May 1, 2007 9:01 AM
Before there was the McLaren F1, there was the Rocket. Established in 1992, The Light Car Company is the brainchild of race driver Chris Craft and F1 designer Gordon Murray, created solely to produce this brilliantly designed car. There are only about 48 Rockets in existence at last count, and each one is painstakingly built, with precious few components coming off the shelf.
Gordon and Murray wanted to create a car for pure driving pleasure, with a retro look on the outside and a modern race chassis underneath. The Rocket may look like a Formula Vee car from the 1960s, but it drives like the future.
There’s no cabin here, as Gordon designed the tube-frame chassis to carry two people sitting tandem for the ultimate behind-the-wheel experience. That is - if you can find a passenger who’s crazy enough to join you. Besides goggles and a waterproof jacket, you might want to tell your pal to put in some earplugs - this ride is LOUD!
When it went into production in 1992, the Rocket was the first road car with a motorcycle engine. The Yamaha 1000cc powerhouse is bolted to the back of the chassis, with transaxle mounted to the engine and double wishbone suspension mounted to the transaxle. But the true artistry of the car lies in its incredible power-to-weight ratio - lots of carbon fiber puts its weight at somewhere around 800 pounds.
At the time of its launch, the Rocket was one of the fastest accelerating cars in the world, and its low-weight ratio assured phenomenally agile handling. Those who have driven the car will tell you that there’s simply no other ride on the road like it.
One of Jay’s buddies set a record of 149 mph driving the Rocket in reverse, but it would seem that record is surely on its way to being broken. That’s right, Craft’s son Luke has streamlined the Rocket’s design with incomparable attention to detail and re-launched production after a 15-year hiatus with plans for a supercharged 220 hp version.