Keating SKR and TKR (2008): first official pictures

Published: 23 April 2008

A British Bugatti costing £90,000? Or another loopy sports car from Lancashire? The Keating SKR and TKR launched today have 1500bhp potential and top speeds that challenge the Veyron's - but it's difficult to dispel our innate cynicism about yet another new British supercar manufacturer.

But Keating is launching its two supercars with rides in fully functioning cars, both on a private test track and on public roads, so CAR Online has today gone to Southport in the north west of England. We aim to find out whether Keating Supercars is another unfortunate joke on St George’s day or something worth making noise about.

After all, if you ignore companies like these you might be missing out on meeting the next Lee Noble or Simon Saunders, respectively the men behind Noble and Ariel.

So what’s Keating Supercars all about then?

It’s the dream of Anthony Keating, and the success of his power generation company Electromech means he can now indulge his dream and produce his own supercar. Keating’s exacting standards are blamed for the eight-year development process, but the company claims everything is unique. Even the door mirrors are of Keating’s own design.

And if you think the Keating supercars look familiar, that's because they are. The TKR was shown at the London motor show in 2006, badged as the Barabus.

Click 'Next' to find out more about the Keating supercars

Right, the basics of the Keating SKR and TKR. What are they?

All SKRs and TKRs have a mid-mounted GM V8 that drives the rear wheels through a five-speed Porsche transaxle. As standard there's a steel spaceframe chassis, but you can spec a carbonfibre chassis. All cars come with a GRP body, but you can spec carbon bits or a full carbonfibre body if you're crazy about saving weight (and splashing your cash).

It's pretty lightweight, then. The basic steel-chassis cars weigh 1190kg, while an all-carbon car tips the scales at just 995kg.

The Keating is 4313mm long, 1867mm wide and 1149mm high, making it pretty much Lamborghini Gallardo size. It’s a pure two-seater, but will apparently accommodate anyone up to 6ft 7in because that’s how tall Anthony Keating’s engineering partner is. Interior trim is down to your imagination, as long as you have the money to pay for it.

‘We haven’t tried to design the most technologically advanced car in the world,' says the blurb. 'Keating Supercars are solid, beautifully engineered bespoke creations built to the exact wishes of the commissioning owner, designed with longevity and ease of ownership in mind. ‘

What's the difference between the SKR and TKR?

SKR is the designation for the road cars while TKR is for ‘competition cars destined for the track’, though you can spec your SKR with lots of TKR options. The engine line-up is:

SKR 400 6.0-litre V8, 404bhp @ 6000rpm, 400lb ft @ 4000rpm
SKR 500 7.0-litre V8, 505bhp @ 6200rpm, 475lb ft @ 4800rpm
SKR 520 Supercharged, 525bhp
SKR 650 Supercharged, 656bhp

Even the cheapest, £90,000 SKR 400 model will top 180mph and hit 60mph in 'less than 4.0sec'.

No exact spec is known about the 520 and 650 versions, but GM has recently released a supercharged 6.2-litre V8 that powers the Cadillac CTS-V and Corvette ZR-1. To avoid expensive tuning, that engine seems like the most viable option for the higher-power SKR cars.

TKR cars will have further developed versions of these engines plus two twin-turbo variations with 1000 and 1500bhp that have been developed in the USA. Unfortunately, 1000bhp-plus cars have to make do with four-speed ‘boxes.

But there is of course a disclaimer when it comes to the twin-turbo cars. The company’s launch press kit stated that: ‘Neither the TKR 1000 nor TKR 1500 will be available as customer cars until the initial SKR production run has been completed’. So if you don’t buy the SKR we won’t see 1500bhp coming from a British road car any time soon...

Click 'Next' to find out more about the Keating supercars

So who would actually buy an SKR?

We’re not sure. There’s been no word on price yet, but if it’s under £100k you meet everything from the Porsche 911 to the Audi R8. Get up to £150k and you can afford the smallest Ferrari and Lamborghini offerings, while the 599 and LP640 are yours for around £200,000. Go beyond this and you’re into second-hand McLaren SLR and Porsche Carrera GT, then Koenigsegg land.

And all these cars have heritage. And if the Keating becomes all about top speed it might end up like the SSC Ultimate Aero from America. Very fast, and that’s about it. We'll know more about the Keating prices later today.

Do we rate Keating's chances?

Right now the top speed and power output claims are surely to grab our attention. How else can a tiny company compete on such a busy world stage?

For now Keating is concentrating on getting the SKR right, but it has already admitted to having the chassis ready for a world record attempt. Watch this space, because Keating may become great, or we may never see the company again.

By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy