British supercars you may not have heard of

Graham Hope

17 Feb 2022

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Fast and fascinating, these homegrown heroes might have slipped under your radar

Britain has an outstanding pedigree when it comes to supercars, with some of the most coveted motors of all-time hailing from established names based on these shores. But this rich history is complemented by an array of less well known extreme machines that didn’t have the same impact, but were no less fascinating. Here, then, is our pick of the British supercars that may just have slipped under your radar…

 

Lister Storm

 

You’re forgiven if the Storm passed you by, because it dates back to 1993 and only four ever made it on to the road. But what an outrageous car! The four-seater was unveiled at that year’s London Motor Show and created an instant impression with its wild design, monocoque chassis, Kevlar body and, in particular, 594bhp Jaguar-derived 7.0-litre V12 engine, which added up to 0-60mph in just 4.1 seconds. As enticing a prospect as all that sounds, the roadgoing Storm struggled to find buyers, due largely to the excessive £220,000 price, although racing versions of the car were developed throughout the 90s.



 





Argyll Turbo GT

 

A supercar from Scotland? Surely not! But in the 1980s it was a reality, of sorts, due to the determination of an engineer called Bob Henderson from Lochgilphead in Argyll. He created – in limited numbers – the Turbo GT, a 2+2 grand tourer that was offered with a variety of engines including a Rover V8, Renault V6 and Buick V6, although the power outputs were never made public. The project was self-funded, which made it even more commendable, but fact the car was more expensive than a Porsche 911 limited its appeal.



 


 

Bristol Fighter

 

Again, a high price – in the region of £240,000 – ensured the Fighter remained an extremely rare sight, with only 14 hand-built between 2004 and 2011. But those lucky enough to be able to afford one got their hands on a terrific-looking supercar that was devastatingly fast. It was fitted with the same 8.0-litre V10 engine used in the Dodge Viper, producing 525bhp in the ‘standard’ Fighter and 628bhp in the Fighter S, which equated to 0-60mph in four seconds and a top speed of 210mph. Bristol Cars went into liquidation in 2020, but plans emerged last year for a revival of the firm.



 



Panther 6

 

If first impressions count, few cars can match the Panther 6 for sheer dramatic impact thanks, of course, to the fact that it had an extra pair of wheels. Surrey-based Panther unveiled the 6 at the London Motorfair at Earls Court in 1977, and claimed 200mph potential from its Cadillac-sourced 8.2-litre twin turbo 600bhp V8. Inside was every bit as extravagant as the exterior, with a dash-mounted TV, phones in the armrests and digital instruments. Such excess didn’t come cheap, though, and sadly only two were ever made.



 



Caparo T1

 

Essentially a road-legal racer, the T1 arrived in 2007 from Basingstoke-based Caparo at the more extreme end of the supercar scale. The mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive two seater was inspired by F1 design, and relied on the tried and tested formula of low weight (470 kg) and plenty of power (from a 575bhp 3.5-litre V8) to deliver a thrilling driving experience, with 0-62mph dispatched in an estimated 6.2 seconds and a top speed in the region of 205mph. Although only around 15 were ever made, the T1 still commands high prices with one currently on sale online for £189,995.



 



Farboud GTS

 

The story of the GTS is slightly complicated. You may have heard of the G60, a wannabe supercar from the Leeds-based Ginetta, which was based on the Ginetta F400 produced from 2010 to 2011. That itself was essentially the Farbio GTS – a car that had originally been developed as the Farboud GTS, before Newmarket-based Farboud sold the rights in 2007. The original Farboud GTS had been first unveiled in 2003 boasting 620bhp from an Audi twin-turbo V6, and looked really rather nice. What became of Farboud? It’s gone on to produce ever wilder creations, although it’s changed its name, too – to Arash. The GTS was where it all started, though.



 



Spectre R42

 

The year was 1995, Cool Britannia was in its pomp – so what better time to launch what might be considered a British version of the Ford GT40? Designer Ray Christopher had been behind the plan, and had impeccable credentials as co-founder of a company called GT Developments, which specialised in replicas of the Ford supercar. But GTD was unable to get the project fully up and running, and eventually it was sold on to a firm called Spectre. The R42 shared similar proportions to the GT40 and was also mid-engined, using Ford power – a Mustang-sourced 4.6-litre 350bhp V8 – for extra credibility. It was claimed to be capable of 0-60mph in just over four seconds, but few buyers were persuaded to part with their cash, with only 23 sold.


 



Invicta S1

 

The S1, unveiled at the British International Motor Show of 2002, saw the rebirth of the Invicta marque, which had sporadically produced cars from bases in Surrey and London throughout the 20th century. By the early 2000s the resurrected brand was operating out of Chippenham, Wiltshire, and the S1 was its first intriguing offering. Was it a supercar? Well, the coupe’s engine options ranged from a 320bhp 4.6-litre V8 to a much more super 600bhp 5.0-litre V8 tuned by Ford’s acclaimed SVT operation. But as with so many of the cars here, an ambitious price – £160,000 for top versions – ensured few buyers were willing to take a punt on a car that couldn’t match the pedigree of established players.



 



Ascari KZ1

 

The KZ1 took its name from the initials of Ascari company owner, Dutch businessman Klaas Zwart, but was hand-built in Banbury, Oxfordshire, so we’ll claim it as British. Emerging in the mid-2000s, it made quite a splash initially with some impressive numbers – 500bhp from a BMW V8 engine, 0-60mph in 3.7 seconds and a 201mph top speed. But again, the most eye-catching figure of all was the price – a quite staggering £235,000. Production was apparently limited to 50, ensuring the KZ1’s lifespan was fairly short, with the company inactive from 2010 onwards.



 

 

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Graham Hope

17 Feb 2022