Highlander conversion for Avengers
Rootes success with the conventional Hillman Avenger has encouraged some of the tuning companies to take an interest, and there are now three firms producing complete conversions or parts for the Pentastar product. With any luck, and the patience of our printers, we will have squeezed in a road test of one this month (the Davenport Vernon machine) and we have already recorded that Team Hartwell are interested in the subject. Unfortunately the latter company have been unable to produce a car which they feel is suitable for Motor Sport’s readership, mainly on grounds of performance. However they do offer some very mild modifications—more extensive work being held up by component suppliers
This leaves us with Minnow Carburetters’ latest offering (the company formerly traded under the MPG & H Engineering banner), which is a £250 job. The carburetter employed is said to give at least a 20% power boost at the rear driving wheels without harming overall fuel economy. We will record all the details below, pointing out before we do so that most of the items are available separately if desired.
The 1500-c.c. engine is first stripped down and rebuilt after “dynamic. balancing (shades of Harold Wilson ?), plus lightening and crack testing of the reciprocating parts”. The camshaft, cylinder head and exhaust system are also modified, the latter by fitting four-branch tubular plumbing. Naturally one of the company’s Minnow Fish carburetters is installed. The result of this work is said to be 90 m.p.h. cruising speeds and a maximum speed of over 100 m.p.h.
Also included in the price we quoted earlier are six-inch rim alloy wheels with Michelin XAS tyres, lowered and stiffened suspension (the Avenger utilises coil springs all round) and a reshaped boot lid to give a fashionable “lip” at the rear. Incidentally the car’s name is in honour of the company’s move to Minnow House, Lochgilphead, Argyll. in Scotland. An after sales service centre is to be maintained at their old address—Soho Mills, Hackbridge, Wallington, Surrey.
ONE OF the firms who stand out in the tuning industry today are Janspeed Engineering at Southampton Road, Salisbury in Wiltshire. Under the genial but determined former Hungarian refugee, Janos Odor, they produce a wide range of equipment for pretty well all popular modern cars, though their reputation was founded on British Leyland products and a very high standard of workmanship on engine manifolding. They have now made exhaust systems varying from the traditional 848-c.c. Mini up to one-off and extremely complicated racing V8s, currently supplying most of the V6 specialist builders with revised pipework.
There are now two spacious workshops/factories working on the firm’s speed equipment and the parts they make have now been brought fully up to date and detailed in their latest catalogue, which costs three shillings and is available from the address we gave earlier. This booklet makes interesting reading for those about to convert a Rootes, BL or Ford car, and much of the impressive performance data can be backed by independent road test reports.
TODAY’S news stories are usually about ever bigger company mergers to the point where the Monopolies Commission start to get agitated, but in the smaller world of speed equipment we find that one link has recently been broken. The people concerned are Chris Coburn and David Ison, Coburn having resigned from Coburn-Ison Ltd. He is now back at Netherall Gardens in Hampstead, London, NW3, directing the activities of his original company which is known as Coburn Improvements. This firm concentrate much of their energy on rallying and selling suspension, engine and bodywork modifications for Vauxhall Vivas, as well as continuing with bread-and-butter work on British Leyland products.
A more sophisticated perch?
AT A casual glance Autovita, 17, Birmingham New Road, Wolverhampton, is just another speedshop—perhaps more fully stocked than most, but still a speedshop. However the magic words are VITA, the shop being part of British Vita Group who, apart from their mass production interests in car seating, have also backed BVRT the well known Lancashire racing and conversion company. This should mean that most of the good things that have been proven by Messrs Ratcliffe and Goodliff in racing and hill-climbing can be at least ordered in Wolverhampton, which always used to be associated with works Mini driver John Rhodes as well, but the controlling interest is now with BV. Their latest product is a very attractive glassfibre bucket seat known as the Competition 2. It has a main seating area panel in matt black brushed nylon which should leave the driver less clammy after a hard summer’s day drive. Total weight is said to be just 10 lb. and it looks like good value for £15, plus £2 19s. 6d. if universal runners are needed.
GONE are the days when enthusiasts wanting a bolt-on tachometer for a saloon car could have any design they wanted, so long as it was a Smiths! Now there are a number of engine r.p.m. indicators using electricity as the motivational source; many of them from Japan. However prices have not dropped much, if one wants a decent sized counter, for most seem to be around the £10 mark.
The latest of the breed to catch our attention (though we are not certain if it comes from Japan) is marketed by the large Essex concern of Brown and Geeson. It is priced at £10 19s. 6d. with a mounting cowl, or 10s. less with a dashpanel adaptor. A shaded “danger zone” between 4,500 and the maximum reading of 8,000 r.p.m. is provided for direct attachment to the instrument’s face. The counter is guaranteed to be accurate within 2%. It is on this point that most enthusiast comment is directed nowadays, being split equally between a school that says, “British counters are hopeless”, and one that says much the same about Japanese products. It is fair to point out that both have been extensively used in competition, though the ultimate is usually reckoned to be a chronometric Smiths installation, as used on most F1 cars. The snags to the latter are finding a convenient way of supplying the necessary mechanical pick-up point and cost.After all that we would just add that the B & G instrument is a good looking one and can be obtained from them at 777/779 High Road, Goodmayes, in Essex. The same company specialise in Nikki carburetters, which are now sold to fit just about every British car and some of the less-well-catered-for foreign machines as well, including Fiats, Renaults, Opels and Simcas of varying shapes and sizes.–J.W.