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Going racing again, but not in a Datsun this time


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Here it is! Picked it up last month in Concord, CA. Bought it from Jon Becker of Mini Part who has owned it for many years, but figured he'd never get around to finishing it...or starting it for that matter.

 

Come on, y'all. Tell me what it is.

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Sprite_Racer_Small_053.jpg?width=1920&he

 

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Yep. '62 Sprite.

 

This car has race history going all the way back the when it was new and it came with two of the three log books. It bears roll cage number 302 (or something close, I haven't yet found the stamping) which means it is the 302nd car in the SF region SCCA.

 

I am super excited to build it. It will make a great car to teach my kids how to race in. It won't cost an arm-and-a-leg to build or race. It's small and light enough so they won't die if they crash it. And the low horsepower will teach them how to maximize cornering speed.

 

Sure, it's a basket case, but think in terms of what it needs.

-suspension

-brakes

-wheels/tires

-steering

-motor

-trans

-cooling system

-fuel system

-seat

-gauges

 

Ok, it needs everything, but compared to the vehicles I build for my customers, this will be a walk in the park. I'm actually going to cut the forward bars off the cage and re-do them. The bends in those bars are squished, probably from a crappy tubing bender 50 years ago, and I want to rebuild the forward portion of the cage to be safe. I'll build a motor with not so much HP (for the kids) and a stock-ish trans with close ratio, straight cut gears, stock/modified lever shocks, a fuel cell, racing seat, welded diff, 13x7 wheels with slicks, fiberglass front clip and I'll make my own quarter panels.

 

I feel like Harry Hogge from Days of Thunder...

Edited by Stoffregen Motorsports
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31 minutes ago, Lockleaf said:

Are you building custom suspension, using mg stuff, or adapting something else?

I am going to use mostly stock components, but in modified form. The shocks are lever type and act as the upper control arms up front, but I can modify them to be double adjustable. The rear end will get semi elliptic leaf springs instead of the original MKII Sprite quarter elliptic springs, and I will add a panhard bar and sway bar to the rear.

 

Unlike the Datsun world, the main guys in the Sprite world that were building these to go fast back when they were new, a lot of these shops are still around, so I can get very cool custom sway bars, modified shocks, multiple choices of springs, control arms, brakes and a ton of engine and drivetrain parts. Some of these parts are surprisingly cheap too. I can get a full set of straight cut, close ration gears for the trans for $450. A dog engagement gearset is $3900, but I won't need to go there.

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Rad ! Following this one... A few nice looking racing bug eyes out there right now that are very tempting... but I've convinced myself I really want to find a 2 door 510 - preferably ex-racer to turn into a full on autoX/track day machine. 

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I had the perfect vintage racing 510 candidate and I sold it. I just can't go there anymore. Don't know why. I'm just out of love with them. Or maybe more accurately, I have had my time with 510s and I felt it was time to move on. So many cars. So little time.

 

Besides that, 510s bring a premium these days. A- that's not the type of racer I want to hang around and B- I could build two Sprites for the price of one 510.

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1 hour ago, Stoffregen Motorsports said:

 

 

Besides that, 510s bring a premium these days. A- that's not the type of racer I want to hang around and B- I could build two Sprites for the price of one 510.

 

Thats the biggest fight I have with myself... I could easily pick up something like a sprite or a ready to race first gen RX7 for less then I'll probably get a 510 shell for... 

End of the day though, I love the 510, and doubt I will ever competitively race it so it is more a personal project/fun car for me - hence autoX and track days. Might as well build something I am drawn to at that point. 

I have a buddy who built a bug eye spite for AutoX though and that thing was RAD! Looking forward to seeing how yours comes together!

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Nice.  Have fun with it.

 

Still hoping to get back into a vintage 510 in the next couple years (college bills ending soon...).  Unfortunately, they are just skyrocketing since I sold mine about 10 years ago.

 

Sprite should be cheap fun, and you are right about parts support.  So many LBCs still racing every weekend around the country.

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I'm mostly excited about racing the smallest car possible. Compared to my normal life (trucks, offroad stuff, classic SUVs) the Sprite will feel like a magic carpet.

