A Bit of Olde England Is On Display at the Stoneleigh Show
August 01, 2003
By Ian Hyne
In America, the Carlisle Kit Car Nationals and AHA Knott's Berry Farm kit car shows are kings of the roost, but here in England, we have a little replicar get-together that actually dwarfs anything in the States.
I suppose with the size of the USA and the number of people in it, you've got to have the biggest kit car industry in the world. However, we've got a hell of a lot of individual cars over here, too, and because the UK is about the size of your backyard, we can all get to the same place at the same time--and we do. It's called Stoneleigh, and the Annual Kit Car Show has now been running for 18 years. In that time, it has established itself as the prime, and the biggest, kit car event in the UK and Europe, attracting exhibitors, buyers, and clubs from all over. It's also the traditional launch pad for new models, so there's always something new to see.
Last year, we saw a slightly smaller show as lesser manufacturers dropped out in the face of the gradually tightening European regulations we face, but the companies that have met the necessary criteria have come out fighting with a wide range of great cars for people who want to enjoy driving. Our new regulations were introduced in 1997, and though most cars have been able to get through, the regulations will probably tighten in respect to noise and emissions. It's no big deal, as most cars are now using modern, high-power, four-cylinder, DOHC, 16-valve, EFI engines from Ford and Rover, as well as V-6s, Rover (nee) Buick all-alloy V-8s, and the good old Chevy. Where would we be without you? As long as the date of manufacture can be proven, older engines only have to meet the emissions standards for which the engines were designed.
The other thing that's really taken off over here is putting bike engines in cars. Using 10,000-rpm superbike screamers in sub-1,000-pound cars makes for a whole lot of thump. They can be a bit of a pain to drive in traffic, but over here, the new driving buzz is track days. For between $150 and $300 a day, you can turn up to tracks all over the country, from Silverstone's Grand Prix circuit to a coned-off track on Elvington airfield (one of only two European airfields capable of taking the Space Shuttle if it's raining at Edwards AFB), and spend as much time as you like flat out. It's a lot cheaper than racing, and you get a hell of a lot more track time.
One company, Z Cars, has used two bike engines, first in a rear-wheel-drive car, and then in a four-wheel-drive. One engine drives the front wheels, another the back, and still short of full development, it can do 0-60 mph in 2.85 seconds. When they've built 10 cars, they'll qualify for a Guinness-recognized official World 0-60-mph Record currently held by a Ford RS200 Group B rally car at 3.07 seconds.
So now I've shown you mine, and I look forward to getting over there to Carlisle, so you can show me yours! KC
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