by Gar Cole.
Part 3 of this blog picks up almost a full year from the last instalment (you can refresh your memory of the last part here - Ed).
As with all projects they have taken far longer than predicted, however perseverance has paid off and we're now on the home straight.
I know some of you have a soft spot for classic caravans and my 'Doris' an 8ft by 5ft Holivan Jnr certainly draws attention. Following on from the last blog the interior repairs have all been carried out, a new L shape seating area built and installed which allows for a single 6ft 4in bed to be made up at night. Period correct materials were used to refurbish the inside but it has been kept as basic as the day it left the Fisher workshop down in Surrey almost 60 years ago.
Now repainted in Goose wing grey with Trafalgar blue accents to match her tow car, for your £197.00 you got a bed, 3 cupboards, a sink and 1 gas lamp, but hey it beats tenting, and at just 260kg you could pull it with a small car, for example, a Morris Minor............😀
Nelson, my trusty but slightly tatty 4 door Moggy had been left in the care of the Brooks brothers in November of 2017. By New Year the original A series engine and gearbox had been removed and the replacement Triumph 1500TC engine installed. We even got to hear it running despite having no exhaust fitted and it fired up right away.
Speaking as someone with basic mechanical ability who can just manage an oil change or brake pads I watched in awe as Gus continued to somehow shoehorn vastly larger components into original spaces. The Borg Warner automatic gearbox is twice the size and 3 times the weight of the original, yet with careful fabrication of the original cradle it slotted up into the transmission tunnel without having to alter it at all.
From then on, the car started fighting back a bit. The steering column had to be moved slightly to clear the bell housing, with the carbs and exhaust being on the opposite side to the A series it required a custom made down pipe and exhaust system, all built in-house by Gus.
It's always the final details that are hardest and this was true of this conversion. A custom-built prop-shaft was made for it, and finding a suitable radiator that sat further forward of the new engine proved troublesome until a Peugeot 205 diesel radiator was suggested by a fellow Moggy owner. This worked and with some custom water pipes and a few other tricky jobs overcome he was ready to be collected early April.
Now my intention was never to create a "Hot Rod" - I simply wanted an automatic conversion with a tad more power to pull Doris the Caravan. However going from 48 bhp to 84 bhp was always going to be interesting in a 780 kg rear wheel drive car, so you ask, what's it like to drive?
The short answer is "Huge Fun"! It shoots off the line instantly, it has so much torque it barely uses 1st gear and goes for 2nd at 5 mph, what follows is a rorty and very rapid blast to 60 mph with very smooth changes. Between the twin carb induction noise and the large bore exhaust it's fairly loud, but in a good way; it keeps saying 'Go on ya wimp, push me some more".
Unfortunately I did just that and managed to get a speeding ticket in a 52 yo car, something I'm childishly proud of, and no doubt will be a source of amusement when I attend my speed awareness course - 53 mph in a 40 Your Honour.
During the Peak District tour of 11th to 14th May, the car covered 280 miles and it didn't miss a beat. On motorways, traffic jams and mountain roads it is more than capable of keeping up with far larger classic cars and I had a few fun white-knuckled blasts chasing the V8's on the tour with us. Gus's workmanship is top notch and everything he fitted and made worked flawlessly.
I now need to up rate the rest of the car to cope, number 1 being disc brakes on the front, closely followed by wider wheels and tyres. In my enthusiasm chasing aforementioned V8 Rovers, I hit the engine sump on a bouncy road and cracked it so that it started dripping, it's currently off being welded and I will be having the suspension raised by adjusting the torsion bars and fitting a sump guard.
It's a great fun car but possibly a little bit too powerful. I'm toying with swapping back to a single carb and adding a second exhaust box, this should detune it by around 10bhp and make him a less menacing-sounding brute. I'm now setting about improving his paintwork as he tours in rather exotic company 😀
Filter by Author
Filter by Month