A New Backdrop.

As many of you might know I work from home using 1/2 of my garage for bike work while the other 1/2 gets used to store the sports car I use for SCCA Solo events. Since I share a good number of photos of bikes in process the car tends to act as a backdrop and it generates its own share of comments. Until last winter the car that was my back drop was a 2005 Lotus Elise and while I liked the car very much I kept feeling the urge to have something more simple, lighter, and with a higher power/weight ratio for autocross events.

So last fall I sold the Elise and ordered a 2014 Westfield S2000. The car can be purchased in two different forms – as a completed and built ‘roller’ sans engine and transmission or as a kit. I’d always wanted to assemble my own car from the ground up so I ordered the kit and then waited. The plan was for the kit to arrive during the long dark and cold Montana winter and that I’d take my time putting it together after work and on weekends but the plan didn’t work out as intended – the kit arrived not in February but late April.

“It is what it is” as they say and I got to work. Frankly it was challenging, fun, and at times very frustrating, building my new backdrop but I put time in on it most every day and in time it started to look like a car………or as much like a ‘normal’ car as an homage to a Lotus Seven ever looks. The build starts with riveting aluminum panels (hundreds of rivets!) to the tubular space frame and the progresses to adding suspension and wiring and bodywork. Finally the engine and transmission get bolted in place. About two and a half weeks ago, with my friend Joe’s help, I fired the engine up for the first time. First turn of the key not much happened…………second turn and it fired right up and idled smooth and quiet. Fluids did not come pouring out, there was no smoke and the fire extinguisher and hose I had at the ready sat unused. We drove it slowly around the neighborhood a few times with almost no bodywork on it and it shifted and braked and for the most part worked. After a few hundred hours of work the crate of parts was a car.

Over the past few weeks it’s been registered, insured, and generally sorted and it’s starting to work very well……….and I must say it’s very quick. Certainly the quickest thing I’ve ever driven. The Honda S2000 engine puts out 247 hp and the car weighs 1400 pounds so it gets out of the way in a hurry. My first Solo race with it is coming up on the 9th of August and there is still much to do to make sure it’s as ready as can be but it’s now a car……..a car I built with my own two hands just like the bikes that come out of the other half of the garage. At the risk of sounding all too pleased with myself I’m proud of the car and the hard work I put in to make it happen. I don’t know that I’ll want to do it again any time soon but I can say i’ve done it. I find myself coming home from rides and leaning my bike against the bench and sitting and looking at my orange bike and orange car in the same view. That feels good.

So there you have it – the short story of how and why you’ll see a new backdrop in the shop photos for some years to come.

Time to get to work.


This entry was posted in For Fun.  

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One response to “A New Backdrop.”

  1. Dan Murphy says:

    Wow, what a cool project. Looks great.
    Good luck racing it.

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