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Saturday 1st November

Planned to make another start with the glazing today. First job is remasking the polycarbonate bits. Turns out the 6mm lining tape is the best for this as it allows tighter curves without the edge subsequently lifting. Once the first one is done it's time to paint it - I've tried out the paints on one of the scrap pieces and have decided to go with the brush on paint as it's a bit more controllable. After a quick wipe with the cleaning solvent it goes on fine and covers well. Once I'm happy with this I carry on and mask/paint the other headlight cover then the two side windows. With the masking tape removed I now have a nice solid black border round all of them, with a nice smooth shar edge.

On to fitting them next. I start with the left hand headlight cover. First of all mask around it, then using a scalpel blade trim back just inside the recess. Once the black gelcoat of the light unit housing is polished up the edge of the GRP needs a coat of black paint. While this is drying I mask up the other side and get that ready. I figure a risk to watch out for is excess sealant squeezing out into the inside of the unit, so I apply a bead around the outside, next to the masking tape. Holding the cover in position carefully it can be pushed onto the mastic and pressed home. The excess sealant then squeezes out around the outside where it can be wiped off the masking tape using plenty of paper towels and some petrol. The masking tape is then removed and the cover taped in position while the mastic goes off. This takes a little while as more mastic seeps out as you press it home, and you then need to go round again with the paper towels. Eventually I'm happy and can leave it to set.

Headlamp unit masked ready to fit cover (click for larger image)Cover slapped onto mastic ready to remove masking tape (click for larger image)All finished and taped in position for mastic to set (click for larger image)

The second headlight cover doesn't take anywhere near so long as the first. Apart from the fact that the second one of anything in a build is quicker cos you've done it before, the cover just seems to seat a bit better and requires less tweaking, although to be fair the fit of all the polycarbonate bits is excellent.

I decide to crack on and fit the passenger window before finishing for the day. The aperture is already masked and I painted around the edge while I was waiting for the paint on the headlamp apertures to dry. I'd noticed when fitting the headlamp covers that there was a bit of a problem with the new tube of sealant I'd opened - it was extremely hard work getting it to come out of the tube despite having warmed it on the kitchen radiator, and while trying to apply it to the window aperture it's so hard I end up bending the handle/trigger on my mastic gun! So I wipe off the bit I've got on there and nip to B&Q for a new one. Turns out the problem's definitely with the tube rather than the gun as it's still really hard work. I get there in the end and cautiously position the screen in place. Again it's an excellent fit, but tends to try to spring out a little at top and bottom particularly towrds the rear. The mastic does hold it in, but not quite tight enough without some assistance. Once I've cleaned off the excess sealant the masking tape comes off and I can start going round cleaning up and applying strips of tape to hold it in place.

I notice there's a bit seeped out on the inside in a couple of places so once it's taped on I open the door and clean up these bits.

The tape works to a point - it stops the window sliding out of position, but isn't enough to hold it in tightly. I can get most of it to sit nice and flush apart from the upper rear bit, so I decide to improvise here. First I tape my deadblow hammer onto it, but this still isn't quite enough, so the lump hammer gets added in as well! This seems to work a treat and once I'm happy with it it's time to get as much sealant off my hands as I can and go in to make our evening meal.

Lump hammer used as weight to hold window in position! (click for larger image)

Once I've eaten I nip back out amd remove the hammers and clean off the remaining sealant before it's set too hard. The hammers have done the trick and the end result is very pleasing - the whole window is sitting perfectly the whole way round. A bit of glass cleaner gets it looking even better, although I'll leave the inside till tomorrow when the mastic is completely set.

Job done - will neeed to clean interior surface once mastic has set completely (click for larger image)

Sunday 2nd November

After a ride with the bike club (bit different to Lanzarote last week!) started on the driver's door window. Before fitting it I remasked the inside to make life easier if any mastic crept through to the inside. I was a bit worried what I'd do about the tube of mastic, but it seemed miraculously cured of it's affliction of yesterday and came out of the gun easily and smoothly today! The pane went on with no problems, and after 30 minutes or so of cleaning up etc. it too was ready for the lump hammer treatment.

Driver's door window goes under the hammer! (click for larger image)

While that was setting I cleaned up the inside of the passenger window and removed the tape from the headlight covers and gave them a clean.

