Wheels of Fire!

Thanks for visiting my Wheels of Fire Kitcar page!

Bouncy 7

This page, like the car, is still under
This is an Animated Gif. What a thrill this must be for you.

Below: Judith, my ex-girlfriend, plus my dear old dad behind the beast!*

Car, Dad, Beast. Oops, that's blown it.

*Please insert the joke of your choice here.


Click the links below to navigate this site with ease:

Linky linky linky
What, exactly, is this
Frankenstein creation
I have, err, created?

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My motivations.
Why is it that I
did what I did.

Linky linky linky
Construction:
"It's on my foot!
Aaaggh!"

Linky linky linky
Just like Frank,
I did it my way!

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And finally...
(Loose ends and links)

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And more finally...
Aninated thing.

Please press your nose against the
screen just here to e-mail me.

(This function sometimes works better with an additional
click of your mouse in the same general area)

Another 7

What is this Frankenstein creation I have, err, created?

This is it. This is how it looks. (Taken at Stowe House, Bucks)

Above: This is my Robin Hood Series III Kitcar.

Vaguely based on a Lotus Super 7, but somewhat larger, it uses many of the oily bits from a common-or-garden Ford Sierra. These are shoe-horned into a stainless steal monocoque chassis made by Robin Hood Engineering.

Specification of Paul Smiths' 1997 Robin Hood Series Three:

Donor vehicle:
1986 (C Reg.) Ford Sierra 2.0 GL in red. Bought without M.O.T. or road tax in May 1997 for £300 with perhaps 52,000 genuine miles (based on the condition of the seats, pedal rubbers and seatbelts, all of which were ‘as new’), some light rust and just two registered owners from new. I made back over half the purchase price through the sale of the front seats, headlights, tow-bar and other items I didn’t need via my local paper, which funded new engine ancillaries such as alternator and starter motor. The ‘hood retained the Reg. number (rather than getting a Q-Reg.) as it had enough Ford in it.

Chassis/body unit:
RHE designed stainless steel ‘Series III’ welded monocoque. Yellow GRP cycle wings, rear wings and nose-cone. Mild steel tube, back braced roll bar protection.

Suspension:
Independent front featuring new Sierra lower forged track control arms, anti-roll bar and RHE’s triangulated tube wishbones acting on adjustable in-board coil-over-shock absorbers. The Independent rear features the original Sierra IRS differential, semi-trailing wishbones and bulky support tube. RHE adjustable coil-over-shock absorbers again.

Steering:
New non power-assisted standard Sierra rack, extended RHE lower column with twin universal joints and Ford collapsible upper column. Mountney non airbag 11” steering wheel and boss. Approx. 3.4 turns lock-to-lock. Despite the 195 tyres and small steering wheel the steering is reasonably light, even when stationary. After being correctly set- up for £22 this is now very direct.

Pedals:
Adapted Sierra pendulum type mounted on to the top of the fire wall via a strong mild steel plate. Not easy to arrange as I have size 11 feet and space in the RHE foot-well is fairly tight! (but much better than either a Westfield or a Caterham, both of which I have 'tried-on-for-size' in the past).

Braking system:
Servo assisted, non ABS, dual hydraulic circuit with front/rear split. Front ventilated 24cm discs and rear 9” drums. Modified handbrake assembly with shortened cable. Gives great feel and with the cars low weight and 195 tyres, awesome(ish) stopping power.

Engine:
Unmodified 1993cc SOHC Ford Pinto as fitted to many Sierras with electronic ignition and fuel management. In-line Four cylinder, eight valve. Non turbo/super charged and with a single original (Webber?) carburettor. Approx. 110 bhp and 116ft lbs. of torque.

Transmission:
Ford Sierra 5 speed manual gearbox driving the 3.62:1 ratio alloy Sierra IRS differ. via a RHE single section shortened twin universal joint prop. shaft. Puma style aluminium gear stick knob for that extra touch of class! Shortened gear stick to improve changing speed which works ok.

Cooling system:
RHE supplied Cortina Mk3/4(?) radiator using standard Ford hoses and mounted on three Saab micro rubber bobbins to move it closer to the thermo-viscous fan and expose more of the front face to air-flow. It’s not yet been an issue with my ‘hood but I understand cooling is a common RH problem. I hope my adaptation of the design will avoid these overheating traits.

