The Cholmondeley Pageant of Power (CPoP) is an annual event held in the grounds of Cholmondeley Castle (U.K.), which draws an increasing international audience of automotive and adrenalin enthusiasts every year.
The name says it all. Each year an eclectic array of machinery greets the fans during the three day event, with entries from the likes of Bugatti, Lamborghini, Ferrari and Aston Martin, plus many of the exotic low volume specials you rarely see elsewhere in action such as the BAC Mono, Ariel Atom V8 500 and Radical SR3 SL.
New rules mean that as of this year, they all got five runs at the clock around the 1.2 mile circuit.
The Caterham SP/300.R
This year the lap record of 62.68 seconds, set by Nikki Faulkner in a Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera LP570-4 in 2010, was shattered by Scott Mansell (no relation to former F1 star Nigel) in a Caterham SP/300.R with a time of 61.89 seconds.
The SP/300.R was created in partnership with Lola Cars and is an extreme example of lightweight, minimalist DNA delivering outrageous performance.
There was some particularly impressive machinery which competed on the same day and was left well behind, though to be fair, very few cars experienced a dry track throughout the weekend and hence the performances of the others are not to be judged too harshly.
In the same light, the Caterham's run was simply astounding - shaving eight tenths of a second from a lap record of just over a minute ON A WET TRACK, speaking volumes for the Caterham SP/300.R in particular and the Caterham name in general, particularly with the marque now running in Formula One and with a best-of-practice comms team to ensure the world is aware of its exploits.
Caterham can be expected to quickly become a household name with massive television exposure globally thanks to F1 and prodigious performances of that ilk, coupled with very slick customer and corporate relations. Check out the SP/300.R in the brand's online magazine, or watch Caterham TV, and you'll see what I mean about good communication.
The Caterham name has always been highly respected, but when Team Lotus team principal Tony Fernandes acquired Caterham last year, he put the F1 team and car-building businesses into the newly formed "Caterham Group," renamed the F1 team and had TWO highly compatible businesses with synergistic promotional opportunities and ... it's a success story already and the future for the marque looks incredibly bright.
The SP/300.R actually won its class at CPoP by a long way, as it is a race car and hence competed against other post-war race cars.
The prize for the fastest registerable road car was hence handed out in the supercar class where the presence of exotic such as the BAC Mono, Ariel Atom V8 500, Radical SR3 SL, Noble 600, Lamborghini Gallardo, Nissan GT-R, Ferrari 458, Porsche Carrera and Aston Martin One-77 created a lot of interest.
The Briggs Automotive Company Mono
In the end, the BAC Mono driven by Duncan Tappy recorded a time of 63.06 seconds. The Cheshire-based BAC team was particularly pleased as the Pageant is effectively its "home" event.
The BAC Mono has a centrally-located driving position, and weighs 540 kg (1,190.5 lb) all up, thanks to a carbon fiber composite monocoque based around a steel safety cell. The cell is designed to offer maximum safety featuring an FIA compliant steel rollover structure, a sophisticated side impact structure and a front carbon crashbox.
The power is supplied by a longitudinally mounted 2.3 liter, 280 bhp four cylinder Cosworth engine driving through an F-3 spec 6-speed Hewland sequential gearbox.
Hence, with a power-to-weight ratio of F1 magnitude, the Mono is indeed a racecar for the road, with a claimed 0-100 km/h (62 mph) time of 2.8 seconds.
Its time at Cholmondeley was even more impressive when you realize the car was shod with street legal Kumho V70A tires compared with the slicks of the Caterham. Indeed, it was driven to and from the meeting under its own power.
The Ariel Atom V8 500
The Ariel Atom 500 V8 is the fourth incarnation of the Atom, a car without doors, a roof, or anything that isn't absolutely essential. Instead of the small capacity lightweight engines that have propelled the Ariel to global renown, the limited production V8 runs the same Hartley V8 engine we mentioned last week in the article on the "firehose" market.
The engine is made by shoehorning two Suzuki Hayabusa 1300 cc engines together, creating an engine which varies between 2600 cc and 2800 cc, with up to 1000 bhp available for blown versions. The Atom V8 runs a 500 bhp (373 kW) version and theoretically, might be the fastest accelerating road car on the planet with its claimed 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h) time of "less than 2.3 seconds."
