Da Da Daaaa – RALLY STAG!

Thanks to the guys at EJ Ward for telling their story……..

With the recent hubbub over a certain Blue Stag and its forthcoming appearance on the Stag Owners Club Stand at the NEC Classic Car Show – 13th to 15th November, we thought you might like to hear about how E J Ward Motor Engineers turned a run of the mill Stag (although some would say that a Stag is never run of the mill!) into a – Da Da Daaaa – RALLY STAG!

Rally car finish

We’ve known Phil Garratt and his Stag for many years.  We’ve also known for some time about Phil and his friend Kieron’s penchant for the adventurous sport of international classic rallying. We also knew they were pretty damn good at it, having won the Peking to Paris in their classic Chevy.  However, what we didn’t know, until they asked us to prepare the Stag for the 8000 mile, Nova Scotia to San Francisco, ERA TransAmerica Rally, was quite how far they were prepared to go to fulfill their Stag’s rallying ambitions.

I guess most logically, preparation started with the engine.  We completely rebuilt it to E J Ward spec with balanced components and a lightened flywheel, stainless valves, bronze guides with the addition of Phoenix Manifolds, coated by Zircotec in a silver thermal barrier coat to reduce the under bonnet temperatures.

Oct 15 1

It was then onto the carburetors which were rebuilt with richer needles to complement the improved breathing produced by the K & N free flow air filters and exhaust manifolds.  We then fitted an overhauled Distributor with electronic ignition system.

We completely overhauled the suspension using new Superflex bushes throughout, with 25% upgrade on front springs and 50% upgrade on rears.  The length of the springs was increased by 25mm to give improved ground clearance over gravel roads. The GAZ adjustable shox were fitted with limiting straps on the rear to prevent over extension over deep pot holes, or in the event it becomes air born.  How thrilling! (I’m thinking in the style of the General Lee in the Dukes of Hazard!) The front drag struts were reinforced on anti-roll bar brackets and track control arm mounting points.  And even with the inclusion of 6 ply van tyres to reduce the risk of a blowout the road handling was still very impressive, even at speed.

The bodyshell was strengthened at the load points and stitch seam welded throughout the sills, chassis legs, inner wings, bulkhead, rear arches and shocker mounts.  The seat belt anchorages were made for 3 point harnesses and the boot floor and rear wings gusseted to protect the fuel tank in the event of a side swipe to the rear. We also fitted a boot floor towing eye and tie down point.  The sills were fitted with tubular jacking points braced across inner to outer sills to facilitate the use of a light weight, quick lift jack. The exhaust, engine and gearbox were protected with an alloy sump guard skid plate, mounted from the front chassis rails and cross members.  On the body we then finally tidied up the paint work and gave it a bit of spit and polish.

The manual gearbox overdrive and (although we didn’t know it as the time, what was eventually to be their nemesis) diff were entirely standard.  We rebuilt the gearbox with new bearings and the overdrive was bench tested.  The diff nose housing was also strengthened as this is a weak spot.

There was much discussion as to which driveshafts to use.  In the end we fitted the Proptech, Rilsan coated driveshafts with heavy duty UJ’s.  This eliminates the well know ‘Stag Twitch’.  A pair of Classic Driver Development splined hubs were also fitted as they are lighter weight, stronger hubs, with the advantage of better bearings.

On the cooling system we fitted a Kenlowe electric fan to the existing aluminium radiator, and also fitted one of our aluminium header tanks with a silicone T hose kit from Classic Silicone Hoses.

So that’s basically all you need to do to create a ‘Rally Stag’.  But actually all that gubbins is nothing if you haven’t got tenacity, the desire to win and a spirit of adventure.  Which luckily Phil and Kieron have in spades. We feel privileged to have been chosen to go on this journey with the guys and have enjoyed every bit of it.

You probably all know by now that Phil and Kieron lead the race for 16 days.  We all thought they were on for the win, but that was until the ‘standard’ diff expired.

Rally Car Idaho

Although they gallantly made it to the finish line they’d lost too much time during the diff replacement to make a good finishing position.  Damn and blast that diff!   However, by the time you read this we’ll have carried out our forensic examination of the offending item (and probably kicked and sworn at it a few times too) and discussed the new diff to be fitted.  Because not to be put off by a little thing like a failing diff, it’s looking very likely that this is just the first of many adventures for – Da, Da, Daaaa – ‘Rally Stag’!

Come along and meet John and Mick from EJ Ward at the NEC Classic Car Show on Sunday 15th November.

The Stag Owners Club Stand in Hall 3 Stand 492 will have the Rally Stag on their stand for the 3 days of the show. This is what we have in store for you at the show –

Meet Phil and Kieron, have your photo taken with the car and we will print and frame it for you as a memento of your visit.

Name the Car – Rally Stag needs a name, so come along and enter our name the Stag competition.

And finally saving the best to last – on all 3 days the guys will be giving talks about their fantastic achievement, so come along to the stand to hear about the preparation of the car and the rally. There will be 3 talks each day – check our Facebook page or the stand for times.

See you there!!!!