“Keep it simple. Keep it light. Focus on the guiding principles of Colin Chapman – the ones he used to conjure up the immortal Lotus Seven – and you won’t go wrong. Mark Grinnall, creator of small but potent BMW-engined three-wheelers throughout the 90’s, has been waiting 20 years for the chance to apply these principles to a small sports car bearing his name.
Now at last, he has. The Grinnall Scorpion IV is a radically styled £25,000 four-wheeler with the potential to meet and beat the best from Caterham, Westfield, Lotus and the rest.
What strikes you first is the Scorpion IV’s close styling relationship with the three-wheeler. Same blunt, rounded nose with discreet chin spoiler that keeps the nose overhang to almost nothing.
The rounded tail with inset light is also familiar, though now it comes with an interesting-looking grille below to disguise the mechanical bits and mount the single prominent exhaust.
The similarity is no accident: the S-IV has been styled by Steve Harper – now a Volvo designer – who made such a fine job of wrapping the three-wheeler’s spaceframe and BMW bike mechanicals in a convincing body. The four-wheeler is wider and longer than the three-wheeler, but its lack of overhangs and stylish simplicity make it even more compact than the Lotus 340R.
Performance should be stunning. Grinnall has built the car around Fiat’s powerful 2.0 litre five-cylinder turbo engine and has cut a deal with the Italian firm for direct supply on favourable terms. Power is a spectacular 220 bhp at 5750 rpm, accompanied by torque of 228 lb/ft at just 2500 rpm. Strap that – plus Fiat’s six-speed gearbox to a package weighing less than 650kg and you have a recipe for truly massive performance.
Under the pretty composite body lies an extremely strong spaceframe chassis designed by Neil Williams. The front suspension uses unequal length wishbone and coil-over-damper suspension units.
It resembles the three-wheeler’s system, but its geometry is entirely different. Steering is by unassisted rack and pinion (a race car rack) and the front brakes are Ferrari-sized Brembo discs. Rear suspension is independent, using large tubular trailing arms and coil springs over tubular dampers – an impressively robust and compact system.”
The magazine’s respected Editor-in-Chief, Steve Cropley, went on to conclude:
“Though the show car looks remarkably complete, Mark Grinnall makes no attempt to hide that there’s still plenty to do. He’ll be amassing more development miles over the winter while the rest of us will be sitting by the fire. But the enormous promise of the car can’t be denied, and if you were a doubter on British Motor Show preview day, you only needed to scan the glum faces of the next-door Caterham salesmen as the Scorpion S-IV was unveiled to see that it’s going somewhere. Fast.”
“The spectacular, 155mph four-wheeler from Grinnall Cars has finally hit the road, some three years after we first revealed it in these pages.
The Scorpion IV will be unveiled at next year’s Autosport International Show in January and will provide jaw-dropping performance for around £24,950.
The minimalist styling by Volvo man Steve Harper is an evolution of the bike-engined Scorpion three-wheeler but, following the merger of GM and Fiat, Grinnall has lost its planned supply of Fiat Coupé turbo engines. Now the Scorpion IV has been completely re-engineered around a new, mid-mounted 1.8-litre turbocharged 20-valve four with six-speed gearbox.
The unit offers 210-265bhp with a standard turbo and over 300bhp with further modifications. Grinnall is targeting 270bhp and 270lb ft of torque for the 675kg production car – that means 400bhp per tonne. In testing, a 265bhp prototype achieved Caterham R500-rivalling figures with 0-60mph covered in just 3.7sec – that equals Autocar’s figures for the Pagani Zonda and leaves Ferrari 360, Porsche 911 Turbo and Noble M12 trailing in its wake. Rest to 100mph takes just 7.9sec and mid-range performance is crushing, with 40-80mph covered in 2.7sec – 0.7sec quicker than a McLaren F1. Top speed will be limited to 155mph.
Options will include a weight-saving carbonfibre bodyshell to fit over the steel spaceframe chassis in place of the standard composite shell, and an occasional-use canvas hood with glass windscreen instead of a polycarbonate wind deflector.
Orders are already being taken; all six test drives have resulted in orders being placed for the new car.”