IT’S happened again. A company specialising in plucky British sports cars has gone into administration.
This time it’s a tiny manufacturer based in Norfolk and best known for its flyweight two-seaters. No, not that one. This time it’s Zenos, which barely a few weeks after getting its rev-happy E10S onto The Grand Tour has had to bring in the suits and a steady supply of red ink.
All of which makes it a proper British sports car – and I love proper British sports cars.
History is littered with examples of blokes mixing mainstream motoring engineering – regardless of whether it’s an old A-series lump or the nifty Ford Ecoboost engine you get in the E10 – with neatly styled roadsters designed to be enjoyed al fresco. But for every Morgan or Lotus you end up with countless others going out of fashion. All those Elvas and Austin-Healeys. Marauders and Marcoses. Gilberns and Gordon-Keebles. The list goes on.
But I wouldn’t write the Zenos E10 off as another entry in the I-Spy book on Obscure British Sports Cars just yet. Partly because it’s been picking up some pretty good reviews – including from James May in its aforementioned telly appearance – but also because the thing Brit sports car firms do really well other than going into administration is bouncing back.
Fellow Norfolk firm Lotus has a long history of being in trouble – but they’re still going strong after nearly 70 years. Aston-Martin spent decades struggling to make a profit before Ford took it under its wing and launched the DB7. TVR is due to relaunch later this year and even AC – which can trace its roots all the way back to 1901, despite going bust a couple of times along the way – will still sell you something that looks vaguely like a new Cobra.
I reckon the E10, with its not massively unobtainable £27k pricetag, familiar Ford engines, glowing reviews and a ready-made audience in Britain’s booming track day industry deserves another crack.
I love proper British sports cars like the E10. Says the man who’s on his second Mazda MX-5…