Changes in the world of conversion specialists are usually more frequent than in the Motor Industry which supplies the raw material for the converters to work on. However, around a dozen such “go-faster” firms have now been part of the motoring scene for so long, or have been so successful, that they are now accepted as part of general motoring life.
Companies such as V. W. Derrington (the oldest of them all today), Downton (who received the compliment of having their milder equipment specified by British Leyland, without invalidating a new car guarantee), S.A.H. Accessories who have always been linked very closely with the Triumph badge, plus Rootes and subsequently Chrysler specialists, Hartwell. At present many of the Ford tuners are to the fore, naturally enough in view of that company’s still enormous involvement in the sport, and names such as Broadspeed and British Vita Racing Team, the latter now called Auto Vita-BVRT, are equally well known, along with Super Speed, Jeff Uren’s Race-proved Company and the renowned John Willment group — of which only the Mitcham, Surrey, division is concerned with Ford performance equipment.
Both Broadspeed and BVRT formerly operated either exclusively, or for the main part, on BMC and then BL machinery (as did the legendary Don Moore up in Cambridge) but all three now spend much of their time on Ford-based vehicles. The subject of this article, Janos Odor, and the Company he founded in 1962—Janspeed—concerns itself with most makes of cars and the production of high-quality exhaust manifolding.
Janspeed are famous for quick British Leyland cars, but in recent months the company has developed excellent equipment for the Chrysler Avenger Ford engines from 1,100 to 1,600-c.c. Twin-Cam, apart from the 1,296-c.c. Toledo that we tried. Work was in hand on the Morris Marina 1300 model when we called, but more about that and the Company later….
I don’t think even Janos Odor is quite sure why he decided to tune a Toledo, though the reason was probably that he had sold a Maxi 1500 (which had served him as a test car and his wife as a shopping vehicle) and wanted something completely different to offer to the public. Just about anything that can be usefully done to a Mini has been carried out by Janspeed, so the Herald-based Triumph 1300 unit offered something of a new challenge, and a good business proposition as the same equipment can be applied not only to the Toledo and Herald, but also to a Spitfire, front-wheel-drive Triumph 1300, and they could probably improve the long-stroke Triumph 1500 FWD, too.
“Our” Toledo is unlikely to act as much of a Q-car as the colourful factory paint, 6-in, wheel rims, noticeably cambered-out front wheels and matt black plastic grille all make what was an innocuous small box into a rather aggressive-looking saloon, obviously meant for finer things in life than bumbling from shop to shop—though of necessity nowadays a tuned car must be able to perform the menial services as well as the exhilarating ones, if it is to find widespread acceptance, as this Toledo was designed to do.
Because the Toledo is well soundproofed and civilised in the driving train, it was possible to fit £105.25-worth of engine enlivening parts without unduly affecting interior noise whilst on the move. The components in question were at Stage 2 cylinder head offering bigger (36-mm.) inlet valves and a 10.5-to-1 compression ratio (amongst the usual features such as balancing combustion chamber volumes) for £37.50; a complete exhaust system from four-branch top to tailpipe would cost £27 on its own; a pair of HS4 SU carburetters of choke diameter on a fabricated four-stub inlet manifold totalling £29.35 inclusive of air filters; a Spitfire Mk. 4 camshaft with the necessary bearings included and, finally, a set of gaskets and plug: the camshaft would cost £8.50, whilst the latter more mundane bits will add up to £2.90.
To fit and check the tuning kit at Janspeed would cost £30, which, judging from the smooth way our unit operated, would be a good investment. The Toledo is a light and easy car to handle in production form, so the converters took the opportunity to retain these qualities and add improved road adhesion at higher speeds. A set of 13 in. x 6-in. rim GT alloy road wheels were covered by plump and squat Goodyear Grand Prix tyres of 185 section, and these clinging covers were more accurately controlled by a leather-rim 14-in. dia. steering wheel bearing the Motolita legend on the spokes and Intertech badge on the centre hub. These two prominent steering-wheel makers worked well together though, and this £12 feature plus a front 1/2-in. diameter anti-roll bar (based on the Hydrolastic Mini bar) helped the precision with which one could place the car from the comparatively high-mounted reclining seat, which retails for a further £20.
Various Armstrong shock-absorbers and coil-springs were being experimented with at the time of our trial, so by the time this is published Janspeed will be able to offer an extremely good suspension set-up for road and track use. In fact we were able to drive the Toledo on a closed circuit, with rather a rough surface, and found it capable of both absorbing bumps and being cornered at high speed without undue drama. However, in the early stages it was a different story and we kept a colleague entertained whilst he watched the car enter a curve at Britain’s legal limit with a rear wheel airborne: spectacular, but bad for the live axle half-shafts and worse for forward motion, so this habit has now been cured.
