The Penny dropped. It was absolutely not about whether it could be done with the Opel, it was merely how long it would take.
Put simply, if the two engines morphed and resulted in a 50/50 DNA split, the result would be the 993 Kadett mill. Firstly, it would produce a proper Bore/Stroke ratio, the downport cylinder head with siamesed inlet ports mimicked features of both engines, a solid, modern block and the steel bottom end took care of the muscle required to keep it together….all that was required was to find out how to make it breath. The earlier question on how the mini engine managed to be effective was answered simply…. it had to do with Shakespeare and the infinite monkey theorem.
“The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter for an infinite amount of time will surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare, or at least a good part thereof.”
The fact is that in the 60’s, 100’s (if not 1000’s) of boffins worked on the “A” series mini engine and amply illustrated by Kingsley, were most definitely not monkeys. There were a lot of them bashing at the keys. There had to be a result…. and there was…. The top list of names and magic numbers is endless……the engineers at Longbridge for a start, Cooper, Downton, Armstrong, ‘S’, 731,648/9,850, 997, 998, 970, 1071, 1275,1293, 1440, then later, Longman, Vizard and an infinite supply of these learnings passed to enthusiasts via magazines and books published by the boffins. Add to those the availability of tried and tested special parts…. and there had to be that result…. simple. These were special folk who could have been working on a cabbage and the result would have been horsepower. The iconic status of the car, huge support from the Longbridge connection and the fact that by 1969 production had already run ten years, did not hurt at all by keeping the homologation docs (and continued development) intact. Aside from the natural inbred competitive spirit driving those involved, modding Minis made straightforward business and racing sense….this was not going to be easy.
The Ford Anglia case was less frenetic and far more logical from an engineering perspective but very much the same thing. Some of the best minds in the business from the Ford’s go-faster juggernaut were involved.
Translate the background of these two engines into what the Opel was about. GM was not only disinterested but openly anti racing. The homologation docs were a reproduction of the standard Opel sales brochure and as a race car, was effectively dead in the water just because of that. On the face of it, it absolutely did not matter whether the machine had potential, the homologation police were ready……….but….Port Elizabeth was a special place. Our smart regional racing authorities had just given the middle finger to the new national Group 2 ‘Asthmatic Olympics’ regulations** (1970 for ‘71) and wonder of wonders…. our racing was based on the late 60’s group 5 regs with the addition of…… ‘what you can do… I can do’. The need for the one-sided homologation nonsense was thrown out of the window. The Opel was instantly legal and I scraped together the money needed to buy that 46IDA Weber downdraught.
**The early 70’s saloon car racing regs in SA specified that both the standard inlet manifold casting and the number of carburettor choke tubes fitted on a standard road car were to be the basis for racing. Stupid with a capital F. This forced a) the exit stage right of many cars not fitted in standard form with multiple carburetion or “big” manifolds and b) forced those manufacturers so affected to build specially homologated cars in very limited numbers in order to compete. The positives were that cars like the Datsun Z’s, Capri and Cortina Peranas as well as the Firenza Can Am were built ….but at the same time killed the possibility of cars like the Chev 38/4100 and many others to be competitive, the Kadett being another. The Irony of this situation played out later in the 70’s when free carburetion was allowed and that same Chev 4100 became the fastest SA production racer in 1978/79. There was another positive…… and that is something we are going to cover in future tales in this series…how some brilliant local engine tuners overcame this diabolical regulation.
I then started the process of getting the job done. Firstly I was most definitely not a Longman or a Vizard. I did not have information from 1000 folk to rely on and initially it felt a lot like heading for a gunfight with a plastic spoon. I did however have the flexibility to choose direction and the ability to guess. So how in hell was I going to do this? Firstly the racing bit for me was a means to an end, call it the test or outcome of work done. Strange as it may seem, to me it was not about winning races…I am not a natural circuit racer, it was simply ‘get this engine to produce more power than that Robert Louis Stephenson thing’…. and so I did race……but should have realised earlier that teaming up with a decent driver to get the job done properly would have been the smart idea. I did however take ¼ mile drags seriously. Firstly I was good at it… and besides, it was always a pretty decent measure of outright horsepower.