How did we get here?

I have explained elsewhere that I have had a long-standing dream to build my own car. At our annual pilgrimage to the Coy’s Historic Motor Racing Festival at Siverstone you can wander in and out the garages housing gleaming machinery from Connaught, BRM, Lotus, Ferrari, Maserati, ERA, and Bentley. You see these cars in pieces, being lovingly worked on by their enthusiastic owners as they prepare them for racing.

Then the are the races themselves, not processional affairs to exhibit the fine and graceful lines of the cars, but real cut and thrust, in a spirit of great fun, to show what these cars can still do. If it was my Riley or Sunbeam, I would be scared stiff of bending it, not to mention the expense of repairing it. Still as one owner said, when interviewed, "If your worried about crashing it. Don’t put it on the track".

There are also stands selling classic car components (We usually lose Dave Stanley at this point as he wanders off, misty eyed, thinking about all the components he has thrown away, over the years, that people are paying real money for on the stalls). Keep wandering and eventually you will come to stands selling the more up market kit cars like replicas of the pre-war Jaguar SS100, based on the Jaguar XJS. Staring at a part-finished chassis, I mentioned to Andrew about my dream of building a kit car. "I fancy doing it too." he replied. Thus the project was borne.

Andrew’s immediate response was to start scouring the kit car magazines and manufacturers brochures. DAX, Robin Hood, Marlin, Caterham, which one? We eventually settled, on paper, for a Westfield, on the grounds of cost and I fancied a Lotus 7 clone. Another year another Coy's Festival prompted us to get a move on. We had announced we were going to do it and we were at risk of Dave Stanley saying, "Are you guy’s serious about building this car or what?" Our minds made up; we contacted the factory to arrange a test drive.

Andrew had been talking to the factory and ordered a build manual. They sent a manual for a 1600Q, which covered building using Ford Pinto and Vauxhall engines - Interesting but not exactly relevant. Contacting the factory again explaining we were probably going to use a Ford Zetec engine. No Problem! They sent and 1800Q Modular build manual. Better! This contained details of Zetec Engines But fuel injected. When ordering your Westfield you are faced with three choices. Factory Assembled, Modular Build and Traditional Build. Factory assembled is obvious, part with your money and Westfield builds it for you. Modular build really is a kit, you can buy it a module at a time and it comes with every part, nut, bolt and rivet. Traditional build is DIY.

Saturday arrived and Andrew and I set off early, for the factory. The plan was to stop for breakfast at the "Little Chef" outside Stourbridge. We were navigating with maps printed from MS AutoRoute, and "Granada's Guide" to "Little Chefs". Turning off the M5 heading for Stourbridge, we passed a "Little Chef" not marked in the guide, but pressed on. "The one we want is a few miles down the road!" said the navigator. Stourbridge town Center is fun at 8:30 a.m. If you follow the signs, round the gyratory, you will sail past the turning for Kingswinford and be forced to do another circuit and possibly another circuit, until you work it out. As we parked outside the factory, sans breakfast, we realize the guide is wrong, and Granada does not know where all their "Little Chefs" are!

The hospitality at the factory is well known. The coffee went some way to make up for missing breakfast. Next came the guided tour covering chassis fabrication, vehicle assembly and interior trimming. Saturday mornings are quiet as far as production is concerned. So, there is plenty of opportunity to examine the details of vehicles being built. However, we really came to drive one. Outside was parked a row of demonstration vehicles. Having explained that we were thinking of building a Zetec powered car; we were found a maroon coloured 1800 SEiW. Not my choice of colour but not bad once you were in it and off down the road. The road handling and performance were very good, everything you would have expected from something that claims a Lotus 7 amongst its forebears. I drove on the way out and Andrew on the way back. Light positive steering, firm but comfortable suspension, plenty of acceleration, but not fussy in traffic. The NOISE, ...wonderful.

Hardly a definitive report in the Jeremy Clarkson, Quentin Wilson, Top Gear mode, but go to the factory and try one for yourself and you will know what we mean.

Back at the factory, time to ask some technical questions of the duty technical guru. The manuals had raised a number of questions. I guess we must have talked for an hour or more, mostly trying to get a feel for sources of components, any difficulties of working with GRP (Fiberglass to you), any other pitfalls, and SVA. Looking backwards, they now seem pretty trivial.

Following the test-drive, we both remarked on brake pedal pressure. This prompted us to ask about power assisted brakes. "Not unless you want to stand it on it’s nose". Said the expert.

Breakfast had turned to Brunch and we headed off to find the missing "Little Chef" and discuss "Our Westfield Project". As we left there were people collecting kits and parts? One day that would be us.