RE: Westfield SE: PH Used Buying Guide

RE: Westfield SE: PH Used Buying Guide

Tuesday 20th November

Westfield SE: PH Used Buying Guide

There's a Westfield for every sort of buyer. But if you're spoilt for choice, here's where to start



Kit car. Two words that spark as much derision and debate as they do inspiration and devotion. In the case of the Westfield SE and its many derivatives, it's stood as one of the best of breed for more than 30 years.

The original 7 SE was very close in looks and design to the Caterham Seven, which ended up with legal action forcing Westfield to redesign its car to become the SE. In many ways it helped Westfield to grow, as the SE has become a distinct and popular model in its own right rather than being a replica. It's also gained a big following in track day and motorsport circles, and has proven itself many times over in competition.

There's a wide variety of SE models to choose from, which are listed below. A broad range of engines have also found their way under the Westfield's bonnet, including four-pots, V8s, rotaries and bike motors. Which suits you best will depend on what you want to use the car for and your driving style. In most cases, a four-cylinder car engine works best and these are the most commonly available used models.


Some Westfields will be factory-built, but most are constructed at home, so look for signs of a careful builder such as the routing of pipes, wires and hoses, as well as panel fit and interior trim. Also, the exposed front suspension of a cared for car will be in good condition thanks to regular maintenance and upkeep.

There are plenty of Westfields to pick from and you can find early, scruffy cars from as little as £4,000 that will need work. Later models in good order start from £8,500 with Ford Zetec engines and offer plenty of excitement for two-thirds the price of a basic Caterham. We can't cover every permutation in this guide, so you need to go in with open eyes and mind.

Pre-lit
SE - narrow body, live rear axle
SEi - narrow body, independent rear suspension
SEiW - wide body
SEiGHT - Rover V8 engine
SDV - single donor vehicle using MX-5 base
Sport 2000 - 190hp 2.0-litre Ford Duratec engine
Sport 250 - 255hp Ford Focus ST 2.0 turbo engine
Megabusa - Suzuki Hayabusa engine
Megablade - Honda Fireblade engine
Mega S2000 - Honda S2000 engine
FW400 - 1.8-litre Rover K-series
Classic - multiple engine options, usually Ford Zetec
Sport Turbo - Vauxhall 1.6-litre Turbo engine (pictured)


Buyer's checklist


Bodywork and interior
Check you'll fit the cabin. Seats can have a big bearing on how comfortable you'll be and a narrowbody car with the right seats can be just as accommodating as a wide body SEi.

Inspect all of the glassfibre panels for cracks and star crazing, especially around edges and bolt holes. The nose cone is easily chipped by stones and careless parking, but is simple to repair or replace.

Cars with a wrap may be hiding damaged panels, so check the reverse side.

Basic cabin upholstery and trim can become scruffy over time, but is easy and cheap to replace.

Does the car have a hood and tonneau cover? Do they fit properly and have all their studs and fittings?

A removable steering wheel is a good option to make entry and exit easier.

What sort of belts are fitted? Inertia reel belts are best for road driving, while race belts are ideal for track days. Are race belts in good order and within date if you want to use the car for competition?

What roll bar is fitted? A simple hoop is fine for the road, but rear braces and a diagonal are needed - and a full cage is best - for track and competition work.


Engine and transmission
Almost any four-cylinder engine will fit in the Westfield SE and there have even been diesel-powered versions. The most popular are Ford Zetec motors in newer cars and the Ford Crossflow or CVH in older SE models.

Engine access is excellent, so check for oil and coolant leaks.

Check the condition of the radiator and its plumbing. Many cars use a Volkswagen Polo or Renault Clio radiator that's cheap to replace. Upgrading to aluminium rads is common and an electric fan with thermostat switch is useful.

Make sure the exhaust is in good nick and has a catalytic convertor if the car is registered as 1992 or newer.

