Gordon Murray is revered in the automotive design world. As he should be, considering that he's responsible for Brabham and McLaren Formula 1 cars that won many a Grand Prix. Oh, he also penned the supercar of supercars that is the McLaren F1.
There have been a few other designs along the way, including a unique city car concept. But one that sticks fresh in Jay Leno's mind is the Rocket from Light Car Company. This is Gordon Murray's first road car and Jay owns one.
The Light Car Company was born in 1991 and only kicked around for about seven years. Over the course of that span, the British manufacturer produced 55 examples of the open-wheel sports car. Gordon Murray was tasked with creating a design for the Rocket, and he produced a vehicle based around the concepts of light weight and vintage Grand Prix racers. Leno feels that the Rocket "holds up exceptionally well," and it's clear he's happy to have one in his collection.
According to Jay, the Rocket stays true to Murray's desire for a lightweight machine. It weighs just 770 pounds, which means the 1,000-cc Yamaha motorcycle engine doesn't have to work very hard to get the Rocket rolling. With 147 horsepower courtesy of that motorcycle mill, the Rocket has a power-to-weight ratio of 5.4 lb/hp. For reference, that's a few tenths better than the power-to-weight ratio of a Lamborghini Murcielago and about a lb/hp better than a Dodge Charger Hellcat. With less body panels around you and the sequential gearbox from Yamaha, we're sure the driving excitement is ratcheted up even more than simple numbers can denote.
Eventually, Leno jumps in and fires up the Rocket. It's immediately clear that the power is provided by a bike engine. The revs rise and fall quickly. Out on the street, the Rocket would surely be a bit disconcerting due to the sheer size of the average automobile around on you. On the right road, however, it surely shines.
Think of the Rocket as the original Ariel Atom. And then remember that it has quite a bit more style thrown its way thanks to Gordon Murray.