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Lola’s First Day Off in South America

February 20th, 2013

Yesterday was downtime for the WEVO boys in South America. They spent the day visiting the nearby waterfalls, pointing me towards various rally resources – the rally website is getting some routes wrong – and attending to Madam Lola’s every need.


Madam is doing well, which is more than can be said for Hayden. “Picked up a GT (generous traveler) flu on the way down from SF to Rio. I’m into the runny nose and hacking cough day and feeling pretty rough, but some spanner work on Lola will distract me and make me feel better.”

Hayden facebooked the top pic of Lola in bits for obvious servicing checks, carb tweaks and wiring in the Yellowbrick GPS tracker. There’s a good pic of Hayden’s rear end on Chuck Shwagger’s blog, tweaking something in the driver’s footwell: I’m sure he’s not backing out the throttle stop.


Today is Day 5 of the rally. They start at Foz do Iguacu (NE of the centre). The route heads north on secondary roads, skirting the Brazil/Paraguay border, formed by the Paraná River. The river is the second longest in South America, and takes its name from local words for “big as the sea”.

Paraná swallows the Paraguay River on its journey south, then merges with the Uruguay River and forms the vast Rio de la Plata before entering the Atlantic. The scale of the river as they travel north alongside it should be an eye-opener for the rallyistes.

The road continues to their overnight in Dourados on the fertile river plain: 503 kms in all today – about 300 miles. I don’t know what the stage plans are, but no doubt H will fill me in later.

Running up the Miles in South America

February 19th, 2013

WEVO Hayden has just finished Day Three of the 2013 Great South American Challenge with Steven Harris in Lola, the 1964 Porsche 356C.

Lola Lunch South America

Last used on the 2010 Peking to Paris Rally, Lola has undergone a programme of evolutionary improvements on her P2P spec. Steven also has a bit more experience under his belt and Hayden has done a few rallies with the competitive and experienced Alastair Caldwell, so is now a surgically precise co-driver navigator!

Team WEVOs hard-earned expertise broke cover for the first time yesterday, when Steven and Hayden took first place on the day’s sole special stage of 19 kilometres: the only car to clean the run. Lola took the complete day’s drive of 693 kilometres from Curitiba to the wonderful Foz de Iguacu waterfall on the Brazil/Argentina/Paraguay border in her stride, a minor misfire at the end of the day due to suspected dirt in a fuel jet.


Today is the first rest day of the event, so time to visit the falls, clean the car and the carburettors. The team can catch their breath after a rushed start to the event when Lola was delayed through customs, arriving at the start point (above) well after other competitors had finished packing their cars and stickering up.

So it was that Lola ran naked through the initial 488km transport stage from Rio to Campinas, skirting the edge of Sao Paolo in an enjoyable first day’s driving. Day 2 was another sub-500km run from Campinas to Curitiba, through the open plains of Brazil’s wheat bowl region, before climbing into the Apial Hills.

Today’s rest day will be mostly about settling into the marathon rally rhythm. These events are not just driving: there are rest/tourist days and fixit days, days to catch up with overseas news but any real downtime is about soaking up this new pace of life: a pace that will dominate the days until March 24th, when the rally finishes in Tierra del Fuego: South America’s southernmost point.

Thirty-nine days rallying in a Porsche 356. I think we could all go for that, right!?


The Great South American Challenge 2013

February 11th, 2013

Well it’s time to fire up the WEVO blog again, re-engage the “blogjackmeister” John Glynn and set off for South America – Rio De Janeiro

Last time I was in Brazil was 1992, for the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos. Fond memories of sequential all-nighter’s and flooded garages from a F1 pitlane nothing like what we see on TV today.

This trip I hope will be more relaxed, offering an opportunity like every Marathon Rally, to see massive chunks of another continent glide past the window aperture of a very familiar door frame. Lola, the ’64 356, veteran of the 2010 Peking to Paris is fresher that ever and supposedly sitting in Rio waiting for us now.

We took what we learned from P2P and added even more capability to Lola, the car is lighter, has a more advantageous weight distribution, a more powerful motor and a short but significant list of revisions that will offer even more reliability and durability.

We will be carrying a “Yellowbrick” tracking device and over the next few days, I understand these devices will be activated and any chance of anonymity will be dashed as you will be able to establish exactly where we are and how we are progressing.

Lola will wear car # 5. Driven by Steven Harris, navigated by Hayden Burvill.  There will be an organizers website and blog with reports and results, see H&H Rallies. This blog or our Facebook page should lead you directly there as soon as those specifics are available too.

Time to pack up that small bag of clothes, a few more spares for the car, a razor, a hat and a renewed sense of adventure.


