'My road-legal SDR V Storm F1 car is listed as a lawnmower' - Reader tells all on his 302kW beast


Earlier in April in an article, we said not everyone would be able to drive a Formula 1 car. And it's very difficult to come close to that except for the comfort of possibly owning an F1-based road car.

One of our Wheels24 readers, Jim Cope, responded to that article of ours in quite a unique way by sharing how he acquired his own 'F1 car' just a little over a decade ago.

In 2009, Cope, an avid petrolhead and F1 fan, made contact with SDR - an independent UK-based automaker that specialises in hand-built sports cars. SDR has been in business for several years before Cope's inquiry, and is still operational today.

In those years, pre-2010, the hype was around two particular F1-based cars: the Ariel Atom and KTM X-Bow. SDR, then, could be seen as the quiet kid with his nose in his books, but behind the silence was greatness waiting to be unlocked.

Shortly after Cope's enquiry and acquisition of two SDR V Storms, SDR made him the official South African agent.

jim cope,sdr,v storm wr3,f1 formula 1

SDR V Storm WR3. Image: Jim Cope

Getting it going

SDR’s V Storms were already in full production in the UK. These 'F1 cars' were using motorbike engines, which, along with the low weight and centre of gravity, allowed them to reach crazy speeds and even higher engine revolutions.

The WR3 versions made use of Subaru's 2.5-litre engines, and customers could specify how much power their V Storm WR3s should send to the rear wheels. 

In Cope’s case, he ordered the WR3’s shell from SDR and proceeded to complete the build in South Africa. It was by no means an easy task, but he and his team managed to complete one of the WR3s at their tuning shop in Greenstone, Johannesburg. While completing the build on his cars, Cope used the opportunity to fine-tune the craft of building these cars, which led to customers acquiring V Storm shells and having Cope and co. completing the build.

SEE | These F1-inspired road cars will have you feeling like a true racer

Cope said to Wheels24: "At the time, we had a tuning shop in Greenstone with a four-wheel-drive dyno, and we could tune the Subaru engines to anyone’s power requirements. We had built a few wicked motors, might I add.

"The first build, on my car, took way longer than expected, and we hit a few snags along the way. But finally, we got it on the road. With no boost, the car flew! Gear changes were a bit of an art, too, because the cables running to the back of the car were a bit long."

Interestingly, Cope's WR3s uses a slightly bigger 2.7-litre Subaru engine.

jim cope,sdr,v storm wr3,f1 formula 1

SDR V Storm WR3. Image: Jim Cope

That first drive

While it wasn't perfect, Cope recalls his first time behind the steering wheel with great adoration. Tractions, says Cope, was a major issue because 302kW is sent to the rear wheels in such a light body. Back in the shop and after a few alterations, the car was terrific in a straight line but suddenly became jittery in the corners.

Engine cooling also had to be improved, as well as fine-tuning the gearbox and final drive. Heating troubles at 120km/h (at 4000rpm)? Nope, it had to be fixed.

And fixed it was, because Cope is having a ball of a time behind the wheel of his self-built V Storm WR3. Cope says it is a bit strange, initially, to sit in the middle of the car, with the engine positioned right behind you - also in the centre line and lowered to reduce the centre of gravity. Cope says gleefully that while legal, the car had to be categorised and only three categories fit the bill: tractor, JCB (construction vehicle), or lawnmower. He chose the latter. Fancy that, a road-legal lawnmower.

jim cope,sdr,v storm wr3,f1 formula 1

SDR V Storm WR3. Image: Jim Cope

Ever going to sell?

This is one aspect of both his cars that Cope is not giving any thought to. While his second WR3 is incomplete and gathering dust at a friend's panel beating shop, every vehicle he owns forms part of his 'pretty and unusual collection.'

The SDR V Storm SDR is very much part of Cope's daily life, and he has fond, and scary, memories of his time behind the steering wheel. Once, on an early morning drive, he lost the rear on a dew-filled road and came to a standstill just 100mm from a concrete wall. Another memory?

Cope says: "Stuck in traffic, revving my V Storm and spitting flames! It always gets a few cheers and smiling faces."

jim cope,sdr,v storm wr3,f1 formula 1

SDR V Storm WR3. Image: Jim Cope

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