A Special Builder's Notes


The Special Builder's Breakfast Club

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23 May 2018

Matters Of The Night.

A teardrop coupé can be one thing only – a teardrop coupé. The Alfa, Mercedes, Talbot-Lago, Bugatti and Delahaye examples all share much the same root and, though I hesitate to mention my proposed efforts in the same breath as the Greats, there's not much I can do other than follow their lead. To radically alter the shape would be to depart from the brief – something I don’t want to do. One avenue popular in styling development seems to involve inflating the basic shape. The Cobra, Austin Healey, the MX-5 and the BMW ‘Z’ series' all got pumped up - in my view to the detriment of the original designs' understatement, so that's another road I don't want to go down.

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I like the idea of the wolf in a dinner suit - a sort of James Bond approach, but then a competition type finish – oily aluminium, faded sponsors logos and numbers – jostles for position and I wonder if I can somehow combine the two.

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Having the end in sight is an important beginning and, through the nights sitting in my hut on the quayside at Halden, I have all the time in the world to contemplate different schemes. I know what the steering wheel is going to look like (I’ll definitely make up a Bugatti style piece). I know what the dashboard will comprise and I know that sealing the doors against the weather is going to be tricky – not to mention the complication of wind-up windows and windscreen wipers. The interior is where the most fun’s to be had. Dreaming up some quirky-looking instruments and nickel-plated controls with perhaps a woven silk head-lining – my work at Stephen Walters & Sons has given me a few ideas - is an absorbing pastime. A bench seat might be nice for touring?

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So whilst I’m here, I can spend a bit of time on the internet, particularly Google images. It’s got almost everything I’m going to need. A search for ‘ash framed cars’ leads me to various restoration companies’ archives. Though they’re always a bit thin on particulars, they’re handy for an overview. Happily, there are also blogs that detail almost every aspect of building and repairing ash frames and the people who write them really know their stuff. Similarly, with the mechanical side of things, I know I’m in good hands.

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I’m coming round to the idea of using the 15” wheels as they’ll avoid a lot of trouble and expense converting the rear axle to take the 18” Lagonda wheels. The Jaguar XK’s use 15” rims and the Alvis Special is going to be more or less the same size. I’ll just have to watch the body height to keep everything in proportion.

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I’ve had a cursory glance at the TD21’s cylinder bores – they look good, but only a complete strip down is going to tell me what’s what. The block, without doubt, will be in need of a good flushing in the caustic bath and I see I’ll need a clutch.

After sitting all night doodling and thinking about this, the sun’s just up ….

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… it’s time I stretched my legs again.

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