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Introduction

Welcome to my Onyx Firefox build diary. My name's Dave Bence, I'm a 54 year old service manager living near Bristol. This is my second kit car project. In 2000, I built a Quantum Xtreme powered by a 2-litre Ford Pinto engine. The buid diary for it can be seen here. It started out as a fun car but slowly evolved in to a show car, with lots of polished stainless steel and chrome shiny bits. As a result of this, I probably didn't use it as much I should, for fear of getting the car scratched, chipped or dirty. After 8,000 very enjoyable miles, I sold the car at the Stoneleigh Show in 2003 to an enthusiast from Northern Ireland. The plan then was to build another Xtreme with fewer shiny bits and a more powerful Zetec engine. Unfortunately, soon after selling the car, I suffered a serious back injury, which took a lot of time and money to fix.

So, more than a year late and with a rather depleted budget, plan B is to build an even cheaper and more basic car to thrash around the local race tracks and airfields. This one isn't going to have any shiny bits! After reading all the kit car magazines and attending some shows and a sprint meeting, I decided on the Onyx Firefox. It's a very small and light car, which uses a single Rover Metro or 100 donor. I was given a test drive at the Harrogate show in August 2004 and it certainly goes, handles and stops very well.

Onyx are a small company based near Grimsby and have been trading since 1993. I made several phone calls to their office with many questions regarding the kit, spare parts and donor cars. On most occasions, I spoke directly to David Golightly (one of the founders of the company) who was very friendly, helpful and patient. If nobody was immediately available, my calls were always returned. Impressive.

As well as track and airfield days, I'll be trying some club motor sport events for the first time. I'm a member of the Bristol Pegasus Motor Club and I intend to use the finished car in local sprint and hill-climb competitions. David from Onyx is using the demonstrator Firefox to great effect in similar events in the Yorkshire area. Mine will be eligible to compete in the class for kit cars with car-derived engines up to 1400cc (class B1). To maximise performance, rather than spending lots of money on engine tuning, I'll endeavour to keep the car as light as possible. The target weight for the car (with a basic but road-legal spec) is under 425KG. At this weight, a standard Metro 1.4 GTi 16V Mpi engine (103BHP) will give a power to weight ratio of around 225BHP per ton.

I expect to spend around £4,300 on the car itself, so mine won't be the cheapest Firefox ever built. Onyx state that their demonstrator cost £3,300 to build. However, certain items such as the twin roll bar upgrade and preparation and painting of the bodywork, chassis and roll bar were not included. I've no experience of or interest in doing bodywork, so I'll have to pay a professional to prepare and paint the panels. The chassis and roll bar will also need powder-coating, another expense.

Also, I don't think much money was spent on donor parts for the demonstrator - Onyx have just allowed a total of £100 for "sundries". I'll be renewing most service items such as cam belt, spark plugs, brake discs, pads and shoes, control cables and all suspension ball joints as a matter of course. I've therefore added £1,000 for these extra parts and jobs. This should result in a car that is safe, reliable and cheap to run.

A well-known kit car builder recently told that a good way to budget for a kit car is to add 50% to the manufacturer's "minimum build cost" figure. Apparently, this works for most kits, from basic models like the Firefox, right up to the mega-bucks Cobra and Italian replica exotica. Onyx state that the Firefox can be built from £2,894, so adding 50% comes to £4,341, which is damn close to my estimate. Obviously, if I can build it for less, so much the better. On the other hand, if I need to spend a bit more to get the car exactly how I want it, then I will. The Build Costs page will list every single penny I spend on this project (I've finally managed to create and upload a simple spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel). I'll be looking through the local free-ads paper as well as web sites such as Find-It and eBay to see if there are any bargains to be had.

Like the car, this web site will be very basic. You won't find any flashing lights or spinning text here.  I don't want to spend half my life sat in front of this PC, I'd rather be working in the garage! They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I must discipline myself to take plenty of photos at every stage of the build. Hopefully, this will stop me waffling on for ages.


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