+ 2 daft buggers in a shed with a set of hammers and bigger hammers gives.....(sorry if some of this doesn't make sense, straight copy, paste job from elsewhere, if you spot something let me know and I'll go through and fix it!)....this:
It's been done between me and my mate Ed (his car), he originally built up the frame as a cheap car to compete in the local regional championships in, total build cost was around £3k originally, which is fairly cheap as there are some machines in the championships costing between £30-80k+.
The build started before I even knew Ed a fair few years back, cost and time constraints had meant the car had been built around heavily modified VW torsion bar suspension bought in from the states (they use in on their Baja buggies so it's cheap and works reasonably well).
The engine was a bored and stroked 2.3 Beetle unit, on twin 45's, mild camshaft and various modifications to the rockers and heads.
The first time I met him, I gave it the once over and told him the dizzy would give him problems, it wasn't too healthy, and had been mucked about with to stop the engine pinging (given it was original designed as a 1.6 litre unit...)
Anyhow, a phonecall shortly after he attended his first event revealed the dizzy had exploded and scuppered any chance of a finish.
Which resulted in a fair amount of p*ss taking for the next week, and eventually ended up with me getting roped in for years of work on the bloody thing afterword, should have kept quiet
So the last few years we've been working the buggy over between us with upgrades here there and everywhere, ready to enter it in the british championship rather than the few clubman events we've run in on shakedown tests, it's been stripped bare a few times, and work had been seriously slow on it for the previous 6 months because of work commitments (few orders for the 4wd rally cars in his brothers workshops).
Anyway, being a 2wd budget vehicle, the racing should be interesting, there are no weight limits on 2wd vehicles, whereas most 4wd cars are 1200 kilo's plus, so we're half a tonne up already with more to loose yet...
Back to history, the original engine specifications were along these lines:
2.3L VW aircooled engine, build from 1.6 unit.
- 4-1 manifold,
- Carbon/Mica filled PTFE gaskets,
- Dellorto 45's + custom inlet manifold
- Engle 120 camshaft
- Needle roller rockers, high lift 1.4:1 ratio
- Full flow casing with external oil coolers
- Modified cowling with electric fan assist.
- Counterbalanced forged steel crank.
- 3D ignition system (MegaJolt, built it for him after the dizzy problems), I did the ignition mapping DIY.Along the way the buggy has had several new rear ends, 4 suspension setups, a new front end, 3 different gearboxes/linkages/pedal setups, and 3 different braking setups, I'll go into detail on these at some point.Now, that may sound excessive and a bit chop and change - but usually they've coincided with a change in the chassis (or an exploding gearbox...) in order to keep the entire chassis working as well as we could within our budget.
The first change came shortly after it's second event, in which there were a few problems, the first was some pretty crap rear pads, they were originally sponsors of the local club series so they had to be used - they were bright green ones
- fell to pieces, and the backing plates then ground into the disc, welded themselves there and then ground away at the hub.
The result of which was some different pads, Mintex 1144's with the backing plates painted green on the rear, Wilwood Poly A's up front - then Hi-spec 4 pots fitted at the rear and some new discs.
The second was the gearbox exploding, this was the original box sourced with the engine so it was to be expected, another box was duly sought, and the engine and rear frame pulled out for fitment, the new box was a five speed version though, which gave us a little more pace as the VW tended to drop off cam, this was later resolved through some careful carb jetting and linkage tweaks, but the shorter gears were welcome at the time.Of course, the problem with a five speed box is that it's slightly longer, which meant a simple gearbox change meant we had to rejig all the linkages, the cabling, and the entire back end and engine mounts needed moving an inch back.This in itself mean the driveshafts had to be altered, and new panels formed up out of ally sheet.So next time you are swearing during a gearbox swap, just remember, it could be worse....
The fun is in getting the engine on the box (yes, that is the right way around), which takes 4-5 goes to get the splines located right, which, when you are holding an engine made from sharp aircooling fins, gets you some funny looks when you've a dozen 'scratch marks' in a pattern down your arms, whoops.
The second box came around 2 events later on, after a final drive turned itself into smeared lump in objection to landing a 6ft drop off a small quarry under full power. Ah well, the joys of cars built out of scrapyard bits
This time we sourced several boxes while we decided what to do with it, the engine was down on power and there was a brand new 3.5 Nissan V6 sat on a crate in the workshop, a Porsche carrera 4wd box was duly acquired by Ed, along with a standard 2wd box.
It was decided to stay 2wd as they're more fun to drive, and it's more fun when you leave the 4wd boys, and it would have taken us about 10 times our budget to do what we wanted properly - unfortunately the next events were fairly soon, and there was no way the 3.5 V6 was going to shoehorn in with the necessary plumbing without a complete new rear end and suspension setup, so in went a 5-speed Renault Master van gearbox, complete with 9" differential, again, this meant new linkages and tweaks to the chassis, along with a spring change due to the different CoG, we finished at 4:30 the morning of the next event....
[i]Now, the problem with concentrating mainly on sorting out the rear, is that, at 5:30am, the morning of the event, after a short nap, you really don't want a whining noise to appear on the shakedown drive before loading it up on the lorry.
You most definately don't want that sound to be whining front wheel bearing, and you definately don't want to be 2 miles from home when it starts getting worse. [/i]
Once a bearing goes on something like this, they don't last long at all under the impact stresses, unlike in a car where it'll whine for 2000 miles, you're lucky to get 2000 yards...
Unfortunately, the smallest of the workshops must be 2010 yards away, because the wheel fell off trundling around the last corner back to it.