Some early SE cars might still have a four-speed Ford gearbox, but the Ford Type 9 and MT75 are by far the most common transmissions in the Westfield. It works well and is reliable.

The SDV uses the MX-5 gearbox, while some race and track cars might come with a sequential 'box from Hewland.

BEC (bike engined cars) will use the transmission from the donor motorcycle for rapid shifts, but make sure you can live with the short, sudden clutch operation.


Suspension and steering

Live axle cars work well on smooth tracks, but independent suspension is more comfortable on the road.

Few cars will share the same suspension set-up by the time they reach the used market. Only a test drive will tell if it suits your needs, but replacing coils and shocks isn't too expensive to change a car to your tastes. This is also a chance to refurbish the suspension's wishbone arms and joints, which is easily done at home.

Adjustable suspension allows owner to tweak the car, but a professional set-up will pay dividends in handling, steering and stability.


Wheels, tyres and brakes
You'll find disc brakes up front, but older cars will have drums at the back. This can provide good stopping power, but rear discs are more efficient. Upgraded discs, pads and calipers are common on cars used for track work.

A common wheel choice is the Team Dynamics Pro Race wheel that's light and available in a variety of sizes. Check wheels for condition.

Tyre choice depends on how you'll use the car. Common options are the Toyo R888 and Proxes T1, Yokohama A048 and Avon ZZR. Be sure the tyres are road-legal unless the car will only be used on track.


SPECIFICATION - WESTFIELD SE 1.8 ZETEC

Engine: 1,796cc 4-cyl inline
Transmission: 5-speed man
Power (hp): 165@/5,600rpm
Torque (lb ft): 156@3,600rpm
MPG: 30 (est)
CO2: 180g/km (est)
Price new: £12,000 (home-build)
Price now: £8,500 upwards

Author
Discussion

Equus

Original Poster:

4,758 posts

37 months

Tuesday 20th November
quotequote all
The FW400 is listed as though it's just a K-series engined SEi, whereas it probably shouldn't be in this article at all: it's a completely different design and shares no significant components with the SE/SEi cars.

And which Westfields will you find with a sequential Hewland? The FW400 and one SEI that I'm aware of modified for hillclimbing had Hewland transaxles, but they weren't sequentials.

The rest of the article is so vague and generic that they might as well not have bothered.

sideways man

541 posts

73 months

Tuesday 20th November
quotequote all
Great cars. I’ve had two; an SEI with a lancia delta turbo motor and an SEIW with a zetec. SEI is prob my fav handling car, just a perfect balance and lighter being that bit smaller.
Having driven a Caterham, think I prefer the westie for road use as it’s that bit less extreme in chassis and suspension set up.
Will I have another.... yes but not as a daily! Although you can get a lot of shopping in the boot and passenger seat.

timbo999

554 posts

191 months

Tuesday 20th November
quotequote all
I loved my Westfield... wonder where it is now? Still going strong according to the DVLA...


RogerDodger

527 posts

30 months

Tuesday 20th November
quotequote all
"check for panel fit" :-)

There is only one. The bonnet.

Great cars, excellent value for money. Bought wisely you'll never lose a penny and get to try several models over the years.

Olivera

3,128 posts

175 months

Tuesday 20th November
quotequote all
A couple of (genuine) questions:

1) Why do Westfields look comparatively so ugly when compared to Caterhams? All of the detailing (styling/wheels/interior) just looks clumsy in comparison.
2) Why are they regarded (in road tests and forums) as inferior handlers when compared to a Caterham? Are there technical reasons for this or are they just badly built or setup from the factory?
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RogerDodger

527 posts

30 months

Tuesday 20th November
quotequote all
As a helpful price guide, and also because I loved them. Some pics.

SE (Narrow, live axle) 1600 Twincam Toyota 4AGE engine. 160 ish bhp. cost me £7000. Easiest drive of them all. Great fun.



