Cars of 1996 UK’s secret supercar
It was the supercar that was meant to offer McLaren F1 performance at a tenth of the price. The Lightning had the tantalising combination of Yamaha engine technology – essentially two FZR1000 superbike engines combined by an aluminum crankcase to make a 305bhp, 2.0-litre V8 – and a slippery roadster body that helped keep the weight down to just 500kg.
This 600bhp-per-tonne car was not the result of amateurs working in a shed. Among the team behind the Lightning – which starred on the cover of our sister magazine CAR in July 1996 – was LCC Rocket creator Chris Craft and Lotus Elan M100 designer Peter Stevens.
The Lightning had a projected £50,000 price tag, which would have put it into the same territory as the TVR Cerbera 4.5 and Lotus Esprit V8, but production never took off. Debutantes you definitely could buy that summer included the five-door version of Peugeot’s 106 and a four-wheel drive system for Volvo’s venerable 850. It was also the summer that Brits had their first chance to sample the Lotus Elise, following its motor show unveiling the previous autumn.