The author has provided all of the information to enable every part required to either be taken from a donor vehicle, and the vehicle built at home with fairly basic engineering equipment. If the reader has confidence in his or her skill level, and follows all of the advice and instruction contained in the manual, it is possible to build a street legal vehicle, submit it for British DVLA approval and also use it in track and hill climb competition for an amazingly low price.
NAME: Build Your Own Sports Car, on a budget
CLASSIFICATION: Book reviews
AUTHOR: Chris Gibbs
PUBLISHER: Haynes Publishing
BINDING: Hard back
SUBJECT: DIY, home mechanics, self-build, automotive, two seat sports car, open sports car, street legal, competition car
DESCRIPTION: Haynes Publishing have made a considerable contribution to car ownership through their excellent workshop manuals. This contribution is international, although greatest in Britain. It is to be expected that they would not only produce manuals for production vehicles, but also provide a self-build car manual. First published in 2007 and twice reprinted since, this manual is outstanding. The author has provided all of the information to enable every part required to either be taken from a donor vehicle, and the vehicle built at home with fairly basic engineering equipment. If the reader has confidence in his or her skill level, and follows all of the advice and instruction contained in the manual, it is possible to build a street legal vehicle, submit it for British DVLA approval and also use it in track and hill climb competition for an amazingly low price. The design is an open two-seat sports car, similar in general appearance to the famous Lotus 7. How long it takes to build and how much it costs does depend on both the builder’s negotiating skills and engineering ability. The tasks which most readers will find challenging are panel beating and fibre glass moulding. Welding will also be challenging for some, and few will be prepared to follow the author’s example of taking a two year full-time course in vehicle restoration to achieve the skill level to undertake everything that is covered by the manual. That should not daunt an enthusiast. All of the components, taken from a donor vehicle by the author, can be purchased from a vehicle recycling yard where the yard strips vehicles, cleans components and places them on show like any company selling new vehicle parts. Alternatively, the reader could go to any company selling new vehicle parts and purchase everything as new components. The further the reader goes from buying a donor vehicle to buying certified new parts, the greater the cost of the project but that will be offset to some degree by the time saved in not having to strip a scrapped vehicle, check and clean the required parts and then dispose of the unwanted materials and components. When a self-builder relies on parts from one or more donor vehicles, it is important to remember that the recovered parts have been used and may have been heavily used. If the vehicle is a fairly new accident victim, some components may be damaged. Cleaning and checking requires time and skill. Where the builder needs to save time, or lacks some skills, components built specifically to meet the manual’s design can be commissioned at a local engineering company. The largest item will be the chassis which is a steel spaceframe built by welding a large number of tubes and plates that have been cut to the patterns in the manual. Even an experienced welder may wish to have a specialist weld the fuel tank, particularly if it has been decided to use stainless steel or aluminium plate in its construction. Although the author has provided all the information necessary to building the vehicle at the lowest possible cost, someone building with all new components and contracting an engineering company to make most or all of the special parts will still end up with a unique vehicle, great satisfaction and a lower price that a kit car can be acquired for. The more ambitious builder may refine the design to suit taste and need. This might extend to designing and building a hard top and adding equipment to suit the environment in which the vehicle will be driven. Some will prefer to build a chassis from stainless steel and clad it with stainless steel or aluminium body panels. If mild steel is not used, there will be greater choice of finish because the metal does not demand painting. A well-built aluminium body that is highly polished can look outstanding, as can a corrosion resistant body that is part polished and part painted. How much adaptation is applied to the design detailed in the manual becomes a matter of taste and available skill. If the vehicle is to be used as a race car there will be some constraints because it will have to conform with specifications set out by the race organizers or their governing body. In a world filled with mass-produced consumer items, building anything can be very satisfying. The four great subjects for self-build are house, car, boat and aeroplane. The most practical self-build subject is likely to be a car, partly because it does not require a large workshop and the parts are relatively inexpensive. This manual makes the process that much easier and provides a much higher assurance that the end result can be safely driven on track and road, conforming with any related specifications.