In itself that's not a problem, the way the buggy is setup you can post a running stage time with just 3 wheels.........
What IS a problem, is that fabricated steel wheel, meeting a beautiful but rather softer alloy Wilwood '5-star' rally hub.
After turning the 5-star hub into a 1-disc smear, it decided to take a chunk out of the from calipers just for kick before it did it's party trick of wandering off down the lane.
We've got spare bearings, but no spare hubs, so that's the end of that event already, what fun.
Fortunately, I was driving back up to the workshops at the time, so I just caught Ed running around the corner before a wheel fell off, which gave me a laugh, even if it didn't him.
The next event was the final one we attended before taking it back in the workshop for a rethink, a local club event where you can just turn up and drive, all went well that morning, bar getting the lorry stuck in the staging area and having to tow it out.
The engine was running a little rough, but then, it's been due some new piston rings and probably some new shells for a while, but we couldn't see the point of spending money on the VW engine, it does the job but when it goes bang, well, there was that V6 waiting in the workshop....
This probably annoyed the poor overworked veedub, after being originally designed as a 1.6 with about 40 horsepower, for some greasemonkey to pull it apart, subject it to a bore out of existing holes, put in holes that shouldn't be there, push the output to 120bhp and then run it at 5000rpm, solid mounted to a buggy driven by a pair of nutters with suicidal tendancies, well, perhaps it had every right to to be a bit ****ed off and spit a shell that day....
The competition in the 2wd class included an RS200 look-a-like, and a similar machine to ours but with a long-travel double wishbone front end, 1.6 turbo engine with ~190bhp (More like around 120 when it got going tbh!), but it had a pretty poor frame compared to ours.
We were quite happy after the first run, setting a time 12 seconds faster than him (7 mile stage), which got us some mutterings about his power steering failing and his engine overheating.
What we didn't tell him was we'd had to stop for 30 seconds at the bottom of the hill as the carbs flooded the engine because of bouncing floats, and we'd noted better lines that should pick up another 10 seconds...well, no point rubbing it in is there, that's what the next lap is for....
Especially when you'd lost time yourself as the VW had thrown a belt and you'd lost PAS and overheated the engine yourself.
After rigging a new belting system up, we were ready to go out for the second stage, with a better idea of the course allowing Ed to pick up the pace on the corners and avoid the ripples on the exit to get the power down, we worked out at 43 seconds up from our last time around after two thirds of the way around the course, on par with the 4wd guys running there, but we were loosing power, the engine was starting to blow a little smoke, but we had to finish the stage to get back to service area anyway, so full throttle it is.
Out of the marshland they called a corner halfway around the course, the car simply would not slog it's way out of the mud, struggling to pull second gear where normally we would have been in the top of third, onto the next straight, top of 5th at ~80mph over ripples - imagine speedbumps 2 feet apart at 80mph - and the engine spun a shell, the shock and friction as it attempted to weld to the crank dropped the engine revs massively and with a locked rear axle and the back end already snaking as it was putting the power down over the ripples, the car immediately spun several times, we ended up travelling backwards at around 60-70mph, downhill on wet grass toward a stone wall.
Now, we weren't too concerned about the buggy as we know how strong it is - the entire frame is T45 tubing, it would have made a mess but be fixable - but we knew for a fact that there were spectators behind the wall and the buggy would flatten it like a bowling ball hitting smarties tubes, or go over the top.
With Ed hard on the footbrake and attempting to bring the front end back around with the steering, I hung onto the left hand fiddle brake and between us we managed to slew the buggy around to a stop away from the wall.
Some good natured cursing ensued in the fight to restart the engine, which luckily hadn't welded itself solid, and once it fired into a nice, uneven beat with lashings of rattles, we limped the remainder of the stage in first gear, and announced our retirement to the marshalls.
We posted an 8m40s stage time.
Which amusingly was still faster than a third of the competitors...so the car had a bit of potential against the local club racers.
The diagnosis was terminal, we went home and hatched plans, coming to the conclusion that the 3.5 V6 was just too big for the current chassis and we may as well start from scratch with it - as we could use it as a stressed member for a double wishbone front and rear.
Given the buggy was meant to be a low-budget challenge, this was wiped off the list and an RX-8 renesis engine accidentally made it's way into the workshop.
Quick rundown on the chassis before I go into the Renesis conversion:
- Mixture of 2-3" T45 steel tubing, mandrel bent and welded, weight is a touch over 750 kilos. You can quite happily lift the front with one person and walk around with the car.
- Rear setup are 4 gas pressure monotubes, consisting of 2 Bilstein dampers, 2 Fox adjustable coilovers, all remote res. nitrogen charged, giving around 14 inches of rear suspension travel, these act on a rear torsion bar setup with heavily braced arms, again, made from T45 tube, the bars are rising rate and there's a secondary assist bar which comes into play after 10" of travel.
- Front setup is now 2 Fox coilovers aiding a rising rate twin torsion bar front end adapted from the VW setup, approximately 12" of travel up front.
- Brakes are a mixture of small 2 pot Wilwoods up front and Hispec 4 pots on the back, linked with braided hoses to 2 AP master cylinders on a balance bar with a homemade pedal box, it also sports a hydraulic handbrake/fiddle brake setup to brake individual wheels for turning the front end in quicker (or donuts).
Solid discs (less weight) all around matched with the uprated pads.
- Wheels were our own steels - 15x6J, made by by Ed, weighing in at 5.8kilos, fitted with 215/75 Bridgestone MS's.
It's absolutely hilarious to drive, but not exactly the most sophisticated or good-looking car in the world I'll admit :lmao