Winter Wonders – Testing at Donington Park


It’s a long time since the season ended and an even longer time before 2008 starts.  Who could blame us for taking a day to travel to Donington Park to test some cars?  We needed to and that’s the simple truth.  The Elden Mk8 had a re-jetted carb and the Huffaker engine was supposedly (finally) sorted.  In addition, Frank Lyons wanted to take the Chevron B16 for a run with new exhaust system.  And then there was the Toj of course.  Since it arrived with Frank in Essex a number of things had been done, mostly in the arena of general tidying etc.  New brake pads, some suspension bolts and the like are just the start of what will be required over the winter.  However we did think it was ready for a shakedown.


Sunny but cold and icy was the day that greeted us so testing didn’t start until 10am to allow the ice at the bottom of Craner Curves to melt.  That was the official story but the reality is that there were patches of the slippy stuff in most of the shaded areas.  So we availed of the delay to try and start the Huffaker!!  Finally it burst into life with the aid of some choke and thankfully didn’t miss a beat all day.  The Elden’s freshly charged battery was flat but that was also fixed before too long.


Frank set off in the Chevron B16 while I ventured out in the Huffaker.  Slippy as hell I would say but more importantly the water temperature simply didn’t register on the gauge.  Back in for some blanking tape therefore.  However up to that the engine seemed good and strong so I was hopeful for the rest of the day.


Frank was back in with the Chevron and I jumped in for my first experience in one of the all time classic cars.  Of course I have spent many hours driving the BMW engine (when it was in the Elva) but this was the very first time I had ever driven a car with a roof.  Off I went recognising that this was not my car.  After a few laps the car coughed suddenly going down Craner’s – and then cleared. All the gauges seemed OK so I carried on but just a few corners later the engine simply died and I coasted to a halt down the back straight.  Having been towed in I promised Frank it wasn’t my fault!  After a little time the fault was discovered – the rotor arm had disintegrated and taken the distributor with it.  Done for the day!


By now, Diffey had arrived and was sent to get ready to take both the Huffaker out and more importantly the Elden for a proper run.  Five laps in the Huffaker with the temperatures up confirmed the car was back on form!  The Elden was next up (while I played for five laps in the Huffaker!!). 


The re-jetted engine was better than before but there is still a bad hesitation when starting to get back on the power.  Other than that the car ran faultlessly and Diff was a little happier.


By now, we had warmed up the Toj with the water heater and run up the engine.  Frank was sent out to take the first laps and was soon back complaining that the brakes were hopeless.  They were running new pads and after re-bleeding off he went again.  After that it was my turn!


This car is going to be good – that’s for sure.  The engine pulls like a train and the brakes are indeed terrible.  The consensus is that a new master cylinder is required.  The tyres are at least three years old and even I could tell that.  However even allowing for that the car has bags of grip and half an airline on the back!  You can lean on the car in corners and it does not seem to do anything silly.  For a first time out we were very pleased indeed.


For charity purposes we sent out Diffey for a run and he was also pleased – see the picture for proof!!  Being Diffey he was right on it from the start and the car certainly looks the business on the move!  A winter of tidying, new tyres and a new wire loom should transform the car and make it a real flier.


As a finale for the day, Frank took out the Elden for a long run.  There is now general agreement that the performance problems are probably related to ignition so we plan to change this around over the winter.  After that, Diff will prove the performance of the car, which will then be sold.  Why?  Well three reasons really:

  1. I cannot fit in the car at all and therefore will never drive it myself
  2. I need to reduce the number of cars for reasons of space and practicalities
  3. I need the cash!  The DFV is broken and the Toj will need some TLC


Oh and another thing – we stuck Frank in the Huffaker at the end for his first experience in a front engined historic racer.  Shocked and surprised was the verdict – and what about all that sliding about!  The body language told it all!


Pictures will follow soon! 



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