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Mister Towed 1st April 2018 20:41

Mister Towed's Bugless Outlaw Speedster build
So, now we have lighter evenings and some sunny days on the way, it's time for me to start my next build thread.

I've been meaning to do this for a while, but life just tends to get in the way of the best laid plans and all that.

To bring anyone who isn't aware of my previous build up to speed, between June 2011 and July 2013 I built a Sammio Spyder that turned out to be quite the attention grabber -

The Sammio was great fun to build and own and I used it as much as possible, with three trips to Goodwood Revival plus lots of exhilarating blasts around the mountain roads of Norfolk*.

After four years of ownership and tinkering to get my Spyder just the way I wanted it, I waved it a sad farewell in September 2017 -

The reason for the Sammio's departure was to make space for one of my dream cars, a Porsche 356 Speedster. I've wanted one of those for about 35 years now, so, as I'll never be able to afford a real one, it's about time I got my act together and built one.

But, having run a 'restocal' bug back in '89, I don't really want a wheezy bug engine hanging out back, the unpleasant sensation of having no control over the front wheels at anything over 50 on the motorway or the complete ballache of needing IVA after building a car with a chopped up a Beetle chassis underneath.

So, a plan formed in my head that may or may not be possible, but I'm going to give it a go anyway.

To cut a long story short, this build is going to be a low-drag Outlaw Speedster body sitting atop a Triumph Spitfire chassis and running a water cooled twin-cam up front.

No, really it is.

I've made a start already, having found a '67 Spit with a pretty much rust free chassis and all its running gear but with a very rusty bodyshell from an abandoned project.

I've treated it to all new bearings, brakes & bushes, given it a good clean and a couple of coats of a glass reinforced anti-corrosion paint that they use on North Sea oil rig legs -

AS you can see, it's fitted with 15" MGF 'Square Peg' alloys which have the same PCD as the Spitfire, but I've uprated the hub studs to Freelander ones all round to make sure they stay attached. The back ones bolted straight on but I needed 5mm spacers on the front as the nuts reached the end of their travel before securing the front wheels properly without them.

The wheels are currently wrapped in perished MGF rubber, but I have five Hankook 175/65 HR 15's waiting to be fitted which will look more period and not make the steering too heavy.

Oh, and once the car's finished I'm toying with the idea of getting some adaptors made so I can fit wide-five 356 style wheels, but I might just keep the MGF ones as I rather like the Outlaw look.

So, the next step is to take this -

...out of this -

...bolt it up to this -

...then drop this on it -

...followed by a bit of trim and some paint to make it look something like this-

There are a few hurdles to overcome on the way - the Spitfire wheelbase is only 9mm different to the 356, but I've managed to buy a Banham body by mistake which is 180mm longer than either, but I do own an angle grinder.

Once the Puma engine is mated to the RX8 'box and offered up to the chassis I'll be able to check to see if it's going to fit under the 356 bonnet. If it doesn't, this is going to be a pretty short build thread...

*April Fool, Norfolk's as flat as a pancake ;)

Colin HD 1st April 2018 20:46

Love it!!
Big fan of what most consider 'wrong' body/chassis combinations!!

Paul L 1st April 2018 21:02

[Gospel Choir]

"Oh happy day (oh happy day)"

[/Gospel Choir]


peterux 2nd April 2018 17:08

Great to see a another new build thread in the 'Vintage' section.

There's not much on that chassis to fix the body to? Will you be making a steel support frame.

Looking forward to lots of updates.....:amen:

Mister Towed 2nd April 2018 22:00


Originally Posted by peterux (Post 94148)
Great to see a another new build thread in the 'Vintage' section.

There's not much on that chassis to fix the body to? Will you be making a steel support frame.

Looking forward to lots of updates.....:amen:

Yep, support frame similar to Sammio Spyder and will probably be using new Spitfire steel floors and maybe a fibreglass bulkhead (need to speak to Tribute 'bout that...). Won't be too different to a Chesil or similar in the body to frame department.

