I have always wanted to make a car from the bottom up, having two petrol mad boys gave me the incentive to get something going. I bought a 1979 pre HE Jaguar V12, I bought a Porsche/Audi transaxle.....
This is the ongoing diary of the car's creation. The start date is 3rd Feb 2008 when I won the engine on eBay for the sum of £81.00. I drove to Peterbourgh to pick it up..
I had to get a load of stuff, the engine had been standing for some years, there were no electrics, it was a bare block of aluminium, albeit a huge 1/3rd of a tonne block! The gearbox choice wasn't easy, either Renault UN1 or Audi/VW transaxle. The Porsche transaxles cost a fortune so they were out of the question. Eventually I sourced an Audi gearbox from a 1980 car for £25.00 in Edgware Rd. I also found a nice chap with a garage full of XJS bits who supplied all the Lucas Ignition and injection parts.
Here goes, the story as it unravels-
On the 3rd Feb 2008 I bought a JAGUAR V12 5.3 LITRE ENGINE 75K MILES ( PRE HE ? ) , as it was advertised on ebay. It looked a right sorry state.
I got it home and started to work out what to do with it - I know I'll make something like a Zonda C12.... Can't be too difficult can it?
I have a friend who can supply all the steel, eBay is great for all the other bits and my regular Ferrari website, is always great for advice and help. So now I have an idea and an engine, next comes the research - What chassis? What gearbox, what suspension etc... Well the internet came up trumps and I found two great websites, www.paralleldesigns.co.uk and www.ultimasports.co.uk. Both of which have quite good photos of mid-engined spaceframe chassis designs. The next was to get the specifications of the C12,
engine Mercedes V12
displacement 5987 cc / 365.3 cu in
power 293.8 kw / 394.0 bhp @ 5200 rpm
hp per litre 65.81 bhp per litre
torque 570 nm / 420.4 ft lbs @ 3800 rpm
body / frame Carbon Fibre
front brakes Brembro Vented Discs w/Hydraulic Assist
f brake size 355 mm / 14.0 in
rear brakes Brembro Vented Discs w/Hydraulic Assist
r brake size 335 mm / 13.2 in
front tire size 255/40/18
rear tire size 345/35/18
steering Rack & Pinion w/Power Assist
wheelbase 2730 mm / 107.5 in
front track 1675 mm / 65.9 in
rear track 1660 mm / 65.4 in
length 4345 mm / 171.1 in
width 1933 mm / 76.1 in
transmission 6-Speed Manual
top speed 297.7 kph / 185.0 mph
In 2008 I bought and old jaguar V12 engine for £81 off of ebay, the engine was destined to become a coffee table, until I realised just how heavy it was. I did some research on the engine and found out it was very rare, 1 of a few made between 2 versions of the mighty V12. The early V12s were easy to tune but very inefficient and the later V12s, the HE, were much more efficient but not much use to people who like to tinker with their motors! My engine was one of a few that came on the change, had the tuneable aspects of the early but with some of the refinements of the latter. So I decided to make a car..
I already have a 1978 Ferrari, and lambos have been done to death. But I love the Zonda shape, so decided to make something along those lines.
I started scouring the auction sites for stuff I could use to make a car; there were rules I set myself..
1. Must not cost the family money, i.e. everything had to be pennies.
2. The car was to be made by me, entirely not using anyone else.
3. The car was a family project, make something to see if it could be done.
So I used search engines that looked for spelling mistakes, incorrectly listed parts and bargains. The first great purchase was the gearbox, the seller could not spell gearbox and it was listed as an Audi 80 geerbux, I bought the gearbox for £5.00 and the car started from there.
The main bulk of the carís bits came from a 1990 Ford Scorpio that I paid £150.00 for, I dismantled the car and tried to use every single usable component, (so my Zonda is really a deconstructed Scorpio). I bought an old pedal metal working lathe, (used to make ammunition on a world war 1 ship, date late 1800s). to the lathe I fitted an electric motor from an old compressor I had bought at a car boot sale. I then bought an old welding machine, and loads of metal tube via a friend of a friend.
Never having seen a real Zonda I was limited to pictures on the internet, and Paganiís website, which luckily gives information like, height, wheelbase and track dimensions. Using this data I mapped it all out on my garage floors and using some cheap builders lasers bought of the net, I started making a chassis. Again, I have never done anything like this before, so the internet showed me what a good chassis should look like and what it should be made of. I use the Ultima GT pictures on the ultima website as a guide.
The next challenge was getting the V12 to run. It has been in a barn for 20 odd years, sitting on the floor, I had no idea what state it was in. There were no electrics, no distributor, ignition or injections bits at all, so I had to make everything! I decided to make a Megasquirt ECU, this is an engine management system that you can buy readymade or build yourself. I opted to make it from scratch. With the ECU made I then made modifications to the V12, put some petrol in a small reservoir and hit start, the engine fired and ran first time!
I carried on buying bits, a huge roll of old flat roof fibreglass, resin, some turbochargers, a Vauxhall electric power steering pump. And slowly over the course of 2008 the car came together.
The MOST amazing event for me was the first time I drove the car out of the garage, it had been pushed out many times, but this was the first time I had sat in the car, put it in reverse and driven out.
This video is a summary of the 1st year of building the car.
