Track car project - including diary of a track n00b

've been keeping a diary of the work and progress I have been doing on the track car. I planned to bring it online once he had passed his MOT, but we have decided to do the work he needs to pass the MOT anyway so we are still on with the project!!!

12 Jan 2008

Before I go into what we did today, I think a bit of background information is in order.

The first time I saw Humphrey was in a train station car park. He had been in the same space for a number of days and it was obvious he hadn’t moved. Being the East Anglia Area Organiser for the MR2 Mk1 Club, I stuck a note on the windscreen with details of our meets, with the idea that if the note hadn’t moved in a week, he had been abandoned and was fair game.

I got a PM on one of the MR2 forums a few days later from his owner, saying Humphrey was very much not abandoned but the owner didn’t have anywhere for him to go at the moment. Unfortunately having 3 MK1s on the drive at that time, we couldn’t offer the space either. Eventually Humphrey was moved and I got another PM a few weeks later saying he was for sale and could I let anyone know who might be interested. He had a few bits wrong with him so we weren’t interested, and at the time I knew no one else looking either. Another few weeks passed and I got another PM saying did I know anyone that would take Humphrey as he was now getting in the way and the owner wanted to just give him away!! Well, we thought we may as well take him then, with the plan of getting him up to MOT standard and selling him for a few hundred. We did make this clear to the owner too, who just wanted to get rid of him. He is named Humphrey because we got him just as John Inman died, and decided as a tribute to name him after Inman’s character in ‘Are You Being Served’ – Mr Humphries, because he was free. ‘I’m free’.

So than we had four. Humphrey, My Sakura, Phil’s imaginatively named ‘Mister Two’ and Phils old car ‘The Red One’.

Plans for Humphrey were put on hold for a bit due to a house move, and then the plan to strip ‘The Red One’ so we had room in the garage. Unfortunately we then found some terminal rust in Mister Two, meaning Phil had to get a new car too. Hence the eventual purchase of ‘Phil’s Car,’ ‘Mister-Two-I-Mean-Phil’s-Car’, ‘The New One’, and various other names as Phil won’t name his cars. The cruel sod 

Realising that out single garage and two car drive was getting a little overcrowded with five cars, we quickly stripped The Red One, and got the shell taken away. Moved Humphrey into the garage and started stripping Mister Two as he had some good bits on him that people were hankering after.

Phil asked me one day ‘How much spare money do you think you will have next year?’ I started to get worried thinking his biological clock was ticking, but far from it!! There is a Toyota Sprint Series that he was thinking of entering, and what better car to use as a track toy than Humphrey?

So that brings us to today when we finally decided to pull out fingers out as Humphrey needs an MOT. The main thing was to get him out of the garage and get Mister Two in it. We are more likely to work on Humphrey if we can see him.

Cue much shoving about of cars. Sakura driven over the road, Phils Car sat on the front garden. Mister Two starts with minimal persuasion, after having his tyres pumped up. Humphrey gets pushed.

An important bit on Humphrey is the brakes! We have decided to use Mister Two’s brakes and also the good Koni suspension that he had. Every flipping bolt on Mister Two is either rusted on, rounded off or generally inaccessible. It doesn’t help that we only have one of each socket and one of Phil’s extensions has gone missing, so I do a lot of standing about listening to Phil swear, rather than actually helping. Anyway, finally all four callipers and discs are off Mister two – this will also stop them seizing back on and make him easier to manoeuvre. Phil then starts looking at the suspension and realises that the Mk1b suspension (Mister Two) is mounted differently to the Mk1a (Humphrey). So, we will be running Humphrey on standard suspension, or forking out for a new set.

It’s starting to get cold, so we begin packing away. Mister Two gets pushed into the garage. There’s more room in there now as he hasn’t got a front or back bumper so is much shorter. Humphrey gets pushed into place on the drive, and we decide to leave him uncovered. Phil’s Car and Sakura get driven in as normal.

It doesn’t sound like we have done much today but with the amount of shoving cars about, cracking off seized brakes, and undoing rusty nuts (heh), it takes time. At least we have made a start.

Some non car things I need to do are:

Get track experience.
Get a race suit, not compulsory but it’s nice to look the part.
Get a helmet, compulsory but I can use Phil’s as our heads are the same size!

Humphrey - up in the air as usual…

He’s going to need cleaning a bit, been parked under a tree!!!

13th January 2008

Didn’t help today, was feeling a bit ill but did hear Humphrey’s engine. At least that works!!!

19 January 2008

Cold and rainy today but things need doing!

Went to Parcel Force first of all to pick up some tools Phil had ordered in the week. He had ordered some more sockets so that we could both work on different sides of the car. They are all different colours too, very funky.

Also nipped into SCA Race and Rally just to see what they had. I found a cool sparkly steering wheel and some pink harnesses, but Phil wasn’t impressed. Also found that my fat arse does just fit in a bucket seat fortunately. On another note, I ordered my race suit and helmet this week too.

