Radical has been doing what it's doing for over 20 years now, and has learnt a thing or two in that time. Primarily how to go extremely quickly around a circuit. That was always its raison d'être, and Radical has never failed to keep it in sharp focus no matter what. But it has also learnt what the customer wants, and that has informed various efforts at making part of its lineup road-legal.
This has been achieved with various levels of success. The bemusing spectacle of an RXC trying to execute a three-point turn on Her Majesty's highway is the kind of thing which lives with anyone lucky enough to witness it. But all was forgiven at the pit lane exit: it had to be, because when you're trying to get your head around the potential benefits of 900kg of downforce, no other thought can be allowed to pass through your lid.
The Rapture, it must be said, has not fallen far from this tree. Radical has done what was necessary to earn its new model a number plate and invisible tax disc, but there is no hiding from the elements. There's always the potential for red-faced disaster when getting underway. And underneath there's an aluminium spaceframe from a prototype racer, which was not made for speed bumps - or bumps of any kind, really.
It's as serious as a road car gets, and - of course - that's the beauty of it. For a little more than £100k you get the kind of driving thrill that only comes with 765kg, a sequential 'box, rear-drive and unfiltered steering. The experience might be said to be unparalleled - if this wasn't Wheels of Fortune, where there's always something else of similar bent to play with. Road-legal track cars it is. Game on, gents.
Rules of Engagement
Price: Sub £100k
Mileage: Sub 10k
Driven wheels: Rear
Engine position: Dealer's choice
Engine output: 350hp+
There are two ways to go about this sort of thing. The first approach - and the one chosen by Radical, BAC, KTM et al - is to take the core features of a thoroughbred track car and add just enough to make it usable on the public highway. While this way of thinking has undoubtedly resulted in some spectacular machines, not least the Rapture which Sam drove last week, for a car which will see plenty of road use, I tend to think the second way preferable.
This is the path trodden by the Lotus 3-Eleven, which takes an already exceptional driver's car, one designed to cope with potholes, red lights and rush-hour traffic, then subtracts everything that is superfluous to the driving experience. Including the windscreen.
That's not all that makes the 3-Eleven special, though. With 415hp and 325lb ft of torque from its 3.5-litre supercharged V6, the pared back Lotus races from 0-62 in just 3.3 seconds and on to a top speed of 174mph - figures which place it firmly in the Rapture's ballpark.
Carbon fibre driver's and passenger's seats with four-point harnesses, a six-speed manual (yes, proper manual) gearbox, plus Ohlins dampers and racy staples like a removable steering wheel and a fire extinguisher all contribute to the 3-Eleven's performance orientated appeal. The fact that its full carbon fibre bodywork leaves it weighing a featherweight 925kg only adds to the agile, responsive and unbelievably fun experience on offer.
And if all of that still seems a little too tepid for you, then there's even the option of a car equipped with Komo-Tec's 475 upgrade. This brings an extra 60hp and 60lb ft of torque, for what we can only imagine is an even more scintillating road and track experience.
Joker - Eurobrun 189 F1 car
Let's just forget about all this "race car for the road" nonsense for a minute. If it's a track car you want, then it's a track car you should get, and nothing's going to hit the spot better than a genuine, bonafide F1 racer. This one should be reunited with its original Jägermeister livery post-haste, a paint scheme which in combination with the Eurobrun's 3.5-litre Judd V8 - a completely refurbished unit which, according to the ad, once powered Nigel Mansell to victory - can't fail to make this the coolest track toy going. A snip at just £99,995.
Watch the onboard from Sam's Radical Rapture drive; sure, the speed is impressive, but the noise is just so plain. Breathy, uninspiring, dull four-cylinder turbo. And peak power at 6,000rpm? Pah. Basically a diesel. What you need is peak power screaming out at nearly 8,000, not a turbo in sight and the sort of noise that happens when a hornet's nest is kicked. By Taz the Tasmanian Devil. Listen here for proof.
But, of course, the BAC Mono is way more than that, as valid a rival for the Rapture as you're likely to find with these strict criteria. While the latest Radical looks, by and large, like everything else that's come out of Peterborough since the 1990s, the BAC is akin to nothing else - a sports car for many years hence, yet brimmed full of contemporary charm, ability and thrills.
While now superseded by a 2.5, this 2.3 Mono is still good for 290hp (d'oh - Ed), and weighs a ridiculous 200kg less than the Radical, for even greater agility. That's nearly two Nic Cacketts. Chassis number nine has been used sparingly - just 4,000 miles - by one owner since being built in 2013, and would still be the talk of the track, wherever you went. Try and beat it...
Joker - Porsche 911 (997.2) GT3
Yes, a predictable - you might say boring - selection for what's meant to be a joker, but when the regular cars are this wild... Put simply, nothing combines road and track brilliance quite like a GT Porsche. Use this one as you want for a couple of years and it surely won't be worth much less. Spot on.
Given Matt Bird's failure to actually obey the RoE (on power output specifically) it has to be a walk-in victory for Dafydd and the Lotus. Truth be told, though, the 3-Eleven would have taken the Fortune chequered flag regardless. Yes, the Mono is a car of singular vision, and possesses a savage sort of beauty that the Radical can't compete with - but the Lotus is almost all things to all men: formidable on track, just about usable off it.
Granted, it's made to look portly versus its rivals here, and is arguably not quite on the outside of the same performance envelope, yet the 3-Eleven counters that with a genuine (if relative) road friendliness that escapes the others - and remains wonderfully approachable on a circuit. It is also helpfully cheaper than the more specialised options, and is very likely to remain an icon of Lotus's recent history (given the prospect of its near future). Victory Hethel.