Misfire stops play for historic Vauxhall

| 7 Jul 2015

Following my first race of the season [click here] I returned to Silverstone on 25 April. This was an HRDC race on the GP circuit to celebrate the golden era of the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) between 1958 and 1966. 

Thirty-six cars were entered, including some serious examples of winning cars from the period including a Ford Galaxie, Falcons and Mustangs, plus Lotus Cortinas, Sunbeam Rapiers and a horde of Austin A35s.

My car was eligible having run in a number of rounds of the series in 1963, driven mainly by Bill Blydenstein. It also ran in all the rounds of the European Touring Car Championship (ETCC) in the same year plus the St Mary’s Trophy at Goodwood.

Despite attempts to cure the electrical misfire under load, it was still evident on a damp but bright race morning. Most electrical items had been changed but we could find no immediate cure. We decided to run the car and hope for the best.

Qualifying on a damp track was fun but with Silverstone’s many fast corners it was also a bit hairy. The speed differential between the faster and slower cars on a drying track was somewhat alarming, too. The misfire was getting worse and I was disappointed to qualify only 28th. I felt I should have been some 5 places further up the grid.

More attempts were made to cure the misfire to no avail so onto the grid I went for a 35-minute race.

After a good start, I made up a few places only to be engulfed by a hoard of cars at Copse. From there, it was a matter of trying not to lose any more places as the misfire persisted.

The car would not pull out of fast corners and was very flat on the straight. I soldiered on to finish 25th and very frustrated. Amazingly, I picked up a ‘gong’ for coming third in class due to the high retirement rate.

With the use of a camera down the distributer hole we could see that there was a problem with the oil pump and distributor drives onto the camshaft. The camshaft gear looked very worn.

I withdrew from the planned next race at Brands Hatch and the engine (above) was stripped. This confirmed that the problem was caused by the oil pump gear drive coming loose and upsetting the timing.

The camshaft was ruined and had to be replaced, together with the gear wheel on the distributor. Neither parts are ‘off the shelf’ items but I was fortunate to find a supplier with a number of new camshafts still in their grease.

We are also taking the opportunity to beef up the synchromesh rings, which have been a problem – so who knows? The car may run well at its next outing at Oulton Park this month.

C&SC and Vauxhall are supporting Paul as he campaigns his ex-Bill Blydenstein VX4/90 in historic racing through 2015