An experience from nearly half a century ago inspired a district councillor to tackle a motoring project that has literally led to a life in the fast lane.
Peter Cooper built a Caterham 7 single handed in 2011, inspired by his part in a similar challenge to construct a Lotus Elan in a 1967 ATV programme fronted by the late Pete Murray.
The independent councillor’s pride and joy is a yellow open-topped two-seater sports car that can still compete with the Ferraris and Porsches of this world in terms of performance – his Caterham breaks the 60mph mark in a sizzling 4.9 seconds.
Peter, 64, of Brewhouse Lane, Rowsham, said: “You can buy them fully built or as a kit.
“Three years ago I built mine single handedly in three months, including testing and getting type approval.
“It’s very much a ‘fair weather’ car and we have used it also as a touring car and driven it as far as north Wales, the north of England and the Isle of Man.”
“It does have a rain hood but it’s a fumbly affair, so we tend to use it when the sun shines.”
The Caterham Roadsport 150SV is powered by a 1.6 Ford engine producing 160bhp but because of its light weight (500kgs) it can actually stand comparison with supercars such as the Porsche 911 in terms of acceleration.
“The rest of the transmission is BMW based, so it’s very smooth,” said the councillor who represents Wingrave at the district authority.
“But it is very fast – what you feel through your backside is what you get. It’s absolutely amazing to drive and makes you smile.”
Peter’s main luxury items in the Caterham are ear protectors through which he and wife Annie can converse to counteract the strong wind noise. His everyday car he describes as ‘a rather battered Peugeot’ – clearly not such a major passion in his life.