My little Dutton Phaeton 1600 Crossflow
Kit cars? Funny bits of kit for a biker to be messing about with but needs must.
My back is now well beyond the sitting position demanded by most bikes and trikes, itís too painful for me to use them for more than 20 minutes or so. Iíve also had to concede that perhaps Iím a little afraid of the consequences of having a big Ďoffí and the worry that Wendy and the kids have expressed has tempered my usual ĎSod ití approach to life.
I had thought of getting a street legal kart or buggy but the affordable ones are slow and tiny, not suitable for one of my stature or one in need of a speed fix. So then, whatís the next best thing?
It has to be open top, it has to do more than the national limit. Not that I do unless on a closed road but itís nice to know you can. It needs to handle reasonably well, get a wiggle on and be fun to drive. It has to have a modicum of comfort and above all it needs to offer a little more protection than a bike or trike. Being strapped into a decent bucket seat within a roll cage is safer in my humble opinion.
I spent a bit of time thinking about building from scratch but the cost and time involved put me off. I had a look at a lot of ownerís club sites and manufacturers with a view to getting a completed car but again cost was an issue. Eventually I settled on a second hand car. A slightly tatty 1996 Dutton Phaeton S3 with a 1971 1600 X-Flow engine. Itís white, very white indeed but Wendy says I can change it as soon as. She normally doesnít like me changing perfectly good machinery on a whim or styling issue but this time she agrees, the white has to go.
Itís properly registered as a Dutton on the V5 and it came with 12 months MOT and 4 months tax on it. I paid the princely sum of £900-00 for it and drove it home hoping it would make it, I had to run the cooling fan constantly as the temperature gauge wasnít working. The petrol tank leaks but is currently being sorted and the wiring is a basket case. I have joined the Dutton owners club as I learned early on that ownerís clubs could be a goldmine of information and advice.
Having driven it for a week I got frustrated with the dash layout and the constant electrical niggles. The heater worked intermittently and the wipers and washers stopped working altogether.
The dash was easy to sort, I got some new marine plywood and used the old one to mark out the outline of the dash panel and then drilled it to suit where I need the switches and gauges for me to drive the car. Once all the bits were fitted to my liking I covered the dash with some cringe worthy Ďfauxí cowhide in black.
It looks not too shabby so will do for now. I will give it a rethink and do something different over the winter.
It goes off to my mate Anthony at Denton Auto Care next week to be measured for a new wiring loom. Heís going to draw it up with extra wiring for a fuel pump and stereo and a couple spare for a ciggy lighter and sat nav. I could get him to do the loom and wire the car but winter isnít too far off and I can make it in the warmth of our front room. I like learning new things and to be fair itís about time I could do wiring by myself. Iíve wired a couple of trikes on my own and the mental block I have needs sorting out.
When it goes on SORN at the end of September 08 the bodywork will be removed, the rust dealt with and the chassis painted. The chassis being the base of the car I think it needs refurbishing first. The engine and gearbox will get a bit of a tarting up at the same time. It will also be rewired and serviced. The new loom fitted and the bodywork replaced. The fuse box will be moved from next to the exhaust manifold and placed inside the tub. I canít help but think the fuses wonít be liking all that heat.
I have new seats coming, as the ones in the car are old and worn out in the comfort department. I also have two sets of 4-point harnesses to fit and the roll over hoop needs improving and mounts for the harness making up.
What I hope to do over the next two years is drive the car in summer and refurbish it in the winter. I am saving for some new dampers and need to give the springs a good clean and paint while the car is on blocks while we repaint the chassis; I hope to have the work done in time to drive the car to the NABD rally in May 09.
Thatíll be phase 1 of the refurbish, new wiring and the chassis cleaned, serviced and painted up. The roll bar and new seats fitted will see the end of the first part of the rebuild.
Winter 09 the carpet, the paint and bodywork will be redone along with some decent alloy floor plates to stop our heels going thru the carpet.
The only thing I canít decide on is whether to restore the car as an original Dutton kit with the Ford engine or do I ditch the big screen, modify the shell and fit a ZX 10 engine and go hill climbing? Would the DOC membership ever talk to me if I start chopping a Dutton about?
Man I hate making difficult decisions. Most folk that know me if asked would say Iíd go for the ZX 10 option but just occasionally I can be swayed by nostalgia.
If thereís a class to run a classic kit car in I may well stick with Mr. Fordís cross flow jobbie.
Time will tell.
Dash mock up