Ah really? I like black with carbon - it make the carbon seem far more subtle and integrated than with a brighter colour. IMHO of course...

Author39

KrisBuckton Yeah, I loved the lines on its rear haunches. And the roof!

Author40

@flushpoke The panels are the only painted part - the rest will be black on all cars. You could choose a different colour? It's actually red but the dodgy lights at the NEC make it appear orange-y. Don't write it off because of the colour!

Author41

Kirk_B Hmmm, Caterham + snow. Sounds like fun!

Author42

csjp88 Ah, thanks for the confirmation - I went on the info in the literature. We love the car though, so look forward to seeing it at stage 4.

43

The TVR pictured is not based on a Speed12, but on a Cerbera Speed12 to be precise, which is a totally different car. Don´t mix up the names, the belong to different cars. The Speed12 was a race car.. There were a few Cerbera Speed 12 made, there is at least one running examples existing in the UK, which is red and registered as WII2 BGH. Then there was a silver one W312 BFV, I do not know where it is now.

44

SuzyWallace Kirk_B Not when you expect 20cm though... as it is, the Mitsu is riding at full height, just to make certain I have some undercarraige left!

45

SuzyWallace Wildcardfox  I guess the reason why I do not like is just that— the colors are so similar, but yet it is noticeable because the blackest of carbon fiber still looks dark grey or grayish black compared to black paint. It just throws me, I guess. I however love the contrasting of carbon on lighter colored cars.

BTW I don't know what kit inspired the Bensopra kit, but it also might have been the 2011 BMW Z4 GT3. Very similar.

Author46

@bnommensen You're correct on the Cerbera Speed 12 vs Speed 12, the Speed 12 being the race car. However, as far as I'm aware (and all the other articles I've read have backed this up), there was only ever one Cerbera Speed 12 made - W112 BGH. TVR ended up using the shell from one of the race cars (so they're not really THAT different - the engine was the same but restricted for racing) to create a road-going version, as the original bodywork had all been destroyed and all of the prototypes were dismantled to use as parts for the race cars I believe. From what I can make out, W312 BFV is the same car, after it was involved in an accident and had to be rebuilt. There's certainly no indication that TVR ever built more than one...

Author47

Kirk_B SuzyWallace Snow plough? :)

48

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