Geen at the Goodwood Festival of Speed on a hazy summer evening before the Ball
Since December 2014 we have been building a historic race transporter out of a fire engine that served twenty years with the Berlin Fire Brigade in Germany.
We’re in the final phase of fitting out and it should be on the road next year. It has a massive 8KVA generator (enough to power your average touring funk band), its own gas supply, two industrial microwaves and 350 litres of water. The cabin will have a restaurant with design inspired by Leighton House in London. This may be the only truck in the world to incorporate a stained glass window…
Where does Geen Remmen the rally car fit into this?
Why inside of course!
Geen provided the weight we needed to get the truck through its first MoT. Having got the test we’re weeks away from the truck being road legal. Should be available for work and hire on next year’s season.
Added the current company name to the bonnet of the truck, is this the complete toy set?
Visited an event at Brooklands Museum the home of British motor sport, everyone was amazed at how well the car had stood up to such a gruelling adventure.
Geen had a go on the famous Brooklands Test Hill, originally put in to test the gradeability of new cars, pre-war many cars struggled to make the top. There are many famous shots of cars airborne going over the top. How fast do you think Geen went up?
The anchors on at the top, throwing leaves about, missed the building…
Spectacular new drone footage added to You Tube of the AMX courtesy of Drone Exposure
About time an American won the Peking to Paris Rally in an American Car?
Advert up today.
I envy the new owner.
Sale includes nearly everything required for an event, not quite a “turn key” deal but probably as close as you are going to find. The new owner would have to supply their own hand tools and reset the driver and navigator controls to suit their own ergonomics.
The car comes with a good spares package to carry in the car and a set of critical spares to hold ready at base. A complete camping set up of mats, tents, sleeping bags good for -20 Centigrade and a recovery set of hi-tech sand mats and low-tech Chinese shovel mounted on bespoke pins on the boot lid (with these you can bridge over ditches as well as escape from soft surfaces).
The car is the result of three years of research and development. There is hardly an inch of the shell that hasn’t been worked over or strengthened. A full roll cage protects the crew and offers amazing rigidity. This is one of very few cars that didn’t have shock absorber problems on event, the Reiger units fitted were just stunning in use – during the development of the car they were a major leap forward for the handling.
Weight balance, with full 200 litre fuel tanks and the crew on board, is near as dammit 50/50 with nearly all the weight held low and between the axles. The car has very good angles of attack and departure (short overhangs). Overall competition kerb weight is approximately 1750kg plus the weight of the crew – pretty good for an American V8 in rally trim.
The engine was deliberately de-tuned to run on any fuel available. We had no problems even when drawing the dregs from a fuel tanker. Much thought has gone into filtering fuel and an easy system of draining the bottom of the two tanks is built in. Vibration through the car is minimal and the platform is astonishingly stable even on the roughest stages and sections. Post event very little had moved or come undone in the toughest conditions. We used an open storage box between the seats for oddments and tools, we worried that we might need a lid before the event, but in practice nothing stirred even slightly.
The engine although modest in power (peak 272hp) provides great gobs of torque from the bottom of the rev range (peak 475 NM). This makes Geen very easy to drive, flooring the throttle in any gear gives you so much get up and go. Much of the competition in Europe is uphill and all that drive gave us a very real edge. The throttle pedal has a long travel which allows the driver to moderate that power when required. A spare set of jets is kept at hand to help the carburettor if required – at altitude or running on low octane fuel – we never used them but it was a comfort knowing we had them with us. The engine gave us no problems, we didn’t even have to clean the points. Oh and you never get used to the stunning noise it makes, check out the You Tube videos. One of the marshals said hearing it coming in to the final control at the end of the stage was “glorious” and that was after most of the field had passed through.
We had no problems from the five speed gear box. Third was definitely a favourite gear, in which the car is exhilarating to drive. Fifth is a very overdrive gear, allowing 110kph cruising at low revs, saving fuel and stress through the whole car. There is so much torque and traction in first and second that the driver has to manage wheel spin on most surfaces, Tsk.
Attention to rally detail throughout has been fanatical, every component and method of operation has been thought hard over. A competition trolley jack is mounted at the top of the boot in a bespoke holder to facilitate quick wheel swaps with an impact driver holstered alongside. It also proved ideal combined with a pair of collapsible axle stands for fixed services. Lids are chained to the car to prevent their loss. Coils are mounted in tandem so a quick change can replace a failed one (and the leads to do so are long enough). The battery clamp is definitive and the location such that if it did fail, the battery couldn’t jump the space it’s in. The fuel filter is blocked out from the wing to prevent it developing a cantilever action on its mount.
A Peltor intercom is hard wired to the car with headsets and an iPod lead for music on the go. Geen has two Monit displays with GPS aerials on the roof, the navigator’s has a back up wheel sensor, with a GPS aerial in the spares kit. Wiring, roof mounted GPS Aerials and dash mounts for two Garmin GPS devices come with the car but only one Garmin device is supplied with the sale. A tracking device is fitted in car and is live for the rest of this year.
The tyre pressure monitoring system proved valuable, alerting us to the one puncture we got before the Tyre went flat, probably saving the Tyre for later use. Wheels and tyres seemed a good choice for the event surfaces: Vredestein Comtrac Winter tyres, six ply sidewalls for Van use worked fine on dirt and rough in Mongolia. There are probably better tyres for the mostly tarmac European sections but these worked well for us, and there were still plenty of gravel stages in Europe. The tyres on the car are as they finished the event, good enough to test on, but you would replace all with new before the next event, usefully they’re not wildly expensive.
