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Our home-made DeltaWing is nearly ready

  1. “I’ve upgraded!” says Andy
    Saunders, the UK car customiser helping us build our very own DeltaWing. “I’ve
    now got six pictures of the car to work off. Last time I saw you I only had
    three. Shame – I’ve nearly finished now.”

    As regular TG.com watchers will be
    aware
    ,
     last month, along with Nissan, we hatched what has turned out to
    be an insanely last minute plan to build a home-made version of the DeltaWing.
    An endearingly amateurish tribute to the cigar-shaped racer that is actually
    one of the most revolutionary endurance cars in decades
    . Made out of an old
    Westfield and bits of a Hillman Imp, among others.

    (And just to be clear: this is just a piece of Le Mans-based fun to get
    our magazine reporting team to France and back. It won’t be on the TV, and we
    won’t be racing it, much as we’d like to.)

    Luckily for us, the bulk of the work’s been undertaken by one man – the
    aforementioned Andy Saunders. And as you can see, he seems to know what he’s
     doing… 

  2. “Coming along now, isn’t
    it?” says Andy. “It’ll certainly turn a few heads at Le Mans.” And that’s precisely where you will (hopefully) see our humble salutation.

    If it actually works, that is… 

  3. So will it be ready for its inaugural voyage? Andy replies with clarity and economy “I bloody hope so.” It may look like a lick of paint of away from roadworthiness, but there are still several loose ends to tie. Chief of which is the cooling system.

    “Because the front end’s narrower, we couldn’t use the original radiator so we got a custom one made to fit. It holds the same amount of water, but the bit where the top hose goes doesn’t quite match up with the bit that joins on the top of the engine. No idea how we’ll sort that one yet.”

  4. “We’ve only just finished up the front end, so I’ve only just started thinking about getting it running. When they designed the car originally, they probably made it from foam then had the headlights made to fit. I had to match up the lights with production car parts then build the whole nosecone up around them.

    “These lights are off a Peugeot 307. I had to build a frame around them like a pair of spectacles then think about how I can make it look like the DeltaWing. I used a sheet of steel that I shaped then riveted on the arches - they’re made from the original car’s rear ones.”

  5. “The front’s turned out fractionally wider than the original, but we didn’t have time to get into fabricating our own [suspension]. The rear’s 10cm narrower than the original, too. We couldn’t widen it out any more with the tyres we had.

    “Length wise, though, it’s absolutely bang on - I’m quite pleased with that. I only scaled it from the pictures off the ‘net. I didn’t even use a slide ruler. Don’t think I’ve got one, as it goes.”

  6. “I’ve made a subtle improvement to the design, too. The wing and the back of the rear end sloped back at different angles. I changed it so they’re the same. I reckon it looks a lot better. I’ll tell the designer if I get to meet him…”

  7. So, what about the driving
    experience? The mechanic charged with arranging what’s affectionately known as
    the DeltaWang (or ShedeltaWing), Jim Charmers, says: “it’ll either be really
    really good or really really bad. I don’t think there’ll be much middle
    ground.”
     
    Andy adds: “The passenger’s not going to get cold. I tried to get some oval
    piping so I could tuck the exhaust under the car – normal tubing doesn’t give
    enough clearance - but I phoned the supplier and he told me I’d need to buy a
    mile of the stuff. I said he can forget it and ran normal pipe through the
    cabin – whoever’s coming along for the ride’s going to burn his a*** off.”
      

  8. Over 200 hours into the build, Andy reckons we’re well on course for the car’s debut at Le Mans 2012. “I’m on my 6th tin of filler now, so we can’t be too far off paint, graphics and the road. Once I’ve sorted the radiator out we’ve got a few wiring jobs to sort, and I’ve got the brake pipes to plumb in, then it’ll be ready. And I can have a sleep…”

    Anyone else building something equally ambitious for this year’s race? Let us know on editor@topgear.com.

    And click on for more pictures of the story so far… 

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