The Story of a Kit Car Build

Teething Troubles

Right. On with the process of driving through country lanes, top down, listening to the burble of the exhaust as we look for a place to stop for lunch.

Stop. Dream over. I had to sort out a few teething troubles before setting off on trips out. First was more accurate alignment of the front wheels. That done, I did a few test drives. I wasn’t too thrilled with the performance. For a 2ltr lightweight car it didn’t seem very fast so I had to find out what the cause of that was. I’d had to swap the cylinder head for one I had in my garage as the original had sprung an oil leak from the front oil seal on the camshaft. It just seemed easier to swap them rather than have the original rebuilt. Unfortunately this didn’t work according to plan as the engine went worse with dreadful ‘pinking’ occurring whenever I set off or it changed gear. There was no option but to have the first one reconditioned and made suitable for unleaded fuel. So with that done I tried again. It was better but still not right. I was beginning to suspect the ECU but was told that once these were working they should be OK. However, it was increasingly harder to get running and was fouling every set of plugs I put in.

Eventually I tried a conventional points/condenser type distributor, and it burst into life FIRST TIME! I couldn’t believe it. I was right all along. So I made the connections permanent and now all that runs off the ECU are things like headlamp relays and temperature gauge, so one day I might get rid of that altogether.

Great. That’s sorted. Off we go. Well, not quite. After a few test runs the gearbox stuck in second gear! This upset me, to put it mildly, so back home to check on the fluid level of the box as this is apparently the first thing to check. Everything seemed to be OK so I set off again and all was well, until the next time I suppose. I rang a well respected gearbox specialist who quoted around £1016 for a reconditioned box. I’ve got a spare one, so I’ll wait and see if I can use that if this one plays up, and if I don’t get any joy then I’ll have to cough up and get it done.

It was too good to last. Eventually things started to go wrong: misfiring, fouling plugs, etc. Right, run through everything methodically: points, condenser changed – no better – dizzy cap and new plug lead to the same result. Plugs? No way! These had been changed too many times and they weren’t getting changed again. The timing was OK so I took the dizzy out for closer examination. There was the problem. The dizzy shaft had too much sideways play, so the points had different gaps on each heel of the shaft. If I set it on one particular heel, they didn’t open at all on one of the others! At some stage I must have, by sheer chance, arrived at a mean average, which meant things worked for a short while.

New distributor next on the shopping list!