Excluding the shock-absorbers and springs, the non-engine parts we enjoyed would add up to £155.80, which includes an excellent servo, though not the disc front brakes. The latter feature is definitely not a standard item either but with a surprising 17 1/2 cwt. of Toledo to stop using any power output he could obtain, Mr. Odor naturally wanted to stop, though the test car would be perfectly safe with anti-fade linings, the servo and all-drum braking.
On the road the car was truly delightful, retaining some of the Triumph wood-trimmed dignity together with enough sporting flair to make a current MG-B, Spitfire, Midget, Escort 1300 GT, British Leyland FWD GT and crossflow 1600 GT Ford saloons blush hastily and retreat. As you can see it is not a lot quicker in acceleration than those cars we have mentioned, but the margin is a comfortable one as we used only slightly under and slightly over the normal Toledo gear speeds, so a customer could improve on our figures. The speedometer is optimistic by over 5 m.p.h. above 60 m.p.h. when using these tyres, so an owner would be wise to have the instrument recalibrated if he opted for the same rubber-wear.
During the first 100 miles of our trial the engine tended to run hot when continuously operated at illegal speeds, but later on this tendency was alleviated and the needle would remain steadily in the middle of its scale. There was no sign of temperament in traffic whatsoever, though as with any small-engined sporting cars the gearbox must be used frequently to return the best performance. The four synchromeshed ratios worked well and we found out after we returned the car that it would in fact approach 80 m.p.h. in 3rd. So far as cross-crounty ability is concerned, suffice it to say that when the car was raced at Thruxton recently the Toledo returned slightly better lap times than a competently driven standard BMW 2002!
Returning to the base from which this neatly converted machine emerged we found so much of interest that a photographer was laid on to show readers some of the activities that are part of this Company’s routine. The gentleman working on a cylinder head is one of two or three and one can have almost any head from a six-cylinder Triumph to an 850 Mini modified; prices starting from £21 to range up to £90 for an absolute full race Cooper S “screamer” cylinder head. Appropriate camshafts, carburetters, manifolds and heavy-duty engine bits are also sold for Ford, Hillman and BL machinery. The Tecalemit Jackson fuel-injected Mini S-type engine shown in our photographs should give something over 130 b.h.p., approaching double that of the standard power output, and various drivers have demonstrated that the company knows what it is doing with the rest of the car as well. At the time of our visit two such Mini-Cooper S-types were under construction for Italian customers, whilst Jan was also busy sorting out details on a Dutchman’s Escort rallying Twin-Cam, as well as the myriad other details which beset any modern company.
In a separate, but also modern factory in Salisbury, Janspeed employees produce exhaust manifolds for all sorts of Fords, Lotus, Morgan, Volvo, most British Leyland A and B series engines, Fiat 850, Vauxhall Viva, Hillman Minx, Hunter and Imp, to mention just a few! Now in his thirties, Jan Odor takes pride in the progress he has made since he left his native Hungary 14 years ago, came penniless to England, worked for Downton, and left to enjoy the benefits of deciding his own future. He is now a respected entrant in Club racing, having an interesting command of our language, an inventive mind and the strength of mind it requires to make a success of the business, whilst all the time demanding a very high standard of workmanship. There is a tendency for prominent tuners to slang each other in private, but it is unlikely you’ll ever hear the name Jan Odor mentioned with disrespect, for he is also a very big man!—J. W.
Janspeed Modified Toledo performance
0-30 m.p.h. – 3.9 sec. (4.8)*
0-40 m.p.h. – 5.9 sec. (7.6)
0-50 m.p.h. – 8.3 sec. (11.9)
0-60 m.p.h. – 11.9 sec. (17.3)
0-70 m.p.h. – 16.5 sec. (27.9)
0-80 m.p.h. – 26.4
1st – 26 m.p.h. (27)*
2nd – 49 m.p.h. (46)
3rd – 72 m.p.h. (68)
4th – 95 m.p.h. (82)
*Figures for production Toledo.
Speedometer error: Accurate at 30 m.p.h., 7 m.p.h. slow at an indicated 70 m.p.h., and 12 m.p.h. slow at an indicated 100 m.p.h.
Overall fuel consumption: 23-24 m.p.g.
Converters: Janspeed Engineering Ltd., Southampton Road, Salisbury, Wilts.