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Unusual cars with interesting histories

The Raical SR8 - not your average family car

Radical SR8

Is it a road car or an out and out racing car? This question was voiced at the Nürburgring race track in 2009 when a Radical SR8LM (the bigger brother of the SR8, with a 2.8 litre, 455hp engine), driven by Michael Vergers, took the lap record in six minutes and 48 seconds, about 20 seconds faster than the previous record. The problem was that the car only had UK single vehicle approval, instead of full type approval, so there were some disputes over whether or not it was a street legal car, which it had to be to qualify as a record holder. Vergers had no doubt about the matter since he had just driven the car all the way from the UK to Germany! Whatever the rights and wrongs the record held until 2017 when a Porsche GT2RS beat it by about 0.7 seconds. Still arguments over whether or not the SR8 deserved the record in the first place but what does it matter? It was still one very fast motorcar.

To be realistic though there was not very much about the SR8 which tells you that it is designed for tootling down the local bypass or around town to pick up the shopping. For a start it has a foam filled fuel tank. Okay lots of other cars have paddle shift gears but are they powered by a 2.6 litre V8 engine developing 383 bhp? That would certainly impress the other mothers on the school run. And how many cars sat on suburban driveways have a fuel induction system, biplane rear wings, sidepods, a rollbar, a fully adjustable suspension and aerodynamic undertrays to help glue the car to the road? Perhaps one day they will be the norm but not yet.

Speaking of the engine; it was built by grafting not one but two Suzuki motorcycle engines, each with four cylinders, together! The joy of these engines was that they were capable of very high rpm; the pair of engines created a single eight cylinder engine that could rev up to over 10,000 rpm. Together with the light construction of the car this makes it one of the fastest street legal cars in the world.

Radical Sportscars is a small specialist company building fast and light racing cars which was formed in 1997 by racing drivers Phil Abbott and Mick Hyde and they specialise in cars that can be used either on the open road or the race track; on the same day usually. Back in 2010 they converted an SR8 to run on electricity; they achieved a range of around 250 miles on a full charge and a top speed of 124 miles per hour. Elon Musk, eat your heart out.

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