The brakes stood up well to the abuse they got. A future development to consider might be using a more modern four pot calliper. Adjustable Front to rear bias control on the dash allows quite subtle transfers of effort to the driver. Spare pads and special brake tool included.
The roof vent leaks slightly in heavy rain but this is a small price to pay for the cooling achieved. Dust ingress into the cabin was very well controlled, the boot did less well but was manageable. We forded many rivers, including one about a metre deep with ease. We have prepared the car for water up to the height of the air filter, all the breather tubes double up to that height before venting under the car to keep water out of key components.
Paddle clutch has been recently changed so Geen is currently running in a new one. The replaced clutch did 18,000km of testing and 14,500km of event without trouble despite the loads put through it. The old clutch will be repaired as a running spare for the car.
The rear suspension worked a treat, a few bolts were tightened at one of the late services but that’s all. All the spares we carried have been run on the car previously. So for example, we carry two spare fuel pumps, both are wired identically to the two in use on the car, and known to work, for a quick and reliable substitution.
The event did reveal a critical weakness in our preparation. Although of a competition specification, one which had never caused a moments concern in testing, the front lower ball joints developed movement after the first day of competition. It transpired that the new ones we fitted before the event and the two spares we carried were insufficient for the task. Examined at the road side we discovered nylon caps – no good – but having never had a problem we had never taken one apart before. This really handicapped our efforts on this event and reflects in our final placing. Repairs in the field to accommodate new larger ball joints created transferred problems throughout the front suspension. New front end improvements are in train at Autosportif and the car will be sold with a vastly more effective front end.
We left the UK with a failing starter motor, which is being repaired and replaced before sale. There is a good chance that the voltage being drawn by the failing starter was the cause of a high incidence of alternator failure, we are waiting for forensics on why the alternators failed, testing should reveal the cause and a cure put in place, it’s possible that the alternators may have all had a single component fault too.
Otherwise we had a problem with the thrust washers in the differential, diagnosis is in train, but it may simply be a matter of how the differential is assembled and how the drive shafts are mated to it. Again the car will not be sold without a correction.
For a thirty six day rally for an untested/unknown car that is a small list of failures. We would anticipate as many from a weekend event in the UK. With the upgrades in place this car will be remarkable for the new owner.
Oh and it looks awesome.
You Tube footage of Geen and place markers. If you find any I haven’t included please let me know
2:30 but pretty dull on road section
We’d look tough if my overalls fitted…
Workshops were pleased to see us again. All marvelled at how well the car looked post event.
The happy crew relaxing in Paris. We had the adventure of a lifetime and Jonathan made a lot of that possible.
If you have enjoyed reading the blog, please do leave a comment to register that you have been here. There is only one more post to make after this: Geen is looking for a new owner to continue her journey as a fantastic endurance rally car.
A chance to clean up the car.
Just some of the gear we carried to the finish. There wasn’t a moment when we thought “if only we had brought that along”. There wasn’t an item in the car that we didn’t use or wouldn’t have wanted to have with us (didn’t have to change any wheel bearings for example, but we carried a full set to the end).
Some scuffs, some gravel rash, some dented rims, a sore sump guard, some scratches. Hard to believe the car has been through the hardest long rally you can do. Weapon.
Started the day with breakfast in a cafe by the Seine next to Notre Dame. Then a walk via the Pompidou Centre to the restaurant for a 12.30 start.
Laura at Ellsworth Restaurant did a fabulous job of laying a lunch on for us. I doubt I will ever throw a private party in a restaurant in Paris and this was just perfect:
I got spectacularly drunk in Place Vendome on Sunday, only just remembered to park the car in the booked parking and got back to the digs to change for dinner at the time we were supposed to be sitting down. Felt I had rather let Dot down as I was supposed to escort her to dinner. I hope being escorted to lunch here was some compensation.
Novel interface for bread bags and balding men found.
Toasts were drunk to Michael and Bruce, the missing fathers, the restaurant and Geen Remmen who carried us all that way.
Eiffel Tower lit up in mourning for those lost in terrorist attacks. The real world was catching up with us.
Crashed out on the Eurostar shuttle.
Geen comes to rest finally, was just clearing out the bags when I discovered (eventually) that Adam, my son, had posted my mobile under my seat. This involved forty minutes of wriggling around under the car getting the seat unbolted. No idea why he’s looking so cheerful in this photo, if I had had the energy I would have strangled him.
Took the Eurostar to Paris first thing and met the car on the outskirts, so nice to meet family and friends in Place Vendome for the finish.
So many people had turned out to see us, Dot certainly won the banner competition. Those door plate signs were lifted off our website after she asked for a photo showing the competition numbers, crafty and clever Dot. Nicole’s tinsel lined pillow case flag was a winner too. Three generations of Sparks came along, youngest William superbly behaved. Both my sisters and their husbands came along and brought great cheer.
Nicole and Alex were the first friends we saw after such a long journey, Nicole looks the part in the car and seems to have dealt with the first challenge of drink driving: gradual acceleration so you don’t spill your drink.
Chaotic scenes on the finish line, couldn’t have asked for a better partner. We made it in some style.