From the archive: on this day in 1994

99 from the archive stealth car

A stealth fighter lands in Norfolk, BMW’s first take on the hatchback and more

Even 45 years after the flight of the first prototype, the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk, often known simply as the stealth fighter, is an astonishing aircraft to behold. Indeed, radar evasion was the rationale for its jagged shape, which has since inspired the look of many things – including a car.

The Stealth Tech 1 was made by Jim Router – who had worked on the Lotus Elan and McLaren F1 – and fellow engineer Jerry Booen. Not, then, some shed wannabes.

The body was of glassfibre and plywood and finished with matt black paint while power came from Isuzu’s 165bhp 1.6-litre turbo four. Drive went through a Renault 25 transaxle, like on the Elan, and the suspension was all-independent.

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You entered under a gas-strutted canopy to find a remarkably well finished and ergonomic cockpit with a passenger seat behind.

Even more surprisingly, Router assured us the “driver’s vision is much better than the regs require”. As a whole it weighed just 650kg, so it had the go to match the show.

We got only a short drive but still saw that “its agility and potential for high performance are obvious”.

The Tech 1 is currently SORN, apparently still owned by Router.

Renault goes to Argos

Patrick Le Quément’s Renault studios produced many groundbreaking cars in the 1990s. Sadly, the Argos L’Esprit Nouveau wasn’t one that made it from concept to production. Based on a stretched Twingo platform, the roadster was meant as a blueprint. “Supercars are now obsolete and we need to provide different desires and inspirations,” explained one of the design team.

BMW beats the Golf GTI

It’s often forgotten that the 1 Series wasn’t BMW’s first crack at a hatchback. In 1994, it introduced the “truly innovative” 3 Series Compact. Our road testers gave it five stars in its base 316i form, with a 101bhp six. “Perhaps we’re getting old, but the BMW’s deep, sophisticated charm proves too strong for the VW Golf GTI in the end,” we concluded.

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