Archive for November, 2007

Build Your Own Car – The Locost

Sunday, November 18th, 2007

If you have read my previous posts and still feel you want to build your own car, then you are probably as crazy as I am. The problem is, that once you have done it you are hooked.

I went for many years driving various production vehicles and had absolutely no intention of doing it again. On October 5, 1996 my wife pointed out an article in the Daily Mail “Schoolboys Make Classic Roadster From Scrap” featuring a book by Ron Champion called “Build Your Own Sportscar for £250”. At the time I was working for a large book wholesaler, so I bought the book (at discount) and read it and thought “I can do that”. The Locost book sat on my bookshelf for 2 years as I didn’t have a suitable garage, or the time. In August 1998 my wife and I moved to a house with a garage that was large enough for “The Project”. In December 1998 I ordered the steel for the space-frame chassis and started to cut it according to the dimensions in the book.

Meanwhile, I was also on the hunt for a donor. The book suggested a Ford Escort and I managed to find an Escort Huntsman estate. This is not the actual car below!!

Ford Escort Huntsman estate

All the major were stripped from the car, engine, gearbox, back axle, radiator, instruments and anything else that may be of use. The engine was shot, but I managed to find another 1300cc one that had been rebuilt. The carb on the old engine was virtually brand new, so that was cleaned up to be used. The rebuilt engine was stripped down and checked as it had never been run. Whoever had rebuilt it had done the bottom end, but not touched the head. The bottom end was stripped down just to check that all was OK. I’m very glad I did as although it had been re-bored and new pistons and rings fitted, several of the rings were broken!! I also had the crankshaft polished, but re-fitted the bigend and main shells which looked new. The head was stripped down , new valves and springs fitted after de-coking. They oil pump was also badly worn, but I managed to purchase a brand new one at a reasonable price.

Many other new or refurbished parts were bought including Cortina hubs and stub axles, alternator, battery, electric fan etc etc.

Next epsiode: The building of the chassis.

Meanwhile, why not have a, or check out Ebay to see what cars are available.

Are you looking for kitcar or special insurance? These folks are specialists!!

Build Your Own Car – Rear Suspension & Trimming

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

So the Gentry was finally on the road. I proved that it is possible to build your own car.

Although she was now legal, she was still not finished. Various bits of chrome needed to be re-done, the rear suspension needed sorting out and the wire wheels were still waiting to bit fitted. Below are a couple of pictures before these things were done.

Before the chrome Another view

Sorting out the rear suspension was a priority as the ride was putting it mildly, somewhat uncomfortable!! The rear suspension on all of the Triumph Herald based cars is somewhat unusual. It is a weird form of independent suspension, but unlike most IR, instead of having separate coil springs and dampers it has a tranverse leaf spring. Anyone who has cornered any of this range of Triumph cars at speed will tell you that it is to say the least exciting. It isn’t like any other car I have driven. It will stick to the road like glue, no sign of the backend sliding, so you can’t get it to drift like other cars. Then, all of a sudden the rear wheel will tuck under and you completely lose control. I did this in a Spitfire I owned while I was going rather quickly round a roundabout. The backend let go and I ended up with the car facing the wrong way. Fortunately it was early morning, so there weren’t too many people about and there was no major harm done apart from my wounded pride. Back to the suspension of the Gentry.

In the build instructions it was suggested that from a Vitesse spring which I seem to remember had twelve leaves you should remove three of them. They also said that it should be flattened by about one and a half inches. I took it to a local blacksmith and had this done, but the rear still sat very high and the ride was hard. I then removed two more leaves re-fitted the spring and took the car out for a test drive. The difference was amazing. A more comfortable ride and the ride height now looked OK. The old steel wheels were taken off and replaced with the re-furbished wire wheels. It was starting to look more like the MG TF.

The interior trim was next. The original modified Herald seats were replaced with new ones in a red leatherette. I recall the company that made them were called Cobra. All of the interior paneling was covered with a matching leatherette. She was starting to look great. I had also purchased a hood and sidescreen kit from RMB so that she could be used in inclement weather!!

Below are some pictures taken by a friend of mine, Rob Large on Ashdown forest when she was finally complete. I think anyone would agree that the Gentry is a very pretty car and is and excellent way of re-cycling a donor that has seen better days.

The completed Genry 1 The completed Genry 2 The completed Genry 3 The completed Gentry 4

I ran her for about two years, until finances dictated that I had to sell her. I had a great time building and driving her and was sad to see her go. I would love to know what happened to her and where she is now, if she is still around. I believe that the person who bought her from me fitted his own personalised number, but I have no idea what it was.

Next epsiode, the Locost!!

Meanwhile, why not have a, or check out

Are you looking for kitcar or special insurance? These folks are specialists!!