Benjamin Franklin famously said that “old boys have their playthings as well as young ones; the only difference is the price.” Whether it’s a sports car, a classic car, a motorbike or a speedboat, the wealthy love their weekend toys. In recent years we have seen an increase in cars that can be both a commuter and a plaything — models such as the Aston Martin DBX, the Ferrari GTC4Lusso and the ever-present Porsche 911 spring to mind — but it’s what’s in the garage for a Saturday morning that rewards the chore of the hours spent in traffic during the week.
Ian Callum has always been good at creating cars that can be both. The British designer has penned models such as the Aston Martin DB7, Ford Escort RS Cosworth and the modern Jaguar XK. He left Jaguar in 2019 to set up his own design consultancy business, and now he has created the first model that bears his name, the Callum Skye.
It’s not really something you would use to travel to the office on a daily basis. Callum sees it as a potential “shore tender” — to be carried on luxury superyachts so the owner can have some fun on land after docking. The Skye’s design makes it look like something to take on an off-road race. Still, it’s more practical than an off-road racer, with space for up to four people in a 2+2 configuration, room for luggage or sports equipment and reasonable comfort.
But besides being designed for adventure, to tackle the outdoors when the mood takes you, it’s also engineered to be kinder to the environment it traverses. It’s fully electric with a 42kWh lithium-ion battery and the potential to charge from empty to full in less than 10 minutes, with the right charging infrastructure. It has a range of 274km, more than enough for most trips into the bush or along the forest tracks of Mpumalanga.
“The Callum Skye is dramatically proportioned with a concise exterior aesthetic driven by its capabilities,” says Callum. “It has been designed to exceed expectations: minimal mass, maximum capability — exceptionally usable and an absolute joy to drive.”
Yet there is one other model that ticks many of the boxes for those seeking a weekend adventurer and it could be seen as the ultimate grown-up toy, mainly because it is actually based on a toy.
Earlier this year, The Little Car Company (TLCC) which has already given us drivable scale versions of models such as the Aston Martin DB5, Baby Bugatti and Ferrari Testa Rossa, launched the Tamiya Wild One MAX. Tamiya is renowned for its radio-controlled cars — the closest many of us actually get to a weekend plaything — but TLCC turned childhood fantasy into reality for big kids by making a full-size version of one of Tamiya’s iconic models.
It has bucket seats with four-point harnesses, Brembo disc brakes, adjustable suspension and a digital screen with waterproof switchgear. It too is electric, powered by eight battery packs with a capacity of 14.4kWh and a range of up to 200km.
“We’ve strived to make the Tamiya Wild One MAX an exhilarating drive by following Colin Chapman’s ethos of “simplify, then add lightness,” says Ben Hedley, CEO of TLCC. “In my opinion, modern cars are now too large, too fast, too complicated, and too heavy. We believe that there is an alternative. Our goal is to create innovative, lightweight vehicles that bring the purity and fun back into driving.”
The Tamiya definitely looks like fun and you can even order a full sticker kit that you can apply yourself, just like the original; though with a price tag of £35,000 (about R811,000) excluding shipping and taxes, it’s a tad dearer than the radio-controlled version. No prices yet on the Callum Skye as it’s still in design and development — deliveries are scheduled from next year — but you can expect it to be considerably more.
While different in some ways, both cars are designed and engineered to provide some fun at the weekend, to rekindle a sense of childhood adventures in the great outdoors and to put a huge smile on your face. If you’re not getting that from your Lotus 7 replica, Porsche 911, BMW GS or Ducati, then perhaps one of them is what you’re looking for.