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TheDoctor New Reader
1/19/16 6:44 p.m.

Well this build thread is only about 10 years behind... When I started this project people still used film cameras, you needed a computer to get on the internet, and Facebook was only for college students. The good news is that I can condense 10 years of sporadic progress into something more coherent and hopefully motivate me to finish this thing in the next 10 years

I'm going to try to start at the beginning and be as accurate as possible about the timeline.

In 2006 I was living in upstate NY, my wife and I had just returned from a 2 year work assignment in Germany where we had talked about picking up an old project car... Something small and unique (and cheap). Unfortunately we returned empty handed. As summer approached, I was still looking for a project, especially since I now had a place I could call my own and I finally had a garage (only 1.5 car). In late June I came across a carcass of a car I had never seen or heard of. What was left of it reminded me of a Siata, but it had been stripped of everything and left for dead in a suburban back yard. Unique, small and cheap. Project car indeed. I purchased the car and the previous owner delivered it to my house in a full size van. This was a tiny car.

Here I am checking it out before I bought it.

By late July, I had not done much with the car, but I had found a place to store it while I started searching for parts.

In the coming days and weeks, I try to keep adding details until I catch up to the current state of the car.

CLynn85 HalfDork
1/19/16 9:07 p.m.

Looking forward to this one.

Pushrod New Reader
1/19/16 10:28 p.m.

Bike Engine? Berkeley/Hayabusa has a nice ring to it...

TheDoctor New Reader
1/20/16 6:47 a.m.

I'd spent most of summer 2006 learning the history of Berkeleys and searching for parts. With the birth of our first child fast approaching I was starting to worry that lack of parts and time was going to turn this project into a race car bed for toddlers. Race car... Hmmm... That does fit my requirements of small, light, and fast. It would give me a fighting chance of making it rear wheel drive... Hmmm...

If you squint real hard, a Berkeley is like a tiny plastic Ferrari.

I always liked the look of the 50's GP cars and the Berkeleys do have a strong motor sports history. Stirling Moss drove an early car in fall of '56 at Goodwood and Lorenzo Bandini won his class in the 12 hour race at Monza in '58... OK race car it is, now I can stop looking for unobtainable parts.

Toyman01 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/20/16 6:54 a.m.

I know where the Bezerkeley chassis is. Just in case you wanted to kill yourself.

MrJoshua UltimaDork
1/20/16 6:56 a.m.

and I know where a bunch of stock Berkeley parts are if you want to kill yourself a little more slowly.

DocBrown New Reader
1/20/16 8:45 a.m.

Thanks for the leeds, but most of this project was done Pre-Bezerkeley; I'm just catching up on documentation at this point.

By the way, are my photos coming through OK? I'm linking through dropbox, but they get blocked on my work PC. Can anyone recommend a better way? I'm somewhat new to this.

theenico Reader
1/20/16 10:39 a.m.

The thread title made me think it was about a 58 year old Amyish cougar type lady.

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
1/20/16 10:43 a.m.

In reply to DocBrown:

Photos show up fine, I'm guessing your work blocks Dropbox.

NOHOME PowerDork
1/20/16 11:55 a.m.
Toyman01 wrote: I know where the Bezerkeley chassis is. Just in case you wanted to kill yourself.

At the risk of derailing what promises to be an awesome thread, what ever happened to the Bezerkley? I had high hopes of much hilarity, and yet it never came out in the magazine. Was it dangerous?

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Associate Editor
1/20/16 12:54 p.m.

It was actually in nine issues of GRM.


Long story short: it was really dangerous.

NOHOME PowerDork
1/20/16 1:10 p.m.
Tom Suddard wrote: It was actually in nine issues of GRM. https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/project-cars/1959-berkeley-sports/ Long story short: it was really dangerous.

I do recall the mechanical disappointment that was the gearbox and the suspension geometry. I was hopping to read more about the sphincter puckering effects of driving the thing on the limit. Never really did find out what was to be learned from the suspension design.

The series of articles gives the impression that it made it on track once at the challenge and was never really put to use again.

mazdeuce PowerDork
1/20/16 3:50 p.m.

I always wanted to try and drive it, just to see. Not enough to actually own it, but it's reputation makes me curious.

Toyman01 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/20/16 4:19 p.m.

