Hotrods aren't just for old men

2y ago


It takes a strong level of commitment for youngish chap to decide he doesn't want to tear around in a fancy modern car with all the trimmings and the latest number plate strapped to the front, not just to show off and impress his neighbours and potential mating partner, but also for reliability sake. However that is the path I have decided to follow.

£2 and a pint...

A Toyota Yaris that cost the grand total of £2 and pint down the pub was the chariot of choice for many years, not a lot worked on that car and it was slow, messy looking, dents on every panel and millage of 170k on a little 1 litre engine that wasn't serviced for 9 years... We can all guess what happened to that, but it facilitated me to begin my journey in to hotrod ownership, that I wouldn't have been able to achieve without it.

A plan was hatched... Rendering by Brian Anker

4 years ago, a plan was hatched to start forging the car I wanted. A huge love of hotrods and muscle cars meant that whatever it was going to be, it had to be loud and fast. Having a lot of friends with muscle cars, really did mean it had to be a certain level of fast or it was just pointless... Hotrods make me weak at the knees, they really do so that meant it was going to be seriously old, but this posed a problem.

Cars from the 1930's don't tend to be too quick off the block and command a rather serious price tag. Yes you could get some old american steel and chop it up, stick a huge motor in it and all the rest, but I'd be a bit too precious with it. I wouldn't want to drive it in the rain, I'd probably want to wash it and clean it and really car ownership at that point gets a bit too sad for me. This thing is going to get some abuse, loving abuse, but abuse non the less.

The donor car...

A fibreglass body was the way forwards and the power plant? Well that was going to be in the form of a BMW 540i 4 litre V8, the M60B40 lump to be exact. Nice smooth DOHC motor with a modest 280bhp from the factory. With this build I was aiming for around 300bhp per ton and with a lightweight car this should be achievable. An entire donor car was purchased and hooned around for a while to ensure all was well, this 540i was going to be giving up more than just it's engine...

The complete rear subframe from the 540i has been incorporated in to the new chassis

Ralph Bates

4 years later, with the help of friends and a company called Insane Creations, the project is on the home stretch. Independent suspension all round. The complete rear subframe from the 540i has been incorporated in to the new chassis to make sure servicing and parts replacement costs are kept down and readily available. Thanks to PMC Motorsport the auto box is gone and with a handy conversion kit has been swapped for an E39 manual box. Roll cage for safety and some ali bucket seats and harnesses to keep me in place.

Body off for the final time...

As I write this the body has been lifted off the chassis for the last time, the final welds are being done on the chassis and cage, the front suspension arms are being made to replace the ones used for mock up, then it's time for paint.

The next stage of this project will see plumbing and wiring take place, brakes, clutch, radiator, oil, fuel and then the dreaded wiring stage. Luckily with the 540i lump, the ECUs are all attached straight to the engine harness so providing power to that 'should' get us a running car... That is going to be one hell of a day.

Lakes headers... Mmmm

Annnnnd let's not forget the exhaust, I had to keep to the hotrodding old school style some how! Anyone seen a BMW engine with lakes headers before?

There will be many, many more updates once the chassis is painted and I move on to some of the more fiddly little bits of the build. It's been a long time coming and I just hope the sacrifices are worth the wait. I'm pretty sure the Mrs will kill me if I don't like the finished product after all this time.

The next couple of weeks are going to be exciting and the break from normal work for X-mas can't come any sooner!

Photo by Jenny Wren Photography