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Learning how to build Lotus Seven replicas...together!
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PostPosted: November 5, 2006, 11:12 pm 
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Joined: August 15, 2005, 10:13 pm
Posts: 7048
Location: Charleston, WV
1968 Leitch Super Sprint
(Not a Locost, not a hicost)

Owners: Jill and Graham Earley.

The passion for cars has been in my blood for a really long time. I started my work career as an apprentice panel beater (body man) in New Zealand. Being so far way from everything, we had to hand form many of our parts, as no filler was allowed except lead. I came to the States in 1979 at 23 years old with nothing but a love for cars and $500 between me and my buddy. It was do or die time. To cut a long story short, I ended up with my own body shop in Los Angeles building customs, hot rods, and movie cars.

After having my own shop for 12 years I ended up with toxic poisoning and had to close the shop. This led me to work for an insurance company, who I am still with today. Earley Motorsports is my fun/hobby job but that does not mean I am not serious about it. My wife, Jill, and I are dedicated to doing it the right way. Well enough about me. We are here for the cars, not to hear life stories.

Our car is a Leitch Super Sprint. The body and chassis was built in New Zealand by Leitch Motorsports and Restoration. Barry Leitch is a life time friend as we go back as far as what you in the States call grade school. The frame consists of square and round tubing with an all aluminum body; the only exception being the nose and fenders. It also has aluminum interior panels and floor. The frame and body workmanship is exceptional.

I am pretty particular and am very happy with the fit and finish. It really surprised me that everything fit with no tweaking. I was expecting to have to do some filing and twisting here and there, but it wasn’t necessary. Once it traveled the 10,000 miles from New Zealand to Illinois, it was time to start putting it together.

The donor car was a 1985 Toyota Corolla GTS. It was sitting out in the back of a car lot way out in the boonies in Kansas. I was working down there for a couple of weeks and decided to drag it home. It wasn’t a nice one, but it ran good. However, it had a really bad whine from the trans and rear end bearings. Once the car was torn apart and the carcass dragged off, I went through the trans and rear end on the bench at home. To my surprise, it all worked fine. I pulled the pan off the motor to find that it had been recently rebuilt. That was a nice surprise!

Once the motor, trans, and rear end were dropped in the hole, all the fabrication work started. I built the fuel injection plenum with volume calculated length runners and plenum box size. Many hours were spent on the internet reading how to build it for maximum performance. The original plenum was not going to fit no matter how I looked at it. The hand built one is a lot lighter with better flow. The airflow meter is mounted at the back and pulls cool air from in front of the radiator. The headers are not exact length, but are within an inch on all four tubes. The exhaust has a Thrush muffler. The tail pipes (2) tuck underneath and out the back into an oval tip. Under full throttle (8000 rpm), she is loud.

I used a universal wiring kit and spliced in the computer and original EFI wiring. After a little messing around, it fired up. Actually, a lot of time was spent on it until a good friend of mine said try this wire in here. It fired up instantly and runs great. (He is a fuel injection instructor in Canada.)

The front suspension is really something. It has elliptical tubing upper and lower control arms, which I think looks really cool. These are a part of the Super Sprint kit. There is anti-dive geometry built in to stop nose dive under braking. The spindles are Cortina, which have been turned to accept the Corolla hubs and Brembo slotted and grooved rotors. The rack is Pinto, which is a little slow but still steers well. However, I may change it up one day. All four corners have GAZ 28 way adjustable shocks. My spring rates are light compared with a lot of what you guys are using. The fronts are 180 lbs and the rear is 120 lbs. The dampening is what changes the ride. It has a front sway bar as well. I thought the springs might be a little light, but Barry ensured me they were right. The car ended up within 2 lbs front to rear weight transfer. That’s close enough to 50/50 for me. I am still surprised at how well it handles.

The rear end is the stock GTS (4.30-1) open wheel differential with Brembo slotted and grooved rotors. It has Willwood master cylinders (two brake and 1 clutch) with a Tilton brake bias pedal set up. I am very impressed how it stops; mind you at 1320 lbs soaking wet and 4 wheel discs, it should.

