Britain’s licensing authorities weren’t too sure what to make of the Stimson Scorcher in 1976, hesitatingly classifying it as a motorcycle-sidecar combination.
Stimson Scorcher 1976
- YEAR REVEALED 1976
- PLACE OF ORIGIN Brighton, East Sussex, UK
- HISTORICAL STATUS production car
- ENGINE four-cylinder, 52–78ci (848–1,275cc)
- MAXIMUM POWER up to 76bhp
- LAYOUT front-mounted engine driving the front wheels
- BODYWORK doorless, three-seater roadster
- TOP SPEED 100mph (161kph)
- NUMBER BUILT 30
By law, that meant “rider” and “pillion” had to wear crash helmets but the third occupant-the Scorcher seated three in a row-was legally the sidecar occupant and, thus, could ride bareheaded.
However, designer Barry Stimson advised Scorcher occupants to all wear helmets because his outrageous trike, with British Leyland Mini subframe, engine, and gearbox at the front, could touch a daredevil 100mph (161kph).
The plastic body was made of fiberglass, and the engine was completely exposed, hot-rod style-unless you splurged on the optional plastic hood. Mr. Stimson was a seminal figure on the burgeoning British kit car scene of the 1970s. His company Noovoh Developments sold the Scorcher as a self-assembly package, for £385, that could be carried home on a roof rack.
Capable, enthusiastic mechanics could then build their own Scorcher using salvaged mechanical parts from a decrepit or crash-damaged Mini. Stimson’s initial kit car design was the Mini Bug of 1970 which became one of Britain’s best-selling kit cars.
New Stimson designs, however, soon followed, including the six-wheeled Safari Six, also relying on Mini parts, and then the Scorcher, of which a mere 30 were made in four years. Barry Stimson is in the kit car business to this day, and surviving Scorchers rarely change hands.