Building 75 Moslers
Part ll Of A Day Out In Norfolk
was a fascinating one for the Ed. As you will probably have already
read, that morning was spent watching one of the Rollcentre Dallaras
on Multimatic’s suspension rig at Thetford. A quick conversation
with Warren Mosler and we were off to Breckland Technology Ltd.,
to see the construction of the Mosler MT900S road cars.
Warren Mosler himself
set the scene: “The ACO requires us to build a minimum of
25 cars, but we’ve already ordered the parts for another 50,
making 75 in total.”
These will all be built
at East Dereham, west of Norwich in Norfolk – the base for
Mike Rawlings and Mark Easton, and their Breckland Technology company.
They’ve been based here, on a small trading estate, since
September 2000, one significant advantage of this ‘off the
beaten track’ location being the availability of a number
of small fabrication shops and specialist engineers - which are
an off-shoot of the presence of Lotus Cars, not too far up the road
Mike Rawlings and Mark
Easton have both been employed in specialist road and race car work
throughout their working lives: Mike’s past includes an involvement
in the designing and building of such unique cars as the Costello
Can Am and the Rawlson two litre sports car, while recent work at
East Dereham has included construction of the Garaiya JGTC GT300
cars, and another Japanese sports car, this one for the road –
and perhaps destined for a trip across the USA in the near future.
Mike showed me around the assembly area, it gradually became apparent
why Warren Mosler decided to have the Mosler road cars built in
Many of the
components do come from the USA though - witness crate after crate
of GM LS6 engines, from its plant in Ontario.
The V8 engines
are almost 'stock' GM items, but with a few subtle modifications.
In 2003, the British GT Moslers raced with almost stock GM LS6s
- just slight changes to the camshafts - and they were immaculately
Construction begins with
the monocoque, which is fabricated in Florida, then shipped to Norfolk.
The Mosler is rather different from anything else, as Mike Rawlings
“The raw material
is a structural board called Teclan, which is made in California,
and was created to make such items as aircraft floors and bulkheads,
for the likes of the latest Boeings. It’s a carbon-aluminium
honeycomb, which is obviously very light, but also very strong:
it takes an impact very well. It’s cut and glued to make the
tub, and that’s the starting point, the tub, for us here.
The roll cage for the road cars is also an epoxy-carbon moulding,
although the race cars use a typical steel roll cage.
first job is to fit the bobbins into the tub – for the seat
belt mountings and the front and rear subframes (a rear subframe,
left). These are made at SDW at Banbury, and we’ve had
a hand in slightly altering the original design of the subframe
for the front and the rear.”
The point Mike Rawlings
keeps coming back to is that he and Mark Easton are turning a race
car into a production car, and there are all sorts of localised
parts of the original Rob Trenne design that would have been done
differently, had the road car come first.
“The revised rear
subframe gives better access to the starter motor – and the
subframes are powder coated (over aviation quality steel) for the
road cars, for better durability. That’s just one example
of the changes we’ve made.”
the road cars was going on before our eyes, and it certainly was
a simple procedure – in part because of the revisions made
been developing the system to build the road cars – to make
production simpler, compared to the race car. But changes are on-going
all the time, as the 900R becomes the 900S. For example, the bodywork
arrives from the states, but in due course, we’ll have the
buck here, and we’ll be making the bodywork. That will allow
us to make slight changes to the panel fit, for example. We’ll
also be changing the way the doors open and close, and anyway we’ve
had to engineer a seal into each door, something that the race cars
just didn’t have, or need.”
This is Mike
Rawlings with the deformable structure that is required in the door
sills of each MT900S - another component not needed in the race
The first five Mosler
road cars will all be left hand drive, for US customers, but depending
on the time scale, that might grow and become the first ten.
is “pushing ahead with the right hand drive conversion,”
explains Mike Rawlings, “and that should be ready to go by
the early summer of 2005.
“Sometimes it seems
like three steps forward and two back: for example, the r/hand drive
cars need a revised wiper system, and for Europe that needs to both
cover a certain percentage of the screen – a very curved screen
– as well as work effectively at 200 mph (which it had to
do anyway, as a l/hand drive).”
We’ve all heard
of a race car that has suffered a lifting wiper at high speed on
Mulsanne: not nice at all.
problems such as this one – or designing an air conditioning
system, or the instrument layout – is where local sub-contractors
come in. This is the interim instrument layout of the yellow, 'Nurburgring
car' (right), so it's not indicative of the final product.
“We bring the people
in, explain the problem, and they go away and solve it.”
Mike Rawlings seems to
be a very tough negotiator on price!
The glass that is required
behind the driver and passenger is an important component, the angle
having to be just right to avoid annoying reflections, while also
helping to keep the noise out.
looking into incorporating an acoustic membrane into the bulkhead,
which would almost be a first in a car like this: it was originally
a noisy (race) car, which is fine for a short run of a hundred miles
or so, but we’re making it more civilised, and therefore it
has to be reasonably quiet. The customer does want to be able to
listen to his hi-fi.”
Mike Rawlings makes the
point that the buyer of a Mosler probably also owns a Mercedes or
a BMW or a Ferrari – or a combination of all three, maybe
others too – so he knows what he likes, and knows what standard
is expected in a car like this, even though the original was conceived
for racing around tracks like Daytona International Speedway.
Seats are a simple choice
for the USA – “Americans like the Momo seat” –
but for European tastes, “it’s got to be leather or
The upholstery guy was
due at Breckland the following day.
Mike Rawlings sums up
Breckland’s product as “a fashion statement: we’re
a boutique manufacturer, just as someone in the clothing industry
is, at the top end of that market.”
The Mosler does incorporate
some existing, high quality, components though – the handbrake,
for example. Designing one from scratch would be prohibitively expensive,
so the Mosler uses a Corvette item, “but we make up the cables”.
A glance at the front
suspension reveals Corvette uprights and wishbones – and for
the US market, calipers too. The European cars will have specialist
brake and suspension components though: Americans are more likely
to drop into their local GM dealer for service items.
Wheels were a recurring
worry at the time of our visit, delivery not expected until February
– so next month seems to be the deadline for the rolling out
of the first of the British-built road cars.
probably already read about Stephane Cottin (at the wheel below)
‘rolling out’ the seven litre ‘special’
– the MT900S that Joao Barbosa will be racing around the Nordschleife
again in March, searching for a new road car lap record. Stephane
admits to doing “a little bit of everything” at Breckland
One of his most
significant achievements was getting Joao Barbosa involved with
Moslers and racing. “Mr. Mosler asked me if I knew of a really
good driver who could become the Mosler factory driver. Joao had
gone back to Portugal at the time, but he flew over to Florida,
and has been employed by Warren Mosler ever since.”
These are exciting
times for everyone connected with the Moslers – both the road
and race cars. Once the first 25 have been built, Warren Mosler
and Martin Short will be talking to the ACO about homologation –
although it’s likely that conversations will be ongoing anyway,
during the next few months.
MT900R is great value as a GT2-Class race car – just as it
is for a road car. It's
success on the track is already listed in the record books (this
is the 2003 Spa 1000 kms winner, left), but before it can be considered
for competition under ACO regulations, Mike Rawlings and Mark Easton
have got to build the 25 road cars.
Le Mans 2006
perhaps? In the meantime, sales of both road and race cars are heading
onwards and upwards. More race car sales to be confirmed shortly,
eh Mr. Short?