Then comes the moment you climb aboard to take the Baby II for a spin. Although it would have been hilarious for The Little Car Company to replicate the Type 35’s original supercharged 2.3-litre straight-eight engine at 75 per cent scale, battery power was in keeping with the original. The base Baby II has a 1.4kWh battery pack and two drive modes, namely Novice and Expert. The Vitesse and the Pur Sang, however, both get a 2.8kWh battery, and as well as the Novice and Expert drive modes they get a speed key. Anyone familiar with the Bugatti Veyron or Chiron will know that you need the speed key to unleash the car’s top speed, and so it is the same with the Baby II. In Novice you get 1.0kW of power and a limited top speed of 12mph, in Expert you have 4kW of power and a 30mph top speed, but insert and turn the speed key and you’ll be treated to 10kW and a top speed of 42mph. Crikey. More than 10 per cent of the Chiron speed for less than five per cent of the price. Man maths tells me that’s good value.
There’s an ignition key, modelled on the key of the Pagani Zonda, and what was the fuel pump on the Type 35 is now the drive selector, with three indicators on the left-hand-side of the dash for drive, neutral and reverse. With the power on, the speed key inserted and drive engaged you set off. If I’m honest I expected to be underwhelmed, for the Baby II to feel like a toy, as surely that’s all it’s good for. But it doesn’t feel like that at all. It feels like an actual car.
First of all, it feels nippy. Ten kilowatts of electric power is plenty when you’re sitting a few inches off the ground, as is 42mph when you haven’t got a windscreen, helmet or any form of eyewear.
The adjustable rotary dampers were tuned by Bugatti test driver and two-time Le Mans-winner Andy Wallace, as were the brakes and the power delivery. As a result the suspension – leaf springs, like the original – is firm but compliant and communicative. The unassisted steering, too, is as chatty as you’d imagine, with the added bonus of being able to see the Michelin tyres flex and the wheels wriggle around as you go over bumps or through surface changes while feeling it all through the wheel. With understeer you can both feel and see it, and adjust everything accordingly, and accelerate out of a corner with your foot mashed into the accelerator and you’ll get some nice, 75 per cent scale oversteer.
The drum brakes are hydraulically rather than cable operated, as they were said to be a little problematic (or rather sketchy) in testing. They work well, too, although without ABS you can lock the wheels if you really bury your foot into the pedal as hard as you possibly can. That said you can drive the car with one pedal, as lifting off the accelerator recharges the battery and slows you down. The Baby II has a range of around 50km on a single charge, and it’s a two-minute job to swap the old battery out for a new unit.