"In 1985 I was approached by John Manklow, regarding an opportunity to start up our own engine building concern. I was an engine builder at Engine Developments in Rugby, working on mainly Cosworth DFV's, Volkswagen F3 engines and Judd's own designs. John and I had worked together there, and he had just spent a stint at Cowley, building V64V's. He had become a little disillusioned with having to build engines during the week, and also attend weekend events as part of the service crew.
Cliff Humphries, the man in charge of the engine build team at Cowley, realised they would be under-manned, and offered us the chance to build engines for them at our own premises. We were not the only ones, Nelson Engines and others were ìsubcontractingî engine work. Cliff was absolutely instrumental in getting us started, and we began trading as GoodMan Racing Engines, initially from my garage at home!
We would rebuild the engines and take them down to Cowley, to run on one of the two dyno's. Cliff was incredibly open to new ideas, particularly regarding reliability, which was not one of the engines strong points. A highlight has to be having ìourî engine chosen for Tony Pond on The '85 RAC rally, his 3rd place proving to be quite significant, with hindsight! At the time, we placed a cheeky ad in the Motoring News, congratulating Tony on his achievement with ìourî engine. Needless to say, it didn't go down too well with the top brass!
1986 flew by, with a move to our own premises, lots of rebuilds for Cowley, but sadly it became clear that Group B was not going to be allowed to carry on. Our focus shifted to preparing engines for privateers, rallycross 3.0 litres for Michael Shield and Mike Turpin, eventually stretching the capacity to first 3.6, then 3.8 litres. We maintained a close relationship with Cliff, as we were able to keep using the dyno's at Cowley while he was there. (We even bought one of them when they were decommissioned).
At times it seemed like the RACMSA was on our side, reducing the 6R4's engine capacity to 2.8 litres with the single plenum intake. All those engines would need modifying! Then it was realized that a 2.5 would comply with the blue book, and could run unrestricted! This triggered a period of very fruitful development, we were able to try all sorts of inlet/exhaust combinations, and also designed a slide throttle system, with overhead injectors, which mirrored the trend in F1 at the time. The 2.5 became a real ìcrackerî, revving to 10,750 rpm (Not 15,000 as I have read elsewhere on the internet!) and producing as much horsepower as the original works 3.0 litres. It was a privilege to provide engines for the likes of Peter Lloyd, John Price and many others, and I enjoyed the chance to co-drive for Keith Bird at a few events.
It all seems like history now. Unfortunately, while you are living through it, you don't feel the need to keep many records and photographs, so I guess it's important to get things written down while the memory of them is still clear.
Our involvement with the 6R4 goes on, John at Goodman Racing Engines, and myself at Dyfi Precision"
"At the end of 1980 after winning the F1 Championship I decided to stop travelling with the Williams Race Team due to family commitments, previous to Williams (1978-2002) I was employed with other F1 and sports car teams so I thought that was enough, Patrick and Frank tried to encourage me to stay on as Chief Mechanic which I had done from 1978 but my mind was made up, at that time Patrick had been talking to John Davenport about the Metro and asked me to set up a Prototype Dept. to evaluate making the Metro Rally car.
At that time Williams rented two factory units (Manufacturing and Race Prep) on the Industrial estate in Didcot and later another one for Bodywork and storage, a section of this was allocated for the Prototype Dept. and high walling erected to provide a secure area to operate, at this time the project was not officially sanctioned by BL so all very clandestine!
I remember going up to Sheffield during the Winter to a storage facility that sold machine tools as I was looking for a surface plate to build the car on, what a cold place that was a huge building with equipment everywhere presumably from closed down industry with braziers burning in the building so the staff could warm up now and then!
After looking at dozens of plates I found one that was suitable which weighed 8 tons, cannot remember how much it cost but the transport and crane to offload it at Didcot cost more.
On the way back the diff in the Marina van a freebie provided by BL to Frank started to fail and I just managed to get back to Didcot, boy did I have the mother of headaches with the noise!
So that was installed and other equipment purchased, a spot welder a big item just like they used on the production line were the Metro was made, I made a gantry with a balancer to support the head so it could be manipulated easily?
By then John Piper and Brian OíRourke joined the project, Brian had just returned from USA after working at a hi tec aircraft company and to see what he had to work with took him back a bit! They were ensconced in a Portacabin at the back of the unit.