912′s trump 911′s…… one more time

September 21st, 2012

Just as it was mid-summer for the Faultline 500, now it is officially Fall and the California Melee is the Fall rally to be involved with.

Now, I was warned….. “do not try to enter the Melee in a 911″. Expecting that may good advice from some experienced Melee’ists, that left me choice of the ’67 912 or the decrepit BMW ’73 2002 Touring as my two options. I decided that pace may well beat out complacency and posted my entry check on the same day the entries were opened. I then waited to see if my boastful claims of Patina-Uber-Alles would be persuasive enough to attract the inscrutable Eligibility Panel to my 912.

My prompt response and cunning wit were rewarded with Rally placard #4 and I listened guilt-free to stories of the many Melee regulars who missed out after procrastinating. Capped at 60 cars the Melee is clearly an event that has a loyal following. Repeat offenders were obvious, layer upon layer of Rally decal decorating some cars that may well be exercised just one Fall weekend per season. Some had decals back into the late 90′s


Ultimately there were eight Porsche, but not a single 911! How refreshing!!! A beautiful grey 356, Speedster with hardtop, a brace of 912′s, a trio of 914′s and a couple of 356 Coupe’s to enjoy.


Other Germans included a few BMW’s, a VW Beetle and a schizo Opel GT with a Miata, Auto drive train transplant.

Italy was represented by a swag or Alfa’s with leadership from a glorious MaseRATi 3500GT and support by a Lancia and a Fiat.

British cars seemed to dominate, in spirit and in numbers. Jag’s, Austin Healey’s, MG’s, Triumph’s, Sunbeam’s, Lotus, Morgan and all the cross pollinated derivatives of the self-deconstructing British motor industry.

Best Japanese (for me) was a lovely Honda S600, that purred and whined like a sewing machine, remarkably aggressive styling from such a diminutive package. A Datsun 510 filling regular expectations of any classic car event.


The Melee XVI event toured just short of 800 miles in 3 days to the north of San Francisco, with a proven combination of quiet back roads, gentle (optional) gravel, scenic high roads, super twisty long bits and a coastal cruise that only the Mendocino coast can supply.

My ride was my ’67 912, Tracey calls it “Primrose” for reasons I can never recall (it’s Aga blue!?) and I think of my 912 as the essential-to-understand missing engineering link between the 356 and the 911. This is the barn find car, only 36,000 miles at time of discovery. Put into dry storage in 1972, we recovered it in 2007, the 35 year hibernation leaving the 36,000  mile interior beautifully preserved and the exterior degraded in a manner that is difficult to describe. The patina is insanely genuine, at times disturbing, yet any effort to control or preserve it would look ridiculously contrived. The 912 is heavily waxed, waxed over every blemish and that seems like the appropriate treatment for the time being.


I found my perfect running mate for Sunday afternoon, Robbie Pyle with his unique clearcoat over nude German steel ’65 356C . Just acquired, the Melee was Robbie’s first run with the car and he never stopped smiling or proudly peeking at his first 356C out the corner of his eye.


The two cars made an interesting pair on the CA roadside, one apparently battered and unkempt, barely arrested from the downslide, the other at the half way house, but heading the other direction, it’s very few metalwork blemishes on show for final inspection before returning it to a brilliant Bali blue 356C coupe.

Sunday morning had been a terrific drive on Hwy36, Red Bluff to Fortuna. What a road! the sign warns of 140 miles of twisting tarmac. From the central valley to the Lost Coast this road crossed a remarkable diversity of terrain and flora, from valley scrub and Manzanitas in Red Bluff to the giant Redwoods and ferns as you cross the coastal range into Humboldt county.

The 912 was the perfect car for the morning, rewarding care with momentum – and the big grin that comes from sliding about on dry pavement at legal speeds on 165/80-15 tires.  The nimble 912 can tackle the unexpected with such finesse, it makes me very happy to have left the 911 at home for another day. That said after the unbroken run of 140 miles, my shoulders did feel like a massage would have helped. The big, heavy car drivers would have enjoyed a great upper body work-out.

In fact the 912 turned out to be the perfect car for the event, in the vein of “the one you are driving, is the perfect one.” Having a chance to get out and drive is the real thing, something the organizers of these small road book tours should be thanked hugely for.

The rally “banquet” in San Francisco was a great catch-up after the weekend, stories exchanged over a good simple buffet – typical rally style. The presentations being expertly MC’d by “the Shoog”, awarding the fully recycled trophies that come from local sources – some even had motoring motif’s. A blind raffle distributed a large number of Una bomber identikits and one lucky winner went home with a trophy bowl too large to fit in anything but a roadster.