Car photographer 3rd April 2018 00:49


Paul L 3rd April 2018 13:58

Mr T – I’m sure your Sammio building experience will stand you in good stead for this build. :cool:

Especially, if there is going to be some serious ‘cutting and shutting’ work required. :eek:

It certainly looks like you’ve already done a nice job on the Spitfire chassis.

A couple of quick questions from me:
- Does the Puma engine come with a lot of alarm sensors, and the like, that you need to keep / bypass?
- Would you consider a bonnet bulge to make things fit, or must the original 356 lines remain ‘pure’?

I like the idea of using Spitfire floor pans within your internal frame structure.
( As the butchered Spitfire bulkhead in my ‘Frankenstein’ build gives the front foot wells a factory look. )

Are you going to re-use any other parts from the Puma, such as the pedals and master cylinders?

If so, it might be worth recycling whole sections of the Puma bulkhead within your framework.

Good luck, Paul. :)

I was all set to ask what the “Bugless” part of your title referred to.
As initially I thought it was a reference to an obscure Outlaw builder, someone like Emory or Singer.
Thankfully, I finally worked out it was a reference to the absence of Beetle parts. :rolleyes:

Mister Towed 3rd April 2018 18:43

Hi Paul, I'm going to be using the engine, fuel tank, side impact bars, door locks and wiring loom from the Puma, everything else will be scrap. The pedals, steering column etc. will be good old Triumph parts for simplicity.

The Puma doesn't seem to have an alarm, but I suspect it may have an immobiliser of some sort. My plan is to use the entire loom with all its black boxes intact and hope it starts.

I've already disconnected all the wiring to the doors as I figured if anything was going to be linked to an alarm or immobiliser it'd be those. With the surprisingly complex looms disconnected from the doors it still starts and runs and doesn't drain the battery after a few days (so long as you switch off the interior light), so it looks promising.

If I can't make the Ford engine work then plan B is to fit a Spitfire engine and box instead. The Puma came with a month's MOT and cost me £110, so it won't have been a particularly expensive mistake.

There won't be a scoop on the bonnet, maybe a blister if necessary, but if I can't make the engine fit under the hood I'll source another body to go on the now very nice Spitfire chassis and either start looking for a beetle donor or sell the Speedster project on.

Should be getting the engine out of the Puma tomorrow if all goes to plan. :)

Mister Towed 15th April 2018 18:14

Okay, take the engine out of a Puma and put it in a Spitfire chassis you say. Half a day's work maybe?

No. How about two days just to remove the fuel tank due to the very rusty state of everything on this seventeen year old Ford. Everything's seized, 'quick release' fasteners just won't and everything breaks when you try to force it.

And then you find that the tank is looking too rusty to use anyway as some of the metal feels awfully thin to me. :(

But, new Puma tanks are cheap so I started to disconnect all the ancillaries and connectors from the engine. Lots and lots of connectors. Which is when I realised that this modern engine is just too complicated for what I want. Even if I could get it installed and running, if it ever broke down I wouldn't have a clue how to fix it.

So, the Puma's off to the scrappy and the gearbox and adaptor are for sale and Plan B it is.

£200 takes it all away.

Mistrale 16th April 2018 06:41

The Puma will have a Ford PATS immobiliser. Make sure you have the master key -you can’t reprogramme other keys without it. You will need the detector loop that goes around the ignition barrel that registers the key. It is also a good idea, at least temporarily, to keep the clock as there is a flashing LED built in that tells you the PATS status!

Roadster 16th April 2018 07:21

Look good Mr T
I had a mgf based Blaze that had Mike Satur wheel adapters

Barber 16th April 2018 09:24

How about the Alfa Boxer 1.8 twin carb or i? Understandable, pokey, relatively cheap.

I mean the older 1.6/1.7 of course.

Paul L 16th April 2018 13:05

Mr T – Apologies if this is too late, but how likely is the ‘modern’ Puma engine to break down?

Back in the 80s this was a regular debate in my motorcycle club comparing British & Japanese bikes.
- The British bike owners would argue that they could rebuild their engine at the side of the road.
- The Japanese bike owners would argue that they were less likely to break down in the first place.

