Road Rally Car Build

Started by Pundershaw, December 19, 2021, 17:52

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As per the title, this is my road rally car build thread, I'll try to set the scene here and then get into details and photos as it progresses.

I've been navigating on all sorts of rallies for the past 25 years. Recently my wife has taken to navigating too, so two years ago we bought a rally car so that we could compete together, we got a 205 GTi. This was already a rally car when we bought it, and we've had a lot of fun using it. We agreed however that we also wanted something rear wheel drive, and that life's too short so why not have two rally cars!

For a cost effective rwd rally car you can't beat an MX5, lots of people are using them but I wanted to be a bit different and thought the MR2 was the perfect blend of cheap, effective, reliable and fun.

I bought my X reg roadster in November after seeing it advertised on eBay. I had spent the past two months looking for a cheap example with a factory hard top. Although that is not too difficult, my wife and I had agreed that the colour would not be red or silver, so the options were narrowed down slightly.

Living in the North East and buying a car in Kent meant it was time for a one way train ticket and some crossing of fingers. A good train journey, a successful pick up from the station by the seller, a quick check over and test drive and I was on my way north again. 6 hours and 320 miles later I returned home with what I thought was a great buy, phew! It ran faultlessly all the way home, despite the appearance of the engine management light after about 200 miles, my wife had a quick drive and agreed it was a good buy, that was definitely the biggest PHEW!

The day after purchase it was delivered to my chosen mechanic where it has sat on his drive way as I don't currently have space for it. It's now been sat there for 4 weeks until just the other day when he drove it for the first time.  I've known the mechanic for the past 20 years or so, he runs his own garage in Newcastle and has vast experience with all sorts of cars including race and rally cars. Thankfully after he drove it and inspected it on his ramp he called to say he was very impressed! Everything seems in good order, so it should be a good starting point.

That brings us up to date, although I have now ordered and paid deposits for various new and used parts to get bolted on.

All parts are due to arrive at the end of January,  so between now and then I'm hoping to make room for it in my garage and start removing items I don't need for rallying. Then it will go back to the garage for the major mechanical work.

Here are some pictures of the car as I bought it, and some of our 205 rally car.

I'll answer any questions and update as soon as there is anything to update on.


 :) nice bit of background there :)
love to see how this progress and some pictures 8)  8)


That actually looks like a nice example of a PFL in good condition.

Such a shame to modify it, but everyone has differing opinions of what they want the car for.

Where abouts in Northumberland are you?

Will have to get a northern meet sorted soon.
2004 FL, Black, Matt Brace, Team Dynamics Monza R, Tein Springs, TTE Exhaust, heated black leather seats, black leather armrest,  Zunsport grills, Midship front badge,  TRD spoiler, Halo DRLs with LED fogs, large clear wind defector, Krissg kick panels,  small mongos.


It is a bit nicer than I thought it would be, but it fit all my requirements as a starting point. Hopefully it will look just as good in 10 years time and still being rallied.

I'm in Ponteland, a meet up at some point would be good.

Finally got garage sorted so it's now inside, and it means I get to drive it a bit over Christmas!


My plan to drive the 2 over the Christmas period didn't quite go according to plan thanks to the sigma immobiliser! I had to recover myself with my trailer on New Year's Eve, not a great end to the year, but I got home in time to drink.

A few days later when the immobiliser had sorted itself out I did get out in it and gave it a good test. Really impressed by it in standard form, can't wait for it to be rally ready.

I have managed a couple of hours in the garage and stripped out part of the interior. The bulk of the new parts are ready for collection and it's booked into the garage on 14th Feb ready for the build to commence.

I'm lucky to have another rally car to use, so there is no deadline for it's completion, and therefore I have no idea how long it will be with my mechanic?  He will work on it when possible in between his day to day customer cars which vary from the mundane to the exotic.