Left hand headlight cover completed (click for larger image)Right hand headlight cover completed (click for larger image)Completed passenger door window (click for larger image)

2 hours later I removed the hammers from the driver's door and gave that a final wipe off. The bottom rear corner had eased itself out a bit, and with some firm pressure went back into place accompanied by some more mastic squeezing out, so after cleaning this up I wedged it with a length of batten between it and the garage wall for the night.

Last job of the day was to make a start on the rear grille. First of all the exhaust end sections need a bit of work. When I first fitted the exhaust system two of the clamps stripped threads, I discovered tonight it's because with the stainless clamps supplied the floating 'bridge' piece under the bolt can slide such that it wedges in place and prevents the clamp tightening. I still couldn't get the end pieces to tighten satisfactorily, and was worried about wrecking the new clamps. I decided the slots in the outer sleeve (on the silencer) must need opening up, so I took a small file to these and that did the trick. Next some careful adjustment to get them symmetrical, then on with the grille. This is tricky to get in with the exhausts fitted, but you need them there to mark them for the two holes. I first marked the cutouts in the lower edge for the number plate light boxes, and instead of removing the two rectanglular sections bent them inwards. The grille could then be taped in place on the outside of the aperture and the position of the exhausts marked with a yellow wax crayon. Once that was done it was time to go in.

Friday 21st November

Okay, I know, it's been a long time! I have managed a few bits and pieces since I last wrote, but not a lot partly because work has taken me away quite a lot, but I've been waiting for Ultima to get their hands on some windscreens.

The long and the short is they came in this week so I left at 5.40 this morning and was back from Hinckley at 12.20 with a nice shiny new screen on the back seat of the Evo. Not bad for a 350 mile round trip. On to the bits and pieces first. The rear grille was first. I tacked it into position, held it with some cable ties adn a couple of days later took the rear canopy off and bonded all the way round the edge and stuck the canopy back on. Replacing the canopy is much more difficult with the grille in place! Previously I'd just reached through the rear aperture for easy access to the rose joints. Not any more ...

Another headache was the rear fog lights. I'm sure these were working before, and after checking the fuses and bulbs and fiddling about with the multimeter it was clear there was no juice coming through to the rear weatherproof connector. Basically I wasted about 3 hours tracing the wiring back across the dash, along to the engoine bay etc. before discovering that there's a plug just near the back where the red and brown wire for the rear fogs needs bridging. Maybe there was one there before and it fell off, but I don't think so. Anyway, sorted now.

The aircon belt had been a little cloud hanging over me - most of these jobs had been to be honest. I lost momentum big time after the windscreen incident. With the back end of the car jacked up and on stands it wasn't too bad to get to, and the belt I got in the end (the third one I've tried!) turned out to be perfect. While I was under there I noticed that the alternator belt was a bit floppy, presumably it's just stretched a bit, being new, so I tightened that too while I was under there. Previously I'd heard grumbles about the alternator bracket, but the one American Speed supply now is a really nice billet aluminium one with a threaded adjuster like the rear toe links. Just undo the locknut and turn the adjuster till the tendion's right then lock it up again.

Also had a stab at the headlight adjustment. I marked the height etc. of each lamp on a cardboard box and plonked this in line with the headlight cluster. I ended up cutting some different lengths of rubber hose to get the adjustment I wanted, but it didn't take too long. I''ll try to pop the car round to my local garage to check it with their equipment before I take it for SVA.

The alarm needed pin switches fitting to each door, so that got done, followed by fitting the polished aluminium plates which close off the fronts of the sidepods. While I was there I also drilled out the rivets holding the cockpit onto the chassis, which might have made a tiny amount of difference to the screen fit but I suspect not.

Then last night spent a little time giving the car a good clean. Gave the wheels a polish, then went over all the bodywork with Autoglym resin polish. With the screen resting in place it really looks lovely.

