The Strathcarron SC-5A Is A Spartan Sports Car You’ve Never Heard Of

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The Strathcarron SC-5A is a British-built sports car based on the SC-4 prototype unveiled at the 1999 Geneva Motor Show. Among the short-lived low-volume Britons sports cars we’ve seen over the years, the Strathcarron SC-5A looks a lot more sophisticated. Designed by automotive consultant Ian Macpherson, the SC-5A introduced the UK market to an affordable, state-of-the-art road sports car that can also serve as a track-day machine.


Macpherson described his creation as “a kind of mini-Ferrari F40”, developed to be even more advanced than other Britons like, say, the Lotus Elise. When Strathcarron unveiled the car at the Birmingham Motor Show in 2000, the unrestrained attention to detail was immediately evident. It rode on a Reynard-designed honeycomb monocoque chassis backed by Prodrive-developed suspension wrapped in a Kevlar/carbon composite skin.

It had the perfect mix of ingredients to conquer any sports car market in Europe or the Americas. But the motorbike engine is the standout feature of this little-known British sports car. The car represented the latest addition to the growing trend of fitting a lightweight sports car with a road bike engine. The result is an incredibly fast and fun-to-drive little 4-wheel machine.

Related: 8 coolest sports cars Lotus has ever produced


Strathcarron Sports Cars: The British carmaker you’ve never heard of

You’ve never heard of Strathcarron probably because they were only around for about three years between 1998 and 2001 during which time they only produced two models including the SC-5A and SC-6 . The British carmaker had its office in Hove, East Sussex. Technically, the two models are identical, except that the SC-6 was wrapped in ABS plastic, unlike the Kevlar and carbon fiber body of the SC-5A.

It is therefore not surprising that the SC-5A adopted the family name of the founder. Lord Strathcarron (David Macpherson), Ian Macpherson’s father, is a hereditary peer, a motorcyclist and motoring writer, and the event organizer for two-wheeler types among the British nobility. Ian is now Lord Strathcarron, and his goal with Strathcarron Sports Cars was simple and straightforward: to develop and build simple, lightweight motorcycle-powered cars.

This goal is reflected in the SC-5A’s spartan interior with minimal amenities and Strathcarron’s use of a Triumph motorcycle engine to power the car. Perhaps things would have turned out very differently for Strathcarron had it not been for unforeseen changes in UK unique vehicle approval laws just as the automaker started selling its cars. The development forced Strathcarron to reconsider its original vision of using only motorcycle engines.

To sell his cars legally as road-legal models, Strathcarron tried to build a new car powered by an MG Rover Group K-Series engine, but the project never progressed to a testable working prototype before the company does not collapse under the weight of financial problems. Not anticipating SVA rule adjustments, Strathcarron had hoped to sell 50 to 60 cars in the year 2000, some of which were destined for the United States.

The engine and specifications of the Strathcarron SC-5A

The Strathcarron SC-5A is powered by a 1200 cc (1.2 liter) Triumph Trophy 4-cylinder alloy twin cam motorcycle engine, with fuel management and injection systems developed by Ilmor Engineering. Strathcarron paired the mid-engine with a Quaife 6-speed sequential gearbox and limited-slip differential to maximize the car’s 10,000+ rpm, most of which is tapped before the SC-5A starts. to move.

The Kevlar/carbon fiber body mounted on a monocoque chassis improved the SC-5A’s featherweight by 1,213 lbs and allowed the car to go from rest to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds and reach speed maximum of 125 mph.

The Spartan design approach contributed to the performance and ride quality levels of its race car. With a 94-inch wheelbase, the car was 142 inches long and 67 inches wide, which is just enough for its 2-seat capacity and 45/55 front-to-rear weight distribution. It is remarkably 7.3 inches shorter than the new Lotus Elise.

Related: 15 Triumph Motorcycle Facts Most People Don’t Know

A look at the Strathcarron SC-5A

The phrase “Spartan design approach” fits the Strathcarron SC-5A to a T, just as 4-wheel motorcycles often describe sports cars powered by motorcycle engines. The minimalist approach to improving the car’s lightness and speed meant that the otherwise highly sophisticated SC-5A had no heater and not even a door or roof. After all, all you need for sunny afternoons and circuit expeditions are your bike’s engine and gearbox.

It’s not a new trend to hang around Strathcarron’s neck. Stripped-down Caterhams and Westfields powered by superbike engines show that the idea of ​​fitting cars with bicycle engines has gained traction. It sounds like shortcuts, but the automaker has made it clear that the powertrain isn’t as simple as it sounds, because high-revving motorcycle engines don’t have the proper characteristics for car use. road, and the gear ratios need to get reworked.

This explains the extensive modification of the Triumph DOHC 16-valve in-line 4 and 6-speed sequential gearbox. SC-5As featured new sport fuel injection and catalytic converter, transmission ratios, differential and reverse.

Quite remarkable is the impressive roll call behind the engineering and development of the SC-5A, including Simon Cox, who later headed GM’s advanced design studio in England. Other famous names involved in the development of Strathcarron include AP Racing and Brembo (brakes), Bilstein (shock absorbers), Hewland (final drive unit), Speedline (wheels) and Titan (steering rack).

At $25,779.78 in 2000, the SC-5A came across as overpriced, given its performance and better competition. At least the car would have been sold to American enthusiasts, unlike many low-production specialist cars made in Europe.

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