Last month I introduced myself and the return of my old Caltex RS500, which I’ll be racing in Historic Touring Car events throughout 2019 alongside good friend, and former RS500 BTCC racer, Karl Jones. But with the start of the season just around the corner there’s no time to waste in getting everything prepared and ready.
The Caltex car was built to a very high-spec when I first built it back in 2008, but now that it’ll be competing in historic races there are rules and regulations it needs to meet. Therefore, parts like the magnesium Bilstein front uprights on the car are no longer serviceable; everything needs to be as it was in the BTCC pre-1990. Basically, it needs to be exactly as it was when the RS500s competed in the BTCC in the late ’80s.
But given how dominant they were back then, this is no bad thing. It just means that all the running gear currently on the car needs to come off and be swapped over for genuine Group A-spec stuff. So, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing over the last few weeks.
First up I removed the complete rear end from the car. The old non-adjustable rear beam, original rear anti-roll bar, standard hubs, and 7.5in Quaife rear diff will all be replaced. Luckily, because there is a healthy following for RS500 race cars many of the Group A parts are available as brand new reproduced replacements. So, I’ve got a complete and fully-adjustable rear beam, genuine Group A driveshafts, brand new centre-lock rear hubs, and a Ford Motorsport 9in rear diff.
To work in conjunction with the new rear beam I’ve also got some brand new Bilstein rear dampers that are built to the exact same spec as the original BTCC RS500s too. Many people don’t realise that the suspension on the RS500s was actually non-adjustable, and to change suspension settings meant physically swapping dampers and springs, and these new units have been remanufactured by Bilstein to the same settings the teams used back in the day.
I’ve managed to get the new rear beam, new diff, and new suspension all securely mounted in place – which in itself is quite trick as everything is solid-mounted to ensure there is no movement in the suspension geometry under acceleration, braking, or cornering. Also, because the rear dampers are inset a little (check out the offset spaces required to fit them) to allow clearance for the 9in wheels and chunky slick tyres, you do have to massage the inner wheelarch slightly to make sure the spring doesn’t foul on anything.
The only thing left to do at the rear end is fit the bladed anti-roll bars, which I’m already part-way through, and I’m already making a start stripping the front end too. This will be a similar story of removing the old track car stuff and replacing with genuine Group A BTCC bits. Then I’ve got to remove the engine and gearbox so I can fit the race motor and transmission, but before I do that I need to make up some solid engine mounts while the engine is still in situ.
Told you I’ve got a lot to do… Catch the next issue to see how I get on.