Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Blast from the past... Albar Sonic

With the National Kit Car Show 2017 in Stoneleigh fast approaching and plans to film the first Episode of The Alternative Car Show from there I thought I'd post something from the golden age of kit cars.

Back in the 1970's the kit car industry mainly consisted of designs surviving from the 1960's, beach buggies, a few 1930 style roadsters and the lightweight Caterham Seven and its cheaper impersonators from the likes of Dutton with the B-Plus and Malaga, which merged to become the Phaeton. 

It was also an era when some pretty wild designs stood out like concept cars on the road. They may not have been as polished as the concepts from the Italian design houses, but stood out on the road even if their performance flattered to deceive with VW Beetles and Mini's providing the running gear for most of these weird and wonderful machines.

King of these exotics was the Nova designed by Richard Oaks which found it's way around the World in various guises and is till on sale in a much developed form as the Sterling in the USA, but that is a story for another day.

What set Alois Barmettler and his Albar company apart was that he didn't produce kits in the UK or USA but in Switzerland. This is a land of mystery so far as the car enthusiast is concerned and they have form when it comes to outrageous specialist designs with that other bastion of automotive madness Sbarro.

Albar started out as a VW specialist offering dune buggies and other performance off road kits and parts, but in 1978 he launched an attractive coupe design called the Jet, with styling cues giving a hint of Lamborghini Espada about it he had an entry into the exotic kit arena.

If the Jet wasn't exotic enough the company went all out concept crazy with their next product. Launched in 1982 the Sonic looked mid engined and was guaranteed to get the owner noticed. The front was a wedge with a flap in early examples in the middle flipped down to reveal a bank of headlamps while the rear

 featured light units from the Porsche 928. Exotic stuff! The VW running gear of early examples meant the wheels sat well within the wheel arches giving a strange top heavy aspect to the proportions. Yet no-one could deny 

that it was striking and it came to the UK via an importer alongside the Jet to an excited reception from the kit car press.

In time the spaceframe chassis became available with VW inline four cylinder engines or Renault 25 alternatives, but it never became the Countach rival the looks promised, although a fixed head coupe version became available as well to add year round practicality.

I have no idea, unfortunately, how many were produced or if any examples still survive. If there is at least one still out there the World is a better place for the addition of such a wonderfully wacky design bringing pleasure to anyone who claps eyes on it.

If anyone who reads this knows where there is one still on the road we;d love to hear from you in the comments below and we'll definitely come and film the car for The Alternative Car Show. In fact we want to hear from anyone with a unique car, be it a kit, custom or low volume car.

Meantime go onto Youtube and subscribe to our Enwin's Motors channel to see more cars that will surprise and delight you. Also check out where you can help be part of our adventure and get to see new features and programmes before anyone else as well as some extras as well.

There's more on Twitter @EnwinsMotors and Facebook and there will be lots of news including the most glamorous, gorgeous presenters joining us.

No comments:

Post a Comment