Seight - 249 Bhp (dyno'd) 4.3l V8. Revved to 6500. Cost me £8500. Totally brutal.



SEiW Cosworth 2 ltr na conversion. 240 Bhp, straight cut gearbox with clubman set. Very well set up suspension. Revved to 8000. Amazing. Too loud for me (the gearbox).. Amazing on the track. Cost me £12k



Sold all of them for more than I paid.

So much fun for the money.

RogerDodger

527 posts

30 months

Tuesday 20th November
quotequote all
Olivera said:
A couple of (genuine) questions:

1) Why do Westfields look comparatively so ugly when compared to Caterhams? All of the detailing (styling/wheels/interior) just looks clumsy in comparison.
2) Why are they regarded (in road tests and forums) as inferior handlers when compared to a Caterham? Are there technical reasons for this or are they just badly built or setup from the factory?
1) because they had to change the look for legal reasons, and all but the SE are significantly wider. Caterhams cost a LOT more. The nose cone on the Seight (red one above, and mine - the white one) is pretty damn ugly.

2) Mostly a myth. But also, nearly all Westfields are home built , whereas the majority of Chaterhams are factory built, so you get a lot of variance. The handling is all down to setup - and component choice. The people who tell you Westfields can't handle either own a Caterham and are just repeating what they've been told, or they've driven a badly set up car.

Westfields are an absolute steal as long as you are buying for performance and handling, and not a badge


Edited by RogerDodger on Tuesday 20th November 19:01


Edited by RogerDodger on Tuesday 20th November 19:02

Equus

Original Poster:

4,758 posts

37 months

Tuesday 20th November
quotequote all
RogerDodger said:
"check for panel fit" :-)

There is only one. The bonnet.
Scuttle, nosecone and main body tub too. Separate rear wheelarches on some models.

You see quite a few with the main body tub fitted badly, such that the rear wheels don't site centrally in the wheelarches, so this is actually fair comment.

Note how the rear wheel is sitting further forward in the arch on this one:



And further rearward in the arch on this one:


RogerDodger

527 posts

30 months

Tuesday 20th November
quotequote all
Wow, I've never seen people make a bodge of the whole tub like that before.

I stand corrected!

Edited by RogerDodger on Tuesday 20th November 19:04

Equus

Original Poster:

4,758 posts

37 months

Tuesday 20th November
quotequote all
RogerDodger said:
Wow, I've never seen people make a bodge of the arches before like that!
Really? You haven't been paying attention, then - it's very common indeed... the fact that it took me about 15 seconds with a Google image search to come up with those two should tell you something!

In fact, I'd go so far as to say that if you look closely, it's more common to see rear wheelarch clearances that are slightly cockeyed than not.

RogerDodger

527 posts

30 months

Tuesday 20th November
quotequote all
Equus said:
Really? You haven't been paying attention, then - it's very common indeed... the fact that it took me about 15 seconds with a Google image search to come up with those two should tell you something!

In fact, I'd go so far as to say that if you look closely, it's more common to see rear wheelarch clearances that are slightly cockeyed than not.
I've been paying attention enough that I've owned three, and been hillclimbing them for 2 years, and never seen it before - and I've seen a lot of them :-) Or perhaps I just dont' notice that kind of thing.

Equus

Original Poster:

4,758 posts

37 months

Tuesday 20th November
quotequote all
RogerDodger said:
... Or perhaps I just dont' notice that kind of thing.
That must be the case. I think. I've owned a couple, too (among several Locaterfield type cars, including a Caterham), and I notice it all the time. In fact, if you're looking for it, it's more a case of where it's wrong, and by how much, than if it's wrong.

