Ask Goodwin - What would you build in your personal skunkworks?

Having built a plane, Goodwin now wants to construct a Hethel/Stuttgart hybrid in his shed

What would you like to build in your personal skunkworks? - John Deal, Wrexham

On long, boring motorway journeys, this is the sort of thing I think about out. Not having a garage, let alone a facility that could be transformed into a skunkworks shouldn’t stop the dreaming. Thinking about it, I did manage to build a plane in my shed so I should get my act together.

My number one plan involves a Mk1 Lotus Elise. Those who know me well are saying ‘He’s going to put a small-block Chevy in it, isn’t it?’ It’s a thought, but Lotus did that when it built a GT1 version of the car in the ‘90s. No, I’m going to use a Porsche flat-six, an air-cooled one to save on the complication of having to use radiatiors and all its plumbing. Besides, I want to move the fuel tank to the front of the car to free up space in the back and shift some weight forwards.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to our exclusive new offer and SAVE 39% on the shop price, get evo for its original cover price of £3.00 an issue, plus get a FREE gift worth £20!

I’ll use a Porsche G50 gearbox but since the car will be mid-engined I’ll have to turn the gearbox around and that will mean swapping the crown wheel over to the other side of the pinion to avoid having five reverse gears and only one forward one.

So far so good, but my master plan involves moving the engine’s cooling fan from its vertical position on the end of the motor to a horizontal position above it, where it is on the 908 and 917 racing cars. It’ll look amazing poking out of the engine lid and even better when I’ve fitted six long intake trumpets that will flank it. The combination of fan whine and intake roar will be amazing. I’ll probably drive the fan via a pulley and belt from the crankshaft and then turn the drive through 90 degrees using a shaft with a pinion gear on the end of it.

Advertisement - Article continues below

The engine itself will be naturally aspirated and have a swept volume of 3.5 litres to give around 300bhp. If I can keep the weight well under 1,000kg it’ll be quick enough. Obviously a longitudinally mounted engine and its gearbox will be longer than the Lotus powertrain so I’ll have to lengthen the rear clamshell by a few inches. Right, who’s got an Mk1 Elise that’s gone in backwards?

Ask Goodwin is a weekly column on evo.co.uk by Colin Goodwin, one of the UK's most popular motoring journalists – and one of the early contributors to evo magazine. 

You'd like Colin – he drove an amphibious vehicle across the English channel (it caught fire half way) and he held the Guinness World Record for the highest speed in reverse (104 mph in a Light Car Company Rocket). More recently he drove from England to the Geneva motor show… in a Caterham 160.

Oh, and when he visits the evo office he does so in a plane that he built in his shed…

Check back every week for a new column, and get involved with #askgoodwin either at @askgoodwin (Colin's Twitter) or @evomagazine

Make sure to get involved in the Ask Goodwin debate on our Facebook page here. You can also put your vote in via the poll system found on the evo.co.uk homepage.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Most Popular

Porsche 911 Turbo

New Porsche 911 Turbo gains Lightweight and Sport packages 

The 2020 Porsche 911 Turbo hasn’t been with us for long, but a raft of packages and optional extras are already in the pipeline
26 Mar 2020
used cars

Best used cars for sale this week

We’ve delved into the classifieds and chosen our favourite cars for sale this week
27 Mar 2020

1200bhp Hennessey C8 Corvette shown testing on video

The C8 Corvette has only just hit showrooms, but Hennessey Performance already has big plans...
26 Mar 2020
Hyundai i30 N hatchback

Hyundai i30 Fastback N versus the Col de Turini

We take the Hyundai i30 Fastback N up the Col de Turini, a 31km stage of the Monte Carlo World Rally Championship
19 Jul 2019