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Campagna T-Rex 14RR--D&M Motorsports Video Review and Test Drive

A wild ride in the Campagna T-Rex 14RR from D&M Motorsports. Hosted by Chris Moran. The oddly named Campagna T-rex is part bike, part car and wholly insane. It uses the engine and gearbox from a Kawasaki motorbike, and the six-speed sequential gearbox channels the 1.4-litre engine's 187bhp through -- get this -- a single rear wheel. Oh, and the whole thing weighs well under half a tonne, or about half the weight of a Lotus Elise. At least that rear wheel is a decent size, though, for while the front wheels are clothed in a pair of relatively diminutive 205/45 ZR16 tyres, the rear gets rather more chunky 285/40 ZR17 rubber. This gives the T-rex at least a fighting chance of getting its power down on a damp road surface. What's it like? Like nothing else you're ever likely to experience. There are none of your conventional niceties such as a windscreen or even doors, but the overall impression is nevertheless that of being in a car. The power delivery isn't exactly car-like, however. The motorbike engine revs hyperactively all the way to 11,000rpm, with the bulk of the power not arriving until well north of 7000rpm. If you haven't gathered already, this is a seriously fast machine. And it's not for the faint-hearted, either. Although the manic engine begs you to drive this car hard, doing so requires prudence. Push the T-rex too hard on the exit of a damp bend, and the combination of the short wheelbase and a surfeit of power over traction means you'll have to be quick and accurate with the opposite lock to avoid a spin. Beware coming down through the sequential 'box, too: if you fail to match the revs to the engine speed, you'll lock the rear wheel and could quickly find yourself pointing towards a nearby hedge instead of heading towards the apex of the corner. Treat the T-rex with respect, however, and you'll find that it corners fast and flat, and that you can blat between the corners with the verve of a superbike. Should I buy one? If you like motoring experiences raw, fast and ever-so-slightly scary, then yes. The T-rex is a genuinely thrilling machine, but it's not without its flaws. The little air deflector does an excellent job of keeping the wind out of your face, but it hampers forward visibility. Also, despite the fact that the car is clearly aimed at the track day market, I couldn't fit in with a helmet on without banging it on the rollover bar. You might recall the early days of the T-Rex's existence—perhaps during its few rap-music video appearances in the 1990s—but since Canadian company Campagna Motors acquired the rights to manufacture it as of September 2008, the T-Rex 1400R looks to hit the street scene again with new improvements and intentions. The 1400 in the T-Rex name, as one would correctly assume, follows the usual motorcycle nomenclature and is indicative of the engine's displacement in cubic centimeters. The 1.4-liter inline-4 is borrowed from a Kawasaki ZX-14 Supersport bike, as is much of the hardware including its sequential gearbox, gauges and ancillary controls. Don't let the diminutive size of this naturally aspirated engine fool you, it cranks out an impressive 197 bhp and 114 lb.-ft. of torque as it screams towards an exospheric redline at 11,500 rpm. The engine's peak torque occurs at 7500 rpm, which delivers a mid-range power punch much like a 2-stroke, but with far greater driveability. The engine is mounted mid-ship between the main body and rear swing arm, favoring weight balance to the front by 6 percent. The purpose built tube-chassis is covered with a fiberglass body that incorporates a roof with an integrated ram-air intake scoop, side ducting to a central radiator and, of course, the T-Rex's somewhat prehistoric-era visage. Ingress/egress is not for the impatient or non-athletic, meaning if you have issues getting into a Lotus Elise, you probably won't be too fond of this thing either. It's best to remove the steering wheel first (as in an open-wheel car) which releases from its hub via an NRG twist-lock connector. The seats and pedal cluster have slide bars with lock pins that make them manually adjustable, but will require you to hop in and out a few times to get them exactly right. Once you're situated and strapped in with the traditional 3-point belt, the engine is brought to life as it would be in a motorcycle—turn the key, flip the ignition switch and push the starter. Start up is surprisingly mellow and neighborhood friendly, as the dual-can Exhausts actually do what they're supposed to. The driving controls are primarily car, meaning there's three pedals, a gear shift, a steering wheel linked to a non-assisted rack and pinion and no need for prior motorcycle experience (or a license for that matter) to operate it. Lane-change signals and horn control is retained on the motorcycle stalks while reverse is the only real oddity, handled with a lever beside your left thigh that mechanically switches the direction the gears spin.


 


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