Corby's forgotten supercar: the car designed to be an affordable Lamborghini tribute

The car was designed to look like a Lambourghini Countach - but with a much lower price tag

Sunday, 28th November 2021, 8:52 am
The sleek-looking vehicle was manufactured at Rutherford Court
The sleek-looking vehicle was manufactured at Rutherford Court

In the latest of articles from the Lodge Park Academy History Review, history teacher Mike Murray explains how an exotic-looking supercar came to be made in Corby.

There were very few boys in the 1980s who didn’t have a poster of a Ferrari or Lamborghini on their bedroom wall.

Often featuring a model draped over the bonnet, it was as close as most would ever get to owning one of the fantastic Italian supercars.

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Several of the 23 cars sold still exist. This one is currently being restored by its owner in Leicester. This SC5000S is close to being back in roadworthy condition more than thirty years after it was first sold.

However, for a brief period in the late 1980s a Corby company tried to make ownership of an exotic looking supercar a cheaper proposition. Silhouette Cars was established in 1987 by Sue and Colin Winter. The pair had worked for Jaguar previously.

It was while working for the Jim Russell motor racing company that Colin decided to put his expertise to good use and build Sue a replica of the iconic Lamborghini Countach.

Having looked at various kits that were available, Colin felt he could build a better replica himself. While he was building the car, enquiries started to flood in from far and wide. Colin and Sue felt that there was a business opportunity in selling replicas and so set up their business on the Earlstrees Industrial Estate in Corby.

Their plan was to offer a car that looked like the iconic Lamborghini Countach but for a much lower price. The Italian supercar had been available since 1974 and was one of the fastest cars available throughout its production life.

By the late 1980s the Countach had changed from a simple shape to one covered in spoilers and intakes. It was capable of 185mph and 0-60 in just over 4 seconds. However, it also cost nearly £90,000.

The Silhouette SC5000S was built on a steel frame with a fibreglass body mounted on top. The running gear was based on Ford and Jaguar components. The buyer could choose from a range of V6, V8 or V12 engines to power their car. Buyers could opt for a basic kit which they would then put together themselves or one where some parts had already been assembled. Kits started at less than £3,000.

In early 1988, Kitcars and Specials magazine visited Corby to write an article on the soon-to-be-released SC5000S. They found the company putting the finishing touches to the prototype and gearing up to start production of a demonstration model .

The prototype was powered by a Jaguar V12 engine producing 320bhp. In the lightweight car this provided stunning acceleration and yet the ride was smooth and the noise levels reasonable considering the engine was located right behind the two seats. Reading the road test in the magazine it was clear that the reporter was impressed by the build quality and performance of the prototype.

Although the company had only built a prototype, and that was still undergoing modification, there were plans for future models. Another Lamborghini replica was in the pipeline. The Lamborghini Miura was unveiled at the 1966 Geneva Motorshow. It was a less aggressive looking car than the Countach that replaced it in the 1970s.

The planned Miura replica was to be built in a way that would allow original Lamborghini parts to be used to complete the supplied kit. However, it could also be finished using Jaguar components to keep the cost down.

Ultimately the story of Silhouette Cars was not a success. Despite the positive reviews in the motoring press the company only sold about 23 kits. The company stopped production after less than two years in 1989. The proposed Miura model was never produced and the company closed. The factory on Rutherford Court on the Earlstrees Industrial Estate is now occupied by Fourways Fabrications.

You can read more from the Lodge Park History Review here