Tuning topics

WHEN the Escort range was announced, many of the engine specialists offered to fit the 1600 GT Cortina unit as a replacement for the 70 (gross) b.h.p. 1300 GT installation. Now it would appear that a similar situation has arisen in the case of the Capri, in this case satisfactorily to produce a V8 version. To our knowledge five such V8 Capris have been made, one residing in South Africa and the remainder in Britain. The UK firms involved in such projects are Allards at 51, Upper Richmond Road, Putney, London SW15; Super-Speed at 482, Ley Street, Ilford, Essex; and Crayford at the High Street, Westerham, Kent. The latter have received the most publicity by presenting their “Xterminator” 200 b.h.p. Capri at the Motor Show; however we understand that the Crayford Capri is currently being rebuilt and is not available for road test—a comment which applies equally to the Allard and Super-Speed cars, though for different reasons. All of the British conversions use a Ford V8 and gearbox, with suspension, rear axle and bodywork modifications still under development; prices are similar too at approximately £2,000. Expect to hear more of these interesting ideas when MOTOR SPORT is offered one of the breed for road test!

Vic Derrington’s speed shop and conversion works in Kingston, Surrey, were among the very first in the business. Derrington has now spent 60 years in the tuning business and to celebrate the company is selling eight port aluminium crossflow cylinder heads for BL “A” series engines, covering the Sprite, Minis, and 11/1300s. The head is produced by Pearson’s in Warwickshire and is likely to cost £100 or so. Aluminium heads have many theoretical advantages, among them better heat dissipation qualities (so that a higher compression ratio can be achieved), but their main snag has always been in restricting valve sizes: Derrington believes that the Pearson head is the answer to this problem because valves as large as standard diameter Mini-Cooper S inlets and exhausts can be used without distortion of the valve seats (caused by their proximity when oversize diameters are used). Incidentally, the Derrington shop is well worth a visit from readers who are interested in veteran and vintage parts. Of the many projects in which the company has been involved, we found the ATS 3-litre Formula One engine almost a story in itself.

Other firms which sell “A” series 8-port heads include Arden Conversions at Tamworth in Warwicks and BVRT (British Vita Racing Team) in Littleborough, Lancs.

Bill Needham of Coldwell engineering in Sheffield has moved quickly into a new market for Mini owners . . . selling glassfibre front sections styled in Clubman style; at £16 10s. they will probably find a few buyers who wish to modernise their Issigonis bricks cheaply.

British Leyland’s Special Tuning Department appears to have given its approval to a pair of agencies. They are H and S Morris (1967) Ltd. at 2, Beech Road, St Albans, and P. S. Wood at 53, St. Hilda’s Road, Harrogate, Yorkshire.

The Renault-powered Lotus Europa is becoming a popular subject for modification. The first company to produce improved performance parts was Hermes of 132, Stanley Park Road, Wallington, Surrey. Mike Spence Ltd., in Maidenhead and J. A. Else in Codnor, Derbyshire, also sell modified versions of the Chapman mid-engine device, broadly following the lines pioneered by Hennes in the engine equipment, but branching out to include smarter paint finishes and yet wider aluminium alloy wheels to the customer’s choice. As a rough guide a customer can expect to buy a sidedraught Weber 451DCOE, redesigned exhaust and inlet manifolding to boost the top speed to around 120 m.p.h. for £100; M. Spence Ltd. keep an extremely smart Europa demonstrator fitted with just those items and a highlift camshaft and this goes extremely quickly.

W. B. Blydenstein’s engineering works have been mentioned before in these pages in connection with Vauxhall Vivas, but on a recent visit we found he was doing a great deal of work on other popular saloons and such distinguished older machinery as the Blight Roesch Talbots and an Alvis 25 (3.6-litre), for which he modifies cylinder heads and camshafts. Bill Blydenstein has now extracted something like 200 b.h.p. from a 2.3-litre version of the Vauxhall Viva GT engine, and he hopes it will not be long before considerably quicker Blydenstein Vivas are a common sight on British roads. His firm’s address is Station Works, Shepreth, Nr. Royston, Herts.