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     I gave a great deal of consideration to the chassis before I made a start. Its a large part of the project and very time consuming, so not a thing you would want to jump in to without due thought.

   A number of aero engine cars have been built over the years, some a lot better than others. In the early days after WW1 people such as Count Zborowski, the creator of the original  Chitty Bang Bang ,were using  large pre-war chassis, and fitting all manor of WW1 aero engines in them to  race at the early race tracks such as Brooklands. Records show that all too often the chassis was the weak point.

     Jump forward fifteen years and John Cobb had commissioned  the Napier Railton  that  was probably the best aero engine race and record attempt car ever built using a Napier Lion aero engine  in a hugely strong bespoke chassis.
   I was still not sure what type of vehicle I was going to end up with, but it was obvious that it would have enough torque to haul a heavy and well built chassis. So  I started to plan how I would design and build one from scratch. Then, as is often the way, I was bouncing some ideas off a friend when he said he thought he knew where there was a chassis that may be a good starting point.
   Within 24 hours I had purchased a  1973 Ford A Series light truck, as it turned out it was an inspired choice that would become the basis for The Totham Flyer.

It was restorable before we started to hack it to bits. It was restorable before we started to hack it to bits.

The cab was one big rat nest .The cab was one big rat nest .

Not much to look at like this but the truck was to prove to be an excellent donor vehicle for the Totham Flyer

     The following week my mate Graham and I had striped the truck to a bare rolling chassis so that it could be moved to the workshop round the back of the house, and ready for work to begin on converting it to be able to take 650 HP instead of the 62 HP it was built for.  

We pulled the buck of the chassis then all the unwanted panels ,engine ,tipping gear, rat eaten seats  and a half full fuel tank were put in it for the local scrap man to remove.

   It turned out that the 40.000 miles on the clock must have been correct because although the engine was seized solid and the rats had had a field day in the cab, all mechanical parts were in very good condition. In fact, in the first week after striping it, I had two people wanting to buy it to restore, both of which thought I was mad to pull it to bits and throw most of it away even more so when I told them  I had the V5c document for it.

   

Rear end of rolling chassisRear end of rolling chassis

Front end of rolling chassisFront end of rolling chassis

   The next  step was to carry on striping the chassis of all its bolted and rivet on bits and pieces, as all I wanted at this point was the two side rails and the two shaped cross members .  I was not even sure if I was going to be able to use all or part of the axles and brakes ,

     It was at this time I stood back and wondered what the hell I was doing, there was virtualy nothing left of the truck.

It all looked a bit sad at this point and I was unsure where to go from here.It all looked a bit sad at this point and I was unsure where to go from here.

      About this time I called a temporary  holt to  the chassis work as I needed to make some design decisions as to gearbox and other transmission parts ,before I started any fabrication work to make sure that I had space to fit everything in.

    I decided that I would like to use an automatic transmission to hopefully do away with the problem that a lot of high power special builders have, in that they cant stop the clutch slipping or just plain burning out, also  I worked out that I was probably going to need to step up the crankshaft r.p.m. maybe with a second gearbox because, the Meteor has a rev limiter built into the magnetos of 2500 rpm and all though I am not a speed freak , I was hoping to get along at a fair speed and at only approximately one third the revs of a normal car engine that was not going to be enough rpm, but torque was not going to be a problem.  

   All this time I had been thinking about the looks and use of the finished vehicle. I had decided that I did not want a car that would be road legal because that would limit what I would be able to build and anyway I had been showing ground running Aero Engines for a number of years around the shows and was happy to stay within that circle ,so a track and show car it would be, also it had to be a two seater and if at all possible finished in bare aluminum. I had also found what I wanted for the basic look of the vehicle in a book by the late Bill Boddy  Brooklands Giants Brave Men and There Great Cars.

   

     In this book I found all the inspiration I needed to decide on the look I wanted for the Flyer among its many period photos was one of the a racing  Sunbeam from the early post war years. It was campaigned in one form or another up until the second world war. By 1958 it was in the hands of the Montagu  Motor  Museum  and restored to running order. Today it has a place of honor in the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu.

    After I had made a few measurement decisions I was back on the chassis work ,first I needed to make  plywood templates for the front dumb irons and the rear axle lift .By removing 2 ft of the rear end of the side rails and using it to extend the front end  I ended up with the OA measurements that I wanted and the rear axle lift in the correct place.

   The bowed cross members that I removed from the chassis were to be re-used , but had to be re-worked to the correct width to accommodate the engine mountings. Both the axles were put to one side because I was not sure at this time if I was going to re use them , but now a body style had been decided on I would have a better look at them.

  I was now at the point where I could plow on with the Chassis. First the side rails including welding up the 250 plus drilled holes left over from its first life ,next came cross members ,then front dumb irons engine mounts and many other fabrications and drilled holes etc.

The gallery below covers about the next nine months or so and as such may appear out of sequence , but its the best way of conveying the many hours spent on this part of the project.



Chassis springs and engine first fit Gallery

      The next task was to be the axles and wheels as the chassis was far to heavy to move about in the shed .