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Competition Prep

Discussion in 'Rootes Racing' started by Eleven, Oct 3, 2007.

  1. Eleven

    Eleven Platinum Level Sponsor

    Is there a Competition Prep Manual? Kas Kastner wrote one for Triumph, is there one for Alpines? Mine is a dead stock Series V with wire wheels and Strombergs. I am not going to race it but would like to autocross it and do club level time trials. It is sluggish and handles like a Buick. I do not want to do major rebuild and mod stuff, just beef up what is going to break and improve the basic performance.

    I need to 1) Find out what always breaks with low level competition stress, 2) What street engine mods are needed, 3) what shock/spring combo's and sway bars are recommended.

    I hate to clog up this site with endless questions of this sort (Lord knows I have done enough of that on repairs already) and really do not want to reinvent the car prep wheel on my own. As always, thank you for any thougths and help!
  2. jumpinjan

    jumpinjan Gold Level Sponsor

    The obvious first thing to me is to get rid of the wire wheels.
  3. RootesRooter

    RootesRooter Donation Time

    Solid wheels with wide, sticky rubber will lower your autocross lap times, but you can still have fun with wire wheels. An Alpine owner just north of you in Kirkland has autocrossed his wire-wheeled Series V many times and didn't embarrass himself at all. Remember, Alpines were barely competitive on the auto-x track in their day. Today, a competently-driven Accord will leave us in the dust every time. So go out to have fun.

    A wire-wheeled Alpine shouldn't handle like a Buick - period. Start with the suspension. Koni or Spax shocks are essential up front, helpful at the rear. Next, install new sway bar bushings. After that, if the front end still feels like it still flops around too much, consider a larger front sway bar. You'll get a bit more understeer, but also more control, particularly in autocrossing. They're on eBay often lately, usually about $100-$125+pp.

    Then, of course, your tires. Are they 20-year-old, marble-hard Sears All-Weather Specials? Try the local Tire Rack for something a little stickier. The main limitation with wires is that they're are only 4" wide, so your tire choices, already limited by the 13" rim, may be slim. I vaguely recall that 165's are about as wide a tire that will fit correctly on wires.

    Finally, are the wires up to snuff? You don't want to get your suspension all set up only to blow out a wheel on your first hard corner.

    Dick Sanders
    Kent, WA
    alpineracer likes this.
  4. sunbeam74

    sunbeam74 Donation Time

    Yes, the wire wheels would be a weak point.

    You need to investigate what you can modify to remain in a certain class. Clearly, if changing out springs (lowering, etc) places you in a modified class you might have second thoughts since the competition may be far stiffer than in a "stock class". It just depends

    If you wanted to stick with a stock class I would put Koni shocks on the car. Maybe upgrade to a 7/8" sway bar (it should be approved as a stock piece) If you are looking for more power than change the cam to one of Delta's grinds.

    I would... put the Koni's on and go to a couple of events. There is a really good book on driving skills for autocrosses (name escapes me at the moment) and spend some time studing it.
    BTW< if you don't have a membership in the club... and plan on buying the Koni's now would be a good time.... I think Classic Sunbeam still offers 10% off for club members.


    As a side note, we do have the Sunbeam Competition Guide on the home website. You can down load it as a PDF.
  5. sunbeam74

    sunbeam74 Donation Time


    I don't know if you saw there was a Grassrootes Motorsports article many years ago and they compared a Honda Odyssee to a 365, XKE, and one other early 60's car... they took them to the track and guess who was fastest?

    The mini-van. Of course they had +1 the rim size on the van and had decent tires too.
  6. serIIalpine

    serIIalpine Donation Time

    My Saturn Minivan Kicks A@#.

    I often leave knucklehead kids in their rice burners with bondo formed body kits in the dust. And that's without trying!

    I would imagine there is someone out there that is quietly wishing someone would swap their bolt on hubs for a set of wire hubs and wheels. This swap will be the biggest help in modernizing your car and getting it to the point it will be competetive with other vintage cars. The vizzard mod and a hotter cam and either a single downdraft weber or pair of dcoe carbs will also help.

    The 7/8" swaybar helped alot with my serII as did the spax shocks.

    I will tell you this: If you go to bolt on rims get 14" rims. preferably minilites, there is very little reasonably priced high performance rubber available in 13".

    Have fun.


    '62 SerII
  7. Eleven

    Eleven Platinum Level Sponsor

    The wire wheels

    are cool and classy looking but I am not sure I am sold on them. They seem pretty good right now but the future maintenance, etc is bothersome. Would prefer Minilites. Thanks for the thoughts on the suspension. I bought the car last Jan/Feb so haven't been through the suspension yet but I think the shocks are "whatevers" and old. Sway bar is stock so it probably needs upgrading. Car leans and plows so that is where to start. Am puzzled by the lack of performance from the Stroms. While they are a pain in the butt, tuned right they work pretty well. This winter I will have to go through the ignition from distributer on down to make sure it is right. Book says 90bhp, feels like 40 and sounds like a VW!!!
  8. SIVAllan

    SIVAllan Gold Level Sponsor

    Wire wheels have a bad rep in some quarters I guess due to tuning/maintenance needs and are heavy too, but for one I like them.

