| After a good year in 2010 we were unsure what to do to keep the fun going and keep the enjoyment levels high. At times during 2010 we were running on empty, such was the effort required to design and build our own car never mind keeping it racing. A national series is a big ask, especially when the nearest circuit on the schedule is 260 miles away. The Rotor JT7 sports 2000 car was a great success but certain aspects of the S2000 series were not so good. We also had a few other options available to us and at the top of that list was the Clan project. The teams’ benefactor and sponsors, Cardowan Creameries, were pleased with our efforts in S2000 and suggested we went back for more but most of us felt to do so would mean a lot more work. We felt we would need to improve the car, do more testing miles and find more speed from the driver. With the resources we have, the team felt we had given it our best shot and it would take some serious money and a lot more effort to do much better. Simon and Graham went to the S2000 dance and AGM to pick up their class award and to see what the club were offering for 2011.|
After the AGM we headed for the bar where issues that the AGM should have sorted out were being discussed. Some of the gripes went back years and we looked on in astonishment as one manufacturer claimed they had lost the championship because “everyone else is cheating”. It was early in the day so it was not the drink talking and we felt it was more sour grapes and a lack of ability to lose gracefully. Simon and I could not believe what was being said and things got worse when he turned to me and said "you are cheating as well" This came as a shock because we had done nothing that I felt was in any way out of the spirit of the regulations nor directly against them. It turned out he felt that the bodywork of some cars were giving them an “unfair aerodynamic advantage”. He was obviously prepared for the issue because out came the regulations and everyone who would listen was shown the relevant section. To say I was shocked was an understatement. You spend £600, travel 680 miles in the worst possible conditions to pick up an award at the prize giving dance and after an AGM where such matters should be discussed you are hit with a rant from a bad loser. Fair spoiled the occasion it did and it was not helped by the secretary of the club suggesting we just forget about the whole episode. We tried to but early in January we discovered that the Sports 2000 racing club had, after 34 years and without consulting the members, changed the bodywork rules to specifically outlaw certain style of bodywork and our car, the only Pinto car to fall foul of the rules, was being banned. To add insult to injury when we complained an unelected technical panel suddenly appeared to argue the case. To say we had issues with the whole argument was an understatement. On first draft they had come up with a form of words that outlawed nearly all the cars in the series and it took another 6 drafts before the rules, based on the LM rules of the day, with exceptions to protect certain S2 cars, went to the MSA for approval. After a lot of discussion and reference to how rule changes should be made, common sense started to prevail and those with cars that did not conform had a years grace as the introduction of the new rules were delayed for a year. In deference to our sponsors we had invested a fair bit of time and money on another season in S2000 but the whole issue of the way things were carried out on the rules issue and the lack of transparency from the club made the team decide that we would spend our money elsewhere and give the series a miss in 2011 and work on the Clans and Imp.
|JT7 on its final run. |
CLANS AND IMPS This project was a dream Graham had harboured for 30+ years. Having owned a Clan in period and having used it in some competitions his head was turned when the chance to live the dream came about. It was decided that we would build a rally Clan and a race Clan and if enough good parts could be sourced, a road car. This would mean a lot of work because Clans suffer terribly from age. The wood used for strengtheners rots, the steel corrodes in the suspension and the interior is usually rotten through the ingress of water. This was confirmed by the first car Graham bought. It was in very poor condition, had been photographed in the wet to make the bodywork look good and had the line "parcel shelf requires fitting but is included in sale" That was the first shock as the parcel shelf is bonded into the car and not an easy job to do. Although designed and built in a low tech time they are quite clever in design but were let down by poor detail work. The door hinges are a disaster and windows were poorly sealed as was the sun roofs. To build a competition Clan requires a lot of research to make sure modern rules, particularly those in regard to safety, were being complied with and yet complies with the historic vehicle rules.
The race Clan body shell, although sold as new, turned out to be 35 years old and had been poorly assembled in manufacture and lots of sections were poorly finished. The shell for the rally car needed lots of work converting it as the wooden diaphragms were rotten and things like the wheel arches needed extra work. Graham had been collecting competition parts for a number of years for the projects and had been working towards a 1040cc race engine and a 998cc rally engine to power the cars. Imp engine bits are expensive and certain items difficult to come by at a reasonable cost so certain bits were made or machined by the team. As the pictures show there was a lot of remedial work done before the actual build was started. Issues with the supplied roll cage persuaded the team that they should manufacture their own. There is not much headroom inside a Clan at the best of times so when you add a rollcage, crash helmet and all the other things that reduce space things get tight.
|New inner sills fitted|
|New parcel shelf|
|Sun roof hole filled|
|Roll cage and a selection of shells|
|Arty workshop shot|
|Ready for action|
When looking for Imp parts a lead led Graham to a field in Glenmavis. There, where it had stood for 23 years, was a Sunbeam Imp Sport. To say it was in a shocking state was an understatement. The old tin worm had had a good feed but at the price asked, it was too good to pass over and it became one of the bargains of the year. When we went to see it we discovered that it was low mileage and had been put off the road because it needed some welding for the MOT test. Sadly the owner kept putting this off and the car was eventually abandoned to a field beside his workshop. The car moved without any problems which was amazing and the engine still had the proper coolant in it and turned over freely. Our initial idea was to strip it for parts but we decided to keep it in one piece in case there were problems with the Clans getting a competition car log book. So far the future is undecided but any thoughts of competition seem out of the question. Rally or racing an Imp does not appear to be good value so it looks like the car will be restored and become a fast road car.
2011 was a busy year as a huge amount of work went into building the Clans. Highlight of the year was taking both cars to the Clan 40 Event. This was a celebration of the Clan marque, held in Washington where they were built. The Clan owners club had staged the event to celebrate the fact that the car was 40 years old. The intention was to get 40 cars there and they managed 46. For us it was a great chance to compare our car with some of the others on show. Everything from the pristine concourse winner to the unrestored wreck were on show. Competition cars came from far and wide and it was fantastic to see the different modifications that the various owners had made. That was the problem because no two cars were the same. We stayed on a site next to a historical car groups workshops and a good time was had by all.
|Drews Murrays motor bike engined Clan with the rally Clan and the racing Clan beside it at Clan 40|
|Clan 40 campsite|