Sunday, 15 August 2010

So What Happened?.....

After 955 days in build and 465 days on the road my near 4 year affair with my Gardner Douglas 427 is over.

It was not an easy decision to come to and it took some time to finally decide. Even today as I sit here typing this and looking outside at the sun shining I miss it, I think I'll always miss it.... it really was one hell of a car.

It is more a testament to the years of effort by Andy Burrows in the design of the GD than it is to my own abilities, that a car building virgin managed to produce a car the likes of which neither myself or my friends had ever come close to experiencing before (a few of them probably don't want to ever experience that again!).

It would be a relatively straightforward task to put a large engine in a small(ish) car that went very fast in a straight line. It would perhaps be a little more difficult to produce a car that also went very fast round corners.

The GD consistently out-run and out-cornered everything on four wheels that it came across. It was thus only going to be a matter of time until I would have to part with my driving license. Of course self control is the answer, which is easy unless you have been born without the "discipline" gene! The same reason why I gave up Sports Bikes all those years ago.

My wife loved the car, she thought it was a beautiful masterpiece of automotive engineering......... she was just never that comfortable in it. Whilst for some the exposure to such a raw driving experience, with the associated vibration, noise, wind and blurring scenery would be reason enough to be alive, for others it would confirm all that was good about about our modern euro tin boxes in which we go about our business in relative anaesthesia from the driving experience.

At the outset of the build we had visions of long trips round Europe in the completed car. The unfortunate reality was that fuel costs and passenger comfort would have been a difficult issue to resolve.

I used the car quite a lot to go to work, but this was mainly to amuse myself by taking people out for a ride at lunchtime and scaring them. The rest of the time I would take it out for 1-2 hour blasts on my own.... sometimes scaring myself. We used to have some regional cobra club meets once a month with a decent drive out, but these sadly died a death due to lack of interest. This soon became the norm..... commuting or the odd solitary blast out once a week.

I felt almost if I was insulting the GD by not using it purposefully. I have never been a polisher or a garage exhibitionist. I like to use things, all my sports bikes got ridden through winter..... yup... ruined every single one of them! I just didn't seem to have enough opportunities to use the GD for anything more than a quick blast out now and again. It was in danger of becoming an under utilised garage ornament.

Everybody's circumstances and reasons are different, I had to conclude that my own were not perhaps exactly commensurate with cobra ownership. I now believe that I would be better off with a true GT type of car and such a style of car would be more suited to our aspirations.

As I cannot afford an Aston Martin or in deed a Maserati I may well have to get the tools out once more and begin another project. If only Andy would hurry up and get the GT or MSE into kit production!

I have thoroughly enjoyed the build of the GD and as professional engineer I have been able to thoroughly appreciate the thought and effort that has gone into the production of the GD 427. I have learnt many new skills, including how to cover your dog in expanding foam, how to set fire to things behind your back with a grinder, how to drill holes upside down in impossibly tight spaces.

I have enjoyed the "community" aspects of the project, helping other builders whether they be GD or other and I hope that I can continue to do so.

The blog will remain, not as a memorial but as a testament to what one man can achieve in a normal domestic garage, with a modest assortment tools, some common sense and a bit of patience. I hope in some way it may inspire others to take the plunge and fulfill their dreams.

I would like to thank Andy, Meena, Paul, Craig and Lester at GD firstly for the excellent product initially, and secondly for their never ending support and patience with my "stupid" questions.

I would also like to thank Ian and Jez at British American Engines for the fantastic engine that gave the GD its soul.

Finally, the previous post was entitled "Gone but not Forgotten....". Bizarrely an e-mail popped into my inbox a week or so ago containing this picture:
There's my old Car with Andy Burrows just about to take Andy Roe's Dad out for spin!

Quite a special photograph.

So whilst this particular story has come to end, another one begins........ for those who have not tired of my ramblings have a look here , it will be slow to start with.... I have a 955 day backlog of DIY to address!

Thanks for your interest over the years.