Picture: John Crowhurst and his handbuilt car 'Caractacus'. (Credit: SWNS)
A pensioner has spent 10 years and £70,000 building his own supercar, powered by a Spitfire engine.
The majority of the car, named Caractacus after the eccentric inventor in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, was handbuilt by John Crowhurst, aged 74.
Under the engine bay sits a 27-litre V12 48V Merlin engine, built by Rover in 1952 - the same engine that powered the Spitfire.
The aero car, lined with luxurious wine-red Wilton carpets, produces 631bh and has now had its first test run on a beach in Saunton, Devon.
John, a retired probate lawyer originally from South Africa, first heard a Merlin engine in a car back in 2006, when he was visiting some friends in Sussex.
He was instantly mesmerised by the sound and having already built one concept car, a specialist Jaguar, he took on the new project.
He said: "I had heard an engine running in the Handlye Special, built by Robert Beech.
"At that stage his car was un-silenced and it sounded just like a Spitfire."
"I knew I had to have one, the fear factor had been broken because I had built the Jaguar."
When he returned home to Cape Town, John began hunting for the right engine and not long after one came up for sale.
"It took me a year to get the engine," John continued. "I got it from Johannesburg, it's from a 1952 Centurion tank.
"It is the un-supercharged version of the Merlin engine that was put into the Spitfire.
"It cost me about £5,200 which is almost the same price as a new engine in 1952."
"It was in a rather poor condition, it had two broken cylinder head studs and also several piston rings were seized, otherwise it was found to be unused.
"I took it up to a company in Leeds that specialises in these engines, they took it apart and put in new rings and cylinder head studs.
"Now it runs like a new engine.
"They found it had hardly been used, probably no more than 100 miles."
After a 10-year build and countless hours spent scanning Swiss manuals and setting up carburettors, John was finally ready to give the car a test drive.
He said: "It drives beautifully.
"It uses one litre of fuel per minute, one litre per mile at 60mph. That's about four or five miles per gallon."
"I wish I could use it as my daily commute, it is my dream to drive it to the pub but I can't get it licensed for the road.
"The test went very well indeed, better than I hoped.
"The geared top speed is 204mph, but the tyres are rated for 135mph. I wouldn't want to travel faster than that anyway in an open cockpit car.
"I haven't kept proper records but it has probably cost me at least £70,000 and it took me 10 years."
But for John, the build has been a labour of love, consisting of time and money well spent.
He added: "I talk to the car regularly, I say, 'good morning beasty', I tell it when it is a good boy."