The work of Caterham’s ex-technical director, Jez Coates, the intriguingly named Zolfe Classic GTC4 is a front-engined, rear-drive two-seater that has been designed primarily to be driven on the road. It will also, you suspect, prove indecently rapid at track days. There are no frills and there is very little in the way of luxury.
If the name – not the Zolfe Car Company or even Zolfe Cars, just Zolfe – sounds a little bit clunky, the car itself is anything but. Financed by a Midlands-based entrepreneur and plastics guru, Nic Strong, and designed by a collaboration of companies and individuals that include the aforementioned Coates, alongside Stadco, MTCE, AP Racing and Avon Tyres, the Zolfe is a delightfully simple, back-to-basics sports car very much in the mould of Ginetta’s new G40R.
Anti-lock brakes, power steering and traction control have each been eschewed in the name of purity. The fun factor is what counts in this car, just as it is with the Ginetta, and just as it was when Coates was in charge of things at Caterham.
As such, the engine is a straightforward four-cylinder unit, supplied by either Mazda or Ford depending on how much power you want (our test car had a rippling 2.3-litre, 280bhp Ford lump, but anything between 180 and 300bhp is available). Suspension is by double unequal-length wishbones all round, while the brakes, as intimated, are great big ventilated discs by AP Racing.
The killer statistic, though, is the Zolfe’s kerb weight. Anyone who knows Coates from his days at Caterham will be well aware of his obsession with kilograms, and in this case the number is an impressively trim 698kg. And that’s not a cheat figure that doesn’t include items such as paints and fluids; it’s a genuine all-up number which, if you do the maths, means there’s some 401bhp per tonne on offer in the case of the test car.
A reasonable degree of physical dexterity is required merely to climb aboard, as I discover when I lower my backside towards the bucket seat and realise that it’s at least a foot further away than I thought. Once you’re ensconced in it, however, the Zolfe provides the most fantastic driving position.
You sit low in it, really low, but the pedals and steering wheel are both positioned just so, and the view forward appears to be along what looks like a never-ending bonnet. You feel a lot like Biggles, even before you’ve turned the key and fired it up.