F1 restoration: Jordan 195

Month by month we’ll be following a racing car’s rebirth. Here, 1990s F1 aficionado Warren Stean documents the first steps of a V10 adventure

I’ve done a bit of racing in Caterhams, Porsches and single-seaters, but it’s Formula 1 I’m really interested in. I’m a massive fan and love the machinery, and really want to drive one. A Cosworth DFV-engined car that could race in the FIA Historic Masters F1 Championship isn’t my period – I’m a ’90s guy when it comes to my cars. Which is how I ended up buying a Peugeot-engined Jordan 195.

F1 hit a sweet spot in the mid ’90s as far as I’m concerned. The cars looked great and sounded even better. It was a V10-powered car that I was really after. I looked at a couple of early-2000s Jaguars that were already runners, but there is a bit more technology involved, stuff like titanium gearbox casings. The problem is that the costs get incrementally higher as the cars become more recent.

I’d been looking at the Jordan for a while and ended up taking the plunge and buying it as seen. It was a bit of a risk, but not as a much of a risk as I’ve since found out.

My research proved that it was the right chassis, number 4, the car that Rubens Barrichello raced for all but the first two Grands Prix of 1995. That means it is the car in which he finished second to Jean Alesi’s Ferrari at the Canadian Grand Prix that year, when the Jordans finished two-three. So it’s definitely the one to have.

The elephant in the room was always the Peugeot 3-litre V10 powerplant. It’s not a Cosworth, a Hart or a Judd, so I’ve had to put a bit more effort into it, but the Peugeot engine is perfectly runnable.

It was sold as a fresh engine, but we are going to be crack-testing everything and rebuilding it, which is being done by Engine Developments. They’ve actually done a few Peugeot engines, so it isn’t going to be a problem.

I intend to buy a second engine. That’s really important, because if you crack a block, you can be left with something that is just a showpiece looking pretty in your garage. There is a conversion you can do with the Peugeot A10 engine to put it into sports car specification with conventional or spring valves. You only lose 60bhp, but the service interval goes up and the cost of a rebuild comes down in comparison with the true F1 engine with pneumatic valves. I’ll probably end up with one in each spec.

It turned out that the gearbox is the biggest issue. Jordan was the only team to run a seven-speed ’box in 1995 and it is mostly Hewland internals with a few Xtrac bits in Jordan’s own casing. Hewland has got the original drawings for the parts they did and are going to re-engineer the others, so they will be able to make two or three complete sets of internals.

The car is being restored by Tour-de-Force Power Engineering at Bedford Aerodrome. They count themselves as the specialist for V10-engined F1 cars, which they undoubtedly are. They are sorting out the gearbox control systems. It had a hydraulic paddle-shift system in period, but we are going to run it on pneumatics. I’m very much into originality, but there are a few things that can be done to make the car more manageable to run.

I’ve had the Jordan for two and a half years, but I got distracted along the way. I bought a partially restored Toleman-Hart TG185, which took longer to complete than I imagined. But now the focus is fully on the Jordan.

I really want it to be done by the end of next March, so that I get out on a test day somewhere. I’m not 100 pe rcent sure what is going to happen after that. I might do some races in BOSS GP and have been doing some Formule Libre races in a Formula Renault to learn about slicks and wings. I may end up just doing demos, but it is being restored as a car that can be raced. We start in earnest next month.