Thursday, 5 April 2012

GBS Nottingham and a decision

I visited GBS in Nottingham and potentially was going to drop in on Westfield on the way home, but ran out of time.


I don't like to pick too many holes in other designs, this is purely my subjective view against my requirements. All the cars in this list were possibles:

  • GBS Zero No manual and reliant on community and common sense to build. Factory is 3-4 hours away from home. Clean 'classic' build though and simplicity/straightforwardness of design. All parts available from GBS. (although I did source some donor parts separately anyway)
  • Westfield - A definite possibility and the front runner for a while, but GRP body,  over complex cooling system, no boot to speak of and by default runs the fuel lines under the car floor pans a little too near the road.
  • Tiger - Infamous badly fitting bonnet with 1-2cm gaps reported and seen in real example. Its a small car too - good for racing, but possibly not ideal for a tourer.
  • Dax - definite option and local factory - but stung me for brochures and seem to need a little more metal work than others.
  • MK - Never really managed to get any detail on the cars, didnt have the internet presence/community I expect to need/draw on.
  • Caterham - Did their best to frighten me off by over emphasising the costs of their kit, and really wanting me to buy time in their rental models or pre built cars. I don't think it helped ringing them up 1 week after they were featured on Top Gear (unbeknownst to me) perhaps they had a lot of time-wasters through the door.

The boot space criteria is almost funny on this style car, however I felt it should be at least possible to have an overnight bag in the car - i.e. I'm building a road car as much as a racing/track day car. Some of the best runs in the old Spitfire were to the west country or up to Oxford and I never did make the trip to Monaco in it - so this has to be at least possible in the new motor.


The decision was almost made before I visited, it came down to:
  1. Preference for  the minimal/ almost old school body of the Zero vs the other options which are GRP focused. I really preferred the idea of riveting body panels than working to make GRP fit.
  2. Simple approach with things like the cooling system vs. over complexity on Westfield for example.
  3. Good support community, both friendly supplier and an active online community.
  4. Plenty of recent blogs and build diaries hilighting the minimal amount of fettling required, and in any event no welding!
  5. Evidence of the model recently going through IVA
  6. Price!

I spent a good hour with the team at GBS, supplied with tea, a tour of the workshop, stores, garage etc and lots of information about the cars. This was even though they were preparing and wrapping everything up for the Detling show - i.e. nothing was too much trouble to discuss.

Donor Parts

I had already decided to build a kit and had been looking into the donor aspect for some weeks, Sierra's parts becoming rarer, it made sense to source the parts before making an order, i.e. the current climate means the donor parts are harder to come by and more constraining than the off the shelf kit. Went on to Goole and picked up the donor parts; diff, shafts and steering column from the guy I bought them from on Ebay.

I could spend the time refurbishing them while waiting for the kit delivery.


Completed the car in 2013 and took her for the First run on 7th June 2013. 
Easter 2014 saw us on a 1,400 mile run around the Highlands of Scotland with 10 other kit cars.
Late Summer 2015 the longest run yet - 2,000+ mile round trip to Barcelona over the Pyrenees.

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