HANG ONTO A DREAM

Re­cently ac­cepted into the Fer­rari Own­ers’ Club of NZ, this amaz­ing car is the re­sult of around 6000 hours of spe­cial­ized work

New Zealand Classic Car - - Fu­ture Car Fer­rari 330 P4 Replica - Edited by Al­lan Wal­ton Pho­tos Dun­can Rourke / Creative Stance Ltd

Bren­den Van Schooten met Guy Cross in 2005 at a friend’s wed­ding in Welling­ton, and while their part­ners were en­ter­tain­ing them­selves, the boys sat down to talk about cars, as we all do. Guy men­tioned that he had just pur­chased a Series III, V12 E-type Jaguar con­vert­ible in parts, and was about to start a full restora­tion. Hav­ing pre­vi­ously built cir­cuitrac­ing and rally cars dur­ing his 20s, Bren­den quickly of­fered his as­sis­tance, think­ing that his friend’s Jaguar project sounded like an in­ter­est­ing way to con­sume his time.

Over the next four years the two friends ded­i­cated about five hours a week to the project, work­ing in a barn up Paekakariki Hill Road near Welling­ton. The ‘work­shop’ was freez­ing cold in the win­ter and turned into a sauna in sum­mer. Over that pe­riod of time Bren­den and Guy re­assem­bled the E-type from 13 boxes of parts, guided by a fac­tory restora­tion man­ual.

Then, dis­as­ter struck — one sunny day, only three months short of com­plet­ing the joint project, the barn caught fire and the Jaguar was burned to the ground. It was a very sad day, and both men felt as if they’d lost a fam­ily mem­ber.

How­ever, three months later Guy found an­other in­ter­est­ing project listed for sale on­line — a Fer­rari 330 P4 replica. And it was in just as many parts as the E-type!

But we’re get­ting ahead of our­selves — first a bit of his­tory.

A Noble Pur­suit

In 1986 an English car builder by the name of Lee Noble — now best known for his Ul­tima cars and, of course, sports cars such as the Noble M10 and M12 — de­signed and built the first repli­cas of the P4. He was for­tu­nate enough to be al­lowed to take moulds from an orig­i­nal car, and this ex­plains why the body­work on his repli­cas is not the same on the left com­pared to the right. Quite sim­ply, the orig­i­nals were hand-made for rac­ing, and sym­me­try didn’t mat­ter. Noble re­pro­duced the P4’s light­weight tubu­lar steel chas­sis, but in­stead of al­loy body pan­els he fit­ted strength­ened fi­bre­glass for sim­plic­ity. Noble built as many as 50 repli­cas be­fore sell­ing the rights to Neil For­man, from NF Auto Devel­op­ments, the en­gi­neer who made some of the replica’s sus­pen­sion com­po­nents.

Around 1996, Sony In­ter­na­tional com­mis­sioned one of the Nobledesigned P4 kits to be built up to dis­play its new $150,000 car stereo sys­tem. It was built as a rolling shell with no en­gine or gear­box, and the in­te­rior was made from ply­wood cov­ered in leather. The car was fit­ted out with a num­ber of TV screens, huge speak­ers, and all the rest of the boom-box para­pher­na­lia liked by those young­sters who pre­fer to wear their base­ball caps on back­wards. It toured a num­ber of high-end car shows through the world be­fore fin­ish­ing up in Dunedin, of all places! >

Sub­se­quent to Sony re­mov­ing all its fancy au­dio gear, a car dealer ar­ranged the sale to a lo­cal buyer. Fol­low­ing that, it changed hands a few more times, grad­u­ally de­te­ri­o­rat­ing as the years passed by. Fi­nally it was ad­ver­tised on­line in late 2009, the owner at the time hav­ing to sell up to fi­nance a mar­riage break-up. Some years ear­lier he’d mod­i­fied the car’s chas­sis to ac­cept a Porsche 911 en­gine, and had also re­moved all the body pan­els.

At the time it was ad­ver­tised for sale, the replica had been squat­ting in a garage, buried in rub­bish, for over three years. Mean­while, its body pan­els had been sit­ting in some­one’s back yard, ex­posed to the weather. A re­build would be a ma­jor ex­er­cise — and a much big­ger task than that pro­vided by the aborted E-type, al­though at least both Bren­den and Guy had seen a com­pleted E-type be­fore.

Noth­ing ven­tured, noth­ing gained — of course, they bought the car!