Anyway, I arrived at the factory at about 8.30 this morning and had a chat with Ted over a coffee. Following that had a look at a couple of the factory cars to check on a couple of things I wasn't sure about. The main one was sussing out how the rear wing fits on. Ted reckons it isn't a problem for SVA with the trailing edge of the upper plane trimmed with rubber, but I'll leave it until after the SVA. I was also keen to check on the windscreen fit and was pleased to find that the factory cars are identical to mine in the way the screen fits, and I got a clear idea of how they use the sealant line to make it look OK. Also asked about the rocker cover breathers. The build manual shows these being connected to the carb, which was what I was planning to do. Ted advised that the vacuum tends to draw quite a bit of oil out that way which then ends up getting burnt, and that a catch tank is a better bet. Ho hum, the credit card's taking a beating today anyway, so another 80 quid won't hurt too much. I also needed a speedo sender as my speedo still isn't working, and they reckon it's likely the gearbox sender is caput ... another 50 odd quid.

Once back home the first job was to get the screen in position with rubber blocks superglued in place and mask around it. I did this differently this time, making sure that rather than just following the lines of the aperture and the edge of the screen I kept a fairly constant separation between the two lines of tape. This meant overlapping a bit of body and screen at the very front and a bit of the body at the front quarters. Before taking the screen off I made a few registering marks with the felt pen to make locating it in the right spot first time a bit easier. Once happy with that it was off with the screen to mask the inside to paint it with the glass primer. Although the screens come with a black border already, this isn't wide enough to completely overlap the edge of the aperture. I used the narrow lining tape followed by a strip of the wider Tamiya tape. Quick clean with the solvent, then a nice covering coat of the primer, and the same on the bodywork. This only takes 15 minutes to dry, then the lining tape can be removed, the end result being a nice sharply defined border.

As soon as I'd got home I'd stuck the tube of sealant in the house to warm it and hopefully make it a bit easier to get out. This worked to some extent but by the time I''d got all the way round most of the tube was gone and my hands were aching like mad! On with the screen next, trying not to get my fingers on the primer, also trying to avoid covering myself in sealant! Fortunately the felt pen marks worked a treat and it dropped straight into place. A bit of gentle pressure all round to seat it then on with trying to get a decent finish on the line of sealant. First of all a scrape with a plastic strip to get it fairly even and fill in any gaps. A tip in the forum was to use some slightly diluted washing up liquid on a finger, and this worked fairly well. Once the tape was removed a couple of bits of it needed tidying, but all in all I'm pretty pleased with it. I'll give it a clean in the morning and get a couple of piccies.";

Screen masked upready for priming and bonding in (click for larger image)Screen slapped onto sealant. Bit of cleaning up to do! (click for larger image)

I'm not working at all this weekend so I hope to get the car completely finished. I did originally have an SVA appointment booked last Monday, but when it was clear I wouldn't have a screen I postponed it and have rebooked for a week today, the 28th. Not too much to get done before then really - sort out the speedo, oil catch tank, fit the brake bias bar lock and fit the decals. Also want to rebleed the brakes as there was a small leak at the rear T piece.

Saturday 22nd November

First job this morning was to give the windscreen a polish inside and out. The screen really transforms the car, from both inside and out. The car looks so much more finished from the outside, and from the inside it makes you really feel you're enclosed in the cockpit. It's really snug, almost claustrophobic.

Next a bit of grubbing around to find the wiper fixings. Fitting the wiper is straightforward, but takes a bit of trial and error to get it right so the movement is symmetrical about the midline.

The finished screen with wiper in situ (click for larger image)

I've got a few jobs to do around the back end, and am keen not to take the canopy off as getting the spacing washers back in was a pain in the a**e. With the support struts undone and a piece of string stopping it falling right back, the canopy can be lifted to the vertical position giving me clearer access to fit the speedo sender, catch tank and the brake calipers. first a couple of bacon sarnies and a trip out for a couple of bolts and some spiral wrap.

Fitting the speedo sender just means undoing the gearbox end of the nearside driveshaft, slipping the toothed plate between driveshaft and gearbox, refitting bolts (with threadlock) and retorquing. Then the hall effect transducer is fitted on two of the existing gearbox studs. Make up a little subloom to connect it to the loom and Bob's your uncle.

External speedo sensor fitted ... might have been a complete waste of time :-( (click for larger image)

Next thing to do is try it out. Since the rear of the chassis is on axle stands it's easy enough to fire her up, select a gear and let the clutch out. Nothing! Must be a duff speedo. On closer inspection of the wiring diagram there are a coupe of other wires there that are tied back and not used, and the instructions suggest one of those might be the one to connect with a hall effect sensor so I try that, but to no avail. I waste a good couple of hours on this and end up frustrated, this isn't good news with my SVA only 6 days away! I manage to catch Ted at the factory and he'll speak to Dave about it on Monday.

