GD427 in action

GD427 in action

Saturday, 13 July 2013

My first Track Day...

Blyton Park was the venue just outside Gainsborough in Lincolnshire. The day was organised by Gardner Douglas through Javelin Trackdays to try and get as many examples of their car on track at the same time as possible. It was a great turn out, I think there was something like 20 Cobras and 5 T70's mixed up with a few other marques such as Lotus Elise, Caterham 7's, MX5's, BMW etc.
Although I've had a few opportunities to drive on a track before they have all been under the watchful eye of an instructor and been "driving experience" days rather than proper trackdays so I didn't really know what to expect.
The day started with a driver briefing and an instructor talking us through the track layout and the best places to overtake which had to be done in a gentlemanly fashion and by invitation only. There was a lot of emphasis in making sure everyone knew this wasn't racing and anyone showing any overt aggression or overtaking on the wrong side would be asked to leave. There was also some guidance on entering and leaving the track and some instruction on the use of safety flags, yellow for "caution, no overtaking", red for "session over, leave the track" and black for "we have some concerns about your driving, please leave the track and come talk to us !"
Following the briefing, we had three sighting laps which involved going out in groups behind a pace car to get a feel for the track and learn some of the corners before being left to our own devices. I climbed into my car, strapped myself in, donned my helmet and pulled into the feeder lane which is controlled by a traffic lights system and used by the marshals to feed you into a gap and join the track in a safe manner. We had previously been given wristbands to wear which signify we had signed on and taken the safety briefing and and had to be shown to the marshals before joining the track. So with a flash of the wrist band  I pulled up to the lights and waited my turn. I was really trying to stay calm, trying not to let my nerves get to me and desperate not to do anything silly. But, sitting behind a throbbing 6.2 litre V8 engine in a 4 point harness and crash helmet waiting for the lights to turn green got the better of me and I shot up the first straight with the wheels spinning and the rear end snaking behind me. That was a bit of an eye opener and I could just see myself getting black flagged on the opening sighting lap ! The other thing which surprised me was that with my previous experiences, the learning curve was all about how late to brake and where the optimum turn in point was to clip the apex and carry as much speed through the corner as possible. I'm a little embarrassed to say that with all that power and acceleration behind me I hit the point at which my bottle went long before I'd reached any braking point for the first corner. The learning curve on this occasion wasn't how late to brake but how to reach the corner under control without the jerkiness and instability which can be brought on when backing off too suddenly. As for carrying speed through the corner, well it carried plenty and was far more stable through the corners than I was expecting. So, still a lot to learn but I never built this car to be a track monster and given the time and expense put into this project, I probably wouldn't be comfortable driving it on it's ragged edge anyway... well at least for now ! What I did learn was that this car is far more capable than I'll ever be and you'd have to be doing something pretty stupid to get anywhere near it's limit during normal or even "spirited" driving on the road.
With all that said, I've just booked my second trackday, same venue in September so with a bit of experience under my belt it will be interesting to see how I feel after the next one.



Sunday, 16 June 2013


I had hoped to go to the Kit Car show at Newark today but the weather wasn't brilliant and as I still haven't got a roof for my car or a tonneau cover, I didn't want to risk it. I took the opportunity instead to tick another small job off the list and fit the badges that Andy kindly gave me when I went for my suspension set up.

These are simply held in place by double sided tape, sometimes called number plate tape. Basically the same stuff you buy in patches to stick your number plates on but this comes on a roll.

The badges themselves are laser cut stainless steel.


Saturday, 8 June 2013

Boot Carpet

One little job I never got round to completing last year was fitting the carpet into the boot. I think after all the faffing about I had fitting the roll hoops, the thought of taking them out again to fit the carpet was not top of my "fun things to do at the weekend" list.
However, time to bite the bullet and get on with it !
One of my concerns was cutting the holes for the roll hoop legs and getting the hole lined up for the petrol tank filler neck as this was a lot closer to the boot opening and any mistake here would be difficult not to notice. The filler neck is also slightly slanted to one side so any mark made as an impression onto the bottom of the carpet would need to be offset so the whole made lined up with the bottom of the neck rather than the top.

I decided to try and make a reference point for the bottom of the filler neck in relation to the roll bars by using pieces of paper with the relevant size wholes cut in them and a slit made to the edge for easy removal. I placed them into position and then taped them together to make a "map" of the holes which needed to be cut, hopefully with good reference to each other.

I then decided to go the whole hog and "map" out the whole boot floor with the theory being that as long as I could get three pretty reliable marks on the underside of the carpet where the wholes should be cut, I should be able to use these as reference points to mark out all of the others.