Either way…


Originally Posted by Mister Towed (Post 94164)
The Puma came with a month's MOT and cost me £110.

As you said at the start, this wasn’t a huge investment in cash terms.

Good luck, Paul. :)

Mister Towed 17th April 2018 07:33

Hi guys, the Puma's being collected for scrap on Friday and they're paying me £65.00 so it cost me £45.00 to give it a go.

The whole PATS thing is what's put me off using the Ford motor, which is a shame as it ran sweet as a nut and revved like a bike engine. Given enough time I probably could get it fitted and working, but if it ever did break down that would be a real problem as I'd have to pay to have a diagnostic check and it may never run again. Instruments were also going to be a bit of a headache due to various engine complexities.

As my old Triumph six-pot only broke down once in four years, and that was due to the failure of the brand new MSD electronic multi-spark ignition module, I'm happy that I can find/build a motor capable of reliable running and definitely fix it myself if it does fail.

Alfa boxer engine is a gem and I always planned to use one if I built a bug based Porsche replica. They're getting quite rare now, though, and as my car is front engined Spitfire based I need an inline four to fit the chassis.

Slowly gathering the parts from ebay to get it running with a Spitfire 1300 motor. Won't be as powerful as the Puma, but it'll still sound great and propel my little Speedster at an age appropriate pace.

oxford1360 17th April 2018 10:06

There are many benefits to keeping it I know all too well having decided to veer from the path of common sense early in my build.

Jaguartvr 17th April 2018 10:25

How about an old Ford 4 cylinder, something they used in the Cortina? You could get a 2.0l.
I had a 1600 cross flow in a boat and it was a smallish motor but very simple and reliable. I would imagine it would have a bit more poke than a Spitfire engine.

Mistrale 17th April 2018 10:31

I was scared of the Fiesta Zetec SE engine in my build but actually, if you work through the electric spaghetti logically it all makes sense. There are various diagrams on the inter web to help, especially The diagnostic side is pretty simple - it is cheaper to buy a Bluetooth OBD plug in and a smartphone app than have a diagnostic check at a garage! I managed to sort mine out (humble pilot) so someone with your godlike ability should be able to sort it easily!

Mister Towed 17th April 2018 17:23

Hmm, smartphone app you say? T'is Witchcraft of which you speak!

Spitfire motors aren't that powerful out of the box, but the 1300 and 1500 are both good for 110bhp with tuning, which is enough in a very light road car. I'll probably start with a standard engine and modestly modify either it or a spare to give around 85bhp without breaking the bank. Big power would just break the diff anyway.

Jaguartvr 17th April 2018 17:57

Get a bigger diff:madgrin:

Paul L 21st April 2018 06:39


Originally Posted by Mister Towed (Post 94367)
…Slowly gathering the parts from ebay to get it running with a Spitfire 1300 motor. Won't be as powerful as the Puma, but it'll still sound great and propel my little Speedster at an age appropriate pace...

Sounds like a great ‘Plan B’. :cool:

I’ve only got a 1500 engine in mine and I must confess that twisty roads in 3rd gear are where I’m happiest.
( Especially with the exhaust popping and banging if I lift off the throttle. :D )

Good luck, Paul. :)

Jaguartvr 22nd April 2018 08:28

Here you go, found a spitfire engine for you.

Might need the stronger dif and a small bonnet bulge.

softfeet 24th April 2018 14:31

The chassis look really tidy.

What is the anti-corrosion paint that they use on North Sea oil rig legs that you used?

Something like Corroless?


Mister Towed 24th April 2018 17:10

Yep, Corroless it is. No idea if it's going to be any good long-term, but it went on nicely.

I now have a complete 1300 small-crank engine in my garage. It was expensive at £295, but it's the most responsive four-pot motor to tune (they can happily rev to 9000rpm in race tune) and was running immediately before removal from a (Herald) donor. I've stripped it down and it looks like it just needs a decoke and a lick of paint for the time being before going into the chassis. It'll probably get some power parts once the car's been on the road for a while.

I also bought a 3 synchro gearbox for a pound and a 1500 block complete with a set of unused pistons and lots of other parts for 99p. Bargain.

