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Marcs Conversion - Pictures/MOT/Spec

Pictures of the CarUPDATED!June 2001

car_outside.jpg On the driveway next to the trusty Pug.

At this stage the cycle wings had not been finished and the car was still dirty.




All painted up and given a quick clean!

New sticky number plate to go with the finished bonnet.

Some polishing of the bodywork will be required to try to match the gelcoat finish rear-tub and the painted cycle wings and bonnet.

For an 11 year old car that has had at least 4 different engine/carb combos it doesn't look too bad.


The MOT UPDATED! 9-6-01

The first proper journey in the car.  My good mate Cam (  followed me down to the MOT place the other side of town (City of Ely motors in Ely for anyone local).  The initial journey was characterised by plenty of stalls, excess revs at other times and lots of transmission clunks!!  The clutch has no discernible bite point, the throttle is very sensitive and the most entertaining game in town is the "what bloody gear am I in now" game.  

The MOT guy was fascinated by the car and was extremely helpful and thorough.  Due to the bizarre controls I did all the moving of it which was good.  The car was fine on all points, with just some minor warnings about a trackrod-end being worn and some slightly sticky back-brakes.  All caused by the 18month holiday it's had I think.

He tested emissions - reckoned that as it was registered first in 1993 it should be tested as a non-catalyst roadcar.  He seemed open to debate on the point though but we didn't need to as it passed emissions with ease.  

Due to the fact that the insurance cover-note didn't arrive in time I could only drive back home.  The scenic route was taken with a nice long empty bypass too.  The performance is staggering.  It pulls hard in any gear at any revs.  A permanent thrust back into the seat.  The aeroscreen seems to work remarkably well too.  Infinitely better than the old windscreen only, but not as smooth as windscreen + sidescreens.  The gears are very close together which results in lovely upchanges - 10500RPM and up a gear results in 8000RPM or so... bang on peak torque as it should be.  

Jobs to do now include:


Car Specification UPDATED! June 2001

Chassis Sylva Striker Mk2
Date of Manufacture 1990
Front Suspension Independant double wishbone.  
In-board Spax coil-overs with 130lb-ft springs
Rear Suspension


Live Axle (Mk2 Escort) with trailing arms and panhard rod.
Ratio 3.54:1 
Spax coil-overs with 100lb-ft springs
Steering Quickrack 2.1 turns lock to lock
Engine Yamaha YZFR1 Bike engine
150bhp @ 10500RPM,  (TTS claim the reject kit is actually 160bhp)
80 lb-ft @ 8000RPM
6 speed sequential gearbox integral,
Wet clutch with cable operation
Reverse Eurotech FR2000 reverse box, rubber mounted on 5mm thick pads
Transmission Two piece propshaft set from Bailey Morris
Inlet Standard Mikuni carb's with TTS rejet-kit designed for Pipercross foam-element filter
Exhaust  Homemade stainless manifold with Custom-Chrome Silencer (5" by 20", 2.5" bore)
No EXUP - electrical EXUP replacement controller fitted
Ignition/Control Standard bike CDi
Fuel Consumption 30 MPG - verified and measured :-)
Weight 435 Kg with 1gallon of fuel and no driver UPDATED!Weighed at Weighbridge Sept2001
Performance 0-60mph in sub 4secs
0-100mph in around 8secs
Top speed around 130mph

Power to weight ratio:  345 bhp/tonne


Driving the Car

First Drives

The first drive was up a country lane.  A great little twister.  But - the road is very undulating and I found that 45mph was tops before I felt terrified.  The back axle simply would not track the road, and was instead catapulting me up and down.  I had my first real scare when I found a short straight, squirted her to a mad speed and then... err... forgot to see the bend.  The first major test of the brakes was performed and a full wheel lock with the fronts locking first was performed.  They work fine.  Phew! 

Nevertheless I persevered and found a completely empty long stretch.  I decided to see how quick I could get her off the line.  Lined her up, raised the revs to 5k and slipped the clutch.  A hefty push in the back, a tug at the neck and SNAP!  I was sitting 3" further back.  The force of the acceleration has pushed me back so hard in the seat that the hinges I had made for the seat had broken!  I limped home and fixed the seat!  The excellent program cartest reckons 0-60mph in 3.6secs.  Yep - I can believe it even if I can't do it (yet!).

