It was only a slight tap. I don't think the initial impact even made a mark on the car. But the results were fairly devastating - hit five more times in every corner, the shell was well and truly bent.
The first thought was - 'Can we repair it'? I'm sure other people would have done - someone with access to a bodyshop with cheap or free labour, cheap parts and the necessary skills to fit them would probably have got the car back on the road cheaper than the option I took (a reshell). But I decided on buying a running road car;
- I wouldn't have to worry
about redo-ing the wiring loom - I'd just use the one on the new car
- All the fuel lines would be in place for the injection engine
- I'd get both bumpers, all four wheel trims, spare wheels, all panels - all of which I'd otherwise have to buy
- I didn't have time to rebuild a car from a bare shell.
Thus within 6 days of the Mallory crash I was up in Sudbury (in the middle of nowhere) looking at WWL 151X - an Alpine White road car which was pretty much as described - straight shell, poor interior and a dodgy clutch. The sum of £700 was duly agreed and since the journey had been horrendous and I couldn't be bothered to return with the trailer the next day, the trip home was attempted. Indeed it made it in one piece, with hardly any clutch slippage at all - though I had to limit the revs to 2500.....
Then the hard work started - the interior was stripped out immediately, with just the front two seats being put back in their runners. The headlining was removed, and some parts of the wrecked car were removed too - engine, gearbox, steering rack, all ancillaries, steering wheel, fire extinguisher, cuts offs etc. On one very wet and miserable Saturday the suspension was swapped between the two cars (unfortunately we had to refit the road suspension to the wrecked shell just to put it back in the garage!). Now I had a mean looking Mk1 road car - it was starting to take shape.
Next step was to remove the cage from the wreck (some of it was welded in) and start to plan how to weld up the sunroof in the new car (its only real disadvantage - I couldn't find a shell without one). Eventually I decided to outsource welding in the cage and roof to the new shell, so the car was sent to Eastway Engineering in Bow, in the capable hands of Alan Jackson. While the car was there it was decided to get Alan to fit the engine and box too, in an attempt to save my marriage (and get the bathroom decorated). Alan did both tasks more than admirably, and also threw in lots of other miscellaneous work such as stripping the sound deadening, swapping the brake M/C and servo over, refitting the rack, improving the front suspension, refitting the thicker rear anti roll bar, etc. At about this time Steve Barber kindly lent his time (and more importantly his LWB Land Rover) to tow away the old wreck - at least I now would have to look at the thing every day on the driveway.
Alan completed all the work on the weekend of 8/9 June, and the car was collected that Sunday night. Plans to drive it back (its still MOT'd and I even taxed it!!) through the Blackwall tunnel and via the M25 went up in smoke with the mother of all traffic jams at the tunnel entrance, so a route through central London was chosen - proving beyond doubt the car wasn't going to overheat, and that it idles when hot....
Actually the journey was a bit of a nightmare as you might imagine in what was now a fully prepared race car, but by the time I got to Brixton I was actually starting to enjoy it and managed to surprise a lowered red Golf Mk2 with blacked out windows down the High Street - I'd forgotten how quick this thing was. Brakes weren't so good (forgotten that as well) but fortunately no-one wandered out in front of me.... (it was late on Sunday night).
So all that is left to finish is the fire extinguisher, cut off switch, external pulls, bonnet pins and door numbers. And probably a few other bits I've forgotten. And I'm on holiday for a week. And Snetterton is only 10 days away.
If I do make it the car won't be at its best;
- there's not quite enough
camber on the front wheels
- I won't get time to refit the Goodrich brake hoses and bleed through synthetic fluid
- I won't get time to take out all the sound deadening that's left
- I may not get time to fit my Red Top race battery
- There'll certainly be no time to get any testing in (other than a blast down the Caterham Bypass)
But I can hardly wait for Snetterton and those green lights again - and of course the madness of the first corner again. Maybe I'll get round in one piece this time....