Who remembers this Noughties pocket rocket

ts up and running. Take the Porsche Carrera GT for example — with one of the lightest flywheels ever fitted to a road car, its V10 (originally designed for Formula 1) produces an iconic howl that sets it apart from every generic V8 and V12 supercar.

Connaught — a company that was heavily involved in motorsport during the ’50s — made a comeback in the mid-2000s through the production of a V10 road car. Spearheaded by Tim Bishop and Tony Martindale (both of whom previously worked at Jaguar), the Connaught project aimed to push British engineering to the forefront of automotive design again. And their initial design was quite the thing.

The V10s of the automotive world are generally high capacity units — the aforementioned Porsche went for 5.7-litres, Audi’s current engine in the R8 sits at 5.2-litres and Lexus opted for 4.7-litres in the LFA. Connaught, in an act of pioneering engineering brilliance, opted for a 2000cc V10 in its sportscar, the Connaught Type D Syracuse GT.

Yes, you heard that right. A 2.0-litre V10. Not a 2.0-litre four-pot, a bloody V10. The easy and profitable engineering call would have been to borrow a Zetec engine from Ford but ten-cylinder engines should be treasured whenever they manage to make it into production, so I firmly approve of the decision made.

A schematic of the ridiculously compact 22.5-degree V10.

The Type D Syracuse GT also supercharged its V10, resulting in 300bhp, 0–60mph in 4.3 seconds and a top speed of 170mph — WHY DON’T WE HAVE THINGS LIKE THIS ANYMORE.

Here’s a quick clip of the dinky engine firing up for testing:

To add to the hype for the Type D Syracuse GT, Connaught quoted the kerbweight at a miniscule 950kg. Just think of an MX-5-sized coupe with a supercharged V10?! Truly the stuff of dreams.

After launching the car at the 2006 Goodwood Festival of Speed, Connaught intended to produce 300 of these quirky GTs. This promotional video below shows the manufacturing of the car, along with interviews with the engineers involved:

The narrow-angle V10 had the cylinder banks set at just 22.5 degrees and was mounted very far back in the car’s tubular steel spaceframe chassis — it sat pretty much between the front seats. That power unit was mated to a five-speed gearbox and a limited-slip differential. Connaught also developed hybrid technology that was trialled in Transit vans and was sold off before the Type D took off. That tech would have made it a tiny little Porsche 918, a decade ahead of the hybrid supercar trend.

Stop-start and cylinder deactivation were also in the pipeline, with the V10 engineered to shut down one bank of cylinders for city driving. As you can now decipher, Bishop certainly didn’t hold back on innovative tech but it all turned out to be a bit too much for the firm to handle.

Connaught realised that the only way to get the company off the ground was for this tech to take off through its own car. The government were asked to step in and fund the start-up and get this potentially revolutionary hybrid sportscar off to a start, as you can see from the video below made purely to attract funding.

The coachbuilt nature of the cars led to production numbers dropping and the huge technological claims never came to fruition. There are many automotive concepts that come and go but seeing this little GT go by the wayside was really a kick in the family veg.

Are there any stillborn concept cars that you wish had made it into production? My personal gripe is the fact that Jaguar scrapped the C-X75 hypercar but which failed venture stands out in your mind? Comment with your suggestions below!

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