JoMoRo and the BL / Shaw
through British Leyland´s press release on the Bill Shaw entered, Roy Pierpoint
conducted Rover 3500 whetted our curiosity as to how the car had been turned
from a well thrashed rallycross nail into the shiny red beast ready for a round
of the Hepolite Glacier championship at Mallory Park a few weeks ago. The car
didn´t win on that occasion or at Brands Hatch on Sunday, though the Rover did
go quickly before succumbing to gearbox troubles.
out about this brave project to inject variety into saloon car racing we went
along to see the proprietors of JoMoRo racing at Westhill Service Station,
Brookwood, Surrey, who were entrusted with the task of preparing the Rover from
scratch. Only the engine was prepared outside, simplifying maintenance when the
car is required to appear at a number of meetings in quick succession. Plans for
this car are to make sure it appears in the maximum number of good clubbies to
sort out the feasibility of producing a Group 2 version: a second car, to a
different specification, may well be produced in time for the Tour de France.
first point to sort out is just who are JoMoRo racing? Well the name is made up
from the surnames of ex-Alan Mann mechanics Jimmy MOrgan and Jimmy ROse. It may
not the most inspiring name for a business but these two gentlemen have a lot of
experience behind them and Those Who Know among the Ford fraternity speak very
highly of the pair. Morgan worked for John Coombs before joining Mann to work on
the highly successful saloons and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The latter project
was very enjoyable for Morgan as the team worked merely from the film studio´s
undetailed drawings and so were able to make up virtually everything as they
went along. Remember the torsion bar suspension on the rear of Mann´s Group 5
Escorts? Apparently it started life when they seized on a poor Morris Minor
outside the works, measured everything up, found it would all fit reasonably
well and proceeded to a scrap yard to get the bars: BL strikes again! Shortly
before Mann disbanded his racing shop at Byfleet, Morgan left to pursue his own
interests in Britain, including the auto/rallycross MiniFord, the Springbok
series winning Grand Bahamas Racing Lola 70 of Mike De Udy and, the Rover
project plus some work on Ecurie Evergreen´s McLaren M8C for Chris Craft.
other half, Jimmy Rose, started off at Lotus in the Cheshurst days and stayed
there for eight years working on the Lotus 27 and the infamous 30, among other
things. Then he also went to Mann meeting up with the other Jimmy and working on
GT projects including the ill-starred Honker Can-Am machine and the equally
fated F3L. Before the sleek DFV prototype was finished, Rose had headed for the
USA and Holman and Moody.
18 months in the States he came away impressed by Can- and Trans-Am preparation
standards but distinctly unmoved by the big NASCAR stockers with their flabbily
located front suspensions. Rose spent much of his time at the drawing board and
his talents in this direction have helped enormously with the Rover: a look at
the mound of drawings the Jimmys keep shows that the MiniFord (which is „just my
hobby“, according to Morgan) and a perfect little monocoque for a single seater
have also come from the Rose pen.
long after he returned to England, Rose became involved in the Rover idea,
working from Roy Pierpoint´s family business premises at Hersham in Surrey,
where Morgan joined him on the initial chassis work. Still without premises of
their own, the two went to work for the best part of a fortnight at Broadspeed
while the Rover´s plumbing was being attended to. By Easter time things were
really hectic with Rose putting in a couple of days work on the Shaw Camaro,
while Morgan went to Trojan and the Craft/Cadanet M8C and tried to make it work
at Thruxton. When he got to the circuit on Monday he found Rose with the Camaro,
as Shaw´s mechanics had let him down on Sunday! Morgan still has some
involvement with the Ford powered McLaren (which should be ideal for the Nordic
Cup series) but naturally enough he and Rose are keen to get on with the Rover,
as it´s still got plenty of scope for development.
same, after 20 weeks hard work the pair have turned out a pretty exciting
saloon, turning the slumbering 3500 into a comparative lightweight with liberal
use of alloy and glassfibre inserting 4.3 (explaination follows!) litres of
Traco-Olds/Rover, fabricating a lot of new suspension parts and stopping it all
with whopping great McLaren-style ventilated disc brakes! The engine is the
least complicated part of the story because Mathwall Engineering took after its
preparation at Cobham in Surrey. This company specialises in American V8s and
they set the engine up to Traco specifications using modified pistons, Chevrolet
con rods, cast alloy inlet manifolding, heads, hydraulically operated camshaft
and „stroker“ crankshaft. With both the bore and stroke enlarged, capacity is
263 cu.in. using an externally standard block for the all alloy engine. Bore and
stroke is 3.563 in. by 3.5 in., a rough calculation shows this to be 4303 cc.
