Road Test: Porsche 928S4
Grandest tourer When it appeared out of the blue ten years ago, Porsche's exotic 928…
WHEN the Team Broadspeed entourage arrives at any circuit, first impressions are invariably that here is a setup which must surely be the ultimate in professionalism. Their transporter, always well kept and with tools and equipment neatly arrayed with almost military precision, houses what are undoubtedly among the best kept racing saloons in use today. But this is not fastidiousness running riot. Ralph Broad, although he knows that a gleaming frontal appearance is not absolutely necessary for efficiency, aims to get the best from his mechanics, and gets it, by giving them something they can be proud of. Having thus explained that there is nothing pretentious about the Broadspeed image, let’s go closer to home and have a look at their stable in Birmingham’s Stratford Road. Here is a different kettle of fish. On the surface, there is no more than an ordinary B.M.C. dealership. The signwriters have not even got round to substituting Broadspeed Engineering Ltd. fer the original name of S. R. Broad and Sons. Behind, there is nothing of the clinical “white tiles and block floors” that many would have thought. Instead, an originally cramped fitting shop which has burst through brick walls to take in the anatomy of adjoining buildings, though their exteriors remain unchanged. Here, in this labyrinth of bare brick, crumbling plaster and aged beams, all the development, manufacture and assembly of modified B.M.C. cars takes place. Further up the road, another row of business premises, outwardly derelict, has had its interior partitions knocked about to facilitate the setting up of a fibreglass-moulding shop and, which is rather surprising for a B.M.C. dealer, a complete racing workshop for 1-litre Ford Anglias.
Perhaps it would be better here to explain that although Broadspeed Engineering is the parent company, its racing activities are contained within itself by a separate entity called Team Broadspeed. Until this season, the team had been running, and very successfully too, a stable of racing Minis, but dissatisfaction with B.M.C. support and the timely arrival of an offer from Ford served to convince Ralph Broad that a change-over to Anglias would not be a bad move. To say that there were no problems would be a gross understatement. For a B.M.C. dealer, who had developed and raced the products he sold for so long, and knew comparatively little about any other marque, to suddenly choose to equip his racing team with Ford products demanded more than a little courage, but before many weeks went by the tooling was well under way and on February 1st the first Anglia arrived and the job of contesting the 1,000-c.c. class of the British Saloon Car Championship had begun. At first, Ford and Broadspeed seemed an incongruous combination, but Ralph Broad showed himself to be a versatile engineer and spent so little time in getting the cars sorted that already he is regarded as a serious threat to the Mini/Imp preserves.
Although under the overall surveillance of the Patron, administrative race management of Team Broadspeed is undertaken by an enthusiastic and extremely professional amateur called Jeff May. In fact, the deployment of amateur help is very prominent in the make-up of the team, though one would find this difficult to detect, so smooth is the running. Team secretary is Ralph’s own secretary, Maureen McKnight (where would any team be without its inspiring glamour?), and the two remaining full-time members of the staff are fitters Chris Hampton and Tony Jones. All others, usually making up a party of 12 excluding drivers, are well-trained amateurs. Broadspeed “on the road” consists of the transporter, a personnel caravan, a Ford Fairlane team car and one or two other cars as and when necessary. The whole operates under a set of comprehensive standing orders that a Sandhurst-trained strategist would have difficulty in bettering. Every duty is clearly tabulated and allocated, even the emptying of water containers, and there is a complete inventory of every single item of spare parts, equipment and documents, down to washing sponges and the “makings” for a cuppa.
But however well organised a team, it can do little without a competitive car, and this Broadspeed certainly has. Although Ralph Broad has so out to deviate as little as possible from the standard Anglia appearance, the only items which are unchanged on the final product are its bodyshell, cylinder block, gearbox casing, clutch housing, axle banjo. radiator and rear brake assembly. The engine starts its life as a 997-cc. Cosworth-Ford Formula Three unit which is equipped with dry-sump lubrication, two twin-choke 40DCOE2 Weber carburetters and special exhaust and induction systems. The whole is hand-matched and balanced, and produces 118 b.h.p. at the flywheel at 8,900 r.p.m., with over 90 b.h.p. being available at the wheels. Maximum r.p.m. is 10,000. The engine mounting stabilisers are adjustable. The gearbox has four ultra-close ratios, and the rear axle has a standard Ford low ratio fitted with a Salisbury Powr-Lok differential unit. The final drive ratio has not, at time of writing, been lowered sufficiently to provide four workable gears. In fact, the cars have not, to date, used top gear in any race. A singleplate, sintered-metal, diaphragm-spring clutch is fitted, The propeller shaft is a heavy-duty component capable of withstanding high r.p.m., but if the peak gets any higher, a two-piece propshaft will be considered.
