BARGAIN BASEMENT ST - Building a budget race car

BARGAIN BASEMENT ST - Building a budget race car

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Discussion

andy97

4,151 posts

186 months

Tuesday 6th April
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SparrowHawk said:
Thanks for the recommendation Andy97. CSCC looks really well run, and I've heard very good things about their various series. I like your idea of racing with them for just 1 or 2 races; perhaps my favourite circuits like Silverstone & Brands. I'm not sure if I can budget to join/enter two separate clubs, so I will enquire with them about how this works.
CSCC has an annual membership fee of £39 and a series registration fee of £99 from memory so won’t break the bank. If you join the CSCC you can ask for your first race to be a “taster race” and you then don’t have to be pay the series registration fee until you enter your second race.

Remember that CSCC races are 40 min races with a pit stop so you can share with another driver and therefore share costs. I used to do this - we went halves on the entry fee, fuel, tow fuel, tyre useage and then the second driver also used to give me a few quid on top as the “hire fee” as it was my car and my capital. Makes the racing so much ore affordable. Accident damage was paid for by the person driving at the time. Mechanical damage was down to me, but fortunately I didn’t experience anything of either except when I was in the car!
Seeing as Richard Culverhouse started the CMMC after leaving CSCC I wouldn’t be surprised if his ideas on membership fees and series registration fees were very similar!!!

kimducati

196 posts

128 months

Tuesday 6th April
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SparrowHawk said:
ORDERING A ROLL CAGE

In my mind the biggest job is the roll cage. It's also the one thing I definitely did not want to do myself. Many people seem to fit the roll cage themselves, which is great if you have your own workshop or even better if you work in fabrication etc.


These stock images from JP's website show what the cage looks like in an ST150; however mine will differ slightly in that it will not have the additional bracing on the A-pillar (pictured above in the JPC4 cage). I opted not to have these additional bars for 2 reasons; 1. I find getting in and out of the car can be quite difficult already, especially when using a winged seat, and 2. It kept the cost down slightly without compromising on safety in my opinion. My cage will also be silver not blue.

So that was the cage ordered, it was going to take about 3-4 weeks for JP to build the cage which I am fine with as they had quite a backlog of jobs on. I would be stripping down the rest of the car (dashboard removed etc) and then taking it to them for the cage fitting.

That was the biggest job booked! Now onto the rest of the long to-do list...
Your money and your decision, obviously, but personally I really dislike these front legs with a sharp bend in. From an engineering P.O.V. it's just wrong and I think that the additional triangulation which the extra bar gives will stiffen things up substantially.
But as I said, your opinion is what counts on your build.smile
Kim

eta Good work so far, btw

SparrowHawk

Original Poster:

38 posts

107 months

Tuesday 6th April
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Thanks for the feedback and encouragement. Great insight on the CSCC andy97, it would definitely be an attractive option for me. My Dad also has a race licence but is yet to get his first race under his belt. The 40min races with driver change could be a good option for us to drive together.

Interesting to hear your thoughts on the roll cage kimducati, all criticism welcome as I've not done this before. The option I've chosen fitted with my plans for the car and with the plans to build it within a specific budget. Next time around I will take into account this point about bends in the front legs.. and working with a larger budget I'd likely spec a cage where the front legs meet the suspension turrets and are also welded into the a-pillar, as I understand this gives the optimal level of safety and performance.

SparrowHawk

Original Poster:

38 posts

107 months

Tuesday 6th April
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NEW DROP LINKS AND WHEELS

When changing and checking over the suspension I felt the drop-links needed replacing. I didn't have any to hand, so ordered a set of OEM ones from the motor factors. Unfortunately when they arrived the weather outside was absolutely horrendous. This process was about answering the question, how much harder is it to build your own race car when you don't have a fully kitted out workshop and years of engineering experience?



When the weather is like this, the answer to that question is "quite a lot harder"! Changing drop links isn't a difficult job when you're indoors in the warm, you've got the car up on ramps, you're shiny tools are all to hand, and you know what you're doing. But I can confidently say that when you're changing drop links for your first ever time, and you're sitting on the floor outside in the freezing cold, with snow dropping down the back of your neck, and you can't see anything in the dark, and you've skinned your knuckle for the second time, and your 10mm socket has just rolled under the car for the fifth time, and you can't for the life of you figure out why the bolt in the drop link just keeps spinning and spinning without ever coming loose... it isn't as much fun as it looks on YouTube.



