May 1st 

The first problem this time was that we finished the Westfield. Although driving it is great I felt that two things were missing. The first is a lot more power. The Zetec in the Westfield is fine but it doesn't have the effortless ooomph that I would like.

The other issue is that we all enjoyed the process of building the car hugely. Anthea admits that she finds the end result much less interesting than the construction process.

With that in mind I have been looking for what to build. I mentioned elsewhere that I was interested in the Stylus from SSC. However, having looked at the cars at the Stoneleigh show on May 1st I was convinced neither about the ability to fit in my legs, nor about the service I would get from a manufacturer that presented their products so poorly.

After much thought, we decided that a new build would have to be a new se7en, because that seemed to be the only thing that could be produced to a high enough quality. What's more, the only manufacturers that seemed worthy of consideration, from the Stoneleigh show, were Westfield, Dax and Quantum. We already have a Westfield and I've come to conclusion that I don't like the look of the Quantum Xtreme, although it is rather nice with its well engineered stainless monocoque. That left the Dax Rush. Coincidently, Dax have just announced a long wheelbase chassis, which makes fitting in my legs much more like a feasible possibility.

May 4th

I was early back from a client and struck a traffic jam on the M11, just before Harlow on my way back to Cambridge. So, I drove into Harlow and remembered about Dax. So I just happened to drive over there.

The Dax factory is a rather odd place, tucked away on a corner, but it has a sort of showroom in it which has a collection of cars usually there. This time there was a long wheel base chassis there just asking to be climbed into. This I did and was pleased to see that there was indeed a lot more space for my legs than I am used to. What's more, they have dropped the seat base, by using a shaped GRP panel rather than an aluminium one, by about 20mm.

So, struck with enthusiasn, I bought a build manual.

May 10th

4.8 litre engineHaving spent a lot of time reading the manual, I'm getting on top of the whole thing--and feeling myself being sucked in, which isn't altogether to bad. The Rush is a rather nicely engineered car, and seems in general to be fitted with rather more grunt than is usual for se7ens. Chevy V8s, Rover V8s and Cosworth turbos seem to be par for the course.

It's also available in a lot of suspension setups: live axle, IRS, 4x4 and De Dion. The latter is a new departure for Dax, although obviously pretty common in these sorts of cars.

So, Anthea and I went down to Dax again and had a much longer look around. I spent a long time talking to Peter Walker, who is their chief designer, about the setup and capabilities of the suspension systems. There's an interesting difference here with Westfield. The only technical bod at Westfield I ever spoke to was Chris Masters. Furthermore, I believe that they farm out most aspects of design, such as the design of their IRS system. Here at Dax it was possible to get it from the horse's mouth.

After that Peter took me out in the De Dion demonstrator. This has a monstrous 4.8 litre Rover V8 engine and it goes like stink. It really felt as if an invisible person was sitting on my lap pushing me hard back into the seat. Peter, however, seemed to feel that the Cosworth turbo was very well suited to the car.

All very impressive really.

May 13th

De Dion rear suspensionAnother trip down to Harlow. (It's a good job it's only just down the road.) This time Anthea and I took Duncan with us, as he knows everyone there and is a good source of information about Daxes.

After much thought, again, I decided to really order one. Last time I bought everything from Westfield as their modular packs. This time, I really want to make it more difficult for myself (and hopefully cheaper) by sourcing things from elsewhere and fabricating things myself. I have made the decision on the engine, and will go for a Rover V8. Although this is a rather old design it makes a rather nice burbling noise and, being all aluminium, it's reasonably light for a small car like this. There also seem to be a lot of people around who specialise in sourcing the engines.

I actually ordered a lot of the bits for a V8 powered De Dion suspension machine, with the long wheelbase as mentioned before. I was thinking about whether to go for the De Dion or the IRS but eventually decided for the former as the demonstrator was wonderful, and it has the benefit of being different.

For those of you who have the Dax price lists, I ordered build packs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 and few other odds and sods. Unfortunately, the next "build slot" is in the middle of August so I won't get anything until the end of August. Still, that leaves me a bit of sun in which to enjoy the Westfield and leaves me some time to start sorting out the garage before the bits arrive.

A short engine at RPIOf course, as I have to source a lot of the bits myself, there is a fair bit of hunting around to do straight away. I need to get hold of:

  • An engine. Currently I am thinking about two possibilities here. There are a number of companies that supply complete reconditioned units. Alternatively, I could get a really knackered old engine off which I could get things like the sump and rocker covers, which I could bolt to some reconditioned bits acquired from, for example, RPI.
  • A gearbox. Again, there are reconditioned units around, but there is a choice as to which basic unit. There are two Rover units, the LT77 and the R380. Duncan's car has an LT77 and the gearchange is not the best, as I think he would agree. However, I suspect even new it wouldn't be that much better, and the R380 would possibly not be any better. Alternatively it is apparently possible to fit the gearbox from a Sierra Cosworth with some attention to the bell housing. Not sure what to do about this.
  • The front uprights and brakes from a 2wd Sierra.
  • A decent diff from a Sierra, ideally a XR4x4 as that one will be an LSD and it's the larger of the two sizes fitted to Sierras.
  • The drive shafts from the same.
  • The rear hubs/uprights and brakes from the same.
  • The steering column from a base-model Sierra.