Once again thanks to Harley, Jeff and supporting crew, Roll on Fall 2013 and Melee XVII.


Rabbit season

July 21st, 2012

It’s mid summer in California, a couple of months of clear blue skies, high temperatures and a great time of year to be out having fun with the classic car hobby.


At WEVO we are fortunate to mix our work and fun pretty often and the 2012 Faultline 500 Rally provided another great opportunity to do some rigorous testing of WEVO products in development. We also used this close-to-home event to test parts from other vendors that may have a future on WEVO prepared cars heading further afield – once we validate their function claims and durability.

This great event is in the 3rd year of running. “Rally” is used in a slightly different context than readers of this blog have become accustomed, being more of a route-book-tour than an event with timing, scoring and competitive structure. The emphasis is on cars, people, California back roads and the classic car hobby that bought us all together for the weekend. It is a great formula and our 500 mile tour in central California took me over some of my favorite roads, some new road numbers I have been eager to drive, plus introduced me to some new favorites and some very good gravel test sections for both product development and rally car testing.

Our vehicle for the weekend was “Rabbit” so named in homage to the previous owner who was proudly identified as K*** Rabbit K***** on the Pink Slip. Rabbit is a 1973.5 911T, non-sunroof coupe. A CA car from new, this bodyshell is absolutely rust free and in great shape overall. However, like too many long-hoods, Rabbit has been egregiously violated by the addition of the “dealer installed” AC system from that era. An offense I will never adjust to.  Two of my four ’72, ’73 911′s have this hacked out passenger footwell bulkhead. It makes me sad to think of the technicians performing this horrible sloppy work with the excuse of “fixed price labor” as their peace of mind to deploy reckless speed instead of the appropriate respect deserved by a brand new Porsche…. One day I will work out how to elegantly repair this area and get over it.


Rabbit was last tagged in 1992, it had a small amount of damage to the LF fender when I bought it in “non-op”a few years ago. It looked like a pick-up tray bed had backed over the top of the fender and taken out the headlight and fender. The motor was inoperable and when we stripped it, discovered two cracked pistons, one with such serious detonation the piston was in several pieces. The rare 1/2 year only 1973 2.4 CIS system was complete, unmolested and looked salvageable. The paint was (still is !) very rough, with what looks like the remnants of an early 80′s metallic and clearcoat in gunmetal bronze over the original 936-9-3 code Silver. The clearcoat has crystallized and reduced to a sharkskin textured matte. The repaired LF fender, hood and RF fender now sport DP90 primer in matte black, so Rabbit has a bit of a “look” going on – but a look not fully appreciated by some of my aesthetisti friends.

Mechanically, Rabbit has enjoyed lavish care and enjoys a very high specification that is in direct contrast with Rabbit’s “look”. All new front suspension with a couple of tweeks from the factory parts lists, all new rear suspension featuring a development WEVO SPS kit, WEVO Ohlins, SC torsion bars. Mid 70′s 930 Front Anti Roll Bar, Factory 16mmRear Anti Roll Bar with our base line set-up and corner weight template we use to evaluate the WEVO cars we build and develop.

The 915 transmission is a unique combination I wanted to try using a mix of OE factory ratios from the various 70′s cars. This unique ratio set combined with the necessary mechanical speedo 8:31 CWP from the mid ’75 911′s before the electronic speedo was introduced. The taller final drive ratio seems counter intuitive in combination with the numerically weak 140hp output declared for the 1973 2.4 CIS motor, but it works great. The transmission also has a WEVO GateShift, XT_032 bearing retainer, XT_100 side cover and a rare OE Coarse Spline ZF LSD.

The motor is completely stock but freshly rebuilt without being full of all-new parts. I was able to find the parts necessary to get this simple 1973 only version CIS functioning correctly. A recent run with the AF meter in the tailpipe confirmed that mixture is correct across the range – most importantly at full throttle – I was still looking for the smoking gun related to the damaged pistons. The motor runs crisply, but not vigorously like my MFI ’72S motor. The sense of torque is very nice (reminding me of Tyson’s very sweet 2.5 benchmark MFI motor) but the peak power is noticeably low, making Rabbit the kind of momentum car I most enjoy driving. The upside is the amazing fuel economy. I have not done my numbers accurately yet, but a lunchtime napkin calculation indicated over 30pmg (US Gallons = 3.8 litres) for the 660 miles we did during the Faultline 500 weekend.

Now back to the Faultline 500…..

A loop that starts in Hollister CA, overnights in Morro Bay on the central CA coast before returning north on Sunday. The event ends in Tres Pinos, just south of Hollister. Unlike the Porsche centric events I participate in with R-Gruppe etc, the Fautline 500 had a nice mix of marques. Alfa Romeo having the highest badge count, a massive 50′s Chrysler Imperial taking the heavy weight honors, a bodacious Smokey and the Bandit Trans Am taking the horsepower title and just two 911′s and a 914 representing for Porsche.