The catch tank shares the chassis cross member with the gearbox catch tank between the silencers. This meant moving the gearbox tank over a bit and rerouting its hose. Soon had the tank fitted and connected to the rocker covers, then two vent pipes (not sure why there should be two!) routed down to the bottom chassis rail and cable tied in place.

Oil catch tank fitted and plumbed in (click for larger image)

Next bleed the rear brakes, with some assistance from David. Once that's done apply a bit of spiral wrap onto the braided hose. I got a bundle of this from Maplin - I did want black but they only do clear. Very good value at 2.49 for 8metres of it, and it looks fine. Refit the wheels and lower the car to the floor.

Spiral wrap on all braided hoses (click for larger image)

Next job is the front brakes, and while I'm there I double check all the hose unions at the front end, which are fine. Then a bit of spiral wrap on the hoses, and that's another job crossed off the todo list. While I'm there I stick some water in the windscreen washer bottle and make sure it works. It does but there's a significant directional problem! This is quickly sorted, must just remember to put some screenwash in there. Nearly 6pm now, almost time for beer and curry!

Sunday 23rd November

I really need to get the car finished today. Started with a mild hangover so decided probably best not to go burrowing down in the footwell to fit the brake bias locknut! A couple of fiddly jobs first, I needed a couple of longer countersunk 5mm stainless screws for the internal door handles, and got these yesterday. Even though I've countersunk them there isn't a great thickness of GRP, so I used the grinder to just radius the sharpish edges on them.

Next job was to rerivet the cockpit to the chassis where I'd drilled the rivets out. Bit of sealant under first then the air rivet gun made short work of the job. Then spent a while cleaning the sealant off with petrol and paper towels. Then a bit longer getting it off my hands ... With that done the front wheels could be refitted and the car lowered back onto them. Once this was done I went round with the torwue wrench and tightened all the wheel nuts to 80Nm.

By this time it was time to run Jen into town, and on the way back I called in the motor factor for some small hose to use for the fuel tank filler neck breathers and the gearbox breather. Once I got back these didn't take long to fit and cable tie in place.

Dug out a cartridge of clear silicon next as this is what Ted recommended to fix the wheel centres. I'd asssumed they'd clip in like most car wheel centres, but these are polished turned billet aluminium. Once in they certainly made the wheels look better.

By now I'm feeling it would be safe to go aburrowing, so off I went down the footwell. Ultima supply a machined collar which slides over the end of the bias bar and locates into the slot on the threaded lug on the end of it. A standard nyloc then goes on the bar to secure it. This is the difficulty as it's not easy securing the bar to get the nyloc on. I just used a mole type grip in the thread at the other end and this did the trick.

The next job was to fit some rivnuts for the heater control tray to make refitting it easier. Just drilled the holes out to 9mm then crimp the rivnuts in. Then loosely fitted the screws to hold it in place.

Time to fit the decals on next. These are the factory recommended silver. This was a little anxiety provoking, but once I measured up and marked the positons with some masking tape they went on fine and really set the car off. Bit of cleaning to get the worst of the fingermarks and there's just enough light to get the car outside for a couple of pics. It's looking well pretty now, really looking forward to driving it to the SVA!

It's getting dark as I get the GTR out onto the drive for a few pics (click for larger image)Putting the decals on had gone smoothly (click for larger image)I'll look even better when it's all winged up :-) (click for larger image)Interior looks lovely, black alcantara, white dials and bare aluminium (click for larger image)

Monday 24th November

Dave from the factory rang at 8 to say he's going to test a new speedo before sending it out to me today. Nice sunny morning here so decided to wheel the car out for a few piccies.

Spent a couple of hours in the evening on a few small jobs - the SVA is at 8am Friday and I'm away from tomorrow morning till latish on Thursday evening. I couldn't remember whether SVA requires you to be able to lock the doors, but thought I'd better dig out the keys anyway. Eventually found them and then discovered I couldn't lock the passenger door. Arrgh! After about an hour of removing and refitting it I worked out it was because the bottom of the pushbutton mechanism was impinging on the latch and jamming the lockin mechanism. The latch has a little plate welded on it, and a slight tweaking of this with the pliers sorted the problem.

