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First look: Brecklands Beira is newest British bulldog

Punchy: English-built Beira swaps its Kappa chassis' four-cylinder for a V8.

UK-based, Hong Kong-owned Brecklands to reveal green but goey Elfin V8 rival

5 Jun 2008

THERE are plenty of failed British sports car makers lying by the side of the motorway, but that has not stopped a company called Breckland Technology from launching a new V8-engined two-seater.

The Breckland Beira will make its public debut on Monday at the London Motorexpo, a free-entry event at Canary Wharf that is expected to attract 700,000 visitors.

It will go on sale in Europe from November, priced at around 55,000 pounds ($112,000) and aims to fill a void left by Marcos and TVR in offering plenty of performance in a custom-built body, but with the distinction that this car utilises the proven underpinnings of a major manufacturer rather than a bespoke chassis.

As well as offering stunning performance, the Beira is designed with an environmental heart and can run on LPG (liquid petroleum gas) as well as petrol.

Based in the heart of Lotus country at Norfolk in England, Breckland is owned by Hong Kong-based multinational Riche Holdings and has been building low-volume cars for other companies since 2000, including the V8-engined Mosler MT900 supercar since 2004.

For the Beira, Breckland employs General Motors’ rear-wheel drive Kappa platform – which forms the basis of the US-market Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky sports cars – and also uses their doors and the fabric manual-opening roof system.

But, instead of the American cars’ little four-cylinder Ecotec engines, the Beira gets the 6.0-litre Chevrolet LS2 engine from the Corvette (and our own Commodore SS), which is tuned to produce around 300kW of power. The company did not say how much power is lost when running on LPG.

It is no lightweight, though, weighing in at a hefty (for a sports car) 1400kg, which is certainly not TVR territory and is enough to make Lotus founder Colin Chapman turn in his grave. It is some 350kg more than Australia’s own V8-engined Elfin MS8.

98 center imageDespite the weight, the Beira will sprint to 100km/h in less than five seconds –the Elfin does it in 4.4 seconds – and has an electronically-limited top speed of 250km/h.

“Beira carries on from where Marcos and TVR left off in terms of providing maximum performance for money spent, and real individuality,” said Breckland director Mike Rawlings.

“We wanted to showcase Breckland’s design and engineering capabilities and produce an exciting driver’s car, with excellent handling dynamics, terrific performance and great looks.

“We also looked seriously at environmental concerns and, as a result, Beira is designed to run on LPG as well as petrol. This not only helps to reduce running costs and emissions, but also means Beira is capable of a range of some 700 miles (1126km) between refuelling stops – that’s the equivalent of travelling non-stop from the north to the south coast of France.”

Being based on an American platform, the Beira is therefore being presented and will initially be built only in left-hand drive, despite being British. The company claims this emphasises its European appeal and did not mention a future right-hand drive program.

“We have received tremendous interest, and orders, for Beira already,” said Mr Rawlings.

“The car debuts in left-hand drive form, underlining its appeal to enthusiasts in Europe and well beyond, and will be available in the UK and internationally via our appointed agent network from November 2008.” The bodywork includes new front and rear body sections built from lightweight composites instead of steel.

Despite the inclusion of an additional 70-litre LPG reservoir to go with the existing 60-litre petrol tank, the Beira is claimed to have “a significant increase in usable luggage space with the hood down, thanks to some clever packaging solutions”.

While much of the car is GM, the interior is said to be custom-built and can therefore be tailored to specific buyer requirements in terms of materials and equipment.

Standard features include electric windows, air-conditioning, twin airbags, hand-stitched leather/Alcantara seats and trim, iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, a seven-inch touch screen display with SatNav and the option of a rear reversing camera.

Mechanical features of the car include a six-speed Tremec manual gearbox, power-assisted rack and pinion steering and Bridgestone-shod 18-inch cast alloy wheels (8.5-inch wide at the front and 9.5 at the rear), with optional 19-inch alloys.

The independent suspension was re-engineered for firmer ride and handling in association with KW Suspension, with uprated springs, dampers and bushes, plus thicker anti-roll bars front and rear.

Stopping power is provided by 325mm ventilated discs on all round, grasped by six-pot calipers at the front and four-pot calipers at the rear, supplied by British company HiSpec.

“We didn’t set out to reinvent the wheel with Beira,” said engineering director Mark Easton.

“The Kappa platform offers a highly competent chassis, which has been subject to intensive crash and safety tests, and is readily available. Since all of the hard work has been done, it has enabled us to keep development costs low.

“Over the years, and through our own experience, we’ve seen many supercars come and go, due in part to their massive development costs, and we were adamant that we would not fall into the same trap.”

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