Before anyone points it out, the Herald 13/60 engine doesn't have the high compression cylinder head or high lift cam that the MkIII Spitfire got, but it's the same block/pistons/crank/etc. When I do get a polished and ported cylinder head for it I'll be able to fit its original 8.5:1 head onto the 1500 block, which will give it a 9.6:1 compression ratio and create a much lazier but torquey motor for another project.

Progress is likely to be a little slow over the next six weeks or so as I have a number of family commitments coming up.

More later.

Mister Towed 28th April 2018 18:58

Task for today: drop Herald engine and gearbox into the Spitfire chassis then see if the bonnet is going to fit without fouling.

First stage, engine and box roughly fitted (just bought a gearbox bracket on ebay so it's just supported by a bit of wood at the mo) -

Then separate the front and rear clamshells and drop the front one over the front of the chassis and support it so that the bottom of the sills is level with the bottom of the chassis -

And from a few more angles -

Doesn't look too promising that last shot...

...but the wheels and gear lever look like they'll be in the right places -

And now for the moment of truth, will the bonnet fit over the engine?

Drum roll...


The bonnet needs a little fettling to fit, but that's just because the bonnet doesn't quite fit the opening anyway.

The pic's were taken with the carburettors removed though as the front dash pot does just foul the underside of the bonnet, causing the right-hand edge to lift about an inch -

I do have a cunning plan to address that though.

To say I'm happy it's going to fit is something of an understatement, I'm absolutely delighted!

More later.

Jaguartvr 28th April 2018 19:18

If you could move the engine back a couple of inches you could probably lower it an inch or so as well.
So annoying when it is so close.

molleur 28th April 2018 19:56

Just put a blister on the interference with the dash pot.

Mister Towed 28th April 2018 20:06

Should be able to get away without needing to move the engine back and also won't be needing a blister or scoop.

Much as I like blisters and scoops, either would look a bit odd on the front of what's supposed to be a rear engined car, and although I'm going for the custom Outlaw racer look, I want the body to look like a modified original as far as possible.

So, one of the most common items added to Outlaw 356's is a through bonnet fuel filler to replace the under bonnet one on standard 356's, so I'll be putting a flip-top filler right over the front carburettor to hide the protruding dashpot.

Job done.

Barber 28th April 2018 20:16

I think a blister would save a lot of angst. And Mr Towed has history in this dept.
Oops you posted in the meantime, good solution though.

molleur 28th April 2018 21:18


Originally Posted by Mister Towed (Post 94574)
Should be able to get away without needing to move the engine back and also won't be needing a blister or scoop.

Much as I like blisters and scoops, either would look a bit odd on the front of what's supposed to be a rear engined car, and although I'm going for the custom Outlaw racer look, I want the body to look like a modified original as far as possible.

So, one of the most common items added to Outlaw 356's is a through bonnet fuel filler to replace the under bonnet one on standard 356's, so I'll be putting a flip-top filler right over the front carburettor to hide the protruding dashpot.

Job done.

Best idea!

Jaguartvr 29th April 2018 10:57

How about

Very flat so should give you plenty of clearance. I have a Triumph Trophy 1200 which uses the same 4 carbs, if they run a 1200 bike engine they should with a little adjustment suit the Herald engine. Mine has K&N pod air filters which does look very nice.

I like the idea of the fuel cap but in my mind it would need to be central for it to work. I do like the smooth flowing lines of the bonnet as it is.

Or Weber carb, bit pricey but I'm sure you could source a second hand one.

DaveP 29th April 2018 15:45

Looking good so far :)

I even like the yellow as it is


Mitchelkitman 29th April 2018 16:09

Can you turn the inlet manifold upside-down? to lose the height

Paul L 29th April 2018 16:27

Mr T - Good to see part of the body shell on, even if it is just a mock up. :cool:

Whilst the fuel cap does appear to be in the centre in these 'Outlaws'...

I am pretty sure wherever you needed it to be fitted would be fine.

It is certainly a clever way of creating a bit of room.