A Ma­jor Pro­ject

After driv­ing to Dunedin, the pair lit­er­ally dug the rolling chas­sis out of the garage, strapped the body pan­els over the chas­sis, and filled the back of the tow ve­hi­cle with the re­main­der of the parts. >

The un­earthing and pack­ing process took six hours — all ac­com­plished in the rain with freez­ing tem­per­a­tures, with the seller nowhere to be seen. What a start!

“We got ques­tioned about the car at ev­ery stop we made on the re­turn trip to Welling­ton,” Bren­den said.

After fi­nally ar­riv­ing home, and un­load­ing ev­ery­thing, they stood back and won­dered what the hell they’d ac­tu­ally ac­quired.

As Bren­den would later say, “It was a mess. We de­greased the en­gine and Porsche 914 gear­box, and spent an­other six months play­ing around with the body pan­els to fit prop­erly.”

Over this time Bren­den spent hun­dreds of hours re­search­ing Porsche en­gines, and was even able to pur­chase an orig­i­nal build man­ual for the Noble kit, so at least they knew how to put ev­ery­thing to­gether. Some re­search went into the no­tion of im­port­ing a Fer­rari V12 en­gine and match­ing gear­box from the US, but the high costs in­volved, and the un­cer­tainty of the en­gine in ques­tion’s con­di­tion, meant that it was even­tu­ally deemed to be out­side their bud­get.

They looked at a Jaguar V12 too, but these are heavy units com­pared to the 911 en­gine, which only weighs 128kg — sim­i­lar to the orig­i­nal Fer­rari V12. Some South African–built P4 repli­cas have been pow­ered by BMW V12s, but Bren­den and Guy felt those en­gines were also too heavy. Even though the power-toweight ra­tio would be higher from a V12 such as the BMW unit, it would throw out the bal­ance of the car, and the aim was to have a great look­ing ve­hi­cle that was fun to drive in all con­di­tions. Although it’s lighter, use of a Lexus V8 was also ve­toed as the sound would just be wrong. Zero to 100kph times were not even a con­sid­er­a­tion — the car’s light­weight con­struc­tion would make the best of even a fairly mod­est power out­put. The Porsche en­gine started and seemed to run well, so a de­ci­sion was made to stick with it and look at re­build­ing the mo­tor with high-com­pres­sion pis­tons to give the fin­ished car a power-to-weight ra­tio sim­i­lar to a BMW M3 — that could be fun with­out trac­tion con­trol! Any­way, they rea­soned, how many Fer­rari repli­cas do you see with a Porsche en­gine?

They made a de­ci­sion to stick as closely as pos­si­ble to the in­struc­tions con­tained within the build man­ual that Lee Noble had put to­gether to go with his kits, so they could get as close as pos­si­ble to what he had de­signed. After all, they fig­ured that Noble knew what he was do­ing.

The fol­low­ing 24 months were spent fi­bre­glass­ing weath­er­worn, bro­ken or frac­tured pan­els, clean­ing up the chas­sis and mak­ing the curved dash­board — that took over 200 hours alone! Thou­sands of hours were spent weld­ing and fab­ri­cat­ing cus­tom bits for ev­ery­thing — ob­vi­ously, you can’t buy parts for a car like this off the shelf — and some­times items were fab­ri­cated twice as Bren­den fig­ured out bet­ter ways to make them.

Tech­ni­cal De­tails

The car’s body and in­te­rior pan­els are riv­eted and bonded to the chas­sis for rigid­ity and strength, and a 65-litre al­loy fuel tank was built and re­sides in the en­tire length of the left-hand sill — side im­pact pro­tec­tion for the pas­sen­ger! An E30 BMW 325i pedal box and brake servo sys­tem were over­hauled as per the build man­ual, and a new SD1 Rover steer­ing col­umn was sourced, as the one that came with the car had been short­ened. Noble orig­i­nally rec­om­mended us­ing a Ford Sierra XR4I as a donor ve­hi­cle for steer­ing, brakes and wheel bear­ings.

The ex­ist­ing, non-power-as­sisted steer­ing rack was knack­ered, so a new re­con­di­tioned unit was found and fit­ted along with all-new ball joints. >

The brake calipers were brand new but 15 years old, so they were cleaned up and fit­ted with new rub­bers and pads. The cus­tom­made al­loy sus­pen­sion hubs had new bear­ings and ball joints in­stalled, but it was the sus­pen­sion A-arms that caused most prob­lems.

