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The home made DeltaWing is finished!

  1. THE STEALTH PHALLUS LIVES! Yep, our homespun tribute to the mighty Nissan DeltaWing racer is alive, well and runs as smoothly as liver pâté. But getting here’s been a bit of a battle…

    After we hatched this rather last minute plan with Nissan to make our TG mag Le Mans coverage that little bit more fun (see posts passim), creator Andy Saunders - one of the world’s finest custom car builders - has thrown 337 hours at creating a rather splendid replica of the experimental racer ready for this weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hours. And several of those weren’t terribly fun.

    Words: Matthew Jones
    Photography: Rowan Horncastle

  2. “Building this thing’s been insane, but everything’s pulled together at the last minute and it looks astounding. I just can’t believe I managed it. Nobody with a full-time job builds a car in 39 days. It’s impossible. But we made it. We had to - there’s no way we’re missing the chance to put it next to the real racing DeltaWing.”

  3. Wondering what the main differences are? Well, apart from the fact that it’s mostly Westfield sports car, some stuff Andy found at his local fibreglassers, old boot lids and some Peugeot headlights, the homage is pretty loyal.

  4. “Even though all the important measurements were made from scaling up some low-res pictures I found off the ‘net, it’s turned out pretty faithful. There are some things we couldn’t do - like widen the rear or narrow the front any more to match the dimensions exactly - but that’s only because we would have had to completely reengineer the drivetrain and we didn’t have time.”

  5. “One of the things I’m most proud of is the rear pods. They look so close to the original DeltaWing, but they’re actually made of a [fibreglass cast of an] old German scooter fuel tank. It’s amazing where you find the same shapes. And these are a near-identical match. It’s the same deal with the lights.”

  6. “It was while we were wiring the lights in that we had the fire, actually. After I checked they worked, I thought I should run the car up and leave it to check it held its temperature properly. Because we’d fitted a new radiator, the header tank started bubbling with water a bit, and it produced a bit of a steam, which is perfectly normal. A few minutes after I thought all the water had gone I noticed that there was till steam coming off it…”

  7. “Turned out that it wasn’t steam; it was the old Westfield wiring harness. Somewhere along the line, the wires had chafed through and the whole thing had decided to join itself together and catch. We put it out in time but it was a close one. And it still left a problem - the wiring was behind the dashboard, which meant we had to rip it out, fix the problem and build it again. That probably set us back eight to nine hours. Still, at least it didn’t happen at Le Mans itself.”

  8. “The exhaust issue was quite funny, too. We’ve had to run it through the passenger footwell for clearance, which is our little version of heated seats…”

  9. Providing it doesn’t disappear into a colossal ball of flames at some point, you’re probably wondering where you’ll be able to see the Top Gear DeltaWing. Well it’s just gone onto the transporter, so if you’re going to be around Arnage and the camp sites, keep your eyes open….

  10. If any of you spot it, do send a message and your pictures to editor@topgear.com or tweet them to @bbc_topgear - we’ll publish every one we receive over the weekend…

    If you’re not going, don’t panic - we’ll be bringing Le Mans directly to your computer live, as it happens.

    Click through for more pictures

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