2300 Fiat (Hillclimb and Vintage race) Special undergoing completion in New Zealand.

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2300 Fiat (Hillclimb and Vintage race) Special undergoing completion in New Zealand.

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Hi,
I am finishing a long-term project started by Kiwi design engineer Peter Bruijn some 25+ years ago. Peter worked for Bruce Mclaren
in the early days, fabricating and building race car chassis. This chassis was Peter's last creation (Chassis PB54) before he died some 12 + years ago.
It has gathered dust in a number of sheds without any further work being done to complete the car.
The condition of the 2300 engine and gearbox was unknown until I had a chance conversation with a chap who has worked on Webber
Carbs for some 45 years. He explained that he knew a little about the 2300 engine as his father had one many years ago and that they had bored the block out to 80 mm and fitted Fiat 125 pistons and rings, otherwise, it was completely standard and quick enough to carry 4 adults around the NZ countryside at speed and in comfort. Some 25 years ago they removed the engine and gearbox for storage as the bodyshell had become too rusty.

A few weeks later a certain Peter Bruijn called by, saying he was building another special and was looking for a 2300 motor and gearbox......
New Zealand is a very small place when it comes to old specials, and since buying Peters project I have bumped into people who either knew Peter or indeed the 'unfinished' car...Lots of work to do and period (61-68) Fiat Instruments to buy
 

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Would that engine be from a General motors vehicle eg Holden/Vauxhall/Opel.
Hi Yolanda

No, the engine was designed in 1960 by a Ferrari engineer called Carlo Lampredi.
It is a straightforward 2 valve per cylinder 2300 cc OHV 6-cylinder motor fitted with an alloy head
and Titanium pushrods (!!).
The bore & stroke are some 78mm x 79.5 mm so it revs quite well and when fitted with twin or
triple DCOE 40 Webbers and a decent cam etc it will produce over 140 BHP (The rally cars produced 210 BHP)
STD , they rev to 5600 rpm and when tweaked 8000 is possible because of the bore and stroke configuration
 

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rmjbn1

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Sounds like a great project! Is the intention to complete the unfinished special, if you have the drawings?

Hope you keep us posted!

I lived for a while near the old Cooper garage, and it never ceases to amaze me the chance that brought two of the greatest pragmatic racing engineer/drivers in Jack Brabham and Bruce McLaren together in such a place, and the world-beating magic they conjured up with the Coopers.

I worked in Colnbrook so beetled round to have a look at the old McLaren works. It's still there, but not much to look at. I was very impressed by the strong Kiwi connection in that area, though; McLaren being later joined by Denny Hulme, and also Chris Amon, to my mind the greatest driver amongst them, even if he didn't enjoy the same success.
 
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Hi Yolanda

No, the engine was designed in 1960 by a Ferrari engineer called Carlo Lampredi.
It is a straightforward 2 valve per cylinder 2300 cc OHV 6-cylinder motor fitted with an alloy head
and Titanium pushrods (!!).
The bore & stroke are some 78mm x 79.5 mm so it revs quite well and when fitted with twin or
triple DCOE 40 Webbers and a decent cam etc it will produce over 140 BHP (The rally cars produced 210 BHP)
STD , they rev to 5600 rpm and when tweaked 8000 is possible because of the bore and stroke configuration
The front shock absorber and king pin setup very much remind me of some of the old BMC (Austin/Morris) stuff I worked on when I was starting out. Don't remember the transverse spring on anything though (Well, except really old stuff and the HA Viva - certainly never saw it on the BMC/BL motors).
 
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Sounds like a great project! Is the intention to complete the unfinished special, if you have the drawings?

Hope you keep us posted!

I lived for a while near the old Cooper garage, and it never ceases to amaze me the chance that brought two of the greatest pragmatic racing engineer/drivers in Jack Brabham and Bruce McLaren together in such a place, and the world-beating magic they conjured up with the Coopers.

I worked in Colnbrook so beetled round to have a look at the old McLaren works. It's still there, but not much to look at. I was very impressed by the strong Kiwi connection in that area, though; McLaren being later joined by Denny Hulme, and also Chris Amon, to my mind the greatest driver amongst them, even if he didn't enjoy the same success.
Yes, I do hope to finish the car with the aid of a small number of drawings (CAD, not original) that came with the chassis. I thought the front uprights may have been TR 2-4, however, the guy who dropped all the spares off said they were possibly MGA and the steering rack is from a Morris Minor. I'm not sure where the drum brakes came from though? Perhaps they are Fiat or maybe, British?

The Lampredi Fiat engine condition was an 'unknown' until I had a chance conversation with a chap at Franklin Camshafts in Auckland who put me in touch with another guy (Murray) who has worked on Webber carburettors for over 40 years.

