Well how about that? The Spartan track car has zeroed in on England | Top Gear
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Saturday 10th June

Well how about that? The Spartan track car has zeroed in on England

Australian, shed-built and supercar-embarrassing... but also road-legal in the UK and available to buy right now

Published: 01 Mar 2023

Well, let’s get it over with now, so we can talk about the car.


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Brilliant. Let’s move on.

This uncompromising-looking little hornet is the Spartan, built by the Spartan Motor Company in Australia and sold by British importer Le Mans Coupes. The former is a passion project 15 years in the making; the latter something of a Shangri-La for classic recreations and hyper-nutter track toys. So, guess which one the Spartan is?

When we first saw the Spartan, it was a prototype shed project from brothers Peter and Nick Papanicolaou (or just ‘Pap’ for short), powered by the V-twin* from a Ducati 1198S. It made something like 147bhp at the rear wheels, but weighed about as much as a shoe and was therefore all kinds of hilarious.

That was 2011; in 2012 the brothers Papanicolaou took a leaf out of Ariel’s book and plonked a Honda engine just behind the rear seats. Except this engine was from a Honda Jazz, not a Civic Type R. Nevertheless, the addition of a supercharger (never a bad place to start) meant there was 210bhp and even more madness on offer. In 2019, the third prototype brought the legendarily reliable 2.4-litre Honda K24... with, if memory serves, the K20A head from the Civic and Integra Type R.

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Now, the Spartan is no longer a prototype. It’s a fully fledged, completely road-legal and entirely bonkers little thing that very much puts the ‘track’ in ‘track toy’.

And also the ‘toy’, come to think of it. At its absolute heaviest, it weighs just 700kg, yet the 2.4-litre Honda engine (rebuilt with forged internals and supercharged) puts out 400bhp. That means in excess of 570bhp per tonne, or more than a Pagani Huayra. It has a pair of chairs for you and your bravest friend or family member, a six-speed manual and the absolute bare minimum needed to qualify as a road-going car.

But not too many road cars use a space-frame chassis, can boast a full carbon-fibre body or can offer a zero to 62mph time of 2.5 seconds. And we’ll admit that most of them tend to have doors.

So it’s clear to see the kind of vein the Spartan’s in, and the sort of cars it shares a kinship with. You might think the obvious one is Ariel, but the first we were put in mind of is the Dallara Stradale. It also has 400bhp or thereabouts (in this case delivered by a tuned 2.3-litre Ford Ecoboost), a distinct lack of toys, frippery and doors, and an exceedingly good success rate at making larger humans feel like a bear on a tricycle.

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But while Dallara’s building 600 Stradales, the Spartan is limited to just 300. Yep. See what they did there. And the Stradale weighs 855kg to the Spartan’s 700. Quick-release mechanisms mean a Spartan owner can change their car from RHD to LHD in half an hour, while active suspension gives you... well, the same sort of advantage that Williams had over Honda in ’92, presumably.

And yes, prices for the non-supercharged, fibreglass (as opposed to carbon-fibre) Spartan start at £105,000. But for the tiny weight and unfettered access to the sensations of driving – to say nothing of the hypercar-rivalling speed and heart-crushing exclusivity – you’d be hard-pressed to call it madness. Because THIS... ISSS...

*And yes, Ducatisti, we said V, not L

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