    I think they were used at Lemans so they must be tough enough for that level of stress.

  9. V6 JOSE

    V6 JOSE Donation Time

    I would almost wager that the ones used by the company when they raced the Alpine, way back in the day, they weren't the same as the ones used on the street driven cars they sold in dealers. I had ten spokes break on me when I first drove my V6 modified Alpine. I wasn't goimg fast, but made a rather abrupt right turn, and I heard a loud BRRRRRUPT. When I checked the left front wheel, it had ten broken spokes. I got rid of them soon after that. I think he would be way better off with the Mini Lites.

    Jose :)
  10. Bill Blue

    Bill Blue Diamond Level Sponsor

    Might try using urethane bushings on the roll bar. Someone said that was about the same as going to a larger size, sure do cost less. I used generic rollbar bushings from J.C. Whitney. Had to modify them a little, but was easy to do with a Dremel tool. Also, it is very likely the old rubber bushings have seen better days. Lots and lots of better days.

  11. alpine_64

    alpine_64 Donation Time

    Autocrossing is probably more stressful on wires than a circuit race, then you have the "if they used them then..." just because they used them then doesnt make them a good idea. Powerful cars such as the 250GTO's and GT40's were on tripple laced stainless steel spoked alloy rimmed boranis (the nicest looking, best and strongest wires) and they were going through wheels as fast as tyres, hence around 1964 when everyone who was serious started to run alloy wheels... heck rootes wouldnt even fit wires to the tiger and stock it wasnt that powerful.
  12. SIVAllan

    SIVAllan Gold Level Sponsor

    What about the splines? Early AC Cobras used wire wheels, but I always thought the torque could spin them round. An Alpine wheel should be fine from that perspective.

    I'd suspect that wheel wires' needed strength is expressed as a formula considering the basics, torque, weight, speed (?) & etc that addresses what wire strength/volume is needed. Haven't seen a formal view, but probably the spoke makers know.

  13. alpine_64

    alpine_64 Donation Time


    i dont think the issue is so much with the splines as with the wheels. Race cars then and now still use splined hubs (much faster to change 1 bolt rather than 4-5) i think its just comes down to the strength of the wires as you say, but also wires must have all the spokes at the same tension and in general dont offer the strength an alloy wheel and its casting can.
  14. SIVAllan

    SIVAllan Gold Level Sponsor

    Jose - where did they break? Was that 10 in a row? I'm still thinking about the wires and will take my chances:) , but informed consent trumps a big surprise every time.

    I wonder if the most stressful point on one end or the other of the wires, or somewhere in the middle?

    When they fail, do they most always fail in the same general area?

  15. alpine_64

    alpine_64 Donation Time


    I ran wires for 10 years.. rebuilt them twice.. i corner with some enthusiasm and used to break spokes. When i pulled the front wheels to change to alloys, i found the reason i had been getting some vibration and patter from the front right wheel.. 7 spokes broken in a row! These were all broken at the hub end and looked fine from the outside.. i was VERY lucky, when they break at the rim end they tend to wobble around and let you know, hub end its a little harder to tell.

    Wires are fine for a normal street car.. but the alpines are not heavily spoked and not that great. Even if you are just gently driving around you have to keep an eye on them, watch for loosening spokes and try and keep them in balance.
  16. 64beam

    64beam Donation Time

    Did'nt your parent's tell you that the roads are not a race track! ;) Lucky you have now upgraded, otherwise you may have made the first three wheeled Alpine.

    Regards, Robin.
  17. alpine_64

    alpine_64 Donation Time

    Dont know if you remember but i have 3 wheeled the alpine twice.. front drivers side made a break for it both times.. hubs are sided... :eek:
  18. 64beam

    64beam Donation Time

    Well there you go! :eek: That would be one scarey experience (for you and your jocks). Lets hope there's no more three wheeling.

    Regards, Robin.
  19. SIVAllan

    SIVAllan Gold Level Sponsor

    Saw that happen once at Road Atlanta, although for a solid wheel single seat car. Also a front wheel, what a sight.

  20. V6 JOSE

    V6 JOSE Donation Time

    Hi Allan,

    The ten spokes that broke on my wheel, were all in a row. They broke on the hub end, where the pressure is the greatest.

    Wire wheels take a lot of maintenance. They do look good, but to be safe with them, they need regular inspection, and should be trued at least once year. I, personally, don't think they are worth the effort, especially since I tend to drive the Alpines with some verv. Concern for the integrity of wires just dampens a lot of the fun.

    Jose :)

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