I finally clocked that you need to hold a flathead screwdriver against the inside of the drop link head to stop it turning on the other side, just before my fingers fell off from the cold - and the one on the other side helped me by falling apart in my hands. So I managed to get both sides done. Whilst the car was up on axle stands I also took off the big 17 inch wheels that had come with the car. They were reasonably ok Team Dynamics wheels - perfectly good for the road. But the plan was always to run the car with 15 inch wheels, for various reasons including, 1. smaller wheels means less weight, 2. it saves money buying smaller tyres, and 3. I was planning to steal an old set of wheels off our trackday Fiesta!



The car looks ok now on the smaller wheels. They are a set of 15 inch Smiths wheels, with a worn set of R888R tyres that have done at least 200 laps of Brands Hatch. The plan is at some point to upgrade to some Team Dynamics 1.2 or 1.3 wheels, and to some proper rubber; but at the moment that would blow the budget - so hand me down wheels and well worn tyres will have to do! I'm determined to squeeze in under that £5k build target.

Now that I know how to change drop links I'd be interested in recommendations for fitting upgraded or adjustable ones. The ones I put onto the car were only cheap OEM ones to fit with our 'budget race car' theme; but I'd happily budget for some more performance oriented ones once the season is underway and the budget is no longer restricted to £5k.



Edited by SparrowHawk on Tuesday 6th April 19:44

kimducati

196 posts

128 months

Tuesday 6th April
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SparrowHawk said:
NEW DROP LINKS AND WHEELS



Now that I know how to change drop links I'd be interested in recommendations for fitting upgraded or adjustable ones. The ones I put onto the car were only cheap OEM ones to fit with our 'budget race car' theme; but I'd happily budget for some more performance oriented ones once the season is underway and the budget is no longer restricted to £5k.



Edited by SparrowHawk on Tuesday 6th April 19:44
You could maybe make your own up using spherical bearings (eg Rose joints) at each end and have a turnbuckle in the middle to adjust the length.
Have a peruse through a few catalogues and see what sizes and shapes are available - there are loads!!
Kim

snowen250

1,057 posts

147 months

Tuesday 6th April
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Great thread. And you have chosen a good series to get going in, quite a few standard STs should be on the grid this year, including some ran by Supatune/Colin Tester who is a great instructor etc.

If you are planning to do the first CMMCS round at Lydden i'd keep the shagged tyres on tbh, Lydden is basically sand paper so new ones will look like those after 5 laps anyway!

Duke Caboom

1,770 posts

163 months

Wednesday 7th April
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Good work OP

k20ris

218 posts

113 months

Wednesday 7th April
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Very detailed write up, well done!

You can use a ring spanner and allen key in the middle of the drop link thread to stop it spinning in the future.

SparrowHawk

Original Poster:

38 posts

107 months

Wednesday 7th April
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PARTS ARRIVING

One of the most enjoyable aspects of this process is shopping for parts. We've all done it, perusing the usual sites and looking at all the bits we'd like to buy. So it's been really enjoyable ordering them and then getting them in the post, it's like Christmas each time something new turns up.



One of the mandatory parts is a plumbed-in fire extinguisher system. There are plenty to choose from, and I went for this one from the Tegiwa store. It's the RRS Ecofirex 4.25ltr kit, which is FIA approved and comes with everything you need for fitting. It was £164 delivered which is great value, and all that was missing from the kit was some protection for the pipes which I can add myself when fitting.



Next up was the power steering relocation kit. These are essential on the Fiesta, as the power steering pump is located in a pretty toasty part of the engine bay and is very liable to boiling over after a hard session on track - I've seen it happen multiple times. These relocation kits are around £150 which to me seems rather a lot for a bit of silicone hose and an old Mondeo reservoir, although by all accounts the kits are very good. But in the spirit of keeping costs down I cobbled together my own kit for around £50.