One I'd removed the paper "map" from the boot I went about the arduous task of removing the roll bars, although I must admit I'm getting pretty good at it now, and laid the carpet in position. Then using a piece of chalk from underneath, I did my best to mark through the holes in the boot floor onto the underside of the carpet. Unfortunately I couldn't use a previous method I'd tried of first marking the edge of the holes with chalk and pushing the carpet down onto them as I'd now placed flat rubber doughnuts over the holes to take up the space between the roll hoop legs and the holes I'd cut and provide a watertight seal to stop water coming up into the boot from beneath.

Anyway I managed to get a few good marks and when removing the carpet and laying my "map" over the underside (after remembering to turn it over), everything seemed to line up pretty well.

I sat in the sun with a cup of tea in hand pondering my methodology and whether I'd missed anything or hadn't thought it through properly. It all seemed sound so the time came to cut the holes and see if it would fit.

Quite happy with that !

I've still got a little finishing off to do but the difficult bit is over.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Back to the Mothership

After 5 years using a picture of someone else car parked outside the GD workshop for inspiration, it was very satisfying to take the following photo:-

With around 600 miles on the clock, I took the car into GD to have the suspension alignment checked in preparation for the trackday I've booked at the end of June. Andy was very complementary on the build and after a few tweeks of the tracking front and rear and a rough guess at the damper settings, Andy took me for a spin around a local private road to see how it felt on the move. With Andy's experience of these cars and his knowledge of the road I don't suppose this was anything special to him but to me, it was a ride I'll never forget ! Going through sweeping left and right hand bends, accelerating and braking whilst calmly giving me a running commentary on the cars handling I was left completely in awe of the performance and capability of this car, my car, the one I built myself, at home, in my garage... ! Totally and utterly amazing !

I'll apologise in advance but I feel a bit of a speech coming on, I'd like to thank Andy and Meena for their help and support over the years, my Dad for giving me the confidence to have a go and my Wife and family for their patience and understanding, the endless cups of tea and constantly explaining to people on the phone that I was in the garage. Oh dear, I seem to have come over all soppy, never mind, a quick blast around the block will cure that ! ...... cue tyrannical laughter .....

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Tis the season

Well the warm weather finally arrived and along with it, 6 months road tax, it seems a long time since I was last on the road. Most of last year was spent building and it wasn't until fairly late in the summer the car was IVA'd and I could start driving it. Consequently I still have a small list of jobs to do...!
With the rush to get on the road I never really paid much attention to mounting the number plates. They have both been mounted with the double sided sticky pads you get from the plate makers and whilst the front one has been OK, with the curvature of the boot lid the rear one kept coming unstuck. So, taking a little inspiration from someone else's work, I made a bracket. This fits underneath and is held in place by the rear number plate light and by using a few rivnuts, allows the number plate to be screwed to it. This was only meant to a mock up in aluminium to see if it would work but it fits so well I may just leave it as is. If I ever run out of things to do I may revisit this and make another one from stainless.

Ta daa... !

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Latest Pics

Not had many days recently for drives out, these pictures were taken a couple of weeks back on the last decent weekend that coincided with having the time for a couple of hours fun. It was a nice leisurely 50 mile run out across the Pennines and back with very little traffic and lots of dry, winding roads :-)

My road tax is about to run out, do I renew or SORN.... Hmmm.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

8 weeks on

Well the Cobra has been on the road for about 8 weeks now and in that time I've clocked up around 350 miles most of which has been on a local run I've worked out over the hills to the next village and back. I'm starting to get a feel for the car but just when I feel the confidence is growing, it sends me a reminder "treat me with respect or I'll bite you", today being a good example!
My parents had come to visit for the weekend and as the sun was shining it was a good opportunity to take my Dad out for his first ride. He's backed me all the way with this project and if wasn't for his help I'd still be some way off completion so it was a real pleasure to take him out on a run.
My Dad's first impressions were good and he said he was surprised how well mannered it was, he'd imagined the power would be a little more "on" or "off", the beauty of the LS3 engine I guess as the car is very easy to drive at low RPM. The run out over the hills saw a few small opportunities to exercise the right foot and give my Dad a little feel of what the car is capable of, all within the legal limit of course, just getting up to it rather quickly. It was on the way back however that I was reminded who the boss was! I'd just pulled away from my usual turning spot and as I changed up into second gear I guess I must have leant on it a little hard, both rear wheels broke traction, the back slid out and we went up the road sideways amidst a trail of screeching tyres and burning rubber ! Thankfully I managed to regain control and get it pointing back in the right direction.
The ride back was a little more sedate after that, a good lesson learnt I guess, just a bit embarassing to learn it with my Dad in the car!