Pembleton Motor Company T24

pembleton p24 review 2023 01 cornering front
Retains the unique character and singular charm of a vintage sports car, but with added performance, superior dynamics and greater usability.

No, you’re not looking at some rogue review from a classic car website. The Pembleton T24 you see here is as fresh to market as any other car on these pages, the only difference being that its raison d’être is eschewing, rather than celebrating, new technology.Pembleton was formed in 1999, initially producing chassis for self-build, vintage-style three-wheelers, of which around 400 were sold. Since then, Phil Gregory has passed on the company to his son Guy, who has become its very youthful MD. Pembleton now produces two road-ready models: the V-Sport three-wheeler and the T24. Both cars are hand-built in small numbers (10 per year for the T24) by a highly skilled team of five in a small village deep in rural Worcestershire.If you perceive vintage cars to be undependable and complex to control but still fancy capturing an essence of motoring from that era, the T24 is equipped with sufficient 21st-century componentry to reassure on the reliability front, while making driving relatively straightforward.Key to this is the powertrain: an air-cooled, four-stroke, 853cc twin from motorcycle maker Moto Guzzi, its cylinders configured in a 90deg vee, sitting before the front axle, gloriously naked between the car’s front wheels (a lower-powered 744cc unit is also available). With a mere 78bhp delivered to said wheels through a four-speed transaxle from Citroën (but with Pembleton’s own linkage and ratios), the prospect of giant-killing performance looks slim. But the T24 is a slip of a car, with a dry weight of just 361kg, giving it 216bhp per tonne. So while it’s no Caterham Seven, it’s no slouch either.And it’s the T24’s traditional construction – as well as only needing to comply with less stringent Individual Vehicle Approval build rules – that keeps its mass in check. The well-proportioned aluminium body, resembling the lines of a neatly crafted Austin Seven Special in profile, is hand-formed around a tubular spaceframe, then bonded and riveted to an aluminium platform to make a light and rigid semi-monocoque. Fully independent suspension, via a pullrod system, with the assembly underslung along the sill area on each side of the car, keeps the T24’s centre of gravity low, while inboard front brake discs reduce unsprung weight. Weight distribution is an impressive 51:49 front to rear, claims Pembleton.Drop into the narrow cockpit and your right arm falls naturally outside the bodywork. You sit behind a simple four-spoke, leather-rimmed steering wheel facing an elegant dash of turned aluminium, inset with a scattering of small dials and an extra-deep cubby. So far, so vintage. The leather-trimmed two-seat bench (behind which is 155 litres of stowage space) can be adjusted fore and aft and you sit low inside the car with your legs more or less straight in front of you.Thumb the starter and the V-twin thumps into life. Pedal controls are light – perhaps a little too light – and it takes a few miles to acclimatise to the push-pull, aluminium-topped Citroën gearshift sprouting from the dash, with its narrow gate and dog-leg first.There’s no hood, so the curved scuttle and tiny Perspex screen are your only protection against the elements. At 5ft 7in, I had to hunker down to avoid being in the airflow, so anyone taller would need goggles.But make no mistake: the T24 is an absolute hoot to drive. You watch the skinny, 18in, spoked front wheels, shod with proper vintage cross-ply tyres, working away in front of you, but the ride is genuinely sublime: supple, controlled and quiet.The engine, which sends old-school vibrations through the body at lower revs, soon smooths and from 3500rpm pulls enthusiastically up to its 7750rpm redline, accompanied by a vocal but utterly infectious soundtrack. The rack-and-pinion steering is fairly low-geared, so you find yourself working quite hard through tighter bends when you’re up to speed. But the benefits of that low centre of gravity mean tight and very unvintage body control, with only front grip limiting your ultimate cornering velocity.Starting at £39,594, the T24 is hardly cheap (that kind of money would easily buy you a jolly nice pre-war MG TA with change to spare), but as an authentic and finely crafted tribute to cars of that era, without their strings attached, it hits the mark completely.Simon Hucknall
Source: Autocar

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