THE WAKE OF THE RED WITCH: a starlet in disguise

Red Witch: Early Days

Well, probably tempting fate as she has not really been a witch, but she is a 1200 saloon who arrived in our life in reasonable condition, if rather stock! The plan was originally to keep her as is, but upgrade to disc brakes, and overhaul the steering rack, which was done. Test drive and it really did feel like not much was happening (pretty boring actually) so plan 1: install a Datsun 1200 engine and gear box which is a common and straight forward conversion but then this twin carb 1500 Starlet motor showed up with a 5 speed- cheap! So it really had to go in. More the awakening of the Red Witch!
The 1200 motor and box went into a Herald Coupe, out Loburn way (and goes well) so nothing is being wasted. I wanted to keep the motor at the Toyota stock angles which is to say leaning over. This entailed some firewall surgery to clear the manifolds(see photos)

Body wise, both sides had scrapes right through the doors, from bonnet to the rear (this was the worst damage as it went right through the bottom panel of the doors which is hard to get at) Boot dented in and bogged up badly at some point, so beaten out and repaired. The left rear had half a guard welded in at some point in her life and this had cracked down the welded seam and had to be re-done. Bonnet had some rust around one wheel well and there were a couple of holes in the rear inner guard which had patches welded in. Few other minor dents. Bit of minor rust in the boot. Otherwise the body was pretty good for a vehicle born in 1966. She is Carmine red, which was kept original. Started off with beating the various panels and ended up taking all the trim off and doing a better job. Fishoilened inside doors, boot and around the bonnet seams prior to undersealing.

This engine has twin carbs with water heated manifold, I have blocked off the water heating both from the heater hoses and a water gallery into the block. I drilled and tapped the head water inlet and blocked it off. I am trying for cool air and hope that the increased air velocity will not freeze the carbs up. I have separated the exhaust manifold from the inlet manifold (normally bolted together)and cut a thicker exhaust manifold blanking plate on the top, as I suspect the thin one will warp with heat and leak (check a Toyota exhaust manifold-not worth a photo)
The Toyota five speed box is a very narrow gearbox, however it does need a slight massage in the left side of the chassis to give a bit more clearance. I suspect you could put a dent in the appropriate spot, but I chose to do a modest cut and put a small fillet in. I also placed a vertical brace up this portion of the chassis, as it is where the chassis has a bend down towards the standard Triumph gearbox crossmember.See here When everything was in place the Toyota gearbox mounting holes matched up top the holes in the original gearbox crossmember and the rear of the gearbox is at the right height so that was meant to be! New speedo cable was made up with a small ferral at the gearbox end as a 90 degree turn was called for, so Toyota fitting at gearbox end and Herald at speedo end. Throttle cable came out of a Japanese donor car (Mitsubishi I think) Toyota one a touch short.

I had both front and rear springs re-tempered to lower the car about 25 - 30 mm which helped some of the rear camber hassles. Also replaced rear shocks whilst in that area. I procured some spitfire wheels and tyres and these set it off nicely with 175 x 60 x 13 tyres to get the diff ration about right. Given that some additional horsepower was involved it also indicated that the Subaru/Nissan differential conversion would be a good idea (see photo of flanges and also Tessa Vitesse site for diff photo), and is now installed with the stock axles. (the only difference to the Tessa conversion is that you locate some Datsun 1600 (510) axle flanges and weld a couple of spacers on to match the stock Triumph diff width.) As requested, here is a link to the details for the front diff plate as fitted to my cars. OK, on request from all you overseas correspondents, here is an alternative diff plate, as supplied by Gus Smith who races Triumph Lynx cars (Herald based chassis etc.)
As stopping power was indicated, we converted to disc brakes (1360 vertical links and discs, callipers overhauled, VH44 power booster etc.) and so on. . I regret now not having taken the body off but this was because this car is an unplanned orphan and was never supposed to have been taken to these lengths. Alternator is Toyota but moved from one side of the motor to the other. Sump was cut and the 'hump' moved backwards to clear crossmember but with care the oil pump remained in stock position (as does the dip stick) baffles reversed and welded back in. Gearshift heated and chrome outer shifter case removed (it's mounted on rubber and is too high anyway), lower gearshift tapped and stock Herald gearshift knob replaced.(Did this with the Vitesse also)

Fabricated fresh engine mounts onto the suspension turrets to prevent them flexing. (engine mounts onto chassis is not a good idea as triumph used the engine as a brace for the suspension turrets) Also made up a fresh engine mount to get better clearance over the steering column (see photo) shortened the driveshaft, fabricated clutch cable and new bracket, wired up the engine. I have swapped the fuel lines onto other side of chassis to give a more direct line into the motor and it also means that the fuel line will be well away from the exhaust. Luckily Triumph have holes on both side of the chassis for the mounting clips. I have re routed the brake lines around the front of the suspension turret (again for the exhaust) and put a T junction in front of the rack. Another T junction is on the other side of the chassis and goes direct to the brake booster.
It is possible to 'straighten' these engines up but you need to modify the gearbox (or run your gearshift at an angle!) and the carb manifold needs to be adapted to avoid the carbs running at an angle. A lot of mucking about. But it does look almost Dolomite(ish) the way it is.
Incidentally if you are planning this engine swap or the Datsun one consider swapping the turrets from side to side so that the engine mounts are now at the rear. I worked out that it was (with hassles) possible and should make it look more "factory" esp. where the Datsun motor is concerned. She was repainted and went through certification without hassle. More Photos here. Here are some of the progress reports when it was happening.
(see Progress Reports)

Return to Rocky's Triumph Pages

Differential out, valances removed for rubber removal and panelbeating. Rear spring re-tempered

Bulkhead cut for exhaust manifold clearance. "Click" on picture to see final result

Engine mount to clear over steering column, I 'stretched' the size of the base plate to gain another mounting bolt on the engine

Photo of the flanges required to bolt stock Herald axles up to a Nissan/Subaru Differential. One on extreme right is stock, spacers are welded to this unit. A larger spacer will increase negative camber.

Panelbeating in progress, ended up dismantling everything
and undercoating the entire car ready for repaint


Engine view


Top View