The route took us out east from Hwy 25, across the ridgelines to the central valley, past the experimental Brightpoint installation of focused solar energy and the eery glow of energy converging on the absorber atop the collector tower. Kind of a combination of Indiana Jones opening the Ark and a broken fairground ride.


After a quick drink in Coalinga, we took to the Parkfield Grade, 6.5 miles of twisted, narrow tarmac and 2100 ft of elevation gain. The south side of the ridge is decent gravel and we trickled down into Parkfield to a set lunch at the V6 Ranch Cafe with an amazing Apple dumpling desert that reputedly involves the use of Mountain Dew in the creation of the dumpling syrup.


The afternoon had some more familiar roads, some enjoyed recently on Targa California. Then we took to the gravel again to cross south from Hwy 58 to the old goldmining town of Pozo. This took us across another 3000 ft ridgeline at La Panza (defunct goldmine), a great stoney unpaved road, reminding me of the Namibian canyon driving in January this year. In Pozo there was a bar, beer on tap and I caught some new friends exploring a Beertini – basically a jug of beer with a dozen desperate olives swilling in the bottom…


The balance of the Saturday was increasingly residential as we neared the coast and cruised into Morro Bay and the Days Inn – the traditional Faultine 500 destination. Then the bench racing and story telling really began in earnest. Complimentary Margaritas in plastic pint cups, quickly turned the warm afternoon to nightfall.


The sensible headed off to dinner at one of the numerous fish restaurants. The less so, participated in the car park spirit until the pizzas finally arrived. One Alfa needed a new UJ installed and the Trans Am stayed on axle stands all night while the unsalvageable condition of the rear brakes was debated endlessly and finally conceded, by which time it was declared that the clear light of day would be a better time to make a lucid decision, plus Pep Boys would be open at 9.00am …… or was that 10.00am……



Last I remember is heading to “the” local bar with new friends, a hard working cover band was punching out standards for an eclectic local crowd including cowboys, surfers, tourists and ….us?! Experience reminded me how these evenings usually end, so after a couple more beers I found my bed by 1 and set the alarm for 8. Others were victims of less experience.

Sunday was another glorious CA summer day, a cool coastal morning with promise of some searing sun later in the day. Our route took us north on Hwy 1, a couple of deviations on roads that were as tight as driveways, canyons, cyclists, energy self sufficient homesteads, classic wooden barns, long views to the ocean, all great tonic for a Sunday morning while looking for excuses not to have to push too hard.


The route inevitably used the Nacimiento-Fergusson Rd, to cross from Hwy 1 back into the Salinas River valley and Hwy 101. Practically the only connector, this is a magnificent single track road, one best enjoyed without oncoming traffic! Once through the Federal Territory of the Fort Hunter Liggett, we stopped for lunch in Lockwood, a kind of hobby farm hamlet that has failed to gain inertia in a pretty part of the state. If you love CA Live Oaks, this is the area for you. Some of the most astonishing specimens to be enjoyed. Another feature of the region is the Lockwood – San Ardo road, about 20 miles of great high speed gravel. A road that needs to be respected – you can easily be traveling at 60 or 70 mph on this well graded low grip surface and this is not the type of driving we all get a lot of practice with these days. The road climbs up and over the ridge to reveal the Salinas River valley and Hwy 101 to the east. The climb and decent with both sweepers and hairpins is exactly what I needed to “test” some parts and remind myself why proper driving should be practiced regularly.


We joined our old friend – Paris Valley Rd heading north, then went off-instructions to avoid Hwy 101 and Carmel Valley Rd, neither of which held much fascination on a summer Sunday afternoon. We joined back to the Faultline 500 route near Soledad, perfectly timed to meet the earliest of the Faultline 500 cars, Rallyists that had been more circumspect on Saturday night….

The last of the unpaved was the most technical, Gloria Rd being a tight twisty climb across the ridge near the Pinnacles National Monument. Some corners are practically full lock in a 911, many corners are 1st gear and the road seems to go up and up and up. Eventually you can glance back down the canyon and see the Salinas River and the silver strip of Hwy 101, far down below. Now you enjoy a slightly more open down hill run to rejoin Hwy 25.

At Tres Pinos we concluded the 2012 Faultline 500 with an enjoyable private buffet, cars arriving regularly until everyone was accounted for. More stories, number swapping and relaxation to end a great weekend. Then Tracey drove Rabbit home at 30+ mpg.


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