Project Dart





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Thread: Project Dart

  1. #1
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    Default Project Dart

    Ever since leaving school I dreamt of owning a GSM Dart. A fellow scholar had one and I promised myself that I will one day own one. I kept this dream alive and when I retired set things in motion to find one. They are obviously as scarce as second hand coffins and I thus decided on the best alternative and settled for the Hayden Dart kit that was available at the time. However, after purchasing the basics i.e. chassis and some suspension parts and whilst busy stripping the donor vehicle (Ford Escort MK2 Sport) and putting together the rolling chassis the manufacturer closed its doors. There I sat with a rolling chassis and no body. To cut a long story short, I eventually obtained a body and could continue with the project. I must add that the written instructions were about 5 A4 pages and some sketches. Compare this to a Birken (Lotus7 replica) where you have about 200 pages of step-by-step instructions and you can imagine the mountain I faced. Fortunately I was always good with my hands thanks to my Oupa and Dad for teaching and showing me how things worked. This I continued with my sons and they are all quite handy with a hammer and spanner. The bigger the doubt, the bigger the hammer I always say!!
    The 1600 Kent engine I obtained had a hot cam and was happy above 3000 RPM only. I could see this old toppie stopping at a robot with a car idling as though the cam was next door and every youngster in a Golf/Tazz/etc. wanting to dice and decided to make some changes. Boy and did that open a can of worms!!! I settled on a Toyota 1600 Twin Cam as in the Corolla RSI with a 5-speed box from the Toyota Avante. The exhaust system was made by Powerflow.
    The body of the Dart was not designed for this engine with fuel injection resulting in me settling on a Weber 38 but it still needed major modifications to get the engine to fit properly. This combined with moving house to Hermanus (3 garages VS 2) caused a delay in completing the project. What follows is an abbreviated pictorial history of the project. I hope and trust that you will find it as interesting as I enjoyed building it. When it passed roadworthy first time and was finally registered on 18 Aug 2011 (long drawn out process) I was absolutely on cloud 9. There are obviously a few niggles that I want to sort out but apart from that she goes beautifully. It is like riding a bike without a helmet again.
    To me was the real test was the fact that I built it single handed and only had help to lift the body onto the rolling chassis!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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Name:	07 Hydraulic Clutch conversion.JPG 
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  2. #2
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    Default

    Chris, that is Something to be very proud of, there are few people in this world that can genuinely lay claim to having built a car by themselves.

    The dart is a beauty, and other than boerewors and biltong , there are few things more south African than that.

    Well done!!!

  3. #3
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    Default

    No kidding. Well done!

  4. #4
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    Wow she is beautiful!


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  5. #5
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    Very very nice.

    I am sure you will enjoy every km.

    My dream is a Caterham.......
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  6. #6
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    Very nice!
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  7. #7
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    You have a right to be very proud of that Dart, Chris!


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  8. #8
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    Very awesome!
    Office Johnny

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  9. #9
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    Absolutely stunning!!!
    Wonder how long it took from start to finnish?
    It took me about a year to build my own buggy, so I know how much work and effort goes into something like this.
    Enjoy


    2007 Nissan Navara 4L Auto - Worshond


  10. #10
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    Default

    Wetkit, the car was complete and ready for the final finishes i.e. upholstery and lights when I decided to change the engine. As I said it opened a real can of worms in that the positioning of the engine was a major problem and I made about four different sets of engine and gearbox mountings since I tried to maintain the weight distribution as close to neutral as possible. The steering shaft had to be repositioned as well. When I thought I had it right the drive shaft UJ's were fouling and I had to move the engine forward again! I have had an absolute belly full of glass fibre as well with the mods to the engine bay and transmission tunnel.
    Another item that took some time to resolve was the conversion from cable operated to hydraulic clutch since there is no space on the firewall for a master cylinder. I eventually had to strip out the pedal box and convert it to house the master cylinder.
    So as jy nie 'n lat vir jou eie gat pluk nie behoort die soort projek ongeveer 2 - 3 jaar neem.

  11. #11
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    Cool man, I like it lots. I would only cut back on the exhaust a bit, or have it routed through the rear bumper. (maybe pic angle is changing actual appearance)

    Well done.

  12. #12
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    Saw a Dart at a Bloemfontein motor show about two years ago. I bit before my time, but my dad told me all about them.

    Yours is a beaut!
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  13. #13

    Default

    That's a stunner. They were built in PE if memory serves?

    Isn't there some connection to body panels for the latest Lotus models also being manufactured here?
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  14. #14
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    Hey Chris, that is awesome, you must be chuffed.

    I believe the Dart had quite a racing history in its day?
    Still Tabbing at nearly 50

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  15. #15
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    Chris, thank you for the mail about your car, I had not heard of the Dart before so I looked at a website about it, quite a car for it's day.
    Alan

  16. #16
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    Thanks guys, your views are appreciated - must admit she is quite a head turner.
    The Dart was originally designed by Bob van Niekerk, Verster de Wit and Willie Meisner (engine guru) and built in Cape Town. It has a rich racing history in the old 9 and 3 hour races as well as regular appearances at Killarney. Today you sometimes see some in the current vintage races. The chap that now builds the kits in Natal have a few of them actively racing in down there.
    I will never forget the first drive around the block and everything worked except the speedo! Needed to reposition the sensor within 3mm of the UJ bolt heads. Also proud of the fact that she passed roadworthy first time without a single hitch.
    mbwegkom, the angle makes the tailpipe appear long but if you look at the pic where it is being loaded you will notice that it is virtually level with the bumper. I was worried that the exhaust may discolour the paintwork if it is shorter. May change it later to exit behind the rear wheel.

  17. #17
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    Thumbs up Well done

    A job well done Chris, well done ..
    .. btw, terloops, daardie 'bonnet bulge' - was dit standaard so, of het dit later gekom ?
    .. nevertheless, great job !!
    Johan Mitchell, .... r.i.v. Swambo Marthie

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  18. #18
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    Thanks Johan - die "bulge" is net in die kit en lyk heel aggresief.

  19. #19
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    Awesome! I'd love to get my hands on something similar!
    Anton



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  20. #20
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    Hi Chris - seriously well done, she looks great.
    You probably know all of this, but just in case you don't: the GSM Car Club is very active in Cape Town under the leadership of Peanuts Fouche (Fouche Engineering) who pretty much grew up in the GSM factory, as his father played a key role in the production there. Also still active in the club is Oom Piet van Niekerk - works racing driver of the era. Peanuts and Oom Piet initiated the publishing of a book: DART The Real GSM Story, which makes for fascinating reading. If you haven't yet bought one, it's well worth it!
    Enjoy your Dart!
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by SteveW155; 2011/08/26 at 08:33 PM.


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