A company which is a fresh name to me, although they have existed for two years, is Car Preparations based at Willow Vale, Pavenham Road, Oakley, Bedfordshire (tel.: Oakley 2223). CP’s latest brainchild is installing the Ford crossflow 1600 GT engine and gearbox into the Midget or Sprite; this task being much easier on the current models than it was on the Mk. I and 2 versions on which the crossmember tended to get in the way of the Ford sump.
Apart from giving the British Leyland baby sports car a 0-60 time of just over 10 seconds (a fact which we have verified with a fifth wheel), the conversion also involves servo-assisted braking, utilising DS 11 disc pads at the front, a 5/8 in. thick anti-roll bar and a Panhard rod to locate the leaf sprung rear axle. Fuel capacity is increased (doubled in fact) to 12 gallons and a price of £1,120 is charged when the work is carried out on a new car.
Optional extras include all the obvious BL ones plus a 3.73:1 axle ratio to replace the standard 3.9:1 and 6-in. rim alloy wheels with appropriate radial-ply tyres, which were made by Dunlop on the Atlantis I tried.
The all-synchromesh gearbox operates just as swiftly and accurately in its new home, as it does when used in Ford, whilst the Ford engine gives the 14.4-cwt. car excellent low-down power. Engine noise is reduced when compared to the standard product and handling seemed little affected.
The only snag I could see from a brief encounter lay in the axle which tended to jump when moving away with more than 3,000 r.p.m. indicated as the engagement speed for the clutch. This can be cured if the customer wishes to spend more money (the complete car is around £200 more than the standard product) but I doubt if many will need to bother during ordinary road use.
Altogether an excellent conversion which should be at least tried by every Spridget owner intent on going faster.—J. W.