Tedebayer on here tried to tame the beast. According to him, every time you fired it up, it tried to kill you. He separated the chassis and body and sold the chassis and engine to thewelder. It was stripped of the engine by thewelder on here. The chassis was then bought by Curmudgeon. He had plans to make it RWD but passed away before that happened. It's still sitting on his back porch and could probably be bought for next to nothing if anyone is interested. I would be happy to pass contact info to the family for anyone interested.

I'm think TedEbayer still has the body.


XLR99 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
1/20/16 5:12 p.m.

OK this thread is ridiculous. I'm in.

Needs moar pics and stuff, though! I can't believe how small it is over top of the DSM though!

GTXVette Reader
1/20/16 7:32 p.m.

Just think, If you could score all those other parts you would be the only person in the WORLD with 2 Berkeley's.(likely) Not sure what but the Idea's come forth Quickly.how about a large Shifter Cart. The car that won the Challenge has a VW Bug front and it turned very well. Or.....Or.... cool

TheDoctor New Reader
1/20/16 8:25 p.m.

BTW. Changed my screen name to 'TheDoctor' from 'DocBrown' to avoid confusion with 'Doc Brown'.

TheDoctor New Reader
1/20/16 8:45 p.m.

Anyway... Now that I had a direction, I was determined to make some progress before baby arrived. Assessing the situation, I could see why the car was scrapped. The body was in rough shape, the pan was crumbling and rotten, every panel had damage. I cleaned out all the spiderwebs and leaves, then applied about a gallon of resin to the backside of the body panels. The old dry fiberglass quickly absorbed everything.

Not much to save here so not feeling too bad about doing some heavy modification.

I made some careful measurements of the body, then packed it away again while I started my search for a donar chassis.

I had briefly considered building a chassis from the ground up, but I knew time was going to be tight for the forseeable future. I knew I didn't have the tools or skills to take on such a project, so I thought I could find a donar and use as many of the mechanical bits as possible. Again and again I kept running into the issue of size. There was just not enough room to fit much more than a cycle engine and there are not many cars using cycle engines to choose from. I had briefly considered a smart car chassis, but at the time they were very hard to come by in the US.

Toward the end of November of 2006, one of my neighbors was rebuilding his race car and I stopped in to have a look. He was running an air-cooled Yamaha legends race car and the dimension were close enough to the Berkeley to get me interested. The Longitudinally front mounted engine was coupled directly at the chain sprocket to a driveshaft. The driveshaft then joined a solid rear axle with an offset differential. Wheelbase was close enough to modify either the chassis or the body depending on how everything fit together. Most parts were standard and available. I decided my best bet was to just buy a used race car chassis.

Bare Legends Chassis

Offset Rear Axle installed

Offset Rear Axle detail

Through the winter months of 2006 and 2007 I searched for a suitably affordable chassis. Looking at both Legend and Dwarf cars.

MrJoshua UltimaDork
1/20/16 8:55 p.m.

OK-now i'm REALLY interested.

Dusterbd13 UberDork
1/20/16 9:24 p.m.

I like where this is going.

CLynn85 HalfDork
1/20/16 9:57 p.m.

TheDoctor New Reader
1/21/16 6:27 a.m.

More legend chassis pics...

TheDoctor New Reader
1/21/16 6:50 a.m.

A really nice dwarf chassis out of my price range.

Also spent the winter trying to figure out how to merge a dwarf and a berkeley.

TheDoctor New Reader
1/21/16 12:09 p.m.

As winter turned to spring, I spent many hours holding a baby and searching for an affordable dwarf chassis (I had given up on legends at this point as too expensive). Based on a measurements and guestimates, I figured the approximate difference in wheelbase between a dwarf and a Berkeley would be about 5", with the dwarf being longer. The engine would end up further back as would the firewall. It was also becoming clear that I should keep as much of the dwarf chassis intact as possible and make the Berkeley body fit around it. My plan was to separate the pan from the front and rear sections, scrap the rotten pan, then modify the front/rear sections to fit the chassis. The difference in wheelbase would be accounted for by adding length to the doors. Doing it this way, I keep all the suspension geometry, seating position, pedal box, shift linkages, and harness mounting points intact from the race car. By April of 2007, still no chassis but I felt like I had a good plan.

TheDoctor New Reader
1/21/16 7:18 p.m.

By the end of April 2007, the weather was warming up and I pulled the Berkeley down from its nest above the GSX.

I had narrowed down my chassis search to a couple of candidates and was getting ready to pull the trigger, when I found this:

Fully sorted race ready dwarf car (GSXR 1100 liquid cooled) with spares.

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