Most vehicles that I write about haven't been featured in a short Top Gear segment—with driving and everything—but that's exactly the sort of publicity the Gold Motor Company was able to drum up for its limited-run sports car, the Cirrus.
Conceived, designed, and constructed by Nick Butler, a well-known UK custom car builder (I'm sure we'll revisit his work before long), the Cirrus was a crack at the early '90s sports car market, with a design that wouldn't look out of place even today.
Well, look past its strange, Ferrari Mythos concept-like front end and parts bin rear: I'm referring more to its drivetrain which, without the benefit of electric motors and a fancy transmission, has more in common with the modern day Porsche 918 Hybrid than any other garage-built sports cars.
The Cirrus is mid-engined, and, amazingly, has a Ferguson 4WD transmission and drivetrain, meaning this 3.5-litre Rover V8-powered machine was endowed with the sort of grip that would make the Kraken jealous. Before you get too excited, however, horsepower was only 200, though you can count on the Rover motor making a fair amount of torque. Definitive specs, as you'd expect, are hard to come by.
Most of the useful information come from old Top Gear and its presenter (and ex-Formula 1 driver) Tiff Needell. Unlike these days, where he only drives sideways on Fifth Gear, his Top Gear report is filled with words and…facts. How boring.
For £45,000 back in 1991 (a whopping $120,000 USD these days), you got a V8-powered targa top sports car, with a big trunk up front (provided you didn't fill it with the targa top) and…gauges that moved with the steering wheel…and…that's about it.
Although it appears to be a damn sight better made than the Clan Clover, a lack of space inside is something that few "professional" car companies would make owners live with. (Unless you're Bob Lutz ramming through the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky. There's no room in those cars.)
Needell makes mention of the nice Connolly leather, Recaro seats, and cockpit ventilation, but doesn't like the cramped footwell, imprecise gearbox, and unassisted (servo-less) brakes.
To make the mechanicals fit, the engine is mounted backwards, with the radiator at the back of the car and the transmission shoehorned between the engine and cabin. Though seemingly quite complex, the chap selling this very Cirrus (though it may be an older listing) says that parts are not hard to come by.
Two complete cars were made, a gold preproduction car believed to be in Belgium and the red one here. A third complete body was made, but I have no idea why it was never finished into a complete car. Still, not too bad for a cottage-built sports car…