Wet sump lubrication is used and a Borg and Beck triple plate clutch.
output is said to be 365 bhp, assuming those quadruple Webers are right in tune
ad at present they seem to be well on form. The snag at Mallory Park was that
all that horsepower was reaching the ground via a rather inefficient
transmission set-up, the ratios in the manual 2000 box being far too widely
spaced and the final drive ratio to high at 3.5:1. Mallory helped the partners
enormously for the car had done only two inconclusive test sessions before its
debut, so information on the effectiveness of the suspension and transmission
all came on race day!
changes to overcome the problems experienced at Mallory include lowering the car
on its suspension a little more than the present 2 ˝ inches, which should stop
the rear wheel picking up quite so readily. A wide range of final drive ratios
for the Land Rover based differential is available, so they should have no
further problems in this respect. A new gearbox, such as the five speed ZF,
would help enormously but there seems little hope of getting one at present.
Although the basic Rover 2000/3500 front suspension system is retained, with a
lever and horizontal coil spring shock absorber unit, the pair have returned to
the drawing board to produce some tubular steel triangulated lower wishbones
with adjustable ball type joints. These lower arms attach at a point
approximately one inch higher than standard, to the benefit of the car´s roll
the trickiest job was to mount the 12 inch diameter Lockheed ventilated discs,
the special hubs necessary to use the fully floating discs being designed by the
partners and machined locally. At the back the standard De Dion tube had already
been given the rallycross treatment with beefing strips of metal and weld in
abundance, so some more weight could be saved on the tube. JoMoRo have affixed
what they describe as a „light anti-roll bar“ to the tube: thick bars are just a
waste of time so far as they are concerned, „all you do is pick up wheels“ says
Rose. On paper the rear suspension conforms to standard specification with
trailing arms, coil spring/shocker units and locating rods for the De Dion arm.
However in detail there are quite a few changes: for a start those trailing arms
are 1 ˝ inches longer and a fresh box section has been made up under the rear
seats to locate them. Phosphor bronze bushes help the arms to do their job more
precisely; in fact accurate feeding in of the suspension loads has been the most
important task and it was for this reason (and a little weight saving?) that the
differential´s subframe was thrown out and a box section fabricated to take its
place. Both the diff and torque tube are accurately located by short steel arms.
The box section under the floorpan takes both wishbone and torque tube loadings,
via these tubular arms.
Shrouding the differential one finds a pair of inboard 10 inch diameter
ventilated discs. Getting them there involved a lot of calculation taking into
account the amounts of space needed to clear both calipers (all Lockheed) and
the offset for the new hubs. On the second attempt they went in together with
some thicker differential output stubs, the driveshafts were standard at the
time of our visit. As is customary with racing saloons, no brake servo is
fitted, but a brake balance adjusting bar is.
rest of the bodywork is pretty sensational for men who make no pretence of being
trimmers or styling experts. The bulged arches were drawn up by JoMoRo, being
partially fibreglass as all four wings are made of this material, while the rest
of the external panelling – bonnet, all four doors, sills, bootlid, popriveted
roof and much of the interior are all made from pressed aluminium sheet.
the lightening process has been covered by some pain-stakingly applied black PVC
and much of the original equipment, including the wooden door trim cappings.
Four seats are supplied and all of them were functional so far as I could see,
so there is room for some further weight paring here in clubby events. Morgan
commented dryly that they found on removing just the seats they had saved half a
hundredweight and a similar figure was mentioned for the doors!
changes to the dashboard layout are more than one would guess from a casual
glance, the speedo being retained among a cluster of switches and a pair of
supplementary instruments. One very neat idea is the wiring up of all the
standard idiot lights within the speedometer so that they all come on
simultaneously, should the oil pressure drop alarmingly.
gleaming red and white finish and 10-inch rim Minilites certainly add to the
bulbously functional lines of which the partners have every reason to be proud.
They still intend to revise the front suspension geometry but apart from that
and the selection of suitable transmission bits there seem to be few problems.
4.50/13.00 by 15 inch tyres are used, with sets for both wet und dry they are of
the same type as were fitted to F1s a few seasons back when rim widths had not
got to their present gargantuan proportions.
two races the Rover project shows every sign of being a success, provided the
powers that be will allow some more development work to overcome the
transmission troubles. Perhaps British Leyland could take a leaf out of the Ford
book and homologate such things as a decent gearbox? Such a move would
presumably make it decent for a ZF or E-type box to be used in club events,
although the car is already a long way from being a straightforward Rover! Much
the same goes for any competitive Escort though, even in Group 2 trim. Whatever
happens, I am sure we are going to see a lot more cars bearing that JoMoRo