The Radical SR3 SL
The Radical SR3 SL weighs 775 kg (1,708.6 lb) dry, has a 300 bhp supercharged Ford engine and the company claims a 0-60 mph time of 3.4 seconds and a 0-100 mph (160.9 km/h) of 8.4 seconds. You can download the brochure here, and I'm sure you'll agree that with the number of lap records to the car's credit already, it obviously handles a treat.
It's again pure racecar-for-the-road stuff, and although the brochure optimistically shows a fellow driving with his elegant, pearl-wearing companion, the truth of the matter is that getting any gal who takes pride in her appearance to go for a drive in a car without a windscreen is well north of optimistic.
It's really a track day car you can drive to the track, though the phenomenal power-to-weight ratio and the six-speed paddleshift which offers 80 ms cog swaps will most likely get you to the legal limit faster than anyone else in your county.
The Noble M600 ran more of a demonstration than a serious lap record attempt, no doubt due to the rarity of the new carbon bodied 225 mph (362 km/h) supercar. You can find the online brochure for the car here, and the Noble website contains lots of detail and justification for it being in the stratospheric price league.
The 47-liter BMW Brutus
Brutus is one of the original aeroplane-engined cars that were built prior to WWII. In this case, a BMW aero engine in a 1908 roadcar chassis, built in 1917, in an attempt to create a powerful racecar. In this case, the same 750 bhp, 45.8-liter BMW V12 that was used in airplanes by Dornier, Heinkel, Focke-Wulf and Tupolev became the motive force behind BMW's Brutus, and it's a favorite still today whenever it fires up thanks to the fire and brimstone and apocalyptical noise it emits.
1930 Packard Bentley 42 litre
The 1930 Packard Bentley is based on a 1930 Bentley 8-liter chassis, and uses a 42-liter Packard 4M 2500 motor from a PT boat.
Vauxhall VXR Maloo
The Holden Maloo is what Australians call a ute - a utility vehicle with an enclosed tray at the rear - utes have been one of the chosen performance vehicles of the Australian public for decades, and GM Holden in Australia now markets its latest purpose-built performance ute, the Maloo, into the U.K. as the Vauxhall Maloo.
The Maloo runs the same 6.2-liter V8 motor of a Corvette or a Camaro, produces 425 bhp and is a favorite of the drift fraternity thanks to its weight distribution and outrageous performance. The Maloo is not ideally suited to the Cholmondeley circuit, but managed a competitive time under the conditions.
Happy birthday to the Jaguar XJ 220
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the XJ220 - the fastest and most expensive road-going Jaguar ever built at 220 mph (354 km/h) and GBP361,000 (approx. US$564,600)
Named for its top speed, only 350 cars were built by JaguarSport, a joint venture between Jaguar and Tom Walkinshaw TWR. The car caused a sensation on the first day that orders were taken, when the limited edition run of 350 was oversubscribed four-fold, despite requiring a GBP50,000 (approx. US$78,200) non-returnable deposit.
Volkswagen Type 166 'Schwimmwagen'
One of the many delights of Choldmondeley this year was the appearance of the Volkswagen Type 166 "Schwimmwagen," which was made in some quantity by the German army during WWII.
Between 1941 and 1944, more than 15,000 Type 166 Schwimmwagens were produced, far more than the better known Amphicar. The Type 166 is the most numerous mass-produced amphibious car in history, and is a close relation of the Volkswagen Beetle, though almost unrecognizable in its amphibious 4WD form - it uses the same 1,131 cc boxer engine and has a number of parts coomon to the iconic Beetle.
The 1910 Edison-Puton Monowheel
The 1910 Edison-Puton Monowheel on show at Cholmondeley has the frame, rider and a 150 cc De Dion engine enclosed by the wheel. The Edison-Puton Monowheel normally resides at the Auto & Technik Museum at Sinsheim, Germany.
The GG Taurus
Built in Switzerland, the three-wheeled Taurus is a descendent of the GG Quad and Quadster which have had a cult following across Europe for many years. GG will build you a special based on any motorcycle you wish, but the standard models are usually based on the BMW range, with the latest 2012 model using BMW's 1300 cc motorcycle engine.
The Quadster and Quad, neither of which appeared at Cholmondoley, are an interesting derivative of the motorcycle in that the end result is a car-like four wheeler that you sit on top of and steer with handlebars rather than a steering wheel.
That's not entirely easy when the entire shebang weighs less than 400 kg (882 lb) and comes with 173 bhp and a better power-to-weight ratio than almost anything else on four wheels.