I wish I'd kept my... 1940s fairground car

TV presenter Jonny Smith still yearns for his childhood 'Supercar', which he shared with his brother. If only they knew what happened to it...

While most people believe Lamborghini created the first supercar with the Miura, I know different. Back in pre-war Coventry a company existed called Supercar who made funfair amusements and motorised go-karts.

These Supercars were miniature real cars that adults and nippers could pay to drive around a track. At first they had petrol engines running on oval speedway tracks, and then followed the American Dodgem design of electrification, together with metal floored arenas.

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I wish I knew all of the above 30-ish years ago, because when I was seven I had a 50 percent stake in a Supercar. My brother Greg was the other 50 percent. Not a Miura sadly, but the remains of a 1940s funfair car that we dug out of our friend Paul's hedge.

None of us remembers who put it there and where it came from beforehand, but both Greg and I knew it had enormous potential. I suppose in today’s terms you’d coin this a barn find. We had no idea what the SC on this old car’s grille was, but we loved its running boards and flowing bodywork.

I was always the driver and Greg was always the mechanic/pusher. Little did we know I’d become a motoring journalist and he a vintage car restorer and precision engineer.

Suddenly the trusty wooden go-kart my Dad had made us was left out in the rain. This decrepit Supercar was wheeled into the shed and we embarked on what I guess was a primary school level restoration.

Greg and I spent hours fiddling with the Supercar using what resources we had lying around. I remember we painted it several different colours because all we had were those tiny pots of Humbrol enamel for Airfix models! Ever the engineer, Greg removed the rotten wheels and Dad bought some second-hand replacements from a local golf shop.

We never did fit an engine because Mum drew the line at Briggs & Strattons. Greg was a decent pusher though, and I sometimes wore a silky striped track suit that looked a bit like a race suit (but inflammable as opposed to Nomex).

Greg fitted a pair of huge spot lights and put one of Dad’s spare Hillman Avenger starter batteries in the boot for our ‘night stages’. He fashioned some faux side-exit exhaust pipes from vacuum cleaner hoses, which were admired by many.

I can’t deny that when it came to go-karts we were the envy of the cul-de-sac. It helped to counter-balance the bowl haircuts. Rarely did we let anyone else drive the car, because we had an inkling this was something pretty special and obsolete.

Did the Supercar kindle my car passion? You know what, probably. ‘Where did it go?’ I hear you all ask. A bloody good question. My memory is fuzzy, but I think when mountain bikes became all the rage, we’d all build jumps and cycle off to make campfires in fields. The novelty of the Supercar must have lost out to the attraction of being in a bike gang.

My Mum believes she gifted it to a young pair of brothers her friend knew at church. One day I looked down the side of the house – where it lived under a blue tarpaulin – only to see nothing but a compost bin. It had quietly disappeared. I was probably about 13 by then, but I can’t deny I was gutted.

As I write this I still miss the thing. I wonder where it went and how on earth it arrived in a hedge in Somerset? I really wish we’d shoved it in the garage under Dad’s ever-dormant canoe and it was still there now.

That badly painted, slightly wonky go-kart was as close to car ownership got when you were at Cub Scouts. I would have liked to have ended this piece by saying that these days I own a real supercar. I don’t.

Jonny Smith is a motoring journalist, presenter and creative content maker. He still holds the world record for the quickest street legal electric car, and once sold a bubble car to Michael Barrymore. He was born in the same year as the Paris Dakar, Gary Numan’s hit Cars and the Tamiya Sand Scorcher. www.carpervert.com

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