Murray told me that his father had in fact owned and run a Fiat 2300 some 40 years ago and after many years when the body was beyond repair they removed the engine and placed it into storage where it remained until one day some 25 years ago, Peter Bruijn came into the shop looking for an engine for a project he was currently working on....
 

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I agree with Jock, the front suspension components look 1950's Austin to me, which would have coil springs sitting on plates bolted through the lower wishbones rather than transverse leaf. Maybe used on other makes after the BMC merger. Good parts availability in the UK, and re-valving the Armstrong damper is a popular 'mod'.
Some of the warmed-up Austin-Healey 100Ms had finned Alfin drums in period, but I don't recognise the drums in your picture.
 

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Thanks for the Image,
I see what you mean. I've just found some short (stubby) oil-filled non-adjustable dampers in the box of bits..
perhaps it was Peter's intention to fit these to aid the transverse spring and lever-arm setup
As for the finned brake drums, the spare (rusty) brake drums are not finned and are some 170 mm in diameter with 50mm wide brake shoes. As and when the rolling chassis arrives from Wellington I will be able to post some detailed images
of the chassis and suspension set-up and dimensions too
 

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Thanks for the Image,
I see what you mean. I've just found some short (stubby) oil-filled non-adjustable dampers in the box of bits..
perhaps it was Peter's intention to fit these to aid the transverse spring and lever-arm setup
As for the finned brake drums, the spare (rusty) brake drums are not finned and are some 170 mm in diameter with 50mm wide brake shoes. As and when the rolling chassis arrives from Wellington I will be able to post some detailed images
of the chassis and suspension set-up and dimensions too
I wouldn't be surprised if that had been his intention, those lever arms were well known for going "soft". I have visions in my mind of stuff like Morris Oxfords and Austin Cambridges "bouncing" merrily down the road. I got a little involved in making Morris Minors go faster when I was young and I remember a conversion for the front suspension which consisted of a bracket allowing a tubular shocker to be fitted in tandem with the lever arm. It was a common job, in our workshop, to replace worn lever arm shocks and I remember the bushing in the shock absorber was often badly worn allowing the arm to slop about which made for "interesting" steering characteristics.
 
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Absolutely right.
There was a similar kit for the MGB too. Once after driving my old Healey 3000
from the UK back to Italy I heard on occasion a 'knocking' sound from the rear.
After arriving home I jacked the rear up and discovered the Lever arm shocks were
hanging in mid-air as the brackets had broken away from the chassis...The car had ridden all the way
back on just the rear leaf springs Tough old car, the Healey,
The local Tractor mechanic rewelded the mounting brackets to the chassis and all was well
once more
 

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rmjbn1

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That's a lovely 3000 :) Looks the business. Competition use, or fast road spec?

I've got into the habit of checking the rear damper mountings on my Healey 100, which are notorious for shaking themselves loose, but I've not heard of the bracket making a bid for freedom! As you say, luckily they're tough old girls :)

Speaking of straight sixes... how's the 2300 Fiat coming along? I'm familiar with the 'Lampredi engine' big V12 and the four cylinder Ferraris. Interested to learn Lampredi joined Fiat as a result of Vittorio Jano arriving at Ferrari with the rest of Lancia's defunct racing department. Certainly one of the great engine designers.
I was young and I remember a conversion for the front suspension which consisted of a bracket allowing a tubular shocker to be fitted in tandem with the lever arm. It was a common job, in our workshop, to replace worn lever arm shocks and I remember the bushing in the shock absorber was often badly worn allowing the arm to slop about which made for "interesting" steering characteristics.
As an aside, can I ask if you're in favour of this tubular shocker conversion? Kits exist for the big Healeys - as do adjustable mounting plates for the front lever-arm damper to dial out the positive camber these cars were built with.
I've always been loath to tweak mine too much - she's fairly standard and I accept the rather 'period' driving experience that goes with that. There's a theory that modern wider radial tyres already add extra stress to the steering box on Healeys. And in general terms, that beefing up one component can expose weaknesses down the line.
But if all that's being acheived is improved damping, that can only be a good thing? I'd be very grateful for opinions.
 
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That's a lovely 3000 :) Looks the business. Competition use, or fast road spec?

I've got into the habit of checking the rear damper mountings on my Healey 100, which are notorious for shaking themselves loose, but I've not heard of the bracket making a bid for freedom! As you say, luckily they're tough old girls :)

Speaking of straight sixes... how's the 2300 Fiat coming along? I'm familiar with the 'Lampredi engine' big V12 and the four cylinder Ferraris. Interested to learn Lampredi joined Fiat as a result of Vittorio Jano arriving at Ferrari with the rest of Lancia's defunct racing department. Certainly one of the great engine designers.

