Sports cars to be made in Scotland for first time in 30 years at East Lothian factory

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In a former air base canteen in East Lothian, an assembly line is taking shape to launch Scotland’s first volume car production in more than 30 years.

A generation after Talbot’s Linwood factory shut, below, and the short-lived Argyll Turbo GT stopped being made, a sports car manufacturer is expanding from bespoke kit-based models to its own-design Raptor RR.

Andy Entwistle in his Raptor RR sports car. Photograph: Jon Savage

Andy Entwistle in his Raptor RR sports car. Photograph: Jon Savage

Former hydro-electric power engineer Andy Entwistle and his wife Kirstin plan to build around 80 a year by expanding into adjacent premises and increasing the workforce of four.

Raptor Sports Cars’ location could not be more Scottish – the village of Athelstaneford is where the Saltire is said to have been first adopted.

It is said the diagonal white on blue cross came from the shape of clouds appearing in the sky before the Picts and Scots defeated the Angles in battle.

Entwistle chose the location as it is close to his father, an engineer at Torness, and after he married his wife who is from North Berwick.

A man working on the assembly line at the Rootes car plant at Linwood in December 1971. Photograph: TSPL

A man working on the assembly line at the Rootes car plant at Linwood in December 1971. Photograph: TSPL

The firm built its first car in 2013 with a bought-in chassis after 12 years making car engines at its base in outbuildings of the former East Fortune airfield – now the National Museum of Flight.

Raptor has now taken over an adjacent building to create space for a production line for its first proper model.

The RR features a Raptor-designed chassis built by former Ferrari engineer Cameron Doyle at Nine Mile Burn in Midlothian. The first was completed in December.

The car costs between £22,000 and £45,000, and can do 0-60mph in three seconds.

Entwistle, 49, said: “It is a racing car that is road legal.

“We are hugely proud of being Scotland’s only car manufacturer, especially as it was an epicentre for engineering, from shipbuilding to car manufacturing at Linwood.

“The name was chosen as we felt the car was sleek, packed with modern technology and offered outstanding performance – just like the F-22 Raptor fighter jet.”

Two have been made so far, one bought by a dentist in Falkirk and the other a demonstrator.

A third – in Royal Scottish Blue with tartan seats – has been ordered by a Florida dealer, also as a demonstrator, which it is hoped will generate orders.

Motoring journalist Alan Douglas, who is also a trustee of the charity planning to establish a motorsport heritage centre at the classic Rest and Be Thankful rally course in Argyll, said: “It’s great to see the plans by Raptor, who have identified and focused on a specialist area of the car business.

“There are many enthusiasts out there who want a quality-built performance, and fun to drive, car. Raptor have shown they can come up with the goods.”