There aren’t many areas of the automotive world where Britain still rules the waves, but the lightweight sportscar is one of them.
It’s a thought triggered by the first drive of the Austrian KTM X-Bow, a car that I’m struggling to see the point of in a big way.
At risk of sounding a mite xenophobic, foreigners just can’t do these motorised bedsteads as well as we can. Back in the mists of motoring history, Britain’s anti-car taxes created a trend of lightweight specials, stripped down versions of normal cars with their meagre performance offset by added lightness.
In the ‘50s Colin Chapman gave a new direction to the genre with the Lotus Seven. Which, give or take some carbonfibre bodywork and a Ford Duratec engine, is still going strong as the Caterham 7.
Other manufacturers climbed aboard the bandwagon – and occasionally fell off it. Caterham ended up suing a couple for the uncanny resemblance between their products and the official Seven.
And then the Ariel Atom appeared – getting rid of bodywork itself in the cause of lightness. It was, both literally and figuratively, the coolest thing to happen to the sportscar in years.