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The adapter for the steering pump is £25 and is decent quality. I wasn't fully convinced I'd ended up with silicone hoses of the correct internal diameter, but we'll see how I get on when it comes to fitting. I have a feeling there is a reason most people just buy the off-the-shelf kits! But it is a budget build so the opportunity to save £100 couldn't be passed up.



Next to arrive were the OMP seat base and seat mounts. Buying the seat mount was an easy decision to make. I've seen people bolt their race seat directly to the floor pan (I didn't fancy that), and I've seen plenty of people who know what they're doing fabricate new seat rails to position the seat precisely where they want it. But I am not a welder and as with the roll cage, the seat did not seem a safe/appropriate point for me to start learning! The Base was £90 delivered, and the side mounts were another £30 from demon tweeks. The floor under the seats is a very strange shape on the Fiesta and this bolt on solution seemed the best option.



I also had a couple of bits from Motamec arrive. I've seen their parts on a few cars, and was surprised at the build quality and finish. They are a relatively 'cheap' option but the quality seems pretty much on par with a lot of other more expensive stuff on the market and so a good option if you don't want to pay for the brand name; perfect for this application.



The battery tray was very sturdy, and would be positioned behind where the front passenger seat had been. The foot rest felt less sturdy, but was nicely finished.. although it was strange they had only drilled two mounting holes meaning I'd inevitably scratch that nice finish when drilling the others.



Last but not least some MSA approved wire tow straps for the front end, door pulls for the doorcards, and a sun strip as the roof-lining and sun visors were now gone.

SparrowHawk

Original Poster:

38 posts

107 months

Wednesday 7th April
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Thanks for the input snowen250. I've not driven at Lydden before, so it's good to have a heads up on the tyre degradation. This set of rubber should have at least one race meeting left in it.. and I'm not expecting to set any record laps in my budget built car so I'm not too worried about the tyres making me uncompetitive in my first meeting.

I've met Colin a few times, he's a good guy and really knows his stuff. I looked at doing arrive & drive with him this season, before deciding to embark on this project instead. If the car isn't ready in time for Lydden then I'll know I made the wrong choice! The build is further along than my posts are.. but it's by no means finished.

k20ris thanks for the advice on drop links. This will come in handy when I upgrade them.

andye30m3

3,389 posts

218 months

Wednesday 7th April
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Good Luck with the build, looks good so far.

One thing that's worth considering is how much of the base car you replace? I was advised when I started building my M3 to pretty much change everything including all bushes, ball joints, track roads, radiator etc as you don't know how old or worn lots of parts are and it would quickly become disheartening to be the guy who breaks down after a couple of laps. (you'll also end up with all of the old parts as emergency spares)

SparrowHawk

Original Poster:

38 posts

107 months

Thursday 8th April
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FRONT TOW STRAPS

There doesn't seem to be a consensus on the best solution for front towing eyes/straps. Some people utilise the manufacturer mounting, to install a strap, some use a metal towing eye mounted into that same point, others mount a strap to the front crossmember etc. But I noticed that some of the Scottish Fiesta Championship cars and the BRSCC cars had twin towing eyes at the front, coming through the front grille. So I decided to try to emulate that.



In order to remove the front bumper I also took out the front wheel arch liners. I could see that these were doing a job; reducing the amount of water spray that ended up inside the engine back and also protecting the body. But decided they were not essential and that it would be easier working on the car without them, so they were removed.

The towing straps weren't quite as easy to install as I'd hoped. There was no obvious point on which to mount them, as the front crossmember presented various different angles and varying levels of thickness. In the end I opted for the two points pictured, drilling through the bottom of the bar, at a point where I could reach around to the other side in order to add on the nuts.



M12 bolts did the trick, and the tow straps were positioned in order to exit the front bumper inside the symmetrical vents on the grille. I put the bumper back on for a test fit and realised that although the towing eyes came through the vents.. there was a significant interference between the bumper and the bottom end of the towing eye. They have heavy duty crimps around the bottom and these were fouling on the plastic inside the vent.



Taking the bumper back off I set about the vents with a dremel tool. A couple of test-fittings showed I needed to take out a full couple of square inches from each vent before the bumper would sit flush.