Where suspensions are concerned, Ralph Broad works on the principle that “if it looks right, it is right” but tempers this finality with the requirement that everything possible must be made adjustable. Before a race, all conceivable combinations are tried, in private practice if possible, so that on official practice day all he requires his drivers to do is to achieve their previous best time, after which he calls them in. This often has a demoralising effect on his opposition and the question is frequently heard around the circuits, “What’s happened to Broadspeed? They’ve stopped practising.” At the front, complete Cortina GT suspension units are used, suitably modified to be accepted in the Anglia housing, with adjustable spring cups to facilitate rapid height variations. Twin anti-roll bars are also fitted. At the rear, present cars are fitted with semi-elliptic leaf springs, with the axle located by Panhard rod, and inclined Armstrong adjustable telescopic shock-absorbers, but these are now being replaced by coil springs, twin trailing arm axle location and Watts-type linkages with telescopic dampers.
Special magnesium alloy road wheels are fitted, 5½ in. at the front and 6 in. at the rear, with 5.50 X 13 and 5.00 X 13 tyres respectively, all at 38 lb. per sq. in. A John Aley roll-over bar, in light alloy, is bolted through the trim to parts of the bodywork which have been specially strengthened by the addition of a broad plate welded in. This modification, though seemingly trivial, is rather important, for without it there is always the likelihood that the small base plate of the bar would be capable of punching its way through the floor, even though the bar itself would remain undistorted.
Fuel storage is a problem which has claimed the undivided attention of the Broadspeed organisation, so determined are they not to have a repetition of the tragic accident in which Peter Procter was so badly burned. An analysis of that incident revealed that the conventional method of running the fuel intake pipe from the tank to the external filler cap is particularly vulnerable, since a sideways shock on the rear body is likely to sever the intake pipe just below the cap, at the point where it protrudes through the bodywork. Indeed, this is exactly what happened to Procter’s Anglia the fuel spilling over the car and igniting from the sparks caused by metal/tarmac friction. Fuel tanks are now made of pliable rubber, encased in a two-piece box of fibreglass mounted centrally inside the boot. The intake pipe is a short one which does not extend anywhere near the bodywork, the boot lid having to be raised for each refuelling.
There is nothing stark about a Broadspeed Anglia. Ralph Broad insists that they be given the best possible finish, and inside, apart from a leather-covered wheel, the roll-over bar and a special, tailor-made seat, it is surprisingly unchanged from the time it left the Dagenham production line. Even the carpeting is retained. Instrumentation, of course, is improved, with the standard speedometer head assembly being moved to take the place of the similarly-shaped glove compartment on the left. Replacing it on the right are oil pressure gauge, thermometer and r.p.m. gauge, with the latter being given prominence.
It was originally planned to race two of these Group 5 saloons in 1966, with Peter Procter and John Fitzpatrick as drivers. Peter’s replacement has not, at time of writing, been announced, but we gather that arrangements are well on the way to being finalised. A third car, however, has been added to the team at the request of Fords, this being an all white car for Anita Taylor who, we understand, is soon to be attired in Mary Quant-designed racing overalls.
Although a considerable number of thought- and work-hours has gone into the Broadspeed Anglias in their present form, Ralph, as usual, is one step ahead of his current racing programme, and he is in the process of building a 1,000-c.c. Anglia fitted with Lucas fuel injection, a new downdraught head, a five-speed gearbox, and redesigned rear suspension. He is hoping to have this car ready for the August Bank Holiday meeting at Brands Hatch.