 

I will need to get a smaller trailer though, or an enclosed one. The 10K gvw trailer I use now won't fit in in the pits.

 

Actually, I have playing with the idea of building a period correct race car hauler out of one of my old trucks. I have a 12ft bed 1970 Chevy C30 that would be awesome as a ramp truck with a box behind the cab and I have a 1953 F500 that would look great with a partially enclosed flat bed on the back. If I build the C30, it will probably get a big block gas motor, but if I build the F500, I was thinking of starting with a donor Powerstroke or Cummins. Picture either of those with my little Sprite on the back and a full set of extra wheels/tires up top. Some vintage livery and patina paint. Perfect.

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Cabover ramp truck is one of my dream builds.  I would love to use a late 60s International cabover.

Though this mid 50s ford is a pretty amazing build too
Rat-Rod-Ramp-Trucks-and-Car-Haulers.jpg

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Great ideas on vintage haulers.  Anything that is single vehicle contained instead of pulling a trailer is so much nicer in my opinion.  Vintage appropriate too.

 

Did you see the Ford ramp truck project Classic Motorsports/Grassroots did a couple years back?  It was already a ramp truck so different approach needed in your case, but it was done to haul their vintage Triumph.

 

https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/project-cars/1973-65-f-350-ramp-truck/

 

 

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That Grassroots Motorsports Ford is the right idea. I don't really want it to look like a custom or hotrod, just a classic car hauler.  Funny that they left the manual trans. With today's technology, I would opt for an overdrive auto. So you can eat a cheeseburger while driving home from the track.

 

When I was younger, when we had our shop at Sears Point, there was another shop owner who had a 1958-59 Ford F350 with a box behind the cab and a ramp bed and belly boxes. It was obviously an original 60s era hauler. He hauled his Lotus race cars with it.

 

My first job ever in motorsports was working for a guy at SPIR that built racing Porsches. He owned the actual BRE 18 wheeler trailer that you see in so many vintage pics. I called Pete Brock a couple years ago to ask if he knew what happened to that trailer. He did not. I would love to have had the chance to buy it.

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On 12/19/2020 at 1:40 PM, Stoffregen Motorsports said:

I would opt for an overdrive auto. So you can eat a cheeseburger while driving home from the track.

 

I would work on developing my cheeseburger skills long before I entertained converting anything from manual to auto...  😁

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Really? A full size domestic truck is not automatic trans worthy?

 

The thing about racing is that after the event is over and you get in the car/truck to head home, you're done racing and want to relax.

Edited by Stoffregen Motorsports
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On 12/31/2020 at 11:27 AM, Stoffregen Motorsports said:

A full size domestic truck is not automatic trans worthy?

 

I reckon if anything is, it would be that. Especially when towing something.

 

But having owned (and towed with) an F150 with a 5 speed, I would likely always lean that way.

 

On 12/31/2020 at 11:27 AM, Stoffregen Motorsports said:

The thing about racing is that after the event is over and you get in the car/truck to head home, you're done racing and want to relax.

 

But banging gears is how I relax...   😊

 

I understand the logic behind it 100%. Personally, I'm not much for organized racing other than the occasional track day. So it's easy to see why our opinions would diverge, and why your reasoning is very sound. 👍

Edited by datsunfreak
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14 hours ago, ]2eDeYe said:

Glad to see this made it here. Can’t wait to see you work your magic. 😄

I am picking up a running, driving donor Midget soon, for $500. At this point, I will put stock parts in the car and modify the suspension a bit, just to be able to drive it. 

 

Still trying to figure out what to do with the quarter panels though.

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Fit the biggest tire you want to fit and make new quarters to house them? 

Just spit balling for you.  🙂

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I want to add flares, but built into removable quarter panels.

 

I can buy flared fiberglass body panels, but the ones available are gross. Joe Huffaker's #77 EP Midget are the flares that I love, but he does not sell a body kit. I think I am going to try my hand at making molds similar to his and laying up my own quarters/fenders. Then when I crash the car, I will have my own molds to make replacements.

 

 

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