Scotlands's brave new thriller ride

A Scottish-built track day car will be commercially launched this year. Andy Moore takes a closer look at the LMP
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Don't be deceived by the LMP track day car. On first impressions, it appears to be a Radical SR3 in drag. Look a little closer, however, and you'll discover that the car is far from being a back-yard project. More flatteringly, the Scottish-built LMP could have a bright future.

Don't be deceived by the LMP track day car. On first impressions, it appears to be a Radical SR3 in drag. Look a little closer, however, and you'll discover that the car is far from being a back-yard project. More flatteringly, the Scottish-built LMP could have a bright future.

Manufactured by Turner Automotive Design, the LMP has had scores of enquiries from interested parties in America, Australia, New Zealand and Abu Dhabi. The LMP is expected to hit domestic and international markets this year after two years of rigorous testing.

The car is the brainchild of Steve Turner and James Wagstaff, who first met at Bell College in Hamilton, before becoming colleagues at Ford in Essex. The double act shared a passion for building a racing car and, a few years later, realised their dream in the form of the LMP. Start-up capital came from South Lanarkshire Council and the Scottish Executive through the Small Business Gateway.

Although Wagstaff is no longer involved with the project, the LMP is manufactured and marketed by Turner Automotive Design after its former incarnation as the Coram LMP. It has a price tag of nearly £23,000. Based at Darvel, in East Ayrshire, the limited company is directed by Steve Turner and his father, Jim, while Shug Patterson is the senior fabricator.

"The aim was to develop a car with the same thrill factor as the Radical, yet at a fraction of the cost," says Steve Turner. "We designed the whole car ourselves. It was drawn on paper and then transferred to a computer. The design was then passed onto a bodyshop in Kirkcaldy."

Walking round the LMP reveals that the car is a different breed from the Radical. Popping open the glass-fibre bonnet exposes a 1200cc, Kawasaki ZX12R motorbike engine, designed to deliver 180bhp through a six-speed sequential gearbox. A bike engine might seem an egg-beater to Formula 3 fans, but consider the other vital statistics: the car can also be specified as a 1400cc (LMP-SE) model with 210bhp, while further tweaks to the unit can increase grunt to 230bhp as the LMP-R.

Built on a lightweight tubular steel chassis, the car tips the scales at just 600kg. Fit one of the fastest motorbike engines inside a featherweight chassis and what do you get? "Earth-shattering performance and a car that is huge fun to drive," the company claims.

Turner plays down the word speed and emphasises the word performance; he says the LMP is capable of going from 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds and in a few more to reach its top speed of 150mph. "Putting figures on speeds is pub talk," he says. "At this stage, the car is engineered for performance and reliability. Watching a racing car in the pits is no one's idea of fun."

Such is his determination to perfect the car that it has been test-driven extensively at East Fortune and Knockhill racing tracks, not to mention at Brands Hatch and Snetterton. At Brands Hatch, Tim Sugden is alleged to have had a play around with the LMP, which he described as having great balance.

Peering at the back of the car, it's easy to appreciate this great balance. While the ground clearance might just accommodate a thin piece of paper, the suspension uses direct-actuated, coil-over-spring damper units.

Underneath its Le Mans-style looks, the car features a down-force diffuser at each end of its body to keep the chunky alloy wheels on the deck. To reduce weight, Turner says, the car will be put on a SlimFast plan by chopping in the current alloy wheels to lighter three-piece rim versions. "Now we have built the car to durable standards, we will look at ways of shedding weight without compromising strength," he says. "Swapping the wheels for lighter versions will immediately save 75kg."

With the car ready for sale, the company can begin work on another model, designed to accommodate a V-8 engine. If Turner gets its sums right, the V-8 should hopefully trim the 0-60mph time to three seconds. Far from resting on their laurels, the directors will also work on a sales plan for next season, in which they expect to sell 20 cars.

But the master plan for Turner is to push the LMP into what he describes as the lucrative North American market. In this region of the world, the track day sport is considered to be all the rage. Showing serious commitment, he has been working closely with his marketing manager in North America. Steve has also selected the Nasa Super Unlimited championships in the United States, in which to race the LMP next year.

To no lesser an extent, he is nearly ready to build a GT version of the LMP, complete with windscreen bubble, and there are plans to sign up a major shareholder for the company. Turner also has ideas to establish a manufacturing base and dealerships in America in the New Year.

"Momentum within the project will continue, providing it receives sustained financial backing," Turner says. "We have reached a critical mass in the planning and development stage. The sky is the limit in terms of how the LMP will take off in the future."

www.turner-auto-design.com

SPECIFICATIONS

Model: LMP-S

Price: £22,995

Engine: 1,198cc, ZX 12R

Output: 180bhp

Weight: 600kg

Gears: six-speed

Performance: Top speed 150mph

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