February – April 2018 Cover Story

The GT40 at delivery

It’s fitting that, on the fortieth anniversary of the Bayside Vehicle Restorers Club, our cover car should be a GT40.

This fine example started as a kit from DRB Sportscars on the Gold Coast. Its owner Gavin Baxter purchased it in 1999 and, with help from his father Basil, brother Matthew and brother‑in‑law Ray Nichols, had the car assembled and on the road in 2001. Gavin estimated that work on the car personally averaged 20 hours per week over those two years, not including painting and upholstery. Basil and Ray spent around one day per week over six months wiring the car.

The GT40 at delivery

The car was delivered as a chassis and body, with many ancillary components and an assembly manual. The chassis was fabricated from rectangular section mild steel tube with zinc plated sheet steel floors and bulkheads, and included mounting points for engine, suspension, steering, seat belts etc. The glass reinforced plastic body, fixed to the chassis, included the cabin section, doors and front and rear body sections.

Other components including dashboard, fuel tank covers (sills), windows, front and rear windscreens, headlight covers, wheel arch mouldings, heater and air conditioning ducting, trim panels etc were also supplied with the kit. The body shape is identical to the MK1 Ford GT40, with components like doors being interchangeable.

The assembly manual included recommendations on major components. Gavin’s GT40 is fitted with a 302 Windsor engine. Exhaust headers were supplied with the car, but as with most components required further fitting, welding and assembly. Drive is through a Porsche 911 turbo 5‑speed gearbox (mounted upside down) and Commodore drive shafts. All this delivers 217HP at the rear wheels, pretty useful in a car weighing 1150kg, with 25 miles per gallon on the highway.

The rear suspension uses Corvette hubs and custom cast upright assemblies fitted to the custom upper link and reverse A‑arm lower links, trailing arms and anti‑roll bar supplied with the car. The rose joints are unlubricated, so require regular replacement. The front end is a Corvette anti‑dive unit: Ray commented that there’s not much room to dive anyway!

Both front and rear suspensions use AVO coil over shocks, and brakes are non‑boosted Corvette. The wheels are Simmons, from the days when they were made in South Australia.

The steering column is from a Mazda 323/Ford Laser, and the rack from a Torana. Gavin has left the front torsion bar disconnected as he hasn’t got around to refitting the rose joints in the links when they wore out. It doesn’t make much difference to handling anyway. The radiator had to be specially fabricated.

The windscreen wiper assembly uses components from Mitsubishi Sigma, Commodore and Mazda 323: fitting the windscreen wiper motor was more difficult than fitting the engine! Gavin custom‑made the aluminium seat frames and fitted a Tilton alloy clutch and brake pedal set, and the cockpit also features the handbrake from a HQ Holden. The car is air-conditioned, with the cooling pipes passing down the centre tunnel. Building the car was not like simply putting together a giant Meccano set: much time was spent modifying, designing and making many brackets and hand‑fitting components. Most kit components required trimming and fitting. Many required drilling and tapping to fit to the chassis, and the body required some fibre‑glassing: cut‑outs for the Cobra fuel filler caps and the Ford door handles had to be custom‑cut and glassed to the body. The side and rear windows required precise hand‑fitting, and Gavin’s exacting requirements necessitated laser‑cutting the ventilation apertures and hand‑making the hinges and latches.

But the end result of all this work is superb. Though it was completed in 2001 and is used regularly, the car looks in showroom condition, sounds like a decent V8 should, and has an exciting firm ride. However, it takes practice to get in and out gracefully! And perhaps best of all, Gavin built it himself with help from family members. It’s a beautiful car and a credit to its owner.

Source : “The Bayside Vehicle Restorers Club Inc. Magazine”