Noble de­signed these us­ing thin-wall tub­ing (1.5mm), and MIG welded the joints. While that’s all well and good in the UK, they would not be deemed as be­ing com­pli­ant in New Zealand. As Bren­den and Guy wanted to re­tain what Noble had de­signed, they asked Shel­don Car­ring­ton at Mo­tor­sport Devel­op­ments in Granada North to repli­cate the front and rear arms. The re­sult­ing items passed all test­ing, so they moved onto the next chal­lenge — sort­ing out the gear link­ages.

With the driver sit­ting shoul­der to shoul­der with the pas­sen­ger (for bet­ter cen­tre weight dis­tri­bu­tion) there’s no room for a gear lever in the tra­di­tional place. In­stead, it re­sides in the right-hand sill by the driver. How­ever, the Porsche 914 transaxle was a side shift on the pas­sen­ger’s side. Bren­den spent many a night ly­ing awake try­ing to vi­su­al­ize how this was go­ing to work, with­out any suc­cess.

They went back to Shel­don Car­ring­ton, who took one look and told them to go up to the near­est Pick-a-part and find a gear shift from a front-wheel-drive Toy­ota Corolla and bring him the whole thing, in­clud­ing the ca­bles and gear­box shift mech­a­nism.

Within a week he had mod­i­fied the shifter and levers at the gear­box end to work, so all Bren­den had to do was get the ca­ble ex­tended — bril­liant! Shel­don then went on to cus­tom build the whole ex­haust sys­tem, in­clud­ing tuned-length head­ers to max­i­mize flow and sound, along with the tra­di­tional four exit pipes as used by the orig­i­nal P4s. A bal­ance pipe was added to make the en­gine’s sig­na­ture more like two six-cylin­der en­gines rather than the nor­mal Porsche sound. The ex­haust took Shel­don over 100 hours to de­sign and con­struct, and though it was ex­pen­sive, Bren­den reck­ons it’s worth ev­ery cent as it sounds so good. So good, in fact, that they de­cided not to in­stall a car stereo!

Fi­nal Touches

As the car came to­gether, an is­sue with the side doors ma­te­ri­al­ized. The LVVTA wanted side-im­pact beams and door-re­ten­tion sys­tems to be in­stalled. Bren­den made a prac­ti­cal ar­gu­ment re­lat­ing to where the oc­cu­pants would sit in the car, and the im­pos­si­bil­ity of adding steel beams into a door that also housed mas­sive air-in­take tracts. LVVTA fi­nally de­cided

that the doors ac­tu­ally only have one pur­pose — to make the car wa­ter­proof — there­fore no bars or re­ten­tion sys­tems were re­quired.

The en­gine within the replica is a 2.7-litre flat six of 1974 vin­tage, fit­ted with a con­stant in­jec­tion sys­tem (CIS). There’s no com­puter, as petrol is fed via the in­jec­tors con­stantly by a fuel dis­trib­u­tor, a sim­i­lar sys­tem as that used on many com­pa­ra­ble en­gines dur­ing the ’70s and ’80s.

“I wanted old-school tech­nol­ogy,” Bren­den said, “No trac­tion con­trol or ABS, no power steer­ing or airbags, no com­put­ers or au­to­matic gear­boxes. Back to raw driv­ing plea­sure.”

De­spite the donor Porsche 2.7 en­gine hav­ing been re­built at some stage, Bren­den re­placed ev­ery seal and O-ring with­out pulling the heads off the bar­rels, as the mo­tor had been sit­ting around for some years. New in­jec­tors, warm-up reg­u­la­tors and fuel pumps were also in­stalled along with an air-con­di­tion­ing com­pres­sor (not stan­dard in New Zealand in 1974). The gear­box was pulled apart by Ruben Lith­gow at Pow­er­haus (a Porsche spe­cial­ist) of Welling­ton, and found to be com­pletely worn out. The gears were fine, but ev­ery­thing else needed to be re­placed — the ap­pro­pri­ate re­place­ment parts be­ing sourced from the US.

When the Welling­ton-based Con­struc­tors Car Club an­nounced that it would host a car show in Oc­to­ber 2013, Bren­den and Guy — both mem­bers of the club — made the call to have the P4 ready to dis­play at the show.

The pa­per­work was sent to LVVTA for com­pli­ance and the cer­ti­fier, Andy Smith, sub­se­quently viewed the car and made a few mi­nor rec­om­men­da­tions.