Anyhoo, back at home and the brakes that we took off Mister Two last week now need to go on Humphrey. What a great help I was. I got the seized up side, which meant Phil had to stop doing his side every time I needed a nut cracking off. I managed to undo 5 nuts today once they were started, and I did one clip all on my own. That’s about it. Then I was just fetching things for Phil as and when he needed them. Bled the brakes but they are still a bit spongy, then dried the tools off and put them away.

Phil has booked the MOT for next Friday!!! Not sure we’re gonna be ready. This is D Day as well, because if he fails with something terminal it’s no sprint for us.

20th January 2008

Had a bit of a lazy/ill morning but finally got up and took some ibuprofen and went out to help Phil with my W-heat sac sound my neck!!

When I got out, he was doing the front brakes, so we now have new (newer) discs and pads all round. Took him out for a run and discovered a slight pull when braking, and a spongy clutch. About a mile from home we realised we hadn’t torqued up the wheels though so hastily, yet carefully drove back home.

We decided to bleed the brakes to see if this helped the pulling problem. LOADS of nasty crap came out of the front drivers side, although the brake pedal felt no better afterwards. All the time we were doing this, it was peeing it down, so we abandoned the clutch bleeding, and packed up. This time we torqued up the wheels, and took him out for a run again. We think the pull is little better now, but still a bit unsure as to whether it’s going to make a difference for the MOT. We have also found that he does pop out of fifth – we were told this when we got him but wondered if it was an exaggeration. It’s not. We definitely can’t do a gearbox change, so we are just going to have to put up with this. It’s not like we are going to need 5th whilst sprinting, but we are going to be driving to events and this might prove annoying. Phil didn’t realise what had happened when it popped out as he hadn’t realised he had gone into 5th – just totally did it out of habit. This is what it’s going to be like when we are driving, we might have to try and stick a note somewhere going ‘DON’T GO INTO 5TH!!!’

All packed up now and we are confident that we have done all we can to pass the MOT. Scary time.

Oh, I still haven’t driven Humphrey yet!

I’m also getting muscles from all that lifting of wheels and undoing of tight bolts!

Phils shiny sprockets:

Shiny brakes…


Today I got my helmet and overalls!!! How exciting! And I don’t look that much of a fool in them either.

I ache like anything, and I’m sure its due to the work I’m doing on the car!! Ah well can only be good for me I guess.


MOT day, and I was so excited I got Phil to ring me with the result. Unfortunately, he failed, but it’s all cost effective and fixable. The brakes passed (just). He needs a new droplink, which Phil can make. The number plate fixing is broken! Needs a new windscreen (we wondered about this, as we weren’t sure how much space is measured in the MOT), and unfortunately needs some welding to the B pillars and back arches.

The MOT guy gave us the details of a local bodywork guy though, who seems pretty decent so we are booked in for that in a fortnight. If he’s any good, he’ll be getting a lot of business from us too as Sakura is going to need some welding for her MOT in March.

So, we finally have a cost to apply to the car - £45.00 for a MOT! I’m sure the costs are going to go up in the next few weeks though!

My costs so far are £69 for the helmet and £66 for the suit, although I could have spent more on the suit and got a motorsport approved one. Phil already has all the clothing so he’s just spending money on the car!

Rusty B Pillar:

Phil pondering over number plate mounting options:

Hey you two looks good hope you have fun with it. If ya need tools and things then there are several folks on the boards who could help, just shout :slight_smile: Keep us updated and best of luck with it.


Too ill to help on the car today. I’ll explain now that I have very bad back problems, (caused by a car accident!), and sometimes can’t move very much.

There wasn’t much I needed to do anyway, although it could have been a good day for cleaning. Phil changed the droplink over, apparently the original droplink was difficult to remove. I swear none of these bolts have ever been undone before! He found a droplink in the garage to replace it with, deciding his own made ones might not be suitable. How handy having a pile of spares!!!

He has decided to just stick the numberplate on to the front bumper with sticky tabs! It’s a bit of a risk drilling into the front bumper as the metal bumper bars are notorious for rotting away, and we don’t particularly want to be drilling into nothing.

Windscreen people are coming on Monday so that’s another task out of the way. Welding is booked.

We’re away next weekend so no updates for a week and a bit unless the windscreen people do something horrible!!!

Thanks Martin :slight_smile:

Anyone know how to weld?? I wish i’d have done the courses when I’d had the chance.

gaffa tape all the way round the number plate :wink:


Got plenty to do First event is 16th March. Before then I need to: (This list is as much for my benefit as anyone elses!)