His list of jobs is as follows:

Remove immobiliser
Install Caged Laser roll cage
Install BC coil overs
Install 6 speed box with plated LSD and lower final drive
Install uprated clutch and lightened flywheel
Fit spot lights
Remove ABS
Install hydraulic handbrake
Make custom sump guards underneath
Change steering wheel
Install ignition cut off switch
Install Zero exhaust system

Once all that is complete, as well as oil, fluids and belts I'll get it back and start driving it. I'll have various other little rally related things to add myself but hopefully it will then just be a case of testing it and enjoying it.

I'll try to get more pictures as it progresses, but these are where I'm at now.

Alex Knight

Can I make a suggestion?

I think you will - like most others - find the BC coilovers too track orientated for the road.

Much better to stick to stock/koni dampers and springs of your choice.


Thanks for the suggestion.

I'll have a look at the alternatives and then make a decision


Quote from: Pundershaw on February  8, 2022, 11:06Thanks for the suggestion.

I'll have a look at the alternatives and then make a decision

I think BC ship with 5/7kg spring rates by default but you can get 4/6 I think. Either way, if you're going to get BCs or similar, brace the hell out of the car. The less flex, the more the shocks actually get to do their job :)


Another month has passed and so far no progress has materialised on my rally project. There's no pressure on the mechanic so no complaints, but it is taking up space in his garage so he will get to it when he can.

In the meantime though I have made a decision on the suspension. I have opted to buy the Koni adjustable shocks and will most likely get some custom springs made to go with them.

I've purchased a front strut brace from Carolyn, and a full exhaust system from Kevin at Zero. I also managed to pick up a pair of used motordrive bucket seats.

No more pictures at the minute, but I'll get some as soon as it progresses.

Off to do a rally in our 205 next weekend though, so can't complain!


And so another month has passed, but finally some progress has been made!!!

The first job was to see how the roll cage was going to fit, so the dash was removed and the cage has been loosely put together and dropped in. It's definitely going to need some adjustment to the mounting blocks supplied, which will keep them busy getting it right, but will be well worth it.

Suddenly one of the ramps in the garage became free so the cage work is on hold for a week or so and it's onto mechanical items.

New clutch and flywheel installed along with replacement 6 speed box, LSD and new final drive. The struts are being cut so the koni inserts can be installed and will then go back on the car with the existing springs to see how it drives before getting alternative springs made.

The new exhaust from Kevin at Zero is due to arrive imminently and will be bolted on as soon as it does, really looking forward to seeing that! Will post photos when I can.

Hopefully that will all be fairly straightforward and they can get back to cage installation. Still a long list of jobs to do, but if the above is all done it can be back on the road allowing me to test the mechanicals and fiddle on with all the other little jobs.


Not sure the combo comp. clutch and lighter flywheel is going to be ... subtle ;-)

Good decision to go Koni inserts!
The springs are likely to have sagged.

For the rest look at increasing ground clearance. For starters new OEM springs? and then maybe just higher sidewalls.

Replacing the OEM muffler with the lighter Zero will gain you a lót.
Ditto a LiFe battery.

Whishing you bágs of fun!!


Thanks for the comments Petrus.

I'm not sure how the clutch flywheel combo will be, but the clutch should certainly be up to the abuse it is likely to be given.

I'm hoping to gain a small amount of extra ride height with some new springs without upsetting the geometry, this is very much an experiment.

I am looking to use this car as more the tarmac rally car and our Peugeot as the gravel one.

The Zero exhaust will hopefully be a great addition. I haven't seen the LiFe batteries before, but they sound interesting from my initial search.

Yes I'm sure I'll have lots of fun!

Any other suggestions always welcome


Interested to know which flywheel and final drive you've used.
Find my PFL too long geared for my use so contemplating changing them. Clutch is still good (not sure how original or new it is).


I've bought a competition clutch's ceramic stage 3 sprung clutch, and a competition clutch's ultra light flywheel.

The final drive is from Rogue motorsport and is 4.99, so very short, which is why I got a 6 speed box. That said it will be perfect for the rallies I do!


Quote from: Pundershaw on April 20, 2022, 17:23The final drive is from Rogue motorsport and is 4.99, so very short,

Nice indeed!
Like supercharging without the extra thermal load. Road legal too. Would lóve it, would have done it actually this winter if availability here had not been such a pita.
Kuddos to you.