Good luck, Paul. :)

Mister Towed 29th April 2018 17:43

Interesting ideas, I had already looked at those bike carbs but decided against them as Phil J found that they have to be angled upwards to work so you lose the apparent height advantage.

The Weber will also stick out so far width-ways that it'd foul the inside of the bonnet as it slopes down towards the wing.

I'm pretty sure I can get the SU's under the bonnet one way or another so I'll be sticking with them.

Paul, you're right, I couldn't find an Outlaw 356 with an offset fuel filler when I looked through Google images. Mind you, I couldn't find a Lancia D24 Spyder in silver either...

Task for today was to offer the rear clamshell up to the chassis and work out how much the body needs shortening.

Not sure if I've mentioned it in this thread yet, but although there's only 8mm difference between the wheelbase of the Spitfire (2108mm) and Porsche 356 (2100mm), I managed to buy what is probably a Banham New Speedster body intended to fit on a Rover Metro/100, which is 2270mm.

So, rear clamshell supported over the back end of the chassis at the right height -

Plenty of space in here for a fuel tank and spare wheel -

And with the front clamshell lined up with the front wheels where I want them, you can see the problem -

Oddly it seems that I only needed to shave 110mm out of the body to get the wheels neatly in the arches. I decided that the easiest way to shorten the body would be to take the difference out of the door apertures. I also now believe that's where Paul Banham added the length anyway -

Leaving me with a body that's the right length now -

That's as far as I got today but slow progress is better than no progress at all. :)

froggyman 29th April 2018 18:25

That is looking great Towed. Good to see you back. Nice project which I am sure you will enjoy building and driving.

lancelot link 1st May 2018 08:53

LOOKING VERY POSITIVE SO FAR ...Like the fuel cap idea kind of solution !

I actually prefer the triumph engine solution being a bit of a traditionalist ...makes the whole 8 points thing a bit more obvious too ...

Banham 356 and 550 were definitely stretched doors , I have had both over the years ...

Mister Towed 1st May 2018 19:43

Cheers Gary, yes I'm feeling a lot happier about using the old Triumph lump for a number of reasons, the DVLA registration thing being one of them.

To get around 90 reliable hp out of it is going to blow about a £1500 hole in my budget that I hadn't really bargained on, but hey, you only live once.

I did a lot of surreptitious door measuring of real 356's and Chesil (et al) kit versions at various shows and I didn't find two the same, but they all looked much shorter than what I have, hence the decision to take a hacksaw to them.

Banham kit quality seems to get a lot of stick on the 'net, but mine seems pretty well moulded given the price. Will be getting on with it now the sun's (almost) out and I'm coming out of hibernation.

Mister Towed 9th June 2018 14:44

So, big box of parts arrived from Canley's yesterday so I'll be stripping down my Herald gearbox (ebay, 99p) and starting to rebuild it tomorrow. Should be interesting as I've never rebuilt a gearbox before.

If by some miracle I manage to rebuild the gearbox in a couple of hours I'll also refit the camshaft which has been reground by Piper cams to their 270 fast-road profile.

Timing the cam will have to wait until Canley's supply me with a rebuilt, unleaded cylinder head, which is currently on back-order (I believe they strip and build them to order).

Then with the rest of the day (!!) I might just get on with my work-in-progress rear deck cover -

Which, believe it or not isn't polished mahogany, but cardboard covered in parcel tape!

I also have a few little jobs to sort on a new acquisition for the summer -

...which was a bit too bouncy for my liking on the way home from collecting it, so new shocks are on order and it will also get fresh oil etc. It also has brake and clutch fluid the colour of West Country Scrumpy, so I will be bleeding the hydraulics and pumping fresh Dot 4 through everything before using it on the road again.

More later.

Paul L 10th June 2018 17:55

Nice toys. :cool:

Obviously I am a big fan of the power blue colour.

Let me know when you have this back on the road and I'll try to finally arrange my much promised trip to Norfolk.

Good luck, Paul. :)

Paul L 16th June 2018 07:10

Mr T - I'm sure you've seen this week's episode, but just in case...

Good luck, Paul. :)

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