Maybe it seems odd to be investigating the previous Gordon Murray super-light sportster during the razzmatazz around his new superlight sportster. But in fact author Clive Neville tells us he originally wrote this book back in 2011, though various complications delayed it. He is also a Rocket owner, so has plenty of empathy.
It’s remarkable to realise that this tiny Cooper lookalike first appeared in 1992. At the time it was a shock – a motorbike engine, redline at a screaming 11,500 revs, tandem seating, five reverse gears. It was never going to be a mass-market car and those who chose to slide into its retro-styled carapace were never going to be conventional types. Nor were the two men behind the car – Murray’s co-conspirator was racing driver Chris Craft, who reckons the idea was sparked 50 years ago when he raced Murray’s De Cadenet sports car at Le Mans.
Neville’s book is in tune with the Murray philosophy, drilling down to the smallest detail with Murray and Craft’s sketches and drawings from the car’s genesis through to its production. If you appreciate technology, immerse yourself in fine detail of exhausts, transmission layouts and roll axes because it’s all here, laced with copious notes and memos between the principals about design aims. Indisputably comprehensive, though even the most dedicated technophile may feel there is more than enough about O-rings and cooling hoses. But if there is hardware overkill, there is also telling input from all the main players, particularly Chris Craft who shouldered the main development and production burden, and when the main build run came to an end restarted his own small production run.