The race season is fast approaching, and before I can enter the Caltex car in any competitive motorsport later in the year I’ve still got loads to do. Regular readers will remember that last month I replaced the rear suspension and diff with the Group A-spec components required to compete in Historic Touring Car racing, and this month it’s been a case of more of the same, only turning my attention to the front suspension.
The car was already running on some rather trick magnesium front uprights, but as these only work with the original road-going hubs they are no longer suitable. So, off they came… along with the adjustable TCAs, compressions struts, front hubs, brakes, and all of the entire front-end running gear. Basically, the whole lot will be replaced with genuine Group A parts.
But before I can look to put any of that stuff back together, I’ve now turned my attention to another area of the build; the engine. The race engine build is already well underway – the spec will be the same 500bhp-plus version as found in the race cars back in the ’80s – but before I can start thinking about fitting the new engine I need to address the problem of mounting points – the original engine is mounted on standard-style Sierra engine mounts (just like the road cars), but the race cars used solid mounting points.
The original style mounts use a big rubber block fitted to the front crossmember, and the engine drops on top of this to isolate the engine movement from the chassis. Whereas, on a race car, the engine is effectively bolted directly to the chassis for increased rigidity and reduced engine movement under hard acceleration and braking.
My initial plan was to use the current engine to make up the new solid engine mounts; I planned to remove one side at a time to ensure the engine sits in the correct place. But after looking at it in more depth, the lack of space in the bay with an engine fitted meant it would be a real pain to get everything measured and cut accurately.
So, instead, I decided to pull the old engine out completely. This now gives me loads of room to work, and I can be confident in my measurements before I cut or weld anything. To make life easier I have sourced a bare YB block, which I will use to mock up the engine’s position while making up the new solid mounts.
The Getrag gearbox has been left in place (although this will be replaced with another version complete with oil cooler and pumps before race day!) as it means I can bolt the bare block to it to ensure everything is centred. The eagle eyed among you will have spotted that the new blocks for the bladed front anti-roll bar have already been fitted too – I have to admit at the current point this is mainly to help hold the front end of the gearbox up though!
I already have the kit to make up the new solid engine mounts, and that’s my next job. Once they’re sorted I can start to fit the new engine and then look to reassemble all of the running gear and brakes too. It may look the same from the outside, but this car will be an entirely different beast under the skin.