In 1957 the Formula One fraternity sniggered at John Cooper’s mid-engined T43, but when he started winning the laughing stopped and
by the end of 1959 the competition were designing mid-engined cars of their own.
What's it like?
Fast forward to 2006 and the Brooke Double R hopes to teach Caterham the same lesson. Both use the same 260bhp Cosworth-tuned 2.3-litre four, but it takes a single straight and full beans in second to demonstrate what Cooper knew back in the ’50s.
With the engine weight placed closer to the driven axle, the Brooke has better traction, and is capable of exploiting all 260bhp in any gear.
Looking like a Formula Ford – except with twice the power, twice the seats and a tax disc – the Double R gathers stares as if it were a Veyron.
There are no doors, a removable steering wheel, Stack
display unit and a stub gearlever mounted on the right-hand sill. For two it’s snug but comfortable, our main complaint being offset pedals.
The Double R is superbly rigid yet weighs only 550kg. For our drive, the adjustable double wishbone suspension had been stiffly set, with
practically no roll, yet the damping was sophisticated enough to minimise intrusions.
With nothing more than a small aerofoil windscreen, the Brooke is exhilarating in the extreme, the power, grip and precision egging you to raise your game. You find yourself wanting to nail the turn-in, clip the apex and get back on the throttle.
With a small, flat-bottomed wheel and quick rack, the steering is ultra-sharp, perhaps too much so for the road, but Brooke will tailor each car as required.
With longer gear ratios than a Caterham, the rate of acceleration is less savage, yet the ratios suit road work better. Second is good for 60mph in 3.2sec and third will whisk you into three figures.
Should I buy one?
What impresses most is the attention to detail and overall finish. For a small company to produce a car that is so well resolved is deeply impressive. At £31,995 the Double R is cheaper than the Caterham, more distinctive and more original. We’d understand if you were tempted.