I've used a slightly different method of fixing the mirrors to the factory. The forward of the two screws is in the outer flat part of the edge of the door, and is countersunk and looks fine. For the rearmost screw I've drilled a bigger hole through the raised section and used a button headed screw, but this left a largish hole in the GRP. My cunning plan was to find a suitably sized grommet to fit in this hole. This worked very nicely and I think looks better than the factory's exposed screw. The two holes in the bonnet where the hinge screws are also got the same treatment.

Also filled the washer bottle with fluid/water and gave all the hidden areas under the bonnet and rear canopy a clean with resin polish. Inside the car I removed the speedo ready for the new one to be fitted on Thursday night, and fitted a couple of locknuts to the inside bit of the bonnet buffer screws. My mate Trevor's coming with me on Friday, so I sat in the passenger seat and got the harness adjusted so he should be able to get it fastened up OK - there isn't much room down the sides of the seats to get at the adjuster buckles and it could be tricky in the dark.

Not sure how much fuel's left in the tanks as the engine's been run quite a bit over the last few weeks, so I popped out with a jerry can and got another 20 litres which went in the passenger side tank. We'll stop on the way on Friday and fill both tanks. I'm starting to feel nervous about the SVA, but really excited about driving the car there and back.

Tuesday 25th November

Before leaving for Beaconsfield I ring Jon who fitted the alarm. My SVA appointment letter says I'll need the installation certificate for the immobiliser, and Jon didn't do this as it needs a registration number, also didn't want to start the guarantee ticking until the car was ready. Jon says he'll pop round this morning and fill it in.

The only other thing I do is collect together my bits of paperwork - insurance cover note, SVA apointment letter which will be needed if the boys in blue pull me over for driving with no number plates on the car. Also the receipt from American Speed which specifies the engine as a 1972 Chevy Corvette engine. Also write out a list of tools and bits and pieces to take with me.

Car out for some piccies in the morning sun (click for larger image)Car out for some piccies in the morning sun (click for larger image)Car out for some piccies in the morning sun (click for larger image)

Car out for some piccies in the morning sun (click for larger image)Car out for some piccies in the morning sun (click for larger image)Car out for some piccies in the morning sun (click for larger image)Car out for some piccies in the morning sun (click for larger image)

Friday 28th November

To cut a long story short:

The much sought after Minister's approval Certificate :-) (click for larger image)The beastwaiting for its triumphant drvie home after its SVA pass (click for larger image)

I got back at 8.30 on Thursday evening and got straight out to the garage to fit the new speedo that had arrived. It didn't work. Serously puzzled by now as I'd tried 2 senders and 2 speedos. Next trick was to try testing the integrity of the wires with the multimeter. They were fine, so I really didn't know where to go next. I tried the speedo from the Westy but that didn't work either. By now it was well gone 10pm and I still had a couple of other jobs I wanted to get done. I sat and had a think and decided it must be the sender. On close inspection the original Porsche wires looked a bit manky, so perhaps not too surprising that that didn't work. I had a good look at the external sender I'd fitted and it dawned on me that it wasn't lined up right - not my fault, the bracket just held it in the wrong place. I'd already extended the two holes used to mount the bracket to the gearbox, thus bringing the transducer closer to the toothed ring fitted to the driveshaft. What I hadn't realised when I'd been looking from the wheelarch as I fitted it was that the ring wasn't lined up with the centerline of the transducer, which was now visible as I was lying underneath the car. So off it came to receive a good attack with the file to allow me to position the transducer further out from the gearbox and in line with the ring and to get it a bit closer.

This did the trick and I now had a functioning speedo! Extremely relieved I could now get the dash back together and get on with the other little jobs - some antifog on the inside of the side windows, realigning the nearside headlight which was too low, and a quick vacuum of the seats. I finally got indoors at half past midnight, seriously knackered and with a mix of apprehension and excitement.

The alarm was set for 5.30, but after a truly terrible night's sleep I woke at 5am. I already had a checklist of all the bits and pieces I needed, and while I came round over a mug of tea I filled in the registration application form. Better to think positive! Also get together the other bits of paper needed - insurance cover note, SVA appointment letter, receipt from American speed declaring engine as from a 1972 Chevy Corvette. Then gather together spanners, socket set, cable ties, tape, rubber edging strip, spare bulbs/fuses etc. By 6.30 I was ready to get the car loaded up and out of the garage.