Hence there's probably plenty to do really.

May 14th

Perhaps inevitably, these sorts of things start with sorting out the place where the build is to take place. Inexplicably, the garage has become full of detritus since last year and it needs a lots of sorting out. What's more, I'll need a better workbench than a workmate and more storage than last time.

So, a trip to B&Q (here we go again) was made and with bits of MDF I set about the place. This could take me months anyway...

May 18th

Several people have posted information to me on the se7ens list about Daxes. One in particular sent me a couple of photos of his completed car, also Oxford blue and shiny. It looks really nice, and I notice he doesn't have that daft assymetric roll-bar that Dax seem to delight in fitting to their cars.

A while ago I ordered a couple of books about the Rover V8 from Haynes. They arrived today so I've got lots of fun reading to do.

May 19th

More sockets and a rather high work surfaceIt is time to start to chasing up some bits, so I started off by filling in the first choice parts request form saying I wanted the bits from the rear of a Sierra XR4x4. As expected the responses I got both preferred to supply a complete Sierra sub-frame. The bits I need are:

  • Differential. (The XR4x4 has (or at least it should have) an LSD which I suspect will be useful with the amount of power (actually, torque, as that's what the diff really sees) that the V8 should be eventually be capable of producing.)
  • Driveshafts and CV joints
  • Hubs and bearings
  • Brake discs and calipers

I got responses (in about 10 minutes!) from two companies. One offered the parts from an H-reg car for £125 + £35 delivery + VAT, which comes to about £190. The second company initially quoted £300 but dropped to £250 when I told them what the other quote was. I eventually decided to phone the first company back, but as they didn't answer several calls I phoned the other chap back. Supposedly, they are delivering it on Tuesday!

This evening I did a bit more to the garage, wiring in some more power sockets. I need to have a huge tidy-up tomorrow. I also ordered the Sierra XR4x4 and Rover 3500 manuals from Haynes, they're bound to come in useful and they will go nicely in the collection.

May 20th

Today we went to Hollis, a breakers in Cambridge, to see about some of the other bits we needed. From them we ordered:

  • The front hubs and brakes from a 2 litre Sierra. The recent versions of the Rush use the Sierra front uprights. These are rather easier to obtain now than the old Cortina ones that Dax used to use. They also have the effect of widening the front track and, most importantly, making some rather larger brakes more accessible. The ones on the front of this Sierra are 240mm ventilated discs. It's interesting to note that Westfield have been pushed away from the Cortina uprights too. However, in their case they have chosen to fabricate their own "plug-compatible" uprights in either cast alloy or welded steel, depending on how much money you want to pay.
  • The steering column from an older Sierra. (The one with the square hazard flasher button.)

The charges for this lot came to £100, for which I paid a £30 deposit having decided that I'm a bit too old to grovel about in the mud in a breaker's yard. I should be able to pick the bits up next weekend.

I have also decided to buy an engine hoist. I nearly did this a while ago, this time I'm going to get one early so I don't have to faff about with tool hire places all the time. Machine Mart have a cheap 1000kg hoist for £150 which, by the time I would have hired one three times, is not too expensive. So, we went off to Peterborough to discover that they only had rather more butch ones in stock. I would prefer to get the other one to try and reduce the amount of space taken up, so we ordered one for probable delivery next weekend. I also bought an angle grinder which I've needed for a while.

While there I mused over the welders. I've had this thing for a while about learning to weld. Not because I actually need to but just for interest. One of these days I'm going to buy a small MIG welder and a stack of bits of steel and just try it...

Later on, I finished the new work surface in the garage (bench is too grandiose a word) and put some more shelves together. However, it's still a hell of a mess at the moment.

I've also been musing about engines. As far as I can see there are three ways of approaching this:

  1. Buy a rusty old Rover SD1 and extract the engine and gearbox. There would probably be a good deal of reconditioning needed, but at least all the ancillaries would be present.
  2. Buy a complete engine from a specialist supplier, such as Dragon Engines, or even a high-power supplier such as John Eames (sp?).
  3. By parts from a supplier such as RPI and build the engine up myself. There's a possible problem with this in the issue of the date of the engine for the SVA test. The emissions regulations that they use are dependent on the age of the engine and if I built the thing from the ground up then it might have to be tested as a new engine, which would mean injection/ECU/lambda sensors and all the related stuff. I would prefer to just have a carb as that's much easier to handle.

Currently, I don't know which to do...

May 21st

Some more shelves, still empty at the moment...Finally, I finished tidying up the garage. It now looks suitable for putting the oily greasy old bits and pieces that I've bought in it... One thing I've done is to put up yet more shelves, these should be suitable for storing a lot of this stuff. Luckily, you can now get cheap steel shelving from the likes of B&Q.

May 22nd

The engine in Duncan's car, complete with snazzy new HT leadsToday a bunch of us went for a rolling road session with our cars, including our current Westfield and Duncan's Dax. This is discussed here, but it has to be said that the V8 Dax was very impressive. All the more reason for building this new car!

next page

in case you've got to this frame directly and can't get out, go here.