The dash has SW gauges and toggle switches to operate all the lights, wipers etc. The dash in the Leitch is aluminum, so I machine finished the area around the gauges. Then I masked it off to paint it.

The seats were covered by another friend of mine, as I have never attempted any sewing, so I just left it up to him. He padded and covered the Leitch tube seat frames, which I am very happy with. The driver’s seat is adjustable with about 4 inches of travel. I am 5’9” and cannot have the seat all the way back, as otherwise I cannot reach the pedals. The car is 4” longer than stock in the foot box area.

I had the NSRA Safety Steward come around and inspect the little car. This is required in order to register it in Illinois. It passed the inspection with no problems. We haven’t been home much this year, so I haven’t yet been able to register it. My job has me traveling quite a bit. By the way, the car cost me about $15,000 to build and 9 months (hobby time) to put it together.

I have managed to Autocross it 9 times so far this year and am very pleased with the results. The car out drives me, although I am catching up with it. I used to road race motorcycles years ago in California and New Zealand, so I do know how to find its limits. This however, is a lot safer. When I spin it out, I don’t hit the ground, which is a lot easier on the body.

The car amazes me and many others on how well it sits when really pushed. There is very little body roll; it just goes where you point it. It is a very nimble car (just as Colin wanted them to be), although the extra strengthening in the frame helps tremendously. My lateral G meter registered 1.25 G’s both left and right on Yokahama street tires. Once I get the hang of the car, I’ll pick up some slicks. You know, it’s kind of like golf. A really good club doesn’t make you a better golfer, so slicks won’t make me a better driver. It is all seat time and figuring the car out.

The car is putting out about 130 hp. At 1320 lbs, that means it goes like stink. To improve the horsepower, a 20 valve black top may be in its future. I feel the 20 valve and slicks will make for one great ride. It is now. The car really gets my adrenaline going, so I have a hard time getting the tire pressure gauge on the valve stem between runs. The shaking, mine, is the cause.

What this big mass of words boils down to is this -- the fun and experience you can have with these little cars is unbelievable. I may not have built the frame and chassis like many of you have, but I did the remainder of the car. There is just a sense of satisfaction to build something yourself. For those of you who haven’t yet finished your “project”, just imagine how you’ll feel when you get behind the wheel. Keep at it through the good times and the bad; it is well and truly worth it.

Thanks for your time.
Graham.
http://www.earleymotorsports.com


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He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.


Last edited by chetcpo on November 21, 2006, 9:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: November 9, 2006, 11:40 pm 
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Joined: January 18, 2006, 10:41 pm
Posts: 349
Location: Concord, NC
I really like this car!

It is one of the few that I see and think "that looks just right". The two tone paint scheme really suits the car as does the color. The wheel and tire combo looks good on the car also. Very nice build with great fit and finish. Thumbs up to the Earleys!

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Project Seven
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PostPosted: November 10, 2006, 12:19 am 
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Joined: August 16, 2005, 10:29 am
Posts: 1070
Location: Alberta, Canada
Looks great - no rough edges there. Those tail lights are quite nice too - most I've seen look too big and salavaged from a home made trailer. I only hope mine turns out half as well.


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PostPosted: November 11, 2006, 7:24 pm 
WOW! That's BEAUTIFUL!! Aside from the color (and only because I haven't decided what color I want yet), that is EXACTLY what I want my car to look like!

Yours is one of the nicest carsI've seen. Period. Craftsmanship shows :D :D :D


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PostPosted: November 20, 2006, 10:18 pm 
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Joined: April 11, 2006, 10:27 pm
Posts: 569
Location: Murfreesboro TN
Thank you very much for the kind words. It is appreciated. We really enjoy the car and are happy with it. This past weekend I ran it in the autocross for the last run of the year. It was extremely cold (35 degrees) cloudy and windy on the Saturday. I had the my new wheels and slicks on which did not get past very cold and it pulled more lateral G's than it has before (not much more). I am looking forward to next year and the warm weather to really see how it works. The autocross was snowed out on Sunday. It is now off the road for winter and I have a few little things to do to it. Can't wait until next year. Any way, thank you for the compliments.