Once the bumper was safely on we did a quick test run. Towing the car forwards by both tow loops, it pulled the car easily and luckily.. didn't pull the bumper off either!



Remembering to use the trick of part-snipping through the cable ties, I tidied up the end result by attaching the loose loops to the grille. Job done and it looked reasonably smart.

Rockatansky

1,561 posts

151 months

Thursday 8th April
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A lot of the guys use appropriately sized 'p' hose clips to keep the ends of the tow loops held in place. Just screw through one of the ends and leave the other loose so it can be bent out to accommodate the loop. We usually screw them in to the bumper where the numberplate is.

SparrowHawk

Original Poster:

38 posts

107 months

Friday 9th April
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QUICK-RELEASE BUMPER

Whilst the bumper was off I also added some rivets to the front wings & bumper, so that it can be secured with bands rather than bolts. This has made taking the bumper on and off much quicker and easier, and seems quite secure. I'm not sure whether people go out on track with only these bands to secure the bumper? I will probably add an additional bolt on either side for race day, just in case.



At the same time we also removed the fog lights, which are now surplus to requirement. In their place we fitted some 3D printed ducts, that will allow us to run ducting to the front brakes to aid cooling. Not really a necessity in a low powered car such as this, but a fun addition - and it looks neat too.

Although the stock brake setup is adequate on these cars (I believe most Fiesta race series retain stock calipers?) I have experienced brake fade on Fiestas out on track due to overheating - so every little helps. My main priority with the brakes is good quality race-oriented pads, with race fluid and braided hoses.



Another easy job was fitting a proper induction kit. We've recently upgraded the intake manifold & throttle body on our other trackday car, so I was able to 'borrow' the Mountune induction kit from that car. These kits come with a handy additional hose, to re-circulate oil fumes back into the engine; meaning we can run it as an enclosed system and not fit an oil catch can. I'm not sure if that is a controversial choice on a race car? I understand the catch cans primary purpose is to reduce the amount of oil vapour recirculated into the engine - but I'm struggling to see the performance benefit that this would add to a 2.0 n/a Fiesta. Input welcomed!



We also took out the battery, to create some room in the engine bay and to start figuring out where everything was going to go. It's a fairly tight engine bay, hence not wanting to run an additional oil catch can. We needed to relocate the battery into the driver compartment, and also relocate the power steering reservoir. We also needed to figure out the routing for the extinguisher jets and the kill chords.

SparrowHawk

Original Poster:

38 posts

107 months

Friday 9th April
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ROLL CAGE UPDATE

At this point I also had an update from JP to say that the roll cage was finished and had arrived back from powder coating. It was good to know that this important part of the jigsaw was falling into place.



The cage looked good to me, and I was excited at the prospect of having it fitted. I figured that would be the point at which this began to feel like a race car build.



We booked the car in for fitting; which meant I had a deadline for getting a couple other jobs done. Namely, getting the windows out and race door cards on with some polycarbonate windows - and also removing the dashboard (which I had really been putting off since removing the rest of the interior!).


ChevronB19

2,485 posts

127 months

Friday 9th April
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Your comment: At the same time we also removed the fog lights, which are now surplus to requirement. In their place we fitted some 3D printed ducts, that will allow us to run ducting to the front brakes to aid cooling

Me: (who’s crap at quoting). I don’t know your regs for the championship you’re thinking of, but be careful about this, it’s often explicitly forbidden (my experience is purely in historic cars)

SparrowHawk

Original Poster:

38 posts

107 months

Monday 12th April
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POLYCARBONATE WINDOWS & RACE DOORCARDS

I wouldn't say this was a very difficult job, but it was bloody time consuming.

Another one of the jobs I'd been looking forward to, because I know there is a fair amount of weight to take out of the doors, and because I think the end result looks quite cool and would be a nice step forward on the build.

I chose ACW Plastics, as they came recommended and were reasonably priced. I found cheaper options available, but I was quite keen for this job to go as smoothly as possible so went with the name I'd been recommended. They aren't cheap, at £150 for two pieces of plastic, but you get what you pay for as they say. And that price did include a locking window on the drivers side.

