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Old Spaniel!


Colin Wilson

Some what like my long gone Springer spaniel I have returned from my wanderings looking rather shame faced, muddy and slightly contented. I thought it was time to put finger to keyboard and let you see things in my strange world.

I took up racing Citroen 2CV's 4 years ago. Bought a 2CV that had had a class win at the legendary 24 Hour at Spa. To the horror of wife and daughter, took it and them to Cadwell park on a track day, did 34 laps (getting quicker and quicker) then, ambition overcoming skill, tossed it away at the gooseneck in a spectacular triple roll, destroying the car! Family a bit shocked, but on recovery daughter noted the boot lid was not dented. However, the rest was a write off - disaster, I was hooked, bloody hell this is fun with a serious F.

You might ask 'what has this to do with Pembletons?' Well, I have built a couple of Pembletons. The first, a Brooklands 4 wheeler used by Mrs W as a method of putting our then small child to sleep; a short ride and off she went, snoozing happily.

Then my mind wandered to a rear engine three wheeler using a Honda pan European engine, a much different kettle of fish to the Brooklands. Loads of power and none of the safety of the front wheel drive, lift a wheel and it snaps back to earth when the diff lets go.

I decided, after a couple of hill climb events, that it was loads of fun but not a car for Mrs W, as was the original plan. So I sold it. It was written off in France hurting the driver but had it not had rollover bars rooted to the chassis the outcome could have been a lot worse. Talking to the still-enthusiastic intrepid driver, he mentioned someone in t’ North was building a three wheeler using an Audi gearbox. This started bells ringing in my racing head. I have competed 2 x 24 hour events at Spa in Belgium. One in a 602, lots of fun but you are constantly swamped by faster Belgian hybrids. The second attempt at Spa was with my own car, using the British BMW Hybrid formula. A more powerful car but inclined to tear the 2CV gearbox to pieces. Between four cars, we damaged 5 gearboxes at the last Spa 24 hour !

I contacted Howard Smith, who is developing the Audi gearbox for his road car. He helped with knowledge as his three wheelers ooze quality. So, I came away encouraged and with an adaptor plate for a BMW to Audi gearbox. Howard and myself are on different routes to the same end - a gearbox that gives good ratios and is seriously strong.

To keep within the spec for a 2CV hybrid you need inboard brakes. This allows use of the 2CV suspension arms and drive shafts. (racers use "Belgian arms" - reinforced kingpins for cornering loads and inevitable collisions).

Howard has opted to use out board brakes on his self -build chassis. I decided to develop inboard brakes so I set about making the disc and calliper mountings. Also adapting the race car to take the box brakes and gear change mechanism. After a few setbacks and remakes I have arrived at a working acceptable set up without stepping too far outside the 2CV original package. Obviously the proof of the pudding is in the eating at this years 24 Hour at Spa. The British Classic Citroen 2CV racing club can't see their way into allowing the small number of British Hybrids race in a separate class at their race meetings so they are for 602's only so I share a ride in one of those at the famous UK 24 hour this year at Snetterton.

We recently had a Class win at the Magny Cour 6 hour race - a great event. In a very French way, the race started a 4 pm and went on until 10 pm so finished in the dark - absolute magic. For that race we used a 2CV gearbox as the Audi box wasn't ready - a bit restrictive as on a grand prix course you are stuck with 3rd & 4th gear and at the end a gearbox that has given it's all.

For 2CV gearboxes Rick Pembro is the man, a good mate and ever helpful.

Regards to Pembleton Friends

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