The Story of the Light Sports Coupe


The lightweight sports coupe, as a class of car has been relatively expensive compared to other classes of car of similar engine capacity. To achieve success required refined quality engineering design and manufacturing, therefore a relatively high cost. In the nineteen sixties this was offset by taxation laws and the limited purchasing power of the buying public, as taxation laws eased and more wealth came to the purchasers of sports coupes, engine capacity weight and cost increased moving most sports coupes out of the ranks of the lightweight.Another factor has been the rise of the “hot hatch” as the quality of general car design has advanced, with improvements in engines, road holding, brakes and aerodynamics reaching high levels, all packaged in the latest steel monocoque chassis/body units.

The “hot hatch and the medium to heavy sports coupe may appeal to a lot of people, but to me they lack that special sparkle of a good light weight coupe, with nimbleness, beauty of form and charm.

Fortunately in Britain many kit car manufacturers identified a nitch in the market that needed filling. Almost from the beginning of the industry, lightweight sports coupes have been available, although in many forms from many different makers. These cars are part of the story and will take their place alongside cars from more prestigious manufacturers. Most of these kit car makers have long disappeared, but some have gone on to be prestigious car makers them selves.
GTM Libra
As far as I can determine, the first true lightweight sports coupes were conceived and constructed in the nineteen thirties, they were the result of various threads of advances in technology. With the advances of automobile and aeronautical design and construction, the technology of lightweight construction, high output small capacity engines, advances in suspension and streamlining, reached a point were, with the construction of the autobahn and AutoRoute's, a breakthrough in design was possible and desirable. This led to the design and construction of various sports coupes, mainly intended for long distance sports car racing by German and Italian manufacturers,in the years before the second world war.
Only one model went into limited production and it was not until the late nineteen forties that development continued, again in Italy and Germany and true production cars became available.
The nineteen fifties saw growth in the class, with cars in production in Germany, Italy , France and great Britain. Some makers falling by the wayside and others starting long histories. They ranged from Italian exotica to British kit based cars, many variations in between.
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