My JC Locust: Arctic Fox
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Upon reflection

There are some things I would've probably done differently, but not many:

  • The main one is that if I'd known how much time and effort it would've been to have converted the car to use the Escort differential, it probably would've been easier to build it from scratch, rather than trying to squeeze things in to the available space.
  • I don't particularly rate the original builder's skills in putting a car together - there were a number of very dangerous/wrong things:
    1. The roll-cage was bolted down to plywood with just 2 bolts - one on each side. There were no bolts for the cross-brace.
    2. Similarly, the harnesses were bolted to plywood
    3. The rear suspension was incredibly soft - if you booted it, the chassis would hit the floor.
    4. The steering column looked like it had been congealed rather than constructed (I've kept it as a souvenir) - although it was surprisingly strong. It also wasn't centred, so when you pushed the front wheels from side to side, the steering wheel would wobble. It was also not supported very well - it failed its first MOT because it was too loose, and I just wedged it in with a bit of wood to pass it!
    5. The exhaust was very close to the plywood - I know they're all like it, but it's still not very assuring.
    6. The radiator wasn't in the front of the nose cone, and nor was it at 90° to the airflow. It also fell off at one point (cable tie snapped - yes, it was held in with cable ties)...
    7. There was no cross linkage between the two front suspension columns - which allowed the whole suspension geometry to change at whim.
    8. The electrics weren't awe-inspiring - a lot had to be done to make all the bulbs earthed, for example. (For some odd reason, the indicators would take a short while before coming on - this even happened after replacing the flasher unit, the bulbs and the light housing themselves - it's fine now).
    9. I've never been too keen on the wings - they lift the car when travelling at speed.
    10. The indicator stalk had a habit of falling off the dashboard...
    11. There was no battery strap (that was very quickly sorted out before going anywhere).
    12. ALL welding except for the chassis (which I've been told was made by JC) was basically crap. It was either too much (and messy), too blobby, or not enough.
    13. Someone had decided to put a heater in - but paid little attention to how it should work (little hope in hell springs to mind)
  • I'm not sure about the battery behind the passenger seat - it keeps it out of the way, and makes the engine bay look cleaner, but it's not easy if you need to recharge/replace it.
  • The positioning of the starter solenoid makes it a little more difficult to tighten the gearbox linkage bolt - you need to make sure the spanner doesn't touch the solenoid.
  • I miss side mirrors, so I'll probably get some soon.

However, there are things I like about what I've done:

  • The solid construction of the car with a steel interior means it doesn't rattle, and it feels much safer (especially the roll cage).
  • Replacing the rear axle was a smart move - much easier to get parts for a Ford Escort than a Triumph Spitfire.
  • Choosing to go for a more modern look than traditional (it was the purchase of the wheels that made my mind up): Weller 8-spokes are a bit old (I had them on my Karma), and these were also also a bit small (13").
  • The silver is much better than the green!
  • The engine mounts I'm very happy with.
  • The interior is much better than when I first got it.
  • The positioning of the rear lights - and the fact that 'trailer' lights aren't used.
  • The new differential is much better than the old.
  • The new gear linkage is also a vast improvement.
  • The multi-adjustable rear suspension is cool (11 adjustment locations, from memory).

There are also some things that I want to do:

  • It could do with some better brakes.
  • The handling isn't bad, but I think it could be improved (although I'm not sure how at this moment in time).
  • It needs reskinning with new aluminium - there are holes and filler where it should really be smooth. While I'm at it, a new bonnet will be made (that fits a little better). I'm in two minds as to whether to just put new aluminium over the old, or remove the stuff that's there. I'd also like to get all the fibre glass stuff replaced with aluminium, but I'm possibly dreaming!
  • Possibly a larger engine - this is fine for the moment, but I know I'll get an urge to uprate it at some point in time!
  • Also, a type 9 gearbox to reduce the revs on the motorway.

Would I do it again? Probably not to an existing car - I do want to build another kit car, but it'll be a brand new one rather than someone's reject!

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