Exhaust system:
Non catalyst type. Drivers side exiting RHE stainless steel 4-into-1 manifold featuring equal length branches and fixed radius curves. Connecting to a single drivers side stainless steel silencer box, mounted on four Mini exhaust bobbins. Loud but not criminal if I don't accelerate hard (which seems desperately hard to avoid!)

Interior:
Standard RHE trim with grey vinyl and yellow piped seats, grey carpet set with yellow edging. Packing-taped joints to avoid water ingress (good word). All ‘lightly’ sound proofed, including the under dash area being carpeted. Set of OEM/Ford instruments and switches. Carbon Fibre look dashboard and Sierra column switch gear. Ford Handbrake lever and arm rest box. RHE vinyl roof and doors.

Odds and ends:
Professionally fitted (£350! Ouch!!!) RHE wiring loom with adapted Sierra fuse box (mounted in the central foot of the dashboard) and connectors. Modified Ford heater and wiper/washer equipment. RHE stainless steel eight gallon fuel tank. OEM lights plus Suzuki motorcycle front indicators and aftermarket circular side repeaters mounted in the scuttle. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah......

Please move on to the interesting stuff! All this tech-chat is strictly for the nerds.

Yet another 7

Why I did what I did.

A selection of Kitcar bits.
Exhibit A

My ‘ish’ copy of the classic Lotus 7 clubman’s sports car was bought as a large collection of bits (see exhibit A) from a firm in Mansfield Woodhouse (Midlands, UK) called ROBIN HOOD ENGINEERING in April of 1997, when I was a mere boy of 25. I have learnt much since. I am wiser now.

I’d passed my car driving test the previous November, having been a keen motorcyclist for many years. I wanted a fast and unusual car without having to spend huge sums and without too many insurance worries. I was shy of classic cars and what’s often called their mechanical ‘character’, as I’d discovered with my first car, a rare and funky 1971 Bond Bug. (See exhibit B)

Click here to learn more about my Bond Bug
Exhibit B

Ron Campions book, which in many ways is 'to blame'. Click here to see this picture 'but bigger'. Maybe.

I bought a useful looking book called ‘Build your own Sports Car for under £250’ by Ron Champion, (ISBN 0 85429 976 9) as seen left. It detailed how you could make a 7ish motor from scratch (plus a Ford Escort Mk2). I read it from cover to cover several times before deciding to buy a ready made kit instead and so, hopefully, save my sanity. I can now look back and laugh about this. I liked the simplicity and performance offered by Lotus seven style cars and so went in search of the right one for me. A genuine Caterham or Westfield was well out of my price bracket (See exhibits C and D), so I looked at cheaper alternatives from Robin Hood Engineering and Tiger Racing.

Caterham Link Exhibit C Westfield Link Exhibit D

In the end, the newly launched Series Three from Robin Hood won because:

• It used a single donor (Ford Sierra, most early models would do. 1.6 or 2 ltr, 4 or 5 speed 'box. I used a 1986 2 ltr. GL, 5 speed)

• It came as a pre-welded Stainless Steal Monocoque body shell (No painting or rust and it looks great when polished to a mirror finish)

• Last (but by no-means least) it was just £1995 plus VAT @ 17.5%! For that price you got almost everything you needed to build the car, less the donor, which you could buy for around £200. So let's get this straight. I bought a Robin Hood because it was cheap, ok?

Of course the so-called advertising blurb had a lot to do with my decision (See exhibit E below). This work of literary art was sent to me in February 1997 in response to my ‘phone call to the factory requesting more info on the RHE range. As you can see, it outlined the features and benefits of the (then) new model, the Series III. Also promoted was the EXMO (EXport MOdel) which was far cheaper but suffered from what I think is an unattractive ‘buttress' front suspension set-up. The line about ‘the wife’ particularly caught my eye. Priceless! And just look at how shiny that chassis is! (exhibit F)

Great blurb from Robin Hood Engineering! Click here to a better (maybe) version.
Exhibit E

Nice 'n' Shiney... mmmm!
Exhibit F

And another 7

Construction: "It's on my foot! Aaaggh!"

I visited a Kitcar show in March 1997 and put a £50 deposit on a Robin Hood with yellow (£50 extra) cycle wings. The following month I hired a LWB Transit van and drove the 180 miles to collect the car. The rain was falling like Noah's worst nightmare as I went through the RHE list of parts to make sure I’d not be leaving anything behind. I was soaked and tired as I drove carefully home.

