Bright yellow vehicle
1976 Stimson Scorcher
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Stimson Scorcher is a three-wheeled vehicle designed by Barry Stimson and first produced in the UK in 1976.[1] The Scorcher was available preassembled or as a kit, sold by Noovoh Developments of Brighton for £385 (equivalent to £1500 in 2016).[2]

During its four-year production run, ending in 1980, thirty Scorchers were produced. There was an unsuccessful attempt to resuscitate the Scorcher project the following year.

The Austin Mini 848 cc (51.7 cu in) engine, one of those used to power the Scorcher, is able to deliver a top speed of 100 mph (161 km/h).

Construction


The glassfibre body is mounted on a steel tubular-frame chassis[3] and is completely open to the elements, offering the vehicle’s occupants no protection from the weather. Even the engine is exposed, unless the buyer purchased the optional plastic bonnet.[2]

The Scorcher has two wheels at the front and conventional car controls.[4] Its unusual configuration of three seats with the driver and passengers sitting in line astride the machine meant that the UK’s licensing authority classified it as a motorcycle and sidecar combination, which had the consequence that one of the passengers was not required to wear a crash helmet.[2]

Engine and transmission


The Scorcher is powered by an Austin Mini engine and gearbox of between 848 cc (51.7 cu in) and 1275 cc (77.8 cu in), mounted on a Mini sub frame at the front of the vehicle.[5] The car’s weight of only 560 pounds (254 kgs)[4] allowed the 848 cc engine to deliver a top speed of 100 miles per hour (161 km/h).[1]

Later developments


Scorcher production ended in 1980, but in 1981 the project was bought by Gerald Pickford of Clanfield. Pickford made some design changes to the lower front end, but by the end of 1982 only three of the new Scorchers had been produced.[1]

Appraisal


In a 2003 interview published in The Daily Telegraph, Stimson observed of the Scorcher that “It’s the worst seller of all my cars, but the most famous – I find that weird”.[6][a]In reality the Scorcher was not Stimson’s worst-selling car; only one Stimson Storm was sold during its five years of production. Motoring journalist and author Steve Hole has described the Scorcher as “one of the most bonkers kit cars ever made”.[7]

Citations



Bibliography


Chapman, G. (2008). The Worst Cars Ever Sold. The History Press.
Chapman, G. (2003, March 1). Type my name in, you’ll find nutters. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved from https://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/2721204/Type-my-name-in-youll-find-nutters.html
Hole, S. (2012). A–Z of Kit-Cars: The Definitive Encyclopaedia of the UK’s Kit-car Industry Since 1949. Haynes Publishing.
Payne, E. (2013). The A–Z of Three-Wheelers: A Definitive Reference Guide. Nostalgia Road.
Rees, C. (2013). Three-Wheelers A–Z:The Definitive Encyclopaedia of Three-Wheeled Vehicles from 1940 to Date. Quiller Print.
Stimson. (n.d.). 3wheelers.com. Retrieved from http://www.3wheelers.com/stimson.html

Notes

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a. In reality the Scorcher was not Stimson’s worst-selling car; only one Stimson Storm was sold during its five years of production.