Welcome to the first of many (we hope!) articles where we attempt to wade through the issues surrounding the design, construction and race/registration of a Individually Constructed Vehicle (ICV) that can be used at the track and probably on the road as well!
This is one of the most ambitious projects undertaken by a magazine within Australia!
If you are anything like me you may find it often frustrating to look in foreign magazines and read about the interesting cars that people can buy and often drive to the track or for a quick blast on the ‘deserted’ (having worked on and off in the UK for a number of years I find this bit hard to believe…but it makes a good story!) local roads.
In recent years the number and quality of these cars seem to have improved in the concepts (effective in board suspension, ground effects etc), technology (Torsen diffs, sequential gearboxes and bike engines etc) and performance, to such a level that there seems to be little relationship to the kit-cars of the past that were powered (tongue in cheek with the power bit!) by a trusty old pinto and a pair of dellorto’s nicked off a rusted out Alfa.
In fact the speed and ability of cars such as the ‘Radical’ has increased such that they reportedly lap at a similar speed to F3 cars (and equal to that of classic F1 cars) and one Radical now holds the outright lap record for the Nordschliffe. Indeed this turbo Radical easily eclipses the current and latest GT Porsche (which has a twin turbo v10 engine and costs 300,000 pounds) on 1500 turbocharged CC!
This massive shift in performance and technology has even infected the venerable Westfield and Caterham branded ‘clubman’s’, both introducing models in the last few years that are going faster than they every have before
But I mentioned frustration…..yes, its all very well looking at such luscious images in magazines as EVO etc but unless you have a very large budget and are able to talk quick (and flash a bit of thigh, if not your own…someone who appeals to the customs officer and your local registration office) the likelihood of being able to replicate the British is very unlikely indeed.
The American market is not quite so sophisticated as far as road cars go, with clubman style cars just in the past 5 years, starting to make some inroads into a POWER dominated car culture. This culture is reeling from the Evo/WRX onslaught that affected the rest of the world so long ago.
Now I was talking about frustration!
The other factor that prompts this feeling of frustration is that this sort of car may not be desired that much within mainstream Oz car culture. Current Australian carculture seems to be split into two large camps and their usually much smaller offshoots. The first is the ‘Ozzie V8 best mate and none of that jap crap’ and the second seems to be the exact reverse! There are of course the various ‘National’ divisions (American, French, British and Italian…some times preferences being made as a family trait) which leaves little support left for such go-it-alone approaches as DIY sports cars.
There are notable exceptions in Australia’s history. Probably Nota and Bolwell being the best known, and they have turned out some cracking little cars. The Nota Fang, one the great car names in Australian car history. Often thought to be referring to a dogs tooth…but I always thought of the Aussie…’take it for a fang around the block mate’, might have been the story behind the name!
In addition to this is the sudden swarm (I dare not use the word plague!) of ‘locosts’ taking shape in garages around Australia following the publication of Ron Champion’s book ‘How to build your own sports car for 250 pounds and race it’ (Haynes press) So maybe there’s hope yet!
But this raises the awful last factor which has two answers. No doubt there are some people out there already saying ‘Why don’t you just build a ‘Nota/Cobra/Clubman etc then?’
Well answer one is this: I DON’T FIT!… and no they do not make a high roof version of a GT40! and No I do not want to hear any of those ‘take the front seat out and sit in the back’ jokes!
The second reason is that a lot of the cars available don’t necessarily do a lot for me. Yes they are often very capable and speedy (probably more capable of high speed than I am), usually well made, thought out and do very well at the circuit sprints and races….but they are just missing something that is hard to put a finger on! Probably its just something as simple as ‘I want to do it myself’
The plan is this, I will detail my thoughts on the design processes so far and list any startling revelations as I go along (not too startling…this is me doing this and thinking after all) and we will eventually end up with a plan for a car.
Then with the gods of finances, insurance and time willing we will build the car and detail all aspects of the build.
We have every intention of making the plans/design of the car available so that other interested persons can join us in this adventure, however this is pending some legal opinion and tackling the dreaded insurance issue (this aspect of Australian life has become much more complicated lately).
All of the plans, construction details and data will (if possible) be provided on a DVD. This DVD will be provided to those RPM readers who collect the tickets (you will find one on this page) and pay a nominal sum.
This will give you licence to build one car from the plans.
We are going down the DVD route so that the plans can be printed out on a plotter if required.
We have every intention of making this an affordable project with an all up cost of $50,000 or less.
We also acknowledge that special or difficult to get parts are not helpful for anyone, so if humanly possible we will try and use parts that we have sourced from local wrecking yards and from readily available cars. If this is not possible for some things e.g. a transaxle or upright, then we will provide the widest range of options for sourcing one, both locally and overseas.
These sources will be respected engineering companies that do work within the motorsport field or a related field and we trust they will be provide a quality product.
The other aspect of this is that we WILL listen to the views of our listeners and if you have views or advice, lets us know.
We are thus hoping to be reader guided, after all we hope that other out there will want to build a ‘Godiva’ of their own.
So the dream so far:
1. Weight approx 800-900kg
2. Power approx 200kW
3. 4 wheels
4. Must meet expected safety standards such as FAI/CAMS approved roll cage.
5. Must be able to accept a tall driver (if I can fit almost anyone else will be able to fit easily!)
6. As advanced a suspension system as can be reliably built by an amature.
8. Cheapish to build, using production car bits
9. As fast as the expensive cars!
10. Able to be registered.
Next we will get into the gritty issues of balancing design priorities and our first feedback from interested readers, so send in your ideas and tell us what you want and what you like.
What cars have inspired you over time and if you were to follow us down this path what sort of motorsport would you like to do with the car?