Yes, I DID make 'Brumm, brumm' noises
Above: My black Bond Bug, the C Reg. Sierra
donor (a.k.a. The Kebab) vehicle and me,
making a tit of myself in the traditional
“Oh my god, I’ve put the wheels on!” way.

Back in my single garage (no lights or electricity), the first job was to get the chassis rolling so that I could move it in and out, thus making working on it easier. I found a C Reg. Sierra through my brother for £300, stripped it of its electric's, engine, gearbox, rear suspension and drive shafts, hubs, diff. etc. I then sold many parts off of it to recover about £160. It was this dismantling of the Sierra which first upset my neighbours and thus started the campaign of terror.... but that’s another story!

Ah! A 1993cc Ford Pinto Powerplant, if I'm not mistaken! (You're not)
Above: To think, this gutted corpse of a car
once upset my neighbours quite a bit! I’ve
moved now, so if any happen to be reading
this, p*ss off you evil, small-minded sh*ts!

I set to work cleaning, painting and fitting the Ford parts onto the plastic coated body of the kit. Some parts needed a little persuasion with a grinder to fit. I worked from a set of RHE videos which vaguely showed what went where and why. However, in some areas I was forced to revise the original design to one which stood some remote chance of working or looking right. The car progressed through the summer until the cooler days drove me indoors to work on the dashboard (detachable from the car) and windscreen. This made me very popular around the area of my lounge! However, once I’d decided against RHE’s standard grey padded leather-cloth dash covering things moved quickly. I was rather proud of the finished article, contrasting bright stainless with matt black. The heater took most of the summer of 1998 to get to fit right.... but I sense you’re getting bored so if you really want to know how I built the damn thing, E-mail me!

Oh baby! Grind a little harder! Click for the (maybe) bigger version

Left: Life is a grind.

See how I go at it like a true pro? That's not 'pro' in the prostitute sense, ok? All I mean I can handle my tool pretty well. Damn, damn....etc.

(Note the huge mess in the background)

Bored of the dash. Click for the (maybe) bigger version.

Above: The 'sticky-back-plastic' covered dashboard looking lovely in my lounge. What more can I say?

(Note the huge mess in the foreground)

And yet another 7

I did it my way!

The car with my dear old Dad.

Above: My dad, Mike, pictured besides my Kitcar sometime in the summer of ‘99.

A pic of the nose. Click for a closer look.
Part of building and owning a Kitcar is when to say, "No. I will not do it that way. I shall do it my way." I had many such moments, not least because the original design was a bit iffy in parts. For starters, the nose area features several changes from the standard kit. Gone was the Bar-B-Q style grill, replaced with a fine chicken-wire mesh. This in turn has been replaced with 'professional' grill material, very much like what you'd find on a sporty Subaru. The side lights are housed away from the main lamps in small side lenses reminiscent of a Land Rovers. RHE’s bizarre ‘indicator on the end of a rolled-up bit of stainless’ is binned in favour of motorcycle units from an old Suzuki. These are mounted on the firmly fitted nose cone side in-fill panels. Lastly, the top fixing bolts for the front suspension upper rocking arm are hidden front and back by the plastic cups from the top of the Sierras front suspension struts. Which is nice. I've also now fitted twin Fish-eye spotlamps in the nose-void (lovely phrase. I must remember to use it more often) which really light-up my way for night-time blasts.

Rear view, mirrored

At the rear, the fog and reversing lights are moved to the back panel, leaving room on the lower area of the wheel arches for a chrome ‘GB’ and a happy looking stainless steel shark logo. The number plate itself is used to mount a pair of number plate lights as the ‘double one’ leaves enough room to fit them. Finally, hard to see in this picture, the spare tyre mounting bolt is bolstered by a 1” square tube mounted vertically from the level of the boot floor to the roll bar and seatbelt mounting plate under the lip of the boot. This makes the back panel far stiffer and renders the number plate mounting ‘U’ cosmetic. If, as a non-hoodie, that meant nothing to you, it’s ok. It’s not supposed to. Relax. It doesn’t concern you.

Update! At about 60mph, on a bumpy bit of road coming back from work one day, the bolt holding the wheel on snapped and the spare went for a bit of a trip of its own, into a field. I've since added another long bolt to hold the wheel more firmly and removed the 'U' shaped number plate support. Instead, I've moved the numberplate back (or really forward) on to the bodywork. This involved removing the fueltank and spending three hours under the car in the rain. Men in white coats, anybody?