Once fixed I tested the car with a 40miles run and some other blasts.  I was finding the car to be very tail happy indeed, and scared myself witless pressing the loud pedal too hard in 3rd coming out of a roundabout!.  
The ground clearance had not been touched and was now huge (for a se7en) at 5.5"!  I decided to lower the spring seats by 1" at the back and 3/4" at the front to try and get more weight transfer and lower the CofG.  This appears to have helped.

I have found the aeroscreen to be very good.  A million times better than a striker with windscreen and no sidescreens.  Sure it's a bit blowy but I like the Gary Rhodes look!  You can breath properly though which is nice!


Annoyances and Problems


The major annoyance of the car is the short gearing.  The R1 bike is geared to do about 170mph in 6th.  This will manage about 110mph at a conservative redline of 11000RPM.  While at first this seems ok you must realise just how high the thing is revving at cruising speeds.  At 60mph you are pulling 6500RPM.  This creates quite a noisy buzz.  At first you keep trying to find more gears - where's 7th, 8th - I need 12 gears! You get used to it but I still find it trying.   A big improvement can be made with a 3.54 diff-ratio and some high'ish profile 14" or 15" wheels and tyres.  If you do this the top speed leaps to over 130mph and the crusing RPM is reduced nicely.




I elected just to have a rear-view mirror.  However this turned out to give pretty awful rear visibility.  In the interests of safety I purchased two small round side mirrors and have attached these.  This is MUCH better!



Oakington Trackday (1st July 2001)

I took the striker to Oakington for the 2nd ever trackday there - organised by Bookatrack (

This is close to where I live - only about 12miles so it had to be done!

The track is at an airfield.  Before you sigh "oh no... not more cones"... it is rather better than that!  The main track is actually laid out on the perimeter road.  This gives a nice long 3mile track with a great mix of fast bends, tight corners, chicanes (via some cones admittedly) and long straights.  An aerial photo is shown below:


I arrived on time and the striker seemed ok.  Much interest was generated as people recognised the tone of a bike engine.  Much amusement was no doubt had at my inability to get it into reverse, or pull away cleanly!  Practise makes perfect!  Everyone was very friendly and interested in the car.  I took the bonnet off to check things were ok and many faces appeared!  A noise check at 4500RPM showed 97.8dB which was higher than I thought it would be.  He advised me to short-shift on the main straight as it was near houses full of old farts.

There was a nice variety of cars around, ranging from the usual CaterFields, Elsie's, Scoobies and Cossie rally missiles.

After safety briefings it was time for a procession lap.  I was very nervous going out onto the track in the car for the first time.  I had not been on a track in 2years+ and that was in a hot hatch (when I did my ARDS RAC license at Silverstone) .  The parade lap was very slow and I took it as gentle as possible.  On the fastest section I noticed a nasty vibration coming in at 40mph+.  After the session I pulled back to the paddock and  had a look around.  It felt like transmission so I took the tunnel cover off and had a look around.  I put the reverse-box into neutral and rotated the front prop by hand.  No problems.  Mmm..  weird.  I put the thing back together and went out onto the track.  The vibration had gone!  I had had my first taste of the dreaded propshaft misalignment disease!  This is where the front and rear props become misaligned and a vibration develops.  

On track the car confirmed that my handling mods (lowering it!) had worked.  The car was neutral on turn in, with bags of power-on oversteer at the exit.  Exactly as it should be.  Now Oakington is a great track - don't get me wrong.  It is like a proper circuit.  It has bends that you can see coming.  It is wide, it even has a hill and a blind crest to go over!  But - it is soooooo bumpy.  It is simply hard work for a striker.  It has potholes and loose terrain everywhere.  I found the striker suspension completely wrong for the track.  On the back straight I was having to hold back after just a few seconds and 85mph as I was lifting out of my seat again!

The main problem with the car on the track was the oil however.  The low-oil-level light was coming on most of the way around.  Not on corners but in straight lines under hard acceleration and gearchanges.  I took it easy for a few laps but towards the end of the session I was having trouble engaging gears and the engine felt laboured.  I gave up before I did any real damage :-(

The good news is that the organisers were quite happy for me to take the car home and bring my road car.  This I duly did, taking it easy all the way home.  After a bowl of soup I returned in my bog-standard Peugeot 106GTi hot-hatch.

