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Dedicated to the memory of the late Brian Archer who fulfilled his dream to re-create John Sprinzel's Sebring Sprite Coupé

674

674 VMX

Climax-powered Fastback ~ 674 VMX

Back in June 2019 Derek Stewart penned the following article for the Midget & Sprite Club's magazine 'Mascot' about his fitting of a Coventry Climax engine into his Sebring Sprite Fastback (replica):

"Some years ago (I had to trawl the Mascot archive to find the dates!), Paul Webb had three articles published on, "Building a Climax-Sprite replica". The dates were Nov, Dec 2012 and Jan 2013. In these articles he covered his donor Climax water pump engine conversion, the background and some of the associated aspects that were involved.

I completed my Sprite build just prior to the 'Midget 50' gathering and with a 1380 and Toyota 5-speed gearbox fitted, the car was ideal for modern day driving. But on seeing Paul's completed Climax-Sprite displayed at a local air show several years later and having a muted unknown project waiting to land, the seeds were sown! I'd always wanted a Lotus 14 Elite and with a Climax fitted in the Sebring, this could be the closest I'd get to owning one. So I dug out my old copies of Mascot for the relevant articles and started to plan the conversion!

I eventually located a later Climax fire pump as the donor and generally followed the path Paul had taken. Some of his contacts provided the preferred option for the machining work and with his helpful advice and suggestions, the project progressed. The photos that I downloaded of his build were a tremendous help and saved thousands of words!

I intended to keep the Toyota T50 box as it was a later version and part of the previous installation. The T50 is an excellent gearbox and those of us that have done this conversion normally have a good spare tucked away, as availability of parts are limited, to say the least!

The front end of the car as stripped for access, the suspension components refreshed, alterations to the cross-member for the Climax sump to fit and the steering rack mounting were completed while retaining the rigidity of the front chassis. The Climax front engine mounting bracket picked up two of the original points used by the 'A' series brackets.

With the engine unit removed from the carrying cradle, the Climax was dismantled, blast cleaned and a check of parts required for the conversion to FWE spec completed. The machining and engine build was completed by Peter Waller and once the unit was back, the remainder of the conversion could progress.

As the engine back plate was for the 'A' series, I modified the existing bell housing to fit (my spare remains unmolested!) and had the clutch release bearing assembly adapted for the correct amount of throw.

The vertical radiator was altered to match the Climax cooling flow and an electric fan fitted in the only place possible, on the forward face. I modified the wiring loom to allow complete control of the fan operation.

My original plot was the fitting of a pair of SU H4 carbs but when this plan failed due to a clearence limitation, a pair of 40DCOE Webers were acquired. The initial Weber linkage I assembled was not ideal (much to my grief) so a Magard pattern linkage was fitted.

Unfortunately the conversion stalled at this point when more pressing events directed my attention but I've recently had the engine running and have a rolling road session booked to get the car set up correctly."

March 2024: Derek Stewart has been awarded the Brian Archer Trophy for 2023 for his amazing achievement in converting his Sebring to Coventry Climax power using a Toyota T50 gearbox.