Get windscreen fitted - Currently booked for tomorrow but I need to phone them first thing and maybe change this to later in the week
Get welding Done - booked for 8th Feb
Take it back for MOT retest - Ideally need to get it in same day as the welding is done as my free retest is only valid up until that day, otherwise it’ll cost me again

Once the MOT is done I can start preparing it properly (This is things I’d like to do, it’s likely that not all will be done before the first event, some might not happen at all):

Replace cracked exhaust manifold (ideally this will be done at the same time as exhaust (see below)
Get a decent exhaust on there - This will involve some serious juggling of the exhausts we have on various cars atm. Essentially I’ll need to remove 4 exhausts and fit 3 to get everything how we want it and unfortunately the track car is at the end of the line.
Have another look at brakes - They passed MOT OK but they’re a bit soft for my liking, probably still some air in there somewhere as I suck at bleeding brakes, also got some braided hoses to fit if I’m feeling brave
Simple stuff to meet regs (Yellow tape on battery earth, timing strut, mark tow points etc)
Remove as much weight as possible including interior strip.
Fit better suspension - Either mk1a KYBs or swap rear hubs over which should allow my mk1b Konis to fit
Fit poly bushes - Got them already just need to find the time to get everything apart and fit them
Ideally both of the above suspension jobs will be combined then followed by a proper alignment.
Gearbox swap - Not having 5th gear really shouldn’t be an issue for the sprints but if we want to use this car on trackdays as well then the gearbox has to be swapped out. Unfortunately my road car also needs a new 'box and as far as I’m concerned it’s a higher priority.
Fit smaller steering wheel - Will entail getting a nice leather one for my road car as the suede one that should be in the track car is fitted to that at the moment
Fit a race seat and harness - Currently classed as a nice to have but will probably be quite a way down the list as these are things I’ll need to buy. Most other things can be done free using parts I already have
Wheels/Tyres - Again not a high priority as I’ve got plenty of standard wheels and part worn tyres to use up but ideally I’d like to have some nice light wheels and decent soft tyres when funds allow.
Bodywork - Proper low priority. It’s really tatty atm. At a minimum it needs a good clean plus probably a once over with a PC to bring the red back from faded pink, ideally want to rub down the scabby bits and paint the whole car matt black then stencil on the various original stickers in yellow.

This is certainly an interesting project guys, but it looks like you’ve got your work cut out. Last time I saw work like this was on Campervan Crisis. The rust is a nightmare, but totally fixable as long as the cost isn’t too high. You definitely need to know someone who welds that won’t charge you the earth and they’re few and far between.

Fortunately there isn’t that much welding to be done in order to pass the MOT, and as the rest is cosmetic, it probably wont be done :smiley:

Just a quick note to say the screen was put in this morning. They managed to get the screen in before it started to hail, which is always a good thing!!! Looks good!

Looking good TK :thumbsup:

9th Feb 08

Wow, we have had a productive day. Phil has devised a schedule so we know what we should be doing each weekend. Today was exhausts. We have to remove 4 exhausts, one from each car, and fit three, one to each working car. This palaver is because Phil wants his Mongoose which was on Mister Two (the breaker) on his car. I’m a bit fed up with my rattly Janspeed as it’s rather loud, so I’m having the one off the red one, which looks like a custom job. Humphrey is having the Janspeed as it’s a good racing car noisy exhaust. He currently has a standard one. His new exhaust will be fitted when we do the gearbox change…

Earlier in the week, Phil removed the Mongoose from Mister Two, so today he set about removing the custom one and once this was off I polished the tailpipes with Autosol, whilst he fitted the Mongoose to his car. Just as I was Autosol-ing the mongoose, the bodywork guy called to say that Humphrey was ready, yay!

We zoomed down to the bodyshop in Sakura and admired his handywork. It had taken him longer than expected and cost Phil about £262. However we now had a car that would pass the re test. We booked Humphrey in for a retest and had an hour to kill. We had noticed that one of Humphrey’s indicator bulbs had blown and upon investigating discovered that the indicator/ sidelight assembly was sat in a pile of rust and not much else! Phil made a little bodge, in case the indicators were tested again. We weren’t sure what a re test would cover and didn’t want a failure on something as small as a blown bulb, and we especially didn’t want the MOT guy to see that nice pile of rust!!!

Here’s what the bodywork guy did, not that it’s particularly descriptive!

Anyway, he literally just had a look at the work done to pass the re test, so it was all panic for nothing. We now have a MOT’d Humphrey!!! I drove him back from the test centre too, so at least I can say I have driven him now!

As it was such a nice afternoon, I decided to attack him with soap and water whilst Phil removed the Janspeed and fitted the custom exhaust to Sakura. I got thoroughly soaked as I tried to power wash him with the hosepipe, and then rather frustrated as I realised how dirty he actually was. I swear I have never seen a car so dirty! There were cobwebs in the headlights!

It took a lot of elbow grease but he now looks passable.

We have a Porter Cable polishing machine thingy which we will use to try and improve the paintwork a bit, as it’s horrendous but I thought I’d have a go with the T Cut to see what a difference I would make. You can certainly see a difference now but it took a heck of a lot of polishing and my arms ache!

Well that’s it for this weekend as it’s Phil’s birthday celebration at his mums tomorrow. We both feel a real sense of achievement at the moment though and are currently on schedule!

wow well done :slight_smile:
hope everything goes well

That’s really looking a lot better now TK! Excellent job on the paintwork :thumbsup:

Looks good.
Any idea when its going on its first race day yet ?

Yep, first Sprint is March 16th at Waterbeach near Cambs. I’ll have had no time to get track experience before this but hope to get a trackday in between this and the next one!

well my the last piccy it is sparkly well done, all hope all your hard work pays off