In a strange twist the peugeot turned out to be an absolute hoot to drive on a track.  Neutral turn-in, bags of grip and lovely dependable handling through bends.  During the two sessions in the Pug I found myself overtaking many more powerful cars including an Elise 111s (twice!).  The bumps did not upset the Pug and I was able to hit 105mph on the straight and carry quite a bit of speed into bends.  A mate timed me and on the 3mile circuit I lapped in 2:37 - an average of 70mph!

Some nutter in Puggsley  Puggsley on track

After nearly shagging the front tyres, heating the brakes up nicely (EBC Green stuff are brilliant on hatches), and doing 15MPG I went home!


R1 Oil System

After the Oakington Trackday I started to look at the Oil system. I spoke to Mistral Engineering in Essex (top bike tuners) and they said that R1 engines in cars usually work without mods, and just to add more oil.  Sure you loose a few bhp but the thing at least lives!

I took the sump off the car and took a load of photos to see how it all fits together.


Pickup at side of sump.  The gold coloured thing on the left of sump is a low-oil-level switch.


Pickup in sump approximately where it picks-up!  


Pickup on engine.


Pickup underside, showing the mesh strainer.

I thought the design of this was very good.  The pickup sits low in the sump and the sump is partially baffled already.  The fact that the pickup also has a built-in "hood" looks like it should act as a sort of horizontal baffle too.  I was looking to build a horizontal baffle but Yamaha apear to have beaten me to it!

I spoke to Mark Fisher (of Fisher sportscars) and he told me they don't baffle the blades either.  They just add the extra oil as Mistral recommended.  With this in mind I have now filled the thing over with an extra litre of oil.  

Q, Does it work?  

A,UPDATED!11-07-1  A brief test drive has shown that this does indeed work. Absolutely no sign of the oil light through some very hard acceleration runs!  That's one job fixed!


Suspension Tuning

The roads where I live (North Cambridgeshire) are either fast smooth A-Roads or extremely bumpy 1.5 width country farm roads.

On the poor roads the cars ride is abysmal.  It jolts up and down and literally throws you vertically out of the seat.  You can't really enjoy the road as you never know what will hot you next (literally).

I decided that rather just buy random sets of springs etc I thought I would try and work out the correct spring fitments for the car.  I am no expert on this so I bought a book "How to make your car handle".  I was a little hesistant becuase it sounds like a MaxPower readers heaven.  However it is actually aimed directly at race car builders and drivers.  This is a complete discussion of all tuning and design aspects of car design.  From basics through to methods of measurement that you can do at home without expensive equipment.

From the book it would seem that "ride" problems like mine are basically down to ratios of unsprung to sprung weight.  Unsprung weight is the set of components hanging down from the suspension.  It encompasses wheel/tyre, brakes, hubs, half the suspension arms and half the shocks.  For a rear live axle like mine it also includes that too!

I got the bathroom scales out and measure as much as possible.  I then stuck all the data into an Excel spreadsheet and looked at the figures.

ExcelCorner Weights Spreadsheet

Aside from discovering the corner weights are pretty much spot-on, I also discovered the CofG is almost central to the car (no wonder it feels like a kart).

However the most interesting figures are the natural frequencies of the suspension.  These are waaaaay too high even for a fully fledged track racer.  If you look at the real spring rates and the effective spring rate you can see they approximate quite well.  Thus you can substitute new "guesstimate" values into the spreadsheet and see how it changes things.

I spoke to both Sylva and Fisher about the suspension setup.  As Jeremy @Sylva hasn't done too many bike cars he didn't really know.  Mark Fisher had some good suggestions though and I have now purchased some 100lb 9" springs.

Driving report:  A very brief driving report showed that this does feel much better now - still pretty awful but a good setup for most roads I think.


Diff Ratios

To improve the gearing the first thing to tackle was the differential.  Unfortunately the lowest Ford ever made for the English axle was 3.54:1.  In theory I wanted a 3.1:1 but they simply aren't available.  So I bought a 3.54 crown-wheel and pinion set from a guy advertising in the back of CCC magazine for 50.  They arrived a few days after my cheque went off.  The bits were immaculate and phew... correct!