As an aside, can I ask if you're in favour of this tubular shocker conversion? Kits exist for the big Healeys - as do adjustable mounting plates for the front lever-arm damper to dial out the positive camber these cars were built with.
I've always been loath to tweak mine too much - she's fairly standard and I accept the rather 'period' driving experience that goes with that. There's a theory that modern wider radial tyres already add extra stress to the steering box on Healeys. And in general terms, that beefing up one component can expose weaknesses down the line.
But if all that's being acheived is improved damping, that can only be a good thing? I'd be very grateful for opinions.
After Lampredi designed the big V12 for the Ferrari 375 he decamped to join Fiat and design their twin-cam fours and 2100/2300 six, He eventually headed up the Abarth operation.

The adjustable camber plates for the Healey are a good, inexpensive (and reversible) 'mod' as a 'degree or so' of negative will help sharpen up the steering response...

Both Denis Welch and John Chatham were able to win many, many races over the years with just camber and re-valved lever arm damper mods... and an uprated front anti-roll bar (from a J2 Post Office van) to complete the job.

I'm sure there is an argument for better damping from a good Coilover conversion kit set-up...but they are quite expensive and then, where do you stop? Perhaps then the rear springs and dampers would then need upgrading to be in sync with the front.
Start with Camber Plates and a 3/4 ' to 1'''diameter front ARB that should make it much more fun on the twisties...
 
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That's a lovely 3000 :) Looks the business. Competition use, or fast road spec?

I've got into the habit of checking the rear damper mountings on my Healey 100, which are notorious for shaking themselves loose, but I've not heard of the bracket making a bid for freedom! As you say, luckily they're tough old girls :)

Speaking of straight sixes... how's the 2300 Fiat coming along? I'm familiar with the 'Lampredi engine' big V12 and the four cylinder Ferraris. Interested to learn Lampredi joined Fiat as a result of Vittorio Jano arriving at Ferrari with the rest of Lancia's defunct racing department. Certainly one of the great engine designers.

As an aside, can I ask if you're in favour of this tubular shocker conversion? Kits exist for the big Healeys - as do adjustable mounting plates for the front lever-arm damper to dial out the positive camber these cars were built with.
I've always been loath to tweak mine too much - she's fairly standard and I accept the rather 'period' driving experience that goes with that. There's a theory that modern wider radial tyres already add extra stress to the steering box on Healeys. And in general terms, that beefing up one component can expose weaknesses down the line.
But if all that's being acheived is improved damping, that can only be a good thing? I'd be very grateful for opinions.
There is much work yet to do on the Fiat...I am looking at hopefully getting out next season in some VCC Hillclimbs and perhaps
the Pomeroy Trophy meeting....At present, I need to focus on completing the drivetrain, fabricating a diff carrier and choosing the diff with a 4:1 or a 3:9.1 ratio. Although sound, this chassis has stood for at least 15 years and needs vapour blasting and priming before much longer.
The engine refresh will be the easier task ..I expect to remove the engine and gearbox once the drivetrain is completed..So many things to do such as it's presently on 15''x 5.5 rims do I choose Dunlop L section Cross plies or an alternative is perhaps 17'' or 18'' 72 spoke wire rims which are more 'Period' fitted with 5.5''-6'' classic race tyres both tyres are cross-ply and have at least a 70-75 % sidewall aspect and they allow the car to slide progressively as I don't want too much grip and snap oversteer.
The chassis elements, including the steering and pedal location, brakes, and ride heights should be sorted by Christmas and perhaps I can be on the hill or circuit by Easter...It all starts here...
 

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The fully modified (triple Webber-straight -cut box) Healey 3000 won its class in the Top-Gear British Heritage (JDC) series back in the late 80s and led until mid-season when the engine went bang.
After a full engine rebuild I continued to race the car and on one occasion, finished backwards over the finish line on the last lap at Mallory Park with Stirling Moss watching.
In the late 90s, I just changed the diff from a 4:1 to a 3:5 .1(sat facing forwards) and drove down to Barcelona and then around the Riveria home to Italy. In 2009 I drove the car back to the Uk and sold it on...It was a good 'reliable' car, Sadly missed
 