I'd driven down the drive quite a few times, but never actuaslly edged out onto the road before. The car gave me no surprises, very neutral to drive, quite a smooth ride, moderately heavy steering with a very stable feel to it. And a great soundtrack! I did notice that the speedo was under-reading quite a bit (compared to the GPS based digital display on the Road Angel) ... groan! Also the relationship between the two didn't seem linear, so I wondered if I'd got the transducer too close now. Oh well, have to try to sort it out there - you can get away with a speedo over reading, but any under read is an SVA fail.

Picked up Trevor and off we went. Filled up both tanks with Optimax on our way out of Swansea - the tanks are independent and need filling separately, but it's easy enough. Bypassed Port Talbot on the M4 then onto the A48 to Bridgend and then on to Llantrisant. I wanted to go on the A roads to make sure we used the brakes as much as possible to bed them in. The car's certainly noisy, but we managed conversation without too much difficulty. We were both impressed with the simple efficiency of the helicopter vents, they really do work very well and can direct a nice flow of air into the cockpit.

The test centre was as I remembered it, several HGVs being tested, a couple of Japanese import 4x4's being SVA'd. The Ultima attracted plenty of attention - when I'd been in the Westfield that had attracted attention too, but more of the 'you must be mad to drive that in this weather' type! The tester came out to us and was one of the ones I'd met before. He was very friendly and after a quick chat he got on with his initial inspection. He started off with checking all the tyre ratings etc, had a look under the bonnet and the rear canopy and asked about the engine. He was happy with the American Speed receipt as proof of age and took a photocopy. He also asked if it was fitted with a brake bias bar, so I explained about the standard Ultima locking device. He went burrowing down the footwell with his torch and emerged apparently happy. After initial inspection the car was taken onto the rolling road to test the speedo. This surprised me by over-reading! It's tested at 5 speeds starting at 35mph and going up to 70mph. At the lower 2 speeds it was over-reading by too much but was just within the acceptable limit for the other 3. This turned out to be because the left hand wheel was spinning more than the right, and of course the speedo sender is on the left. The inspector wondered if the right hand handbrake was inding a bit and suggested I slacken it off a bit later on.

The emissions test was a bit of a formality - for a pre-1975 engine it's a visible smoke test only. While in this part of the bay he checked the seat belt mountings etc. for position and security. Happy with all this it was time to get the car onto the ramp, and we managed this without grounding it. First a check for any play in the steering, then a careful inspection of all the brake line joints while I pressed the pedal. Then raise the car wth me in it and repeat the brake pedal pressure. While underneath he found a couple of things - I need to pack the engine mounts with a couple of washers to prevent the engine being able to move fore/aft, and one of the aircon hoses was rubbing on the gearchange shaft while in 5th gear. On checking the lights I explained that the wiring diagram said not to connect up the middle of the three rear light units, which it seemed was a problem as apparently any light unit fitted must work. I realised I must have misread it, and should have connected the side light while leaving the brake light disconnected. This took me and Trev all of 5 minutes to sort, and we were all happy. The headlight adjustment was of course out, but again took only a few minutes to sort. Once he'd finished he raised the ramp again for me to go underneath and try adjusting the gap on the speedo sender - this was tricky as although access was wonderful with the car on the ramp and a nice fluorescent light there none of the teeth were lined up exactly on the transducer and I couldn't roll the car fore or back as the handbrake was on, so I still wasn't sure I had it right.

Once down again it was onto the brake test. He explained that because of the rearward weight bias the car would need greater braking force at the rear than at the front. The rolling road they use tests one axle at a time and they use a spreadsheet to compute the braking forces compared to pedal force (using a pressure transducer on his foot) and weight distribuion. All fairly complex and I was worried as I could see a couple of 'FAIL' boxes in the spreadsheet. Once he corrected his typos they changed to 'PASS' and it was smiles all round!

I'm struggling to remember the car's weight - he gave me a weight of 1008kg after he'd deducted 150kg for passengers. although he was the only person in the car. So I reckon if he was about 80kg, the car was about 1088kg with two full(ish) tanks which would have been about 60 itres, so just under 60kg, putting the car's weight at about 1028kg without fuel but with all other fluids etc. I seem to remember the front axle weight was around 440kg with him in it.

