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October 2004

Thursday 7th October 2004:

So here we go again :) Today, for those of you who follow my exploits, is significant for two reasons. Firstly, it's our 1st anniversary (as in Hels and I) and I phoned Ted Marlow to confirm that I'm taking the plunge again and ordering a Can-Am!

So why another Ultima you ask? Well, after building, driving, enjoying and ultimately selling the Supercharged GTR I had planned to take a break from car building for a while. However, once you've got the bug it's hard to ignore! I had planned to go all 'sensible' and buy a 'marque' car - a Ferrari or Porsche for example. But, having tried these, two things struck me. 1) They felt slow and cumbersome by comparison to the ultima and 2) They are hugely expensive to own and run. Ted and Richard were keen to have me back in an Ultima and it didn't take 'too' much persuasion from them to convince me that I wanted another. Obviously having had a GTR, I was interested in something different and the Can-Am fitted the bill perfectly.

So what's the spec. you ask? Well, from having gone for all out power and performance as befitted the GTR as a road-going racer, the Can-Am is calling for a more 'civilised' approach. Basically, over the course of the next few months, I'll endeavour to create the most cossetting, civilised, comfortable and usable Ultima possible. With the recent shattering of the World 0-100-0 record, there's a lot of talk about putting ever more powerful engines in Ultimas. Indeed, this was the route I took initially with the GTR. However, that's fine and dandy for the track (or runway!) but what about a car that you want to use almost everyday? Is that possible with an Ultima? Well, between you and me (and the internet ;) on the road, you'll be hard pushed to tell the difference between a stock 350 chevy installation and a 600hp fire-breather - actually, they both spit flames nicely ;)

"Pfffft", I hear you say, "Rubbish!, to have a supercar you need super power" - well, even with this 'humble' installation, the Ultima will be faster than 99.9% of cars on the road. We all like to think that we drive around like our arse is on fire, but with Speed Camera's ready to get you round every corner and the price of Optimax (that's hi-octane fuel in the UK) spiralling ever higher, let's just sit back, relax, ride that wave of torque, feel the wind in our hair and take in the admiring glances of onlookers as we rumble along :)

I hope this car will be a great all round supercar. Stay tuned.......

Friday 15th October 2004:

OK, well don't get too excited, not a great deal to report so far....except, well, I found a gearbox :) You may recall that in the GTR I had a right hand mounted gearshift with a Porsche G50 'box. This was great, worked very well and suited the 'Le Mans refugee' racecar image. However, the Can-Am (as I explained above) is going to be far more cossetting and luxurious than the GTR with an interior befitting of its supercar image. For this reason (among others) I decided that the Can-Am should have a centre shift, Getrag 6-Speed 'box. This not only looks great, especially with the Porsche gearlever, shroud and cable tunnel, but works exceptionally well (so I'm told). I considered the G50 centre shift with a rod linkage, but the end result looked too 'DIY' to my eye. The Getrag, whilst horrendously expensive new (no fault of Ultima's, just Porsche prices :( ) at about 9k GBP, really looks the part, so I decided to start searching for one. I won't actually need it until quite late in the build, but they aren't exactly common and I'd rather have one stored in my workshop, ready to go than to come to that part of the build and be stuck without!

There are a couple of specialist breakers in the UK that regularly break Porsches. Prestige Salvage and Porsch-Apart for example. Some research on the net, some emails and phone calls unvcovered a likely candidate at Porsch-Apart, so I decided to make a trip 'oop North' with a wad of cash to check them both out. I took the opportunity to drop in on Ted and Co. to check out their display 'box and pick Ted's brains about the centre shift arrangement. I took several pics of the 'box as can be seen below. You may notice that the castings differ in length despite the fact that they're all essentially the same 'box. I can only surmise, after seeing both Porsche 996 Carrera 2 and Carrera 4 boxes, that the slightly longer casting is use for the Carrera 4 'box as those boxes have a secondary drive (to the front wheels) coming out of it which is normally blanked off.

PS. You'll notice that I will be posting higher res. images this time :)

Shot showing cable slector mechanism Casting marks Other side of Getrag 'box
Hole for clutch slave cylinder Shot showing different length of end casts

So after a coffee and a chat, we continued on up to Ramsbottom (don't laugh) North of Manchester to see the guys at Porsch-Apart. Simon (Butterworth) was a great guy and very helpful. It turned out that he and one of his colleagues used to race in the Porsche 924 series that my wife, Hels, used to race in! It wasn't long before they were reminiscing over the Porsche days and comparing tales of mutual friends. This meant that I could have a good look at the boxes on the shelf. They had two boxes from 996 Carrera 4S's, both low mileage, but not only were they more expensive, but would require modifying to take off the secondary drive and blank the casting. The appeal was the assumption that the 4WD 'box would be stronger, but given that I am going for a less powerful engine this time, there seemed little opint in enduring the extra hassle and cost. The C2 'box had come from a '97 996 Carrera 2S with 66k miles on the clock. Someone with more pwoer than talent had rolled it, consequently writing it off. The good news was that the box was intact. You have to be careful when the cars get written off in 'shunt' type accidents as it can fracture the castings, usually the very end section where the rubber mount is or the bellhousing. Also, watch out for fire damaged boxes. They may not show the damage on the outside, but excessive heat can damage the oil seals inside the 'box.. No such problems in this instance though. Additionally, make sure you get all the bits with the 'box as replacements are expensive! You need the clutch slave cylinder, the clutch arm, the retaining spring and the plastic collar. The pictures below tell the story of what goes where. Anyway, after some consternation and more chatting, the deal was done. We loaded the 'box into the truck (alot heavier than the G50 if memory serves!) and set off home.

Saturday 16th October 2004:

The next day was spent, steam cleaning, wire brushing and polishing to get the 'box looking good as new. To be fair, it was pretty clean as it was, but looked alot better after etch priming, silver wheel paint and a couple of layers of lacquer. Anyway, the pics tell the story :)

Refurbed 'box showing cable slector mechanism Other side of box showing clutch slave cylinder Make sure you get all these with the 'box
Plastic collar to hold clutch arm spring Clutch arm with retaining spring fitter Clutch arm assembly in place

So, the 'box is ready. Just need to build the rest of the car around it :) Delivery is due 1st week of December, but stay tuned...

On to December for the build!