Another British supercar: brave or barmy?

Published: 01 May 2008

Why do eccentric Brits insist on launching ever-more powerful supercars? Those Freds in sheds, bashing away at another 200mph thriller - ignoring the fact that the economy’s going belly-up and the world’s appetite for performance cars is fast evaporating. You can’t help feel sorry for them. Yet I still admire their Dunkirk spirit.

I witnessed the unveiling of Anthony Keating’s new eponymously titled supercar last month. The car wasn’t particularly impressive on first acquaintance, yet I still found myself willing them to succeed where so many others have failed.

To recap, the Keating will be an exclusive (read slow-selling, just six or seven a year at first) supercar that can be tailored to your every whim. Whatever you want, they’ll do. Even 1500bhp, if you’re mad enough. The Keating is supposed to mix outrageous performance with everyday reliability. Except that the pre-production prototype wheeled out for the media sprayed its oil out of its gearbox halfway through the day. Shame.

Keating has already sunk more than £1.5 million and eight years into the car. And for what? Yes it’s fast, but at 1190kg with a 400bhp V8 it wouldn’t be anything else. There’s no room inside. Climb aboard and the passenger has the dash jutting into their knees. Bits and pieces didn’t work, the pipe from the roof-mounted air intake rubbed on the louvred engine cover and the suspension was so soft we nearly grounded out on the track.

The UK’s motoring press attended the launch, thanks to an impressive PR operation. None of us dared miss it. Imagine telling your editor that you were too sceptical to attend – especially if that same car then turned out to be the next Noble, Ariel or Farbio. CAR can’t ignore fledgling start-ups, but we should approach them with caution.

It’s hard to see Keating making the leap to the big time at this stage, but I still wish them every success. The founder knows the project won’t make money for some time. He does it because he wants to. Good on him. It’s that ‘never say die’ spirit which spawned the likes of Colin Chapman, Lee Noble and Simon Saunders. And the world would be a duller place without these dreamers/visionaries. Delete as applicable.

Click here to see Ben Pulman talk about the Keating on the BBC News

By Ben Pulman

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