The door cards I opted for were Racecardoorcards. At £100 I'm less convinced about these being good value for money. Ultimately with this product I guess you are paying for convenience rather than the end product.



Taking the door card off proved a little trickier than expected. The wing mirror surround pops off easily, but removing the rubber around the window buttons was not easy. The passenger side came out easily, but the driver side was really tough and much more flexible - as if it was made of a slightly different material? In the end I used brute force and just broke the plastic around the inside handle.



Once the outer layer is off you have this odd contraption on the inside. The number of bolts and fixings that came out this thing was ridiculous. By the time I'd finished both sides it seemed like I'd taken out 1kg just in fixings! There is certainly a knack to removing this inner doorcard and it's safe to say this is an area where experience would have helped. For one thing I had started the procedure with the windows up, which turned out to make the job harder. I also thought that removing this section just required a few bolts and application of some force - but in fact there is certainly an art to it.

In the end once again I had to resort to brute force, snapping the brittle plastic in order to detach it from the window lifting mechanism and also bashing a hole through the plastic to allow the door handle through it. Its safe to say this ape-like approach wasn't how I wanted to do the job, and it hurt my ego a little that I couldn't calmly and methodically disassemble it piece by piece like you see the pros do it. But again, this seems to be a fairly consistent theme in this build - and it keeps reminding me what you are paying for when you pay a motorsport mechanic to do a job; its the years of experience they've built up in problem solving and a simple knack of doing things methodically 'the right way'. It's also another result of working outside in the wind and the cold; I'm sure I'd have found it much easier to remain patient and methodical if I was working on a level surface and had the heating on!



With the doorcards completely out I tucked away the wiring loom (removing these completely would be a job for another day) and set about fitting the driver side window. This job really did require a lot of patience. The windows slot in by lifting them up through the door, making sure to slide them into the rubber runners, and then guiding them upwards and pushing them into the rubber seal around the top of the door. Its definitely easier said than done, as the window keeps trying to jump out of the seals.

Once it is positioned in I gave it a really good firm push to make sure it was seated all the way into the top of the seals. I then taped it in place to start work on the fixings. This was where I made my first mistake. Having previously owned a race-prepared MX-5 which the previous owner had angle grinded all over the place, I'd developed a dislike for sharp metal edges on the inside of cars. I was determined to fit these windows without cutting the doors. Spoiler alert; it can be done. But bloody hell did I make it difficult for myself and in all honesty I think the best option is just to cut the doors.

The main issue is that the gap between the top of the window sill, and the lip that you want to attach your screws through (at the bottom of the window) is very small. In order to give yourself more room the solution would be to angle grind off an inch or so of the metal at the top of the window sill. But this is right at elbow height and I just didn't want to do that. So instead I battled for what felt like several hours, to drill pilot holes through the window and then into the door skin, through what tiny space I did have - so that I could fix the window in place.

This is where I made my second mistake. Having painstakingly drilled all of my pilot holes, snapping several fine drill bits in the process (because the area you are drilling into on the inside of the door is a sloping angle), I finally started to screw in some screws with nice big plastic washers to hold the window in place. Again this was made incredibly difficult by the lack of space and I was chewing up my screwdriver on the sharp lip of metal that I now wished more than anything I had just cut out of the way at the start. The second mistake was... in my concentration on drilling the pilot holes I had not re-checked the position of the window. You guessed it... it had moved!



After a lot of swearing and a bit of embarrassment (no one was watching but I was a bit embarrassed at the sense of achievement I'd been feeling whilst screwing the window in place in the wrong position) I finally had the window very firmly fixed in place in the correct position. I used four screws along the bottom with nice big soft washers which seemed to do a very good job. I've also seen that some people drill small holes along the top of the windows and add additional cable ties, but this looks untidy so I'll ask around the paddock first before replicating this.



Next up was the doorcards. These went on very easily as they came pre-drilled. What wasn't so good was that they came with no instructions whatsoever, and the supplied door handle bracket was like one of those chinese puzzles you get out of a christmas cracker. No matter which way I positioned it, the door handle would not sit flush in the doorcard. In the end I contacted the seller for more details. Helpfully he did send me a full colour guide for fitting the doorcards... a full 2 weeks after I contacted him. Not so helpful. But I still had the handle very firmly fixed in place and although it wasn't flush it still functioned perfectly.



