Your first car is always your fastest. In my case, a Vauxhall Chevette bought from a dead man, it was seriously fast. With the benefit of hindsight it was fast because my only point of reference was the pushbike that preceded it. Since that Chevette, I’ve owned a few cars, each slightly faster than the one that preceded it, culminating with something fat and German that has a limiter to stop you going faster than 1.55 leptons. The thing is, though, it only feels 10% faster than the car that preceded it. It doesn’t feel as fast as that Chevette did.
That brings me to the Tiger Aviator. I collected the car from the factory in Wisbech and tried not to fluff my exit as the staff waved me a watchful goodbye. No power steering, unservo’d disc brakes and a robust clutch all making it a bit awkward for the first time. I crept off of the Industrial estate, out of the town, and onto the A47 where I stopped to put a helmet on. With no-one watching I slotted first in the whiny ‘box, pointed it straight, took a deep breath and stood on the gas. The Aviator accelerated like a hard-twatted golf ball. My internal organs felt ruptured. With my visor up the wind punched my face and my streaming eyes struggled to calculate our trajectory. And this is in first. Without lifting and with some epic multi-tasking I banged in second, snapped my visor down, and held the tiny steering wheel straight. Then fear, adrenaline and common sense all kicked in at once. I have no idea how fast I went because I was barely capable of focusing on the horizon. Let alone the speedo. Laughing like a loon I pulled over to catch my breath and give myself a stern talking to. There is no traction control, no ABS and no airbags. Nor is there a roof, doors or windscreen. Take your time and build up speed gently. Behave. The thing is, fast is fun. Fast is addictive. And so, utterly hooked, I drove the 1 hour journey home in lots of short bursts of colossal speed. Blasting from first to second and third from layby to layby like endless GP starts. Enjoying a phenomenal fix of fast.
After a few days I started to explore the rest of the package at a less frenetic pace. The car is a development of Tiger’s successful R6, with a few mechanical enhancements, and some quirky aerodynamic tweaks for top end performance. It’s not all point and squirt though, there has been some serious spannering underneath the incredibly light GRP bodywork to aid other areas of performance. The chassis is completely different to the usual 7-esque stuff, the grip and steering feel are incredible, and the Ford Duratec with Weber Alpha management will put out between 185 to 260 bhp depending on state of tune. The brake pedal has a long travel but there is only 590Kg to stop. The interior won’t impress the missus, seats, harnesses and a rollbar. She’ll get out after even the shortest of hoons looking like that Hilary Devey from Dragon’s Den. But smiling. The cabin has a bit more width than the usual 7 stuff. 15” lightweight wheels and Toyo 888’s had plenty of grip even on the greasy roads and those wheel covers aid aerodynamics. My car had seemingly shed its front reg plate and rear view mirror but everything else felt pretty robust. I’m not sure what the windscreen wiper stalk does though. Everyone who sees it has an opinion on the Tiger Aviator. Especially Traffic Cops on the A47. I was mobbed when taking the shots for ’10 things you can’t do in a real sportscar’. I’ve not taken it on track but have no doubt it would be a tremendous performer, either as part of Tiger’s own race series, or on regular trackdays.
Tiger are an interesting company who have been around for quite some time, they’ll flog you a kit or factory build a car for you, depending on your budget and requirements. Their legal scrap with Caterham and Westfield is interesting but unprintable. Tiger built c.300 cars last year and own the rights to the vintage ERA (English Racing Automobiles) brand. Their ERA 30 model is a simply beautiful modern recreation of a 1963 Lotus 23, the ERA HSS single seater is their only non road legal car and must be impossible to drive without thinking you’re Jim Clark. There’s a genuine old school charm about both the products and the company, they had some interesting restoration projects in their new garage, and some serious race machinery.
Back to the Aviator. Tiger told me it should do 0-60 in around a conservative 4.0 to 4.4 seconds. On a private test track (not the A47, officer), I used this GPS based iPhone timing app, and timed a few runs. The best ? 0-60 in 3.68 seconds. See picture in the gallery below. Now that’s not just fast. That’s bastardfast !