Note the aluminium detailing, the carbon and the alloy gear knob. Click to see a larger, clearer version.

I also went my own way with the dashboard, covering it in a mix of black matt fablon and carbon-fibre-look material. Bare silver screw heads, aluminium and stainless details I hope add to the race look. Also see below for 'performance' pedals, whatever that might mean!

This shot doesn't show the ignition cut-off switch, which also adds a race feel. I fitted the Sierras arm-rest handbrake box to give some in-cockpit storage and mounted the exhaust on a two stage mini-rubber-exhaust-bush-thingy which looks very neat. Extra ironwork in the cockpit keep the side panels convex, the chassis number is on a brass plate, two fish-eye driving lamps are in the nose-cone, the under dash area is carpeted.... etc, etc!


I am even more grainy than this in real life
This is me, Paul, err, doing it my way.
You’ll see I was already wearing my
baseball cap back-to-front in eager
anticipation of ‘going out for a blast’.

And another bloomin' 7

And Finally...
(Loose ends and links)

Biggest problem about owning a Robin Hood:

It's a shite name, even after all these years of getting used to it.

Also, getting into it with the hood on takes the sort of bodily manipulation usually restricted to the sort of bendy Fakir you see on television once-in-a-while. Never to be attenpted if you really really need a wee.

Most painful moment:

Slicing my finger on a sharp bit of engine bay (the plasma cutting gear they use to make the RH chassis leaves edges like you wouldn’t believe) while fitting the engine. As dusk was drawing in I had to press on and so used a splint and parcel tape to protect the injured pinkie. I now have a nice little scar to remind me to be more careful.

Biggest kick:

Driving it quickly on my favourite back road towards my fathers house. It’s been resurfaced to a silky-smooth standard and ducks, dives, climbs and jogs left-right like a rollercoster... Bliss! It's a hot summer night of the ‘Meat Loaf’ kind. The roof is at home. I’m humming ‘Let me entertain you’ by Robbie Williams and the engine is singing at 4,700 rpm... Here is an extract from ‘The Winter Market’ by William Gibson which, if you don't know that feeling, may give you an insight into the experience:

There is a segment on Kings of Sleep; it’s like you’re on a motorcycle at midnight, no lights but somehow you don’t need them, blasting out along a cliff-high stretch of coast highway so fast that you hang there in a cone of silence, the bike’s thunder lost behind you. Everything, lost behind you... It’s just a blink, on Kings, but it’s one of those thousand things you remember, go back to, incorporate into your own vocabulary of feelings. Amazing. Freedom and death, right there, right there, razor’s edge, forever.

Or am I quite mad? Perhaps that’s why I built one of the least practical cars known to Man.

The Great Robin Hood Video Debate:

They're total crap. End of debate!

When, on the first ‘build video’ of the three I was supplied for my Hood, they described it as an amateur production, a million amateurs revolved in their graves. The sound quality is appalling, the editing is, is... words fail me about the editing. The content seems to follow no known law of organisation that I can detect, instead jumping from one half covered topic to another, then, two hours later, leaps back to half cover the first topic again. That’s not a different half of the subject, the same half again in a different room! Then, on another video, a gem of info is dropped in.... which runs contra to all Richard (for it is he) said in the first video! Anyway, you get the picture viz. the RHE build videos.

The Links. See the World and be repulsed by it.

Link To THE SOFA OF FUN! The Sofa of Fun.
See what other kinds of hobbies
a man who builds his own car has.

As seen on TV My fathers Automobilia Site.
He's got one of the largest
private collections of its
type in the country and
has been on telly a bit.

Which is nice.

N/A The Robin Hood Owners Club
and Register pages. Go here now!

N/A RHE's own site.
Beware!

Tiny 7 Classic TV series
The Prisoner.
How sad am I?

Above: A little feature for visiting RH owners. If you've ever wondered how
your Hood would look with a different colour scheme then use this handy feature
to simulate many hours of hard work with a spray can. See how I save you £££'s?

Thanks for visiting my Robin Hood Kitcar site.
Remember to add it to your list of favourite sites
and please tell your friends (if any) about it!

Do visit again for regular up-dates and more RH related pictures-n-stuff.

Now discover my bank account number and you're set for life!
E-mail me if you dare!

Feedback is always appreciated. Just don't be too rude, ok?
I answer questions too, so if you're building any Robin Hood car,
feel free to drop me a line. I'll help you if I can.

And yet another 7

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