Spartan Cars

When I was even more poor than I am now, it seemed like a good idea to build my own car.

After a bit of research I found the ideal candidate - the Spartan Car.

The Spartan was the idea of Jim McIntyre who produced the first Spartan Kit in 1973. This was based on the Triumph Herald or Vitesse and used the Herald chassis. Later Spartan produced their own chassis as the Triumph ones were starting to rot.

Go to the Spartan Cars web page here
(Link no longer exists - try the owners club instead)

Go to the Spartan Owners Club site here

I built mine originally with Triumph Herald suspension and brakes on the front, and a live Ford Cortina GT rear axle and brakes at the back.

Here's a picture taken in the Queens Jubilee celebrations outside my mums house (that's her beside my car)

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And here's one of my old dog Bo investigating the car whilst I was building it!

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As you can see, it was an aluminium-skinned steel framework machine - lots of work to build, lots of fun (especially to drive).

Version 1

It took me about a year to build, then I discovered the choice of brakes and suspension were dodgy to say the least!

Braking in the wet caused the back brakes to lock almost immediately - those huge Cortina GT brakes! The diddly little Triumph Herald front brakes were almost useless!

Version 2

Off with the front brakes and on went some nice big Triumph Vitesse units! If they're big enough to stop a straight six engined Vitesse, they're gonna be big enough for my Spartan - I reasoned! True enough - I could stop on a sixpence! (youngsters - ask your parents what that means!)

Version 3

During a visit to Jim McIntyres workshop one day, I discovered him working on a new version! This was to be based on a mark 3 Ford Cortina. This machine has much wider track than the mark 2 Cortina whos rear axle my Spartan used at this stage, and had a subframe-mounted independant front suspension.

I decided I'd have some of that, and promptly got to work with a big hacksaw!

Off came the bodywork, off came the front portion of the ladder chassis carrying the flimsy Triumph suspension, off came the rear portion of the chassis carrying the rear suspension mounts.

The front section of the chassis was modified to take the front subframe of a mark 3 Ford Cortina, and the rear was extended to take the 4 rear suspension arms from the same car.

At this point it was realised the car was going to be about a foot wider than the original - so the body framework was sliced in half and widened. This entailed fabricating a new windscreen surround and getting it re-glazed, and slicing the hood and glueing/sewing in a bit to make that wider too.

Whilst I was at it, in went the engine from the mark 3 Cortina - a 2-litre single overhead camshaft jobby with one or two interesting modifications.

  • Huge amount skimmed off the cylinder head to increase greatly the compression ratio
  • Half-race camshaft with greatly increased lift and dwell
  • 2 x twin-choke side-draft Dellorto 40 carburettors - poking through a hole in the side!

The standard engine turned out around 100bhp - I dread to think what my modified engine produced, but the car went like sugar off a shovel - whoosh!!!!

Economy was never it's strong-point though - driven hard (and it was most of the time!) it returned maybe 15mpg.

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