Although the change-over of Team Broadspeed from B.M.C. to Ford has resulted in tuning facilities and components for Anglias, Cortinas and Corsairs being made available to customers, Broadspeed Engineering still retains its B.M.C. dealership and continues to supply tuned versions of Mini, 1100, 1800, ” Spridget,” M.G.-B, A60, A40, and Morris 1000, with practically every permutation of modifications imaginable. Perhaps the most startling of these is the fastback-bodied Mini, a racing version of which is still being taken around the circuits by co-director Tony Blore, though not under the Team banner, presumably to promote sales of this unique little car. Using both the 998-cc. Mini-Cooper and 1,275-c.c. Mini-Cooper S units as bases, the Broadspeed GT is available in five road guises, with an additional version based on the 850-cc. Mini. Prices range from £799 for the 850-cc. job to £1,497 18s. 4d. for a Super de Luxe version of the 1,275-c.c.-engined car. A lot to pay for what is no more than a titivated Mini, you may think, but the finish of these cars, produced at the rate of one a week, has been decidedly improved, and the styling, although at first appearing to be something incongruously pseudo-Anglo-Italian, rather grows on one and appeals, without a doubt, to the numerous enthusiasts who have a self-confessed addiction for Minis.
The test car, which we were allowed to keep for all of four days, was the highest priced version with a tuned 1,275-c.c. engine. It attracted considerable interest wherever we took it, even within a hundred yards of the Broadspeed establishment, which suggests that there aren’t yet many of them about. Main recognition feature is the steeply-raked fastback tail, rising into a small, fashionable spoiler at the rear. To achieve this, the firm takes the standard body (they have to buy complete cars from B.M.C., having no reduction for unwanted parts or trim), cuts off the roof and everything behind the rear wheel arch. The windscreen pillars are then taken off and re-welded with a steeper rake. The doors are lowered by taking a few inches off the tops of the windows. The fibreglass semi-body, moulded by Broadspeed themselves, is then placed in position and secured, not simply by lamination or surface bonding, but by welding the steel strengthening tubes to existing metalwork. Off-standard screens and windows are then fitted and the whole smoothed and finished to a high degree of seam-free quality, and any one of 30 colours.
Restall reclining front seats, with non-skid covering similar to that used by B.M.W., are fitted to repositioned mounting points, and the rear seat backrest, with like covering, made to hinge forward to provide access to the otherwise inaccessible boot. The latter is more like a cupboard than a boot and is rendered smaller than usual by the presence of two fuel tanks providing a total capacity of 11 gallons (range 300 miles). Rear seat legroom has been considerably reduced, and it is easy to understand why Broadspeed refer to the car as a 2+2. The facia panel has been completely redesigned with speedometer and tachometer well placed in front of the driver. Other instruments (fuel, temperature and oil pressure gauges, ammeter and clock) are arranged in a cluster in the recessed centre and the various switches in square formation on the right. There is a small un-lidded cubby-hole on the left. Other refinements include a headlamp flasher, twin reversing lights, cigarette lighter, dashboard light rheostat, sound insulation, air horns, leather-covered steering wheel on an adjustable column, Kangol safety belts, a pair of Lucas spotlights recessed into the grille, competition brake pads and linings, 4½ in. J-section wheels, and large area accelerator pressure plate. The suspension has been lowered and modified to improve the already good road-holding, but the ride, particularly on undulating roads, is nevertheless not as good as the non-hydrolastic car.
The stage three engine, modified to the tune of £100 (included in the overall price) is remarkably tractable on the road, and even after a long thrash returned to a sweet tick-over with no fuss or hesitation. The camshaft modification has resulted in the need to use all the gears often, and we frequently found it necessary, although this was certainly no hardship, to engage first for a smooth getaway even when the car was already rolling. We did not have the car long enough to put it through our normal acceleration tests on a private circuit, but we managed to time it at a 112 m.p.h. maximum in top. Power output is about 100 b.h.p. and the compression ratio 10.5 to 1. Twin 1½-in. S.U. carburetters are fitted.
The braking system, just like that of the standard 1275, is okay provided one does not resort to repeated hard applications in quick succession. Fade sets in very quickly under these circumstances and stopping takes quite some effort.
Minor irritations included the distorted view when looking, via the mirror„ through the rear window. This, of course, is common to most cars with a steeply raked rear end, but this is small consolation when you are overtaken by that blue lamp which you failed to recognise over the past mile or so. This did not happen to us, we hasten to add. Over 400 or so very comfortable miles, during which time we became accustomed to stares both admiring and bewildered, the car returned a fuel consumption of 27.9 m.p.g. No oil was needed during this distance.
Many times have we heard vague attempts to define the domestic and racing activities of the Broadspeed organisation. We hope that this article has served to clarify the position somewhat. We are certainly convinced ourselves that Ralph Broad knows how best to combine the advantages of both amateur and professional concerns.
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