I fitted a door strap using one of the heavy duty bolts holding the original doorcards in, and the job was done. I then replicated the same on the other side, which I found a bit easier having learned from my mistakes and only having the position the window once. It all came together quite nicely in the end and I was definitely pleased with the end result. It had taken me quite a few hours - enough to call it a full day. Again, this was a real departure from what it looked like online where people whizz around doing these jobs in seemingly half an hour. But a large part of that is down to lack of experience and doing things slowly. It was very rewarding once done.



The main thing was, the car could now go for its roll cage fitting. So that will be the next update.



Edited by SparrowHawk on Monday 12th April 16:10

SparrowHawk

Original Poster:

38 posts

107 months

Wednesday 14th April
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REMOVING THE DASHBOARD

The final bit of prep before roll cage fitting was the dashboard removal. The first step of this was taking out the stereo (very simple).

The second step was removing both of the front airbags. Disconnecting the battery, I left the car for about half an hour just to be safe and then took out the driver side airbag first.

The steering wheel cowlings come off very easily, but the mechanism for removing the airbag is very fiddly indeed. It is well worth watching a couple of videos of this first before attempting. The speedo cluster is also very simple to remove; important tip on this is that it has a 2-stage clip holding on the wiring loom. When re-fitting this later make sure you clip it through both stages... if you don’t then your engine is liable to cut out whilst doing 70mph on the motorway. Ask me how I know.



Once the driver airbag was off I did the passenger side too - this was much easier as there was no knack to it. Just remove the glovebox to get access and then remove the several bolts holding it in. The dash fascia even detaches from the airbag so you can put it neatly back on afterwards.



The centre console was next. It comes apart in several pieces and there are a number of well hidden screws. An important tip (that I didn’t know beforehand!) is that the screen heater buttons can be popped out giving access to 2 screws behind.



Be prepared to reassemble this bizarre concoction of Ford’s finest fiddly bits. I’m not sure how to describe the mechanism for the heater direction control, other than to say its a right b*stard to get back in again when refitting the dash.



These nuts are slightly hidden underneath the door seal rubbers. But once these are out - if you still can’t shift the dash then check you haven’t missed any of the bolts on the drivers side, there was at least 1 that caught me out.



One time consuming job I hadn’t bargained for was the removal of the foam layer of insulation underneath the dash. My poor dad and his friend were lumbered with this job and it was more work than it looked. Sorry dad!



So that was the dash out. Time for roll cage fitting!

Edited by SparrowHawk on Wednesday 14th April 01:59

SparrowHawk

Original Poster:

38 posts

107 months

Wednesday 14th April
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ROLL CAGE FITTING

I dropped off the car to JP Cages on a Saturday, with the plan of picking it back up again the following Saturday.

They are nice guys, and Josh who owns the company is really easy to deal with. One things for sure, they aren’t short of work! There were several cars in the workshop all having full cages fitted, one of them a full custom cage on an Impreza which looked very nice indeed.



I received a few snapshot teaser pics via social media over the following few days so I was incredibly excited to go back and pick up the car.



The rollcage is the single biggest expense on this project so I was very hopeful that I wouldn’t be disappointed. I was paying £400 for fitting, and I feel this is good value given the welding required to add substantial mounting sections into the floor. Given my limited budget, this would also be an obvious place to save some money if you are capable of doing the welding yourself to a good standard.

Next post will be of collection day.

SparrowHawk

Original Poster:

38 posts

107 months

Thursday
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Good advice ChevronB19. I think I'll go ahead and add the ducting, but ensure that it's easily removable in case it contravenes any regs in the future. The car will be remaining largely standard this season, with the priority being on safety and getting the car 'race legal'; without even the basic mods like manifold, full s/s exhaust system, or ECU remap etc.

I do fully intend to modify & upgrade the car further in future - so at that point will be more diligent on specific series regs and ensuring I built a car to the correct spec for my chosen series.

Rockatansky nice tip on the P-clips, handily I've got some of those already (to fix in the fire extinguisher piping). Thanks for the advice.