It'll probably drive you nuts, now I've mentioned it. Sorry! biggrin

renmure

2,758 posts

160 months

Tuesday 20th November
quotequote all
I had a Megablade for a couple of years. Personally, I think the westie shape suited the bike engined look with a fairly spartan interior and aeroscreen. In truth, it was a bit hardcore for me and while every drive was memorable I got to the stage where I couldn't be bothered with it. I did try a windscreened Cateraham R300 Superlight for a couple of years and that was easier to live with but again I realised I wasn't hardcore enough for that either.


s10mph

55 posts

129 months

Tuesday 20th November
quotequote all
RogerDodger said:
Wow, I've never seen people make a bodge of the whole tub like that before.

I stand corrected!

Edited by RogerDodger on Tuesday 20th November 19:04
The SE & SEW body tub is indeed a bit lop-sided, due to the original mould being incorrectly formed in first incarnation. Home builders had to compromise on where the uneven gaps showed themselves hence some look better than others.
Later FW style bodies are straight thankfully.
I have a ‘98 SEIW with a tuned Redtop engine, plenty fast enough for me on the road and track.
A lot of Caterham drivers berate Westfields because of the copy cat 7 design and the fact that most are home built. You have to realise there are an awful lot of good home builders out there that have skills to put together a real good Kit Car. They often build a Westfield far more high specced than the factory could do for the same money.
Like any car, a prospective buyer should carefully examine what they are buying.
Here’s me at Brands a couple of weeks ago ——


Edited by s10mph on Tuesday 20th November 22:06

Goodsteed

613 posts

120 months

Tuesday 20th November
quotequote all
Good write up. Thanks. I’d add that Westfield won’t supply you with prelit parts. Think this has depressed values.

deadscoob

2,006 posts

196 months

Tuesday 20th November
quotequote all
A properly built westie is every bit as capable on track as a caterham.

Bike engined ones are fun but harder work than car engined equivs on road. Love the look ala renmures tho

Wacky Racer

30,180 posts

183 months

Tuesday 20th November
quotequote all
Here's the SE I built back in 1991 fitted with a 2.0 Pinto and twin 40's. Bought the recon Engine (only) from Westfield for £250.


m444ttb

2,945 posts

165 months

Wednesday 21st November
quotequote all
My Westfield was a pain in the arse and rarely drove it, but I do miss it. I'd love to have another alongside my 996 if I had a double garage.

Nigel_O

1,494 posts

155 months

Wednesday 21st November
quotequote all
Good to see a buyer's guide for Westfields, but it is a bit light on detail. For example, more could have been said about common engine choices, running from early crossflows and Pintos on carbs, through to the much more common Zetec / Duratec & Vauxhall 16v lumps on throttle bodies.

Also, more could have been said about the range of "usable" power from the various cars - its pretty subjective, but I reckon around 180-200bhp is the sweet-spot of power when it's only hauling around 600kg plus the driver. That said, I'd love an S2000 lump - the revvy N/A nature just suits the car so well and I'm sure I could learn how to cope with 240bhp...

I was getting tired of my previous "weekend car" (480+ bhp Fiat Coupe), so I fancied trying something a bit different. I had known the previous owner of my Westfield for many years and had been trying to buy it off him since 2015. He eventually gave in early this year and I now get most of my weekend driving kicks with 35% of the power and about 40% of the weight

The biggest draw for me is the opportunity to tinker and make the car my own. I've already spent a few quid on carbon bits, sticky tyres and chassis / suspension mods and there's more to come over winter.

I definitely prefer the cleaner aeroscreen look to the full screen, but it can be a bit draughty - I took it out for a blat last Sunday and it was pretty fresh. Now looking for a way to get some of the engine bay heat into the cockpit to take the edge off the cold.

The key is that I have now resumed going for a drive just for the hell of it - something I haven't done for a long time (probably since I was on bikes). Its also perfectly possible to have a great drive without achieving ballistic speeds - 60mph is plenty on a good, winding B road

Good excuse for a couple of piccies.....




vanman1936

289 posts

155 months

Wednesday 21st November
quotequote all
Do those roll over bars provide decent coverage to an average height driver with a helmet on.....look a bit low?