| We had a good 2008. The team built a Sports 2000 car, JT7b, and managed to get on track. It was hard work and we did well to get a running car on the limited resources that we had available. JT7b was something we cobbled together as a “taster” to see if we could compete in the S2000 events. A few outings at Knockhill followed by a trip to Silverstone and Brands Hatch put smiles on our faces but to go further there was a lot to consider. The car was a compromise and had some serious issues if it was to become a long term project with development potential. It was too short in the wheelbase and as a result of this had no space for a bigger fuel tank. The driver too was under scrutiny and it was suggested that “he was 30 years too old, 3 stone too heavy and a weeks testing away from ever being considered as suitable” For 2009 we were unsure if we could do much better given that the Sports 2000 championship is down south and to compete we would have to find the finance for a better car and more funds to allow us to compete. It seemed a tall order but John Kyle and Cardowan Creameries came to our rescue and supplied enough funds for us to put together a package that would allow us to make some progress and his kind offer of finance gave us a lot to think about for 2009. After lots of deliberation we decided to build a new chassis with a longer wheelbase than the original car which would give us space for a bigger fuel tank. We hoped that most of the original bodywork could be made to fit by adding a longer centre section. The driver meanwhile would go on a strict diet and after he had lost some weight, would try some exercise in the hope of getting a bit fitter. The best laid plans………………………… a year later JT7c was ready to test.|
There were plenty of things to keep me busy in the workshop but one Sunday night a moment on eBay changed the work order when I spotted one of my automobile first loves, a 1973 Clan Crusader. I had owned one in 1974 and nostalgia had got the better of me. A foolish button pressing session later saw me the proud owner of a rather nice blue example of the marque. The nostalgia balloon burst when I went to pick it up. The little car was in a terrible condition. The photographs had been taken in the rain and the sheen that looked like a good paint job had gone and in its place was a faded peeling mess. A throwaway line in the ad “Parcelshelf needs replacing, new one supplied” caught me out as the memory forgot that the parcelshelf was structural. A new inner sill had been fitted but this had obviously been done by a blind man with a Halfords fibreglass repair kit. It was awful but thanks to my button pressing antics, it belonged to me. It is the second time that a Clan on Ebay has caught me out and if I had not gone such a long way I would have turned and ran away as I did the first time. The plan was to get it running and use it as my every day transport. Sadly after collection I discovered this was not going to happen for a very long time.
So there we have it. For 2009 we had new sports 2000 to be designed, built and raced and just to keep us going, we also had a Clan crusader to restore.
While I concentrated on the design of the new Sports 2000 I got stuck in to the Crusader. John Kyle was out one day for a look see and he was smitten. Despite having a fondness for the red cars from Modena the wee Clan tickled his fancy. Soon a plan was laid to build two competition cars for some classic events later on. More button pressing on the internet saw us up to two Clans and if that was not enough we decided to purchase an abandoned project that was based on a brand new shell. We also got lucky and were given a seriously damaged bodyshell by a friend of a friend.
Things were going well but it did not take long for us to find the weak link in the Clan design. Plywood rots. How do we know that? Prodding about in all our shells put us right. Every shell was suffering from rot so we decided to go the full hog and replace all the plywood.
It was a rotten job, pardon the pun, but had to be done. Both side diaphragms were replaced as was the parcelshelf. We soon developed a method to strip out the old ply by cutting above the mould line and then grinding down to open up the mounting edge. Even the “new” shell had to be done because water had got in at some point and the bottom had started to rot.
I spent as many hours in the workshop as I could and managed 77 hours one week. I was smitten and things were going well. It took longer than expected but we soon had 3 shells ready for paint.
Meanwhile we laid out a new chassis for the new racer on the jig. We were trying for a miracle because it had to be lower in height but longer in length with a bigger fuel tank. The tricky bit was we had to make it lighter. Various methods of construction were discussed but we decided on a large section spaceframe skinned in aluminium. The panels were to be bonded and riveted in place. We had 6 weeks but were confident of getting it built. Our big problem came when we tried to fit the bodywork. The wings were ok as was the tail section but everything else did not fit. The mid section was the worst and we decided to start again after the first effort failed to work. We needed new floors and had a great idea for the side panels. Sadly we did not get the panels constructed in the way we wanted but we felt that what we came up with was a good compromise. It became obvious that we were going to miss the first race of the season and we were exhausted after all the hours we put in so we decided to leave it till 2010 to go racing. That we felt was our best option and I think with hindsight we were correct. That also gave us the chance to sort out other parts of the project. The engine had never been on the dynometer and it always sounded flat when on track.