CAMS had not finished though. They decided that, if the car had the engine
behind the driver, the body had to be all-enveloping - no cycle front guards
- another change. So if we had to have an all-enveloping body, let it be a
good one. A low drag Cd was essential if we had to carry the extra weight of
the full body, so let’s make it as slippery as possible; no unnecessary
protrusions, smooth as she goes, hence the shape of the Evo Fang came into
being. But every one who came into the work shop said it looked like a Le
Mans car so, bowing to public pressure, it became known as the Le Mans Nota.
Good news on another front too; the body we built for the racing Le Mans
only weighed 29kg.
P.S. Even if CAMS won’t allow cycle front guards, we can still have them on a road car. In fact you can have a car with an alloy back with a spare wheel and look just like our traditional clubman, nose bonnet and all, only it would have the advantages of a mid-engined layout.
We have a good package with the Le Mans; the Suzuki Gti engine & gearbox weighs only 92kg and the car weighs 420kg. We have a big advantage over the front-engined cars. Their live rear axles alone weigh over 40kg, not to mention the added weight of the gearbox and tail shaft. The transverse engine/gearbox was the way to go. It was a lot easer to source as well; most other cars have to source diff, gearbox, tail shaft and engine from different donors.
CAMS then said a minimum weight of 500kg would apply to all cars in the class. Bang goes the weight advantage. Even the 3 litre V6 version nearly gets down to that weight in racing trim. Ah well, so much for a development class! I think “Dilemma class” may be more appropriate, but the evolutionary process must go on. We have at least got a neat new car, even if in the final instance we have to add weight to it [it does sort of contradicts the power to weight principle though].
Enter the RTA. Whilst I was building the Evo Fang and then later the Le Mans
car, everybody kept saying what a magic car it would make for the road. It
was a development of the Compliance-plated Fang, so why not? We could use a
road registrable dash, steering column and seat belts. Add some extra
lights, fit a pollution-compliant engine and off we go.
I must be naive. I initially consulted an RTA Engineering Signatory to check on what might be needed. A conformance check list was drawn up and we proceeded to build the car to suit. However, three quarters through the process, he rang me and said that even though we had got this far, we may have to change the engine, as ADR37 was being replaced by ADR79. But?! We've complied with the rules as laid down when we started, so why do we have to change something as major as an engine when this near to completion? Two months later, an answer. It didn't matter how long we had been building it for or how much it had cost or even if it wasn't viable to alter it to another engine, we would either have to comply with the new regs (ADR79 compliant engine) or have the car completed and presented before the end of the year – in three weeks time!! Bust our guts time, but we got the car to the engineer, even if it wasn't painted. Great we'd done it!
Then in the following year, the RTA rings and says the car isn't acceptable because we have put the headlights on the nose beside the front guard arches [on the same bracket we mount them on our Fangs, but with the all enveloping body beside them, virtually the same place every clubman ever built puts them]. Apparently someone could fall on them if hit by the car and injure themselves. Also it didn't have a central mirror, just two side mirrors, and they said the passenger’s mirror couldn't be reached from the driver seat (which was untrue). Result they wouldn't register the car and it would now be deemed to be a 2003 car and ADR79 applicable. Fortunately the Hot Rod Boys overturned the implementation of ADR79 for a year. Whew! Breathing space again. The lights, body design and mirrors were done and the car resubmitted and initially passed.
Alas! This isn't the end. The car is recalled and I'm told that because of
the weight, they are concerned about its safety and strength. I'm not
worried as it has already passed the regs for the rigorous CAMS Super Sports
2C. [Incorporating front, rear and side intrusion deformable structures on
the outside of an extremely rigid passenger capsule with 2500Nm/degree of
flex torsional rigidity]. The RTA saying initially it will have to have a
beam stiffness test done; 400kg loaded in the seating position. No flex!
It's passed? No! 2 months on and they decide they want a torsional stiffness
test as well. I'm told that the car has to have 6000Nm/ degree of flex! Even
a Mallock, which is considered the strongest clubman in the world, has only
4000Nm/ degree of flex and it has no passenger seat as 4 braces go through
it for its rigidity, and the engine is completely surrounded by the chassis.
The best of the alloy tubed FIs only had 3500Nm/degree of flex, and no, I
can't use a carbon fibre tub. I tried to do that with the Nota FI and I was
told to go away and put a chassis in it. You can't have a fibreglass
chassis, I was told.
So the Le Mans was brought back here after the initial test, which it didn't pass, and diaphragms were fitted into bulkheads, a cruciform into the top of the chassis, which we coupled into a new dash roll bar, and we gusseted all the open areas where diagonals couldn't be used due to vital components, like the driver. All trying to get it up to the ridiculous flex test, which I'm sure 90% of cars on the road would not pass. Incidentally, Ford, Holden, Toyota etc. don't have to comply with ADR79 until their next major model change which could be as long away as 5 years and I'm also sure that most of their cars would fail the rigidity test I've been asked to conform to.
Off to the RTA signatory again for more testing. Bondage again for the poor
beast. I was pleased as nearly 5000Nm/degree of flex was achieved when
tested by bolting the hub faces via the wheel bolts to the test rig rather
than bolting the chassis to the floor at one end and pivoting the other,
then applying the beam load. The springs were replaced with solid tubing,
but the oval tubing, which our wishbones are made of, are thus loaded up in
the wrong direction and would flex in the test as well. So the results were
excellent by any normal standards. I asked if there were any other tests we
may need to go through and he replied that they were reviewing my head light
positioning, even though I had already moved them and recessed them into the
body as instructed.
No, they will not accept them; they feel they are too far from the front of the car [although there is no specific regulation]. We were then told that the lights had to be in front of the wheels, so we cut the front of the guards off and made new ones. We got some Hella lights from England like the ones they use in the Ferrari 360, [they are only 80mm in diameter thus keeping the centre of the reflective surface above 500mm and the top of the guard as low as possible]. Maybe this might be the last hurdle. Sometimes it can be months before another spanner is thrown in the works. Its only been 4 years wading through the CAMS and the RTA red tape, even though we had the first prototype up and running in 4 months.
Nota Sports and Racing Cars