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As an aside, can I ask if you're in favour of this tubular shocker conversion? Kits exist for the big Healeys - as do adjustable mounting plates for the front lever-arm damper to dial out the positive camber these cars were built with.
I've always been loath to tweak mine too much - she's fairly standard and I accept the rather 'period' driving experience that goes with that. There's a theory that modern wider radial tyres already add extra stress to the steering box on Healeys. And in general terms, that beefing up one component can expose weaknesses down the line.
But if all that's being acheived is improved damping, that can only be a good thing? I'd be very grateful for opinions.
All this talk of "Big Healeys" is making me salivate! Names like the famous John Gott spring to mind. I'm told the car was a real handful to drive quickly - in the same "camp" as a 427 Cobra - The sound of that straight six with the almost unsilenced pipes exiting under the N/S door on full song going sideways through the forest is not easily forgotten. In my teenage years I used to spend many happy hours in the Cardrona Forest, often soaked to the skin, watching these cars. I well remember the "wailing" sound of the 2stroke Saabs which you would hear long before they came into sight. They were quite a "tall" car with a not too wide track and I always expected to see one roll - but they never did. Don't think Gott was a rally man though was he? He was a circuit racer.

The front shocker conversion for the Minor seems to be still available, I found it on google quite easily. My involvement in that modified Minor was restricted to supercharging the engine. Although I know he fitted a front antiroll bar I don't think he went for the tubular shocks at that time. Maybe later though as I believe that car ended up with a small Fiat twin cam in it and that that engine was a far better solution than our supercharging efforts with the old A series. The kits I've seen use the top shocker with a special bracket mounted to the same bolt holes for the tubular shocker top mount and a hefty bracket which sandwiches the out end of the bottom arm for the lower mount. I've always thought the lower mount looked a bit inelegant and Heath Robinson, but seems to do the job. Back in the day I remember a complete top mount which entirely replaced the top shocker with a fabricated top arm and shocker top mount which might be a good idea given how the lever arm bush used to wear quickly. So, sorry, I don't have any great experience of this conversion but I like the idea of it and would probably give it a try if I was building something like this with substantially uprated power. Even more interesting stuff like this: https://www.jlhmorrisminors.co.uk/suspension-kits-front-/coil-over-kit.html comes up when you start looking. Probably a good thing I'm not "into" this sort of stuff anymore - I'm poor enough as it is!
 
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So many things to do such as it's presently on 15''x 5.5 rims do I choose Dunlop L section Cross plies or an alternative is perhaps 17'' or 18'' 72 spoke wire rims which are more 'Period' fitted with 5.5''-6'' classic race tyres both tyres are cross-ply and have at least a 70-75 % sidewall aspect and they allow the car to slide progressively as I don't want too much grip and snap oversteer.
Always so much to do with a project like this and I'm following your posts with great interest, thanks for including us in this. I'm especially interested in your tyre choice and your comments regarding the "driveability" of the cross ply tyre. I worked for Firestone Racing in the very late 60s/early 70s mostly with European touring cars (our two contracted "big named" teams were the Auto Delta Alfa and Filipinetti Fiat) This was right when Michelin were experimenting with radial construction racing covers and I remember some of the comment about how absolutely "lethal" the breakaway was with these early efforts. I would imagine the recent change in aspect ratio on F1 tyres has probably also made for some "interesting" differences in handling?
 
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John Gott was the Chief of Police in Northampton. And as you say a circuit Racer. especially in Big Healeys.
Although drivers like Chatham and Welch spent a lot of their time 'sideways' in lurid oversteer slides at places like Brands Hatch and Silverstone
the Healy was more prone to understeer and it had to be 'provoked' into oversteer with lift-off (or left foot dab on the brakes)
before turning in...As for the name 'Hairy-Healey' it had nothing to do with power, more like because it didn't handle too weel
and like the top racers or rally drivers one had to grab it by the scruff of the neck to get results..

The AC Cobra on the other hand had much, much more torque and oversteer could be provoked on the throttle
Do have a look at the AC Cobra in-car videos on the latest Goodwood Revival site...rather like Archie-Scott Brown, they are rarely straight
at any point during the races...The Healys driven in period by Pat Moss, Carlsson Gott and Chatham and Welch were indeed spectacular because of their driver's skills (bravery), rather than the mere in comparison to an A/C 200 + BHP they produced at the time from that old straight-six ex Taxi motor.
I used to lift-off and 'throw' my Big Healey into Paddock bend at Brands...it would initially oversteer with lots of left lock, then before the bottom of then we were back to boring old understeer once more...In retrospect,, a few days a rally school would have been a good idea

Enc image of me in the HSCC 100mile race at Snetterton back in the early 90s
 

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John Gott was the Chief of Police in Northampton. And as you say a circuit Racer. especially in Big Healeys.
Although drivers like Chatham and Welch spent a lot of their time 'sideways' in lurid oversteer slides at places like Brands Hatch and Silverstone
the Healy was more prone to understeer and it had to be 'provoked' into oversteer with lift-off (or left foot dab on the brakes)
before turning in...As for the name 'Hairy-Healey' it had nothing to do with power, more like because it didn't handle too weel
and like the top racers or rally drivers one had to grab it by the scruff of the neck to get results..