By this time it was clear he liked the car and wanted it to pass. He drove it round to the corner of the yard to test the noise and checked the mirrors on the way. I got the impression he'd expected them to be a potential problem, but he got out of the car full of praise and clearly surprised by the fullness of the view you get. Noise test next and it came in just below 100dB so a little leeway but looking a bit dodgy for circuits like Castle Combe.

With that he declared that he was happy with the test, then remembered the speedo! So back round we went, and onto the rolling road. Again the nearside wheel was spinning faster then the right, with the result being an over-read, but this time all 5 just within the tolerances allowed. We agreed that the speedo is probably wrong, but that it passed the test! I can get that sorted anyway using the GPS to check the calibration. I still reckon the gap is wrong.

So off he went to write out the Minister's Approval Certificate and left me and Trev with the Ultima. I couldn't believe it - I honestly believed the car had been well put together and had every chance of passing, but I'd been mentally preparing myself for a fail. I'm sure other inspectors might have issued me with a fail notice and a list of the little things to sort out, but this tester had been a really nice guy throughout - extremely thorough but reasonable and helpful.

The drive back was a bit more light hearted than the journey earlier this morning, the sun even came out! Not for long, mind ... After dropping Trev off I hot footed it straight to the DVLA - the local office in Swansea is immediately adjacent to the main DVLA buildings. After waiting my way through a massive queue I got to the front and they got their kitcar guy to deal with me. He was happy with all the paperwork but in addition to the Ultima certificate of newness wanted the receipts. He said he didn't need to inspect the car, but ended up popping out to have a look out of interest anyway! By this time it was almost 1 o'clock, so he said to pop back with them at 2 o'clock after his lunch break and ask for him and he'd get me sorted out with a registration mark and a licence disk. While having a bite to eat at home I photocopied all my invoices to save him some time, then popped back at 2. All was well, I had my disk and reg number and a certificate to allow me to get number plates made up, so off I went to get some plates. I really can't bring myself to put an acrylic plate on the front of the car so that can wait till I get a vinyl one. By 3.30 the car was on the drive with its number plate on and tax disc in the windscreen. Working at six so no time to do much more - took Jen out for a spin. She hated it really but I think she can see what I like about it! Chris was next and of course he loved it. The car badly needs a wash now, but it'll have to wait till tomorrow morning. I can introduce it to a carbon fibre wing that's been sitting in the garage for a few weeks too ...

Saturday 29th November

Didn't get a lot done today. Fitting the wing took ages as it took me a good while to work out how the aluminium brackets supplied with it fit. Then accessing the rear of the inside of the rear canopy is interesting to say the least. I've got long arms but it was still a struggle. The wing isn't just bolted to the GRP, there's a triangular ally support bracket that fixes onto the two studs protruding down through the GRP then the base of the triangle bolts to the reinforced box section of the inner skin of the canopy. Anyway, got it done in the end and it looks brilliant. totally transforms the car - before the wing was fitted it looked stunning, a very sleek, low sports car. With the wing on it has more attitude, and looks much more the Group C refugee.

I also sorted out the aircon pipe which had to be cable tied away from the gear linkage shaft. A frind came round to gas up the aircon at lunchtime, and after a leak test with nitrogen vacuumed it out and filled it up with the 134a refrigerant. All was working OK for a while, but we ran into trouble. He reckons there's probably some moisture in the system as his vacuum pump is a bit clapped out - it works for a while but then stops working, presumably as the nozzle in the evaporator is getting frozen up. He ends up removing the gas, vacuuming out and filling with nitrogen for now until he can come back with a better pump.

Once he'd gone I could get the car out and give it a wash - it was filthy after yesterday's journeys on damp roads. Then I had to take it out for a drive. The info sheet from American Speed reckons the engine's run in, and I know some advocate just using an engne from day one. In this case it's a bit academic really - to imagine I could put this engine under any load on damp November roads would be folly. I've driven fast cars all my motoring life, but this one is truly in a different league. It feels slightly under geared with the Porsche G50 transaxle - 5th will max out at around 165mph, but the car makes short shrift of first and second gears. I guess 2nd is quite usable for setting off anyway. This afternoon I was pulling away from some traffic leaving our village and gave the throttle a prod in third gear to be treated to a dose of wheelspin on the damp surface! My Evo isn't short on torque but this thing's just plain brutal. Overtaking needs a bit of care as by the time you're past the car you've overtaken you can be travelling at serious velocity and you're up on the next car/bend etc. before you know it.