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www.earleymotorsports.com


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PostPosted: November 20, 2006, 10:50 pm 
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Joined: September 30, 2005, 1:28 am
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Location: Sunny-Okanagan, Canada, eh?!
Any pics of it on slicks? Any clearance issues? How was it different to drive??

G

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The Lethal Locost 2 - Even More Lethalerer


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PostPosted: November 21, 2006, 12:03 am 
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Joined: April 11, 2006, 10:27 pm
Posts: 569
Location: Murfreesboro TN
I have one on my work computer. I will send it home but I am unsure how to attach it here. How is that done?

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www.earleymotorsports.com


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PostPosted: November 21, 2006, 1:04 am 
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Joined: August 15, 2005, 10:13 pm
Posts: 7048
Location: Charleston, WV
For now you can email it to me and I will host it for you and post it here. We are in the process of upgrading our software to allow photo attachment. Should be operational in a week or so.

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PostPosted: November 21, 2006, 9:42 pm 
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Joined: August 15, 2005, 10:13 pm
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Location: Charleston, WV
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PostPosted: November 21, 2006, 10:46 pm 
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Joined: April 11, 2006, 10:27 pm
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Location: Murfreesboro TN
There you have it with the slicks. The weather was really too cold to get a proper feel for them although I did notice my neck was more sore that night. The tread part hangs out of the fenders about 1/2" on the rear where the front fenders cover the tread. These have a pretty good bulge in the side walls so that hangs out quite a bit. Overall, I am happy with them and can't wait until I can try them in some warm weather. That should be really good. I think the look has changed on the car tremendously as now it looks like it wants to go racing. One thing that really surprised me was the difference in weight between the 16" mag wheel combo and the racing setup. Combined the slicks and Aero wheels weigh 50lbs lighter. That should really make a big difference in the unsprung weight area. That drops the weight of the car to 1270lbs. I didn't think there would be that much difference. I like lighter and it wouldn't take too much to get it down into the 1100lbs arena. Anyway that is it.
Later.

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www.earleymotorsports.com


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PostPosted: November 21, 2006, 11:12 pm 
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Joined: January 18, 2006, 10:41 pm
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Location: Concord, NC
The car looks pretty mean on the slicks. Generally larger diameter wheels are heavier than the same tire diameter with smaller wheels. I am not sure what the construction is on your slicks but most are not radials and have thin rubber throughout the construction...they are much lighter than passenger tires. 50 lbs is a nice weight savings in a good spot!

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Project Seven
Instagram: @RexRacer19


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PostPosted: December 12, 2006, 12:36 pm 
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Joined: October 11, 2006, 4:11 pm
Posts: 125
Location: Abbotsford B.C. Canada
This car is my desktop background! I love this car. If you have any more pics of the build I'd really like to see them.
Thanks,
Ted.


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PostPosted: December 12, 2006, 6:41 pm 
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Joined: April 11, 2006, 10:27 pm
Posts: 569
Location: Murfreesboro TN
Thanks for the compliments. Go to my website as there are quite a few photos in the area linked at the bottom of the home page. I also have a bunch more at home on a disk. If there is one area in particular you need a photo of, let me know. If I don't have it already, I will take a pic and send it to you.

Happy holidays to all.

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www.earleymotorsports.com


Last edited by Earley Motorsports on January 25, 2013, 6:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: May 12, 2007, 10:08 am 
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No matter how many times I look at it ... it still looks amazing. :) Good job!

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PostPosted: January 25, 2013, 11:22 am 
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Joined: December 16, 2012, 1:54 pm
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Location: Colorado
That is pretty from any angle. I especially like the engine turned dash.

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