In Septem­ber 2013, the body­work was stripped back to a bare shell and sent to Ben Martin at Cus­tom Au­toworx in Up­per Hutt to pre­pare for fi­nal paint­ing. Although the pan­els fit­ted pretty well, Ben spent two weeks to get ev­ery­thing as per­fect as pos­si­ble. Bren­den’s brief was that the fin­ished car should look like an orig­i­nal Fer­rari when on the road — and that meant no big gaps be­tween body pan­els, and a paint job that would stop traf­fic. This is the only P4 replica in New Zealand, and it needed a fin­ish that would set a stan­dard for any who chose to fol­low.

Chris Brat­tle at Dzine Signs (just across the road from Cus­tom Au­toworx in Up­per Hutt) painted the car in Rosso Corsa, of course, and then added two coats of clear over the top. Not be­cause it was needed, but be­cause Ben told Chris that Bren­den would prob­a­bly pol­ish off the paint within a few years with­out a few coats of pro­tec­tive clear coat!

The fully painted car ar­rived back at Bren­den’s home garage six weeks be­fore the car show as a bare shell.

Show Time

It would be fair to say that Bren­den’s wife didn’t see much of him for the fol­low­ing weeks. Only four days be­fore the show, Nick Trethe­way from Mo­bile Uphol­stery started work on the P4’s in­te­rior — all in leather, with red dou­ble-stitch­ing and di­a­mond pat­terns on the side sills and door pan­els. Nick men­tioned that the dash was the hard­est he’d ever cov­ered due to all its curves, >

and hav­ing to stretch the ma­te­rial in sev­eral di­rec­tions. He fin­ished only hours be­fore the trans­porter ar­rived to take the car to the show.

The Fer­rari replica may have looked com­plete while it stood on dis­play, but the wiring was rudi­men­tary — with just enough wires fit­ted to al­low the car to be started and driven. In­deed, the ca­ble run­ning from bat­tery to starter was an ex­ten­sion cord! They didn’t even have time to put the side win­dows on — not that any­one who saw the car at the show twigged to that omis­sion.

After the show, Peter Zhou from AJ Auto Elec­tric Cen­tre in Lower Hutt took five long week­ends to wire up the car. Bren­den and Guy then fin­ished off a list of items, all mi­nor, but ones that seemed to take ages to ac­com­plish.

The car was cor­ner weighed and found to have a 40/60 weight dis­tri­bu­tion with to­tal weight of 980kg dry — a lit­tle heav­ier than the orig­i­nal, but that was the price paid for air-con­di­tion­ing and a plush in­te­rior, and the replica’s front and rear fi­bre­glass pan­els are ac­tu­ally quite thick and heavy, not the thin al­loy used on the orig­i­nals.

Fi­nally, the car was booked into Andy Smith for the last com­pli­ance checks and trans­ported to Levin and back. Hav­ing passed with fly­ing colours, it was then taken down to the lo­cal VTNZ Test­ing Sta­tion for the WOF and reg­is­tra­tion. As you’d ex­pect, the wait was trau­matic. Bren­den put it quite suc­cinctly when he said, “Like an ex­pec­tant fa­ther, I sat in re­cep­tion at VTNZ for five hours while they did what­ever it is they do. Ex­pect­ing the worst, I had the car trans­porter’s num­ber in my phone for the re­turn trip — but it was not needed. Hav­ing passed, I then made the call to my in­surer that I had dreamed of for the past four or five years, and through 6000 hours of labour. But with only 75mm ground clear­ance, first I had to get over the speed bump to exit the VTNZ fa­cil­ity!” All that was left was a very care­ful drive home. Bren­den and Guy’s ded­i­ca­tion and work­man­ship over the years has pro­duced a ve­hi­cle far ex­ceed­ing ei­ther of their ex­pec­ta­tions. Bren­den’s were al­ways very high, but he ad­mits the fi­nal re­sult still blows him away ev­ery time he opens his garage. Bren­den has since brought Guy out of his share of the P4.

We’ll leave the fi­nal words to Bren­den: “Like any newly built car, there will be mi­nor mod­i­fi­ca­tions to come, but I can fi­nally get out and share a replica of one of the rarest and sex­i­est cars ever made. Some of the high­est praises have come from Fer­rari own­ers who can’t be­lieve the at­ten­tion to de­tail and qual­ity of fin­ish (even though it lacks a Fer­rari en­gine). To this I wish to thank all those who have ei­ther worked on her or pro­vided their ex­pe­ri­ence and ad­vice. It could not have been done with­out you.”

“Like any newly built car, there will be mi­nor mod­i­fi­ca­tions to come, but I can fi­nally get out and share a replica of one of the rarest and sex­i­est cars ever made”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.