David Rowan's Arkley Viper

Houston, Texas

I first built the car in the early 80's using an RX7 engine. However, a couple of years ago, I took it to bits and began a total rebuild, based around a 425hp stroked 383 chevrolet small-block. This of course necessitated new everything, so its now got Chris Alston front suspension, 8" ford rear end with four-bar suspension, 11.5" disc brakes all round, coil-over suspension all round. The new chassis was fabricated from 2" and 1.5" tubing. The gearbox is a Tremec TKO five-speed with hydraulic throwout bearing. I even had to build an all-new set of foot boxes and pedals to clear the engine and transmission.

As you can see, there's not much Midget steel remaining - the cowl hoop, doors, sills, and windshield are all that's left - everything behind the seats had to go to provide clearance for the new rear end and suspension. The same applies for the transmission tunnel. All the new sheetmetal is built from 16 gauge steel.

The Arkley front clip has been widened by 3" on each fender and lengthened by 1". You will also see that the front has a hand-fabricated steel spoiler to give extra rigidity (but mostly to cover the enormous radiator). You'll also note small supplemental scoops that help provide radiator clearance; they are actually door mirrors from a Chevy Caprice. The hood scoop started out as a late 70's Mustang SVO unit but has now been raised 5" to clear the Holley four-barrel. The exhaust headers are all hand fabricated, and the hood bulges to clear them are actually the ends off a Chevy Silverado truck rear bumper. The rear fenders are widened 4.5" each side to clear the tires.  Wheel are 16 x 8 front and 17 x 11 rear, and are Cobra replicas from Team III. The dashboard is hand fabricated and all new, as is all the wiring.

I'm currently working on the body preparations for painting, and once this is done all that's left is the interior and of course de-bugging it.

I'm also attaching a photo of the car back when it had the Rotary - it was cute and fast, but made a horrible noise. The new engine is awsome - when you blip the throttle the whole car rocks over and compresses the tires on one side by over an inch!

I'll send more pictures as I progress - I plan to be finsihed by late-April/early May



















UPDATE July 2005

It took a little longer than planned, but my beast is now finished.

So far the only problem I've had is that the Tremec gearbox is very hard to shift, but I think I know the problem; I bought it from Keisler Automotive, brand new. They never managed to send me a throwout brearing that worked properly, and evenually acknowledged that it was a design issue. After about a year of hassle, I finally got one to work (sort of) so I think it just needs more adjustment, unfortunately it's a hydraulic unit inside the bellhousing, so I will have to drop the gearbox to get to it.

Everything else has been great - the brakes, steering and suspension all work well, no rattles or things hitting each other. The car is hilarious to drive - even with the massive rear tyres, a touch of the throttle produes instant sideways action - lots of fun

Anyway, if anyone else gets the urge to shove a Chevrolet into a Midget, let me know