The full Zero Exhaust system has now been installed, a few photos for you.


Looks effective, minimalistic and light! I would not want that AT ALL  ;)


Quote from: Pundershaw on April 23, 2022, 13:00The full Zero Exhaust system has now been installed, a few photos for you.

How does it sound? Looks like a nice bit of kit!
05' silver


Since the exhaust was fitted there hasn't been any further progress unfortunately, mechanics have been busy on other jobs. It should progress some more next week as they work on roll cage installation, hydraulic handbrake and under body protection. Once that is all done then I get to hear it and test it.

My 205 is also going into the garage for a few jobs ahead of the next rally, so there is plenty going on.


Fingers crossed for you and co-pilot.


The past three months since my last post have seemed very long as I waited for more progress to be made on the build. No pressure was being applied as stated from the outset, but not having the car to play with whilst spending money was becoming harder!

Anyhow, suddenly the car got moved onto one of the garages ramps, and at that point it was occupying money making real estate, so progress was imminent!

To be fair, progress had been made during the long wait, an hour here and there had seen the cage installation completed and some investigation work had been carried out on the brake system.

The first job was to workout how to make the ABS switchable so that I can disable it when driving on loose surfaces, I'm yet to test it but in theory it's sorted.

Next job was to install an electrical cut off switch, change the steering wheel, disconnect the airbags and reinstall the dashboard around the roll cage. 

Once the dashboard had been in and out many times and then plastic welded back together, it was onto fitting the spot lights, an essential for any night rally. Thankfully they made light (😉😆) work of this, and so their attention turned to one of the big challenges I'd set them, the hydraulic handbrake.

For the type of rallying I do the regulations say, you are allowed to install a hydraulic handbrake but must also retain a mechanical one, and both handbrakes must operate in an arc of less than 50 degrees from horizontal.  I didn't want two levers in the car ideally so combining both systems onto one lever was the target. I had been told by another competitor, who also uses a roadster, that there wasn't enough room to do this! Like a red rag to a bull, my mechanic took the bait and set about proving him wrong.

My request for all aspects of the car was for it to be done as well as possible rather than do it as quickly as possible, so much thought was given to this area. The hydraulic cylinder was installed and connected to the original lever. An extension was welded on to increase leverage and the brake lines were neatly run with the final connections being made in Goodrich hoses to allow for the cylinder movement.

Happy with their work I believe the mechanics checked that it would lock the rear wheels sufficiently, and then it was onto the final few jobs before they hand it back to me.

Installing the hard top, replacing the broken radio aerial, getting another key and giving it a wash. Each job was nice and simple apart from the roof! Back to the regulations, all road rally cars must retain as much interior trim as possible including the cars original headlining. This proved a challenge getting it to fit over the cage and bolted down with the mounting brackets I bought from Rogue Motorsport. But it's fair to say they took their time and did a great job cutting part of the headlining out to accommodate the cage and you don't even notice it.

So I have now driven it 2 miles back to my garage where I'll spend time installing as much interior carpet and plastic as I can.  Bucket seats, harnesses and some interior lights will go in along with USB sockets, a rally trip meter, phone holders and anything else I can think of.

The plastic under the bonnet needs to be modified to accommodate a full size spare wheel and I need to organise where I secure my tools, as I'm sure you all know, space is limited.

I can't wait to get out and thrash it about but need to remind myself that I don't want to rush the interior or electrics.

I'll update when it's done, but in the mean time I'm looking to get some seats in and get it on the road for testing, and importantly I need to update my insurance to include all modifications.


Much progress, thanks for the update.

@Pundershaw said:
The plastic under the bonnet needs to be modified to accommodate a full size spare wheel

I understood that an OE wheel could replace the skinny spare. I've been fortunate thus far and not had to test that.


Adventure before dementia 😁



Did a rally on Sunday in our Pug Rufus (yes we like to name cars 😆) with my wife on the maps, we won by 1 minute. Next rally I'm driving in is 2nd October, we are hoping to be using Bert the MR2. Can't wait for my first RWD rally!