Now I expected this job to be fairly easy.  A fellow lister reckoned an hour.  I was sceptical of this and boy was I right!  Gordon must be an F1 mechanic.  I had some time off work and it took me 1.5days to do.  If it hadn't rained half way through I'd say 1 day.  Knowing what I know now about procedure - 1/2 day.

These instructions only apply to TIMKEN (forward facing diffs)

Procedure - Getting the old one out

The correct procedure is:

Procedure - Dismantling the old one and putting the new bits in

The diff is basically now done and can be re-assembled onto the car.  Use a new gasket.  Once on the car fill it with oil (1.1litres) and test it out.  While I was at it I fitted my new springs (see previous section) and cleaned up a bit.

new_cogs.jpg  old_and_new_pinions.jpg   New CWP set on the left.  

On the right we have the old and new pinions. 9teeth versus 11teeth!

diff_unit.jpg   all_the_guts.jpg LEFT: Differential gear assembly removed and fitted wit the CWP.  Mine is an LSD but I couldn't see any details of what brand etc it is.  You can see the taper roller bearings at each end of the diff assembly.

RIGHT: All the guts, 2 sets of gears and the output prop flange.

front_diff_carrier.jpg axle_hanging_off.jpg    New diff ready to go back in.  Check out the professional axle supports!


Driving report 

After the rain cleared I took the car out.  As soon as I got over about 15mph I could hear a grating noise.  The trailing throttle jolts seemed worse than ever before and overall it didn't feel good.  It even felt slower to drive.  I ran it for a few miles but it didn't improve.  At home I looked underneath.  The whole axle casing was getting hot - too hot to touch comfortably.  This shouldn't happen.  Damn.

As the job was such a pig I enquired at my local (cheap) garage how much it would be to strip it down and rebuild it properly.  They said they wouldn't do it themselves as it's too specialist - they send them away.  A quote to take the diff out and put it back was 3hours at 25+vat per hour.  Alternatively I could do this bit (again).  The real stinger was the cost of the work though.  150 providing nothing new is needed, else about 250.  You can buy 2nd hand full LSD diff units for less than this.  This may have been an expensive mistake!

I phoned around and found a local gearbox specialist.  They would happily rebuild it properly for 75.  This sounded ok so out the axle came again.....

axle_off_proper The Correct way to take the diff out the Striker.  
 - Undo the rear prop
 - Jack and support the chassis
 - Take off the wheels, brake drums and handbrake bar
 - Take out the axles
 - Undo the panhard rod and the lower suspension arms
 - The whole axle will now swing back.  Pull the axle back and support the low panhard rod bracket with a scissor jack

You can now get full access to the Diff nuts and it is easy to get the thing out.

Driving report 2 UPDATED!18-08-1

The diff came back within a few days and was now nice and tight.  Fortunately I had undertightened everything so it all just needed torque-ing up properly!

Out on the road the diff is obvious in that you can now do about 10mph more at the same revs as you used to hold on a cruise.  60mph is much more relaxed.  Acceleration is pretty much unchanged (I can't tell the difference anyway).  

The switch to 3.54:1 is thus recommended - but get someone to do it that knows what they're doing!


Wheels and Tyres

The other part of improving the gearing of the car is to look at using bigger rear wheels and tyres.  Not for MaxPower looks but to keep the same type of profile.  You thus end up with a longer rolling radius and a lowering of gear ratio.

As a quick look I decided to try out a wheel from my hatchback.  Peugeot and Ford wheels are both on 4 stud patterns with a PCD of 108mm.  However the bit in the middle of the wheel which sits on the hub is different in diameter - 65mm for the Peugeot and 63mm for the Ford.  You can get the Peugeot wheels to fit but this look was just to see what the difference the wheels offsets had on the car.

pug_wheel.jpg   pug_wheel_arm_clearance.jpg

The alloy wheel and tyre from my Peugeot 106GTi in place.  The wheels are 14" x 6" wide.  They have 185/55 x 14 tyres.

This had good clearance to the trailing arm and stuck out the body less than the Ford wheel.  

However the rolling radius is not much different so this is a change I wont be doing!



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Finishing touches & Bodywork  |   Costs of conversion  |   Improvements