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Your repairs: Building your own sports car

Your repairs

Since day one, Haynes has been all about helping you, the home mechanic, to carry out your own repairs on your vehicles. Here, we celebrate those who use their spare time and Haynes Manuals to repair and improve their pride and joy, and in this specific case, build a car from scratch.

DIY champion: Tony Thatcher, Oxfordshire, UK

Vehicle: Haynes Roadster

Haynes Roadster
Manual on seat

Haynes was set up with the express purpose of helping people avoid the cost of car repairs at workshops, but did you know we also ventured into the world of car construction?

Yes. Back in 2007 we published a manual on how to build your own sports car. The original car was based on the mechanical bits from a Ford Escort, then when these became rare (and exceptionally expensive) the design was modified to use underpinnings from a Ford Sierra.

The book ignited a spark in Tony Thatcher, who decided he wanted to build his own sports car for summertime blasts around the lanes of north Oxfordshire, where he lives.

Tony is currently the lead fabricator for the Jaguar Land Rover design studio, and has spent his career in various fabrication environments, some of which have been in the motoring and motorsport arenas. So, he knows his way around the bits of a car that never get seen.

Buying someone else’s project

Just as well, because he started the project by purchasing a Haynes Roadster that had been put together by someone else. However, that someone else had construction standards that were considerably lower than Tony’s (the wheelbase was longer on one side of the car than the other, for example), so he ended up junking a lot of the car, including the chassis, and starting again.

So, he set up a table in his garage, dug out all the tools he’d need, and set to work. The net result is a beautifully accurate, powder-coated chassis with supremely neat welding.

After completing the chassis, Tony set about adding the suspension and brakes, the steering, the fuel tank, the running gear and the seats.

He’s even installed a wireless charging pad for his mobile phone, which will sit beneath the handbrake.

It sits on alloys from a Ford Escort Mk5 RS2000, but these will be swapped when the car is finished.

Roadster fuel tank

At the moment, the running gear comprises a 2.0-litre Pinto engine and five-speed gearbox from a Ford Sierra, but once the car is complete, Tony plans to remove the Sierra motor and replace with a 2.0-litre Ford Duratec engine. He’s also targeting a power-to-weight ratio of around 200bhp per tonne, which should make it feel lively enough.

As you can see, Tony still has a way to go before the car is complete, but he has all the parts, and more than enough enthusiasm. He reckons he’ll have it all done before long, and promises to invite us back to see the completed car.

We can’t wait.

Tell us your story!

Have you been enthused by Tony's project? If so, we’d love to hear about it.

Just send us a few details about yourself and your vehicle to - our UK colleagues will be in touch.

Tell us about any issues you’ve encountered during your repair and builds, plus any problems you foresee. And if you could include a few pictures, too, we’ll feature you on our website and social channels.

After all, fixing your car or motorcycle isn’t actually that difficult, and can bring confidence and delight. It will also save you a whole load of money, so let’s tell everyone about it.

Tony Thatcher and Haynes Roadster