Supports were made to lift the body above the plate so making it easy to gain access under the vehicle, at this point it had been decided that the engine would at the back and 4 wheel drive.
Brian did some prelim structures drawings/sketch and then it was necessary to go out and purchase a suitable mandrel tube bender to produce the roll cage space frame structure Brian had drawn, we found one or Roger Tippler in the Fab Shop found it and organised the tooling suitable to bend the T45 tubing, myself and Derrick Jones manufactured the space as a standalone item with sheet steel bulkheads and floor panels, we made up press tools to add strength to the flat panels and were inaccurate with the panel positions when in the press as it did not have enough throat, something that BL copied when they made the 200 homologation vehicles!"
"These were the very early days of the car, of course, when it was in plain red and, if you don't mind my putting it this way, still looked like a Metro. There are plenty of stories behind how it was back then. I spent a very great deal of time at one point ensuring that the size of tyre nominated 600 mm maximum diameter would fit under the standard bonnet line. I was really pleased with the result. Similarly, the tops of the suspension towers were at the same height as the top of the seat bulkhead to give a flat rear deck. ARG Motorsport (at Williams we thought ARG! was appropriate at times) were quite forthright in terms of saying that any prospective type supplier would make what they asked them to and that was the size that they would insist on. Of course, by the time the 200 were ready (2 Ω years later) Michelin were already making tyres for Lancia and others and their attitude was 'You will have 660 diameter and like it', so those had to be made to fit. The only way to achieve that on the part of Rover was to bodge what they already had; no time to change (and we were years out of the project by then) so they just lifted the suspension tower tops the required amount. You can see this quite distinctly in the back where they just grafted a square tube-frame on top of the existing one; which then were built onto the 200 like that. The bonnet, of course, acquired horrible bulges to accommodate the extra height. Oh, well, we tried.
We ran the prototype at Cadwell Park which we used for some serious tarmac trials with Tony Pond. That was where we first ran the rear wing. There is a saga to that as well - which might take me a good while to put into words ñ so I wonít, yet. We encountered a fairly entrenched belief amongst the rallying community in those days that downforce was irrelevant, especially on loose surfaces. Coming from F1, as we were, that was regarded with scorn and so we set about trying to prove a point. ARG had a day booked at the MIRA full-size wind tunnel for their aerodynamics department (I think, all 2 of them) to have a look at the car with a view to doing simple drag reductions. We worked through all of that (mostly involved cutting the front off the gutter rails) and then put our rear wing on whilst the MIRA technicians went off for tea (which they seemed to do quite often). I remember the bemusement when they came back ñ words to the effect of ëSomething wrong here ñ the rear force has gone negative!í They had, clearly, never experienced anything other than lift before. Of course, that particular wing was ridiculous (it was a rear delta from an FW07 F1 car) and could never be balanced at the front, but it did make a point. When the time came to go to Cadwell we thought it would be worth digging the wing out again but, to be sensible, fitted an F1 flap as the wing instead. Since it was about 1/3 the chord length of the original that required us to cut down the make-shift end-plate that we had made for MIRA. It was a case of 2 lines on paper: cut it there and, then, there. What resulted was a funny thing with a sort of double angle in side view but did the job. Imagine my amusement when that shape became a fixed feature on the final car, I could hardly believe it.
I certainly have a print of the car running at Chalgrove for the very first time. I quite like that one as you can see everyone involved in building it ñ and no-one else (I think both John Davenport and Patrick Head were in meetings elsewhere). A cold morning in very good light but a bit slushy, as I remember it. Actually, no-one will acknowledge it, I suspect, but it did run once unofficially before then (other than the 20-m car-park check in the dark when everything was first connected up). We had built the chassis at our place in Didcot (the original - one-before-last ñ factory, now a shopping centre) but the car-build took place at Cowley. For some reason ñ I think it was the unavailability of scales for corner-weighting checks there ñ we brought the car down to Didcot to get the rest of the data, a Saturday morning. When it was done, Patrick couldnít resist it and insisted on driving it up and down the public road! John Davenport was never told about that and, I suspect, would have had apoplexy had he been. I have a photo of that somewhere and remember that, due to a shortage of MG-badged radiator grills at the time, it was fitted with the standard metro one. That had the green/blue stripes on it so that shot must be pretty unique."