1986 Erin Scarlet (Mk 1)
Anyone who's been here long enough may remember that I made this car before, but I feel like I didn't do this car justice. I've mentioned this car on so many occassions that I came to the conclusion that I really ought to actually make it and show people what the hell I'm on about.
So here it is, the genesis moment of Erin's 80s comeback and the first in the line of their greatest name badge ever.
"What is it that controls and pushes our desire to drive?" was the infamous line used in the Erin keynote at the British International Motor Show in 1986 to introduce the Scarlet. Erin didn't just want to return to the sports car market, they wanted to redefine the expectations of a sports car.
The original Scarlet was first and foremost a drivers car. It had supercar rivalling performance, boundary-pushing innovations for the company and drove like a dream, but was at its core a sports car you could drive every day, thanks to its spacious interior, good sized boot and the ease with which you could drive it.
Design and Styling
While the construction of the Scarlet - steel monocoque with some aluminium panels - was fairly normal, how it was designed was not. Erin made use of computers on a major scale for the first time here, to create a smooth and aerodynamic shape that echoed classic 60s coupes but looked thoroughly modern.
The styling, done by Chris Famerley and his team, took hints from the Nasaro, Erin's entry level sports car, to create a minimalist exterior that was incredibly contemporary and understated. Even on the more powerful X trim, there were only minor visual changes such as flared wheel arches and some extra vents.
Power and Performance
Under the bonnet, you had a choice of a 203hp 3.0l i6 on the S trim or a sumptuous 3.6l V8, that produced 260 hp, on the more famous X trim. This was delivered through a 5 speed manual or 4 speed auto to a limited slip diff at the rear.
The S trim, being more comfort focused managed 0-60 in 7.4 seconds and topped out at 150 mph. On the X trim, however, 0-60 was dealt with in 5.3 seconds, top speed was 163 mph and with its firmer suspension, it was a masterpiece through the corners.
Whilst not as delicate or as precise as the later Mk 2 and Mk 3 Scarlets, the Mk 1 offered a very compelling alternative to the back-heavy 911, and thanks to the lack of traction control back in those days, getting the rear end out wasn't a challenge.
The original Scarlet was a big deal for Erin back in 1986 - it was the first time they'd build a two door sports car since their financial disaster. Not only that, its styling was hugely influential, and has become a de-facto marker for the beginning of the era of minimalist design that would dominate the late 80s/early 90s.
It also triggered the beginning of one of the fiercest rivalaries in motoring history - the Scarlet vs the 911. Many saw it as merely traditional competition at first, but by the mid-90s, it was splitting the automotive press in two, as both cars battled it out on the road, in sales figures, and most prominently out on the track.
That was all to come for the Scarlet name though. 30 years on, this is seen as one of the defining cars of Erin's history, not just because it marked the point where they reentered the world of sports cars, but because it was the point where their recovery was complete. The dark days of 1979 were long gone, and the future was very bright indeed.
Specs and Stats
S Trim - The comfortable, GT-esque version. Refinement and luxury with a twist of sports car fun.
~$46400 in 2016
X Trim - The definitive sports car experience. Fast, responsive and a dream to drive.
~$60300 in 2016
Comments, critique and complaints all welcome! And if you have a similar car from this era that would have been a rival to the Scarlet, PLEASE link it!