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Martin Lucas

New Zealand, Escort Mk1 Lotus Twincam

The car is a reasonably standard Aussie assembled Twin Cam. The engine is only midly modified. The previous owner of the car had let it deteriorate and worse he had done some pretty dodgy fixes. Things you discover after you buy the car. The engine would foul the plugs at low speeds. It also drank petrol at an alarming rate. To cut a long story short I ended up rebuilding the engine myself. The crank was cracked.

Datsun crank being modified

New steel flywheel to suit crank

The owner had fitted Jag inlet valves (larger than standard Lotus big valves) but the head was still an unmodified small valve with small valve inlet ports. As one was bent I bought one Lotus big inlet valve and had the others machined to suit. The ports were then done to suit the valves - plus a wee bit more. Cams are very mild. They aren't the original grind but they aren't anything wild either (I think the previous owner had them reground but I can not find out what grind they are). They work very well though. New Pistons, bearings, water pump, timing chain etc. The Datsun Crank allowed me to go back to original standard sizes for bearings. Also everything was balanced up, pistons, rods, crank, clutch etc. Cost wasn't to bad as I was paying for parts and only machine work I couldn't do myself. All up The rebuild was about $3000 which included cost of the Datsun steel crank, the steel for my flywheel (I made it myself), porting the head, balancing, all parts etc.

When I finally got it all back together it went very well - and it still does. I've had it sitting on 7,200rpm in top long the back straight of Pukekohe Racepark. Fuel economy is far better (close to 26-27 mpg) and the car can be driven around town (I use at at times as my every day car). Engine wise the only problem I've experienced was a killed clutch plate. I uprated it to a button kevlar/metallic item.

Suspension was never the best. When I stripped the front struts they had different valves and oil in each leg ! I tried a set of Peddar springs and shocks which was a complete waste of time. They didn't exactly bolt in and when they were fitted the car didn't feel very nice to drive at all. I then fitted externally adjustable Konis. As I wanted stiffer front springs I made my own adjustable spring platforms so I could use smaller diameter springs. This gives me a broad choice of spring rates (currently 225lb/inch). All rubber bushes have been removed and nolathane ones fitted. Rear suspension is Koni adjustable with reset rear springs. I tried lowering blocks but changed my mind as these just don't look like a good idea.

Gearbox is still standard ratios. When I removed the engine I had the gearbox rebuilt by a guy called Bob Homewood here in NZ. New Syncros were fitted as were new bearings. I later fitted a Quick shift kit from Flowtech in the UK. I modified the pivot point so I could have a bit more lever movement. The Flowtech one allowed for stuff all across gate lever travel. Bob also sold me an alloy casting for a bellhousing ($40). I machined this up at work. So now the car has an alloy bellhousing - quite a weight saving which does help a small bit when removing and replacing the gearbox.

Brakes are standard apart from the front pads. I'm using a Mintex pad as the ones that came with the car were not that good for track work. The Mintex pads are ideal for both road and the type of track work I do.

If someone was to mention any part on the car chances are its been rebuilt or replaced - I'm not kidding. Just to give you a rough idea:

  • Engine - rebuilt
  • Gearbox - rebuilt
  • Carburettors - rebuilt
  • extractors - rebuilt
  • Exhaust (2inch) - made in one weekend at home
  • Air filter - replaced
  • Clutch - replaced
  • Bellhousing - replaced
  • driveshaft - rebuilt
  • Diff and axle - rebuilt
  • brakes - rebuilt
  • battery box - rebuilt
  • windscreen - replaced
  • front suspension - rebuilt
  • Resuspension - rebuilt
  • Dash board - rebuilt - replaced rev counter from Smiths to original Ford Item
  • Pedals - rebushed to remove slop
  • Not to mention some of the panel work removing Rust .

I haven't got too much more on my job list. I have a pair of Genuine Ford front Twin Cam guards and front panels I'd like to have fitted as the ones of the car have seen better days. I also plan to fit a pair of vernier cam sprockets so Bob Homewood can set the cams (we think they are retarded) and check the carb settings which he can do one his dyno. When I finally wear out the tyres on the car (Yokohama A008's) I'll fit a set of softer compound tyres. Ultimately I'd love to fit an alloy tail piece to the original gearbox and fit a stronger gearset.

Just as well it's a hobby.




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