SEPTEMBER 7, 2004
Connaught makes a comeback
Back in the 1950s construction firm heir Kenneth McAlpine began building racing cars at a workshop in Send, near Woking. The first Connaught was a sports car but for 1951 the company built a Formula 2 car, powered by a Lea-Francis engine and in the course of 1952 Connaught expanded to run both a factory team and customer cars which ran in Formula 1, which had adopted F2 regulations that year. The marque gave Mike Hawthorn his first taste of F1 and later helped Roy Salvadori and Tony Brooks make names for themselves. Stirling Moss even drove one of the cars. The firm never enjoyed much international success part from Brooks's famous victory in 1955 at Syracuse, to record the first British marque's victory on the Continent since Sunbeam in 1924. The company went on racing until the end of 1957 when the factory was closed but a number of the cars were sold to Bernie Ecclestone who ran them in variouss races in 1958. A Connaught later appeared briefly in the hands of Bob Said in the US GP at Sebring in 1959 and the American continued to modify the car until 1962 when he tried to qualify for the Indianapolis 500.
A few days ago the new Connaught Motor Company revealed plans to build a Connaught Type-D sports coupe. Started by former Jaguar Cars engineers Tim Bishop and Tony Martindale, Connaught is a thoroughly modern car company and indeed lays claim to being the world's first "virtual" car company. It designs the cars and manages the project, but out-sources the manufacturing to EPM Technology in Derby, a firm which currently does composite work for a number of Formula 1 teams. Connaught had produced a prototype1.6-litre V10 engine which will combine with an electric motor to power the hybrid 150mph supercar which will have better fuel economy and lower emissions than the average family saloon.
The firm may not be considering a return to the sport but hopes that it will be able to raise the $9m it needs to put the car new car into production and is planning to build as many as 2000 of the $62,000 cars per year from 2007 onwards. The firm hopes that the car will sell well in Britain where congestion charges are increasing because at the moment electric cars are exempt from the schemes.
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