Martin Wood's Locust

A Full Rebuild by Martin Wood

The car is a J.C. Locust Sevenesque type kit originally built in 1990. I purchased the car (in early '97) ready built with a 1600 x-flow engine, 4 speed box finished in BRG and yellow and in very good condition with just a few things needing to be sort for the MOT


This was fine for a few months until I started to wonder why I hadn't built it myself, little did I know that this feeling was to be the start of 2 years of financial madness (and many nights in the garage!) I had always wanted a true project car so with this in mind I stripped the car back to the chassis and started from scratch (never again!).

I rebuilt and modified the car over the period between 1998 and 2000 at a cost of over 5500 (furious bank manager to prove it) with 3000 of that being spent on engine modifications alone. Since the rebuild the car has completed 2600 miles and is now finished in black and yellow.

The engine was originally a 2.0 litre OHC Pinto from an RS2000. The block was stripped and sent to Burton engineering to be bored and honed out to a 2.1 litre. The bottom end components (i.e. crank, flywheel, conrods etc) have been balanced and strengthened, V6 pistons have been used to accommodate the new engine size and an uprated oil pump, oil cooler, fast-road electronic fuel pump and fuel regulator have also been added to cope with the increases in power expected.

The cylinder head was thrown away and a new one purchased from Burton's and is a Stage 3 (ported, gas flowed and big valve) converted to run on unleaded fuel. The cam was changed to a Kent Sports torque item to retain drivability at lower speeds but to make the most use of the above modifications. A vernier pulley has also been fitted to aid with the timing. Twin Weber 40's have been used instead of twin 45's to keep the torque and response better at lower revs and again to retain and to compliment the cam set up. The exhaust manifold has been retained from the RS2000 donor but has been customised to fit the cars layout and a custom silencer has been used. An alloy Burton's rocker cover finishes the engine mods.

The ignition system has been completely changed and uprated, it is provided by a Lumenition optronic ignition unit with a high output coil which eliminates all the moving components within the distributor and creates a totally reliable and electronic system. Other ignition and engine aids include a Micro Dynamics Rev limiter with a Launch control and full throttle gearshift capability, a monster (drag racing) tacho and a programmable shift light with a variable range of 3500 to 10,000 revs. A programmable and electronic speedometer has been fitted to cope with any future changes in the diameter of the wheels and runs off sensors attached to the prop shaft. An uprated starter motor and alternator have been fitted to cope with the extra strains put on them. The drive train is comprised of a lightened and balanced flywheel, a standard 5 speed Gearbox, custom uprated propshaft with a live rear axle finished with 15" 5 spoke Alloys and 195-50-15 tyres. The front brakes have been uprated with mintex pads and larger disks with Spax adjustable front suspension.

The interior has been finished in black automotive carpet with a black vinyl dash and black Intertrim bucket seats with yellow piping to compliment the paint scheme. Two fire extinguishers and Momo 4pt harnesses with yellow harness pads finish the interior.

All the gauges are stand alone units and are all electronic sensing. They include petrol, oil pressure, fuel pressure, water temp, speedo, small diameter tacho and the larger monster tacho with shift light, A removable G-Tech unit has been fitted for calculating 0-60, Quarter mile, Bhp, Braking distances and lateral G-forces. The dash layout comprises of a push button start, electrical cut-off switch, manual controls for the Kenlow fan, and fuel pump cut off.

The original windscreen has been changed to a Caterham Aeroscreen, the mirrors have been changed to race tech F1 items and the swept front wings have been changed to cycle wings, a bonnet intake has been added to increase air flow to the engine and to accommodate the larger 2.1 litre engine.

The car was completed at the end of 1999 and after it was initially run in it was sent to Mowatt's the Weber specialist and rolling road tuners to be completely set up and tuned for the road/track. They had the car for two days and managed a very respectable result of 138 bhp at the wheels (150ish at the flywheel) @ 6000 revs. On the occasions that the car has been tested, figures of around 5 secs 0-60 and Quarter mile figures of 13.2 @ 101 mph have been achieved, although better figures could definitely be achieved with a change of gearing and a higher lift cam.

The car ticks over very well at 1100 revs and pulls very hard all the way through to max red line of 8000 rpm (although I have limited the revs to suit the cam which peaks at about 6300) Mowatts have tuned the engine in such a way that all the power is produced pretty evenly throughout the rev range although a minor flat spot is present at about 2500 revs, if revs are kept above this figure the engine is incredibly smooth considering the modifications, that said when lifting off after very hard acceleration at high revs it is common for flames to be produced from the exhaust!

It goes without saying that the engine swap was one of the main problems during the rebuild, although it did fit easier then anticipated at the beginning. Some other problems encountered for example were some of the body tub having to be cut away to accommodate for the 5 spd box bellhousing. The alternator had to be moved slightly as well. Due to the fact that the exhaust had changed sides from when the x-flow unit was in it, it was necessary to modify the steering linkages to accommodate for the new exhaust. The exhaust was made by us retaining the manifold from the original RS2000 so modifying this also represented a bit of a challenge. Mounting the harnesses took some thought to make sure the 4 fixing points were to the chassis and not just bolted to the body tub. Extra points for fixing the body tub to the chassis have also been added to accommodate the increases in power and sections of the transmission tunnel and a section of the tub behind the seats have been made easily removable to allow easier access to the rear suspension, prop shaft and rear axle.

All the receipts covering the rebuild and a photographic rebuild log have been kept from day one.

Martin Wood

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