The AC Cobra on the other hand had much, much more torque and oversteer could be provoked on the throttle
Do have a look at the AC Cobra in-car videos on the latest Goodwood Revival site...rather like Archie-Scott Brown, they are rarely straight
at any point during the races...The Healys driven in period by Pat Moss, Carlsson Gott and Chatham and Welch were indeed spectacular because of their driver's skills (bravery), rather than the mere in comparison to an A/C 200 + BHP they produced at the time from that old straight-six ex Taxi motor.
I used to lift-off and 'throw' my Big Healey into Paddock bend at Brands...it would initially oversteer with lots of left lock, then before the bottom of then we were back to boring old understeer once more...In retrospect,, a few days a rally school would have been a good idea

Enc image of me in the HSCC 100mile race at Snetterton back in the early 90s
Great stuff. The picture is a beauty! Pat Moss Carlson was truly an awe inspiring driver but I think, if we're talking women drivers, the one that really makes me shiver is Michele Mouton in her SWB Audi Quatro back in the mid '80s. Some of the video of her assault on Pikes Peak and the noises accompanying are unforgettable! (Of course you can't mention Quatros without Walter Rohrl getting a mention too) Oh, and while we're talking noises, a Stratos going flat out really sends the shivers up my back! Better stop here or I'll start going on about the glorious noise of multi cylinder Wankel rotary racers (Johhny Herberts Le Mans 787 for starters) - If you can describe a Wankel as having cylinders?
 
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Great stuff. The picture is a beauty! Pat Moss Carlson was truly an awe inspiring driver but I think, if we're talking women drivers, the one that really makes me shiver is Michele Mouton in her SWB Audi Quatro back in the mid '80s. Some of the video of her assault on Pikes Peak and the noises accompanying are unforgettable! (Of course you can't mention Quatros without Walter Rohrl getting a mention too) Oh, and while we're talking noises, a Stratos going flat out really sends the shivers up my back! Better stop here or I'll start going on about the glorious noise of multi cylinder Wankel rotary racers (Johhny Herberts Le Mans 787 for starters) - If you can describe a Wankel as having cylinders?
Pat Moss was an accomplished Showjumper and horses were her life before she, and Cristobel Carlisle started scaring people in the Monte, etc.
She and Eric latterly ran a farm near Silverstone and I got to meet at a corporate day at Silverstone back in the 90s. I was a circuit driving advisor and the 'Big Bear' was throwing Saabs (full of happy passengers) around the circuit most of the day. Memories are made of such moments....
Mouton took the whole thing to another level with the Quattros, as did Rohl..
Some Images from the 2012 Silver Flag hill climb at Vernasca..mine was the only MG taking part over the weekend, but that's another story...
 

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rmjbn1

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The kits I've seen use the top shocker with a special bracket mounted to the same bolt holes for the tubular shocker top mount and a hefty bracket which sandwiches the out end of the bottom arm for the lower mount. I've always thought the lower mount looked a bit inelegant and Heath Robinson, but seems to do the job. Back in the day I remember a complete top mount which entirely replaced the top shocker with a fabricated top arm and shocker top mount which might be a good idea given how the lever arm bush used to wear quickly. So, sorry, I don't have any great experience of this conversion but I like the idea of it and would probably give it a try if I was building something like this with substantially uprated power.

I'm sure there is an argument for better damping from a good Coilover conversion kit set-up...but they are quite expensive and then, where do you stop? Perhaps then the rear springs and dampers would then need upgrading to be in sync with the front.
Start with Camber Plates and a 3/4 ' to 1'''diameter front ARB that should make it much more fun on the twisties...
Thank you for your replies chaps, much appreciated! Aye, the tubular shock conversion seems a bit much - I've no intention to try and make a Healey ride and handle like a modern.
I'm intrigued by your comments on worn lever arm bushes, Jock - did you shim/rebush them or replace the damper unit?
I've had all dampers off the car and changed the oil, but didn't really notice play in the dampers - they've been on there for at least 25 years (possibly since 1954...).
I'd almost talked myself into the camber plates before I got distracted by an engine rebuild (broken crankshaft on the way to Le Mans - the only time she hasn't got me home) and gearbox rebuild (broken 2nd gear - on a three speed box...), but you've helped convince me. Now just need to distract the postie long enough to swipe his ARB
 
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