I then started to make the body. I am not good with stuff like this, I am not very artistic, so the car was always going to be my interpretation of a Zonda and not a carbon copy. Secondly by 2009 Pagani had released several new versions of the Zonda so I decided to use all the bits I like into one car. I struggled with the doors, I needed to get in and out of both cars in my garage so I decided to give my Zonda Lambo style doors, again a real challenge! But I used the hinges from the Scorpioís huge hatchback door, gas struts and door locks which I rotated 90 degrees so they worked when the door was pushed down.
It just seemed that all car bits can be made to fit any car!
I covered the chassis with hardboard, and then with layers of polystyrene sheet. I carved the polystyrene into a ďshapeĒ and then plastered the polystyrene with wall plaster. When this went hard I had a plaster version of my car. So have said I should have made moulds and used the moulds to make perfect panels. But I didnít want a) the expense or b) moulds lying around. In hindsight this was a mistake as the moulds for a Zonda body would be worth quite a lot.
In 2009 I was given the job of internet security advisor for the Kingdom of Bahrain, we moved to Bahrain leaving the car behind. In 2011 I decided to ship the car to me, and carry on working on it. Bahrain has a lot of fibreglass experts so I decided to employ one of these experts to finish the body. I was also speaking to companies looking for assistance, a number of companies did step up to the job, some offering huge discounts on raw materials and one even made one of the panels for the rear of the car. Sadly though the expert I hired didnít do a very good job and the car got heavier and fatter with pounds and pounds of filler and fibreglass being added.
However I did have great fun driving it around the desert!
This is a summary video to April 2011
The Bahrain Authorities would not let me bring a car into the country without some sort of legal status, they really struggled with the concept of a person making his own car, they kept saying, no you buy a car, you donít make a car! Eventually the Bahrain Motor Federation gave me a document meaning I could use the car.
Then Arab spring revolution started and my family wanted to come back to the UK. Before leaving in the midst of tear gas, riot police, the Saudi army and bedlam I carried on working on the car. I found an exhaust centre and asked if they could make me a nice exhaust system, they said yes, we agreed a great price and I took the car there. My car now painted whit in gel coat caused a real sensation, a crowd of 50 to 60 gathered around it all taking cars. It seemed strange in the midst of this violence both parties involved were gathered round my car debating its merits! So in the middle of summer in temperatures of 50 deg C working outside, this amazing Pilipino chap took 2 days to make my exhaust.
This video is of the new exhaust, I had to paint the car as the gelcoat was still tacky and I kept sticking to it!
This is my last drive in Bahrain. The compound manager loved washing my car ansd took great pleasure in making it shine. The lotus Elise windscreen I had taken to Bahrain to make the cockpit had been dropped, so driving through the desert with the sand blasting in your face was an experience!
In September the car and me, returned to the UK.
The first issue I had to contend with was the V12 had blown up! The importers could not work out how to open the scissor doors to get to the fuel tanks to drain them before loading into a container. So they ran the engine for what must have been ages in that intense heat and with the radiators covered. When I started the engine back in England the smoke filled the entire neighbourhood. I tried to fix the engine, stripping it down and rebuilding it, but the damage was too bad. So I sold it on ebay and bought the first Audi V8!
I bought an entire 1990 Audi V8 Quattro, the chap said it was perfect and I believed him L
It took ages to modify the car to take the V8, but at last I got it fitted and tried to start it this video is of the first time and the subsequent engine blowing up!
I then bought another V8, this one was a great engine but had been sitting around for a while. I decided to overhaul the engine and spent weeks getting it all stripped down and back together. I started it and it was awesome, I then tweaked a pulley on the cambelt and in doing so moved a camshaft a degree, when I went to start the engine, a piston hit the valves and that engine died.
In desperation I put the whole thing up for sale on ebay. The auction went mad, 1000s of page views, my phone didnít stop ringing, so I thought this is crazy, I have to finish it. So I bought yet another V8! Learning from my lessons I services this engine but did not tweak anything afterwards..
Over the course of 3 years I have been back in England I have been undoing the bodywork that was done in the Middle East, grinding kilos and kilos of body off the car and trying to make it as good as possible. It will never be perfect, it is completely handmade and I am not any good at that sort of stuff!
In the summer of 2014 I sprayed the car black and blue metal flake, I think it looks nice now. It has caused a bit of a celebrity, I guess the Zonda is such a rare and exclusive car that anything resembling one will be controversial, the car has a global fan base, I get emails from right across the globe, saying how they love the car, I also get some from folks who donít like the car, or me and question my parenthood, but thatís the Internet for you.
The car now needs finishing off and being put through a DVLA test so it can be issued with a registration certificate. This is beyond my capability, and being honest I have gone as far as I can go without help,
In January 2015 I put the unfinished car up for sale but internet Trolls got involved and the auction failed.
Now I need help in finishing it, I am hoping someone out there will use their expertise to get it through the final stages, all I can offer in exchange is the car for PR or advertising, I was hoping ebay might want to be involved but I havenít succeeded there.
This is not a replica or a copy of the Zonda, but it is my version, inspired by the Pagani masterpiece. I have called the car the Zonda I, for inspiration.
So in 2017 where am I?
Well I stilll have the car and I still fiddle about
with it, It drives nicely, but it still needs so much work.
I had 2 ew side skirts made in Chicago, these were modelled off a real Zonda. The rear panel is now Carbon Fibre and I am making a new front to match. The inside now has a real Zonda heater control, but thats about it.. (for now)