They’re doing things a bit differently at Zenos Cars when it comes to the people who matter most – their buying customers.
And what happens when you an express an interest in one of ex-Caterham boss Ansar Ali’s new cars is this; first, you get invited to the factory in Norfolk to have a look behind the scenes.
Then, if you are serious in your interest, you get invited to drive the car on the road and be a passenger in it at a private test track session.
And then, as Ali is rapidly beginning to discover, you find that you can’t quite resist what you have sampled, and so you write out a cheque for a deposit there and then.
So far almost 100 people have been smitten enough to sign up, and having driven the car myself earlier this week, I can totally understand why.
The E10 has a modern simplicity to it that is sorely missing from too many small British sports cars at the moment. It feels so fundamentally well resolved that it could easily come from a far more mature and established car company.
In many ways it’s the car the Lotus Elise should have developed into over the years, but didn’t.
And because Ali and his team are effectively building and then tailoring cars to the requests and responses of each individual customer, those customers are almost bound to come back for more. Which, of course, is the other element that separates Zenos Cars from the rest of them.
There is a well thought out, long term strategy in place that’s been designed to keep those customers coming back for more, year after year, having been courted so successfully in the first place.
It’s called a business model by any other language, but all too often it’s not something many small British sports car companies come up with when they are gazing into the future.
I wish them the best of luck, I really do. The prototype car I drove looks like a bit of a shed, true, but in reality it’s anything but. And, yes, there’s a full windscreen that’s already well beyond the design stage, plus an interior that looks and feels great on the show car.
For £30,000 the E10 would be fantastic. For £24,995 it is the bargain of the century, nothing less.
Footnote: the car I drove and which is photographed here had the slightly more expensive but optional six-speed gearbox fitted, whereas for £24,995 the standard fitment is a five-speed manual.