On the way home I called in to refill the tanks - the left one is showing just below empty on the gauge, the right just above a quarter. I'd been worried about the gauge - a 20 litre jerry can didn't get it much above a quarter full! I realised it's because of the shape of the tanks, they taper towards the top, so go down very quickly initially. I managed to get 33 litres in the left tank and 13 in the right, I reckon I've done about 120 odd miles since filling up on the way to the SVA, which would equate to about 13mpg. Yikes! There has however been quite a lot of static running in that time, mainly during the SVA, but quite a bit trying to sort the aircon this afternoon. It definitely runs rich - during the SVA Trev and I were standing behind the car as the inspector was setting up his noise meter and pretty soon had to move as our eyes were streaming!

My wife's out this evening - I dropped her off in town in the Ultima. I was waiting at some traffic lights and an oldish 911 Carrera pulled up next to me. I couldn't believe that as I glanced across at the driver I had to look up! Checking the factory's spec sheet the height of the GTR is 1070mm. Which brings me to the question of comfort and my height. At 6' 5" I was aware it was going to be a tight squeeze, but I've beee pleasantly surprised, there's a bit of clearance between my knees and the dash, and the driving position is fine. The seat's fairly comfy, my main problem is the longitudinal rail in the roll cage. This is just to the left of my head and if I lean across my head hits it. I think it'll be a good idea to get it lagged before I put a dent in it!

Sunday 30th November

As I get up this morning it dawns on me that I'm an Ultima owner, not just a builder any more! I plan to go out on my bike at about 9 o'clock, but want to make a start on the speedo first. Quick check of my emails, and there's yet another 'Congratulations' email from someone I don't know but who's been following the build. Cheers Booker! I head out to the garage with mug of tea in hand and climb into the passenger seat with tools and tea on a towel protecting the cill. Getting the speedo out is a pain, but I'm getting slightly better at it each time! Undo the screws holding the heater control panel in place, remove the cigar lighter socket to improve access, undo the 4 nuts holding the binnacle in place and I can then undo and remove the speedo. Once out I go back into the house with it and work out what number to code into it. It has a series of 10 DIP switches which tell it how many pulses per mile to expect. I'd set it to the factory recommended number (6413) but it's consistently over reading by about 33%. According to the the spreadsheet George in Scotland sent me he calculated it at 4600 (based on calculated rather than actual wheel rolling circumference) including a margin of error. I calculate from my road and indicated speed that mine should be 4729, so I set the switches and replace the speedo without fixing it in place.

After my bike ride it's time to test the speedo out. It's easy enough calibrating using the Road Angel which constantly displays digital speed very accurately so long as you're at a steady speed. Out onto the M4 and at an indicated X0 mph the Road Angel says I'm doing 3mph less than that. This would be ideal for SVA, now I'm past that I'd prefer a more accurate reading. Off back home again, stick the figures into my spreadsheet, adjust the DIP switches and off to try it again. This time it's more or less spot on, looks like less than 1% over read which is fine. Back home I get on with the tedious job of refitting the binnacle properly.

While the car is in the garage I also connect up the brake light wire in the additional rear light units and adjust one of the bonnet buffers as I have a slight rattle. Then off out to play again. As it's Sunday afternoon it should be quiet at the surgery and I can see if the car will get down the ramp into our underground car park. I'm not optimistic as the angle down isn't rounded off at all and the Evo exhaust just scrapes it. Sure enough as I edge down the slope the lowered floor touches the ramp and I need to reverse out. I'm getting quite good at reversing it - I can manage the garage now without assistance and only have about 3" clearance on each side of the rear wheel arch. The view from the mirrors is really quite good and having the well defined ends of the wing helps too funnily enough.

While I'm in town I nip to one of the shopping parks to get a couple of things - the car's fine around town, very drivable, although it kangaroos quite easily when going slowly. It certainly does attract attention though - don't bother considering getting one of these beasties if you can't cope with everyone pointing and staring! You can see it on the faces - "what the hell is that??"

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