Ultima GTR - Getting ready, options and costs

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Sun 23rd July 2006.  
T minus 9 weeks.

One week since my initial order for :

Stage 1 - Chassis
Stage 2 - Aluminium Panels
Stage 3 - Pedal Set

To minimise noise from below (stones etc) I have gone for a double skin of panels (another 189) and a full RAC spec roll cage ( 920) on the basis that if I do have a crash, or someone hits me, then I stand a good chance of walking away.  So total to date is 4,691 plus the dreaded VAT.  In all the numbers that follow on this site, I'll exclude the VAT (trust me - more details a lot later on).

I've downloaded CJ's spec for a dolly on which to build the car through the initial stages and have enlisted the help of my good friend and neighbour Trevor who knows a good fabricator.  I'm also looking at the tools I will need (Ultima's list plus a few others they expect you to have, like a centre punch) and hope to get some practice in as far as rivetting goes.  There are over 1,000 to on the double skin and I have never done a single one !  Am also sourcing a small work bench or rollercabinet for all my GTR tools.

Will have more to report over the next week or two.  62 days to go and counting ....

Sun 30th July 2006
T minus 8 weeks

Spent a few hours over the last week perusing various tool magazines.  Screwfix and Dinstock seem to have everything I need - will place an order nearer the time.  The air rivetter needs a compressed air feed, so I may loan one, will see what deals there are.  May need a new set of (ratchet) spanners but they are not cheap.

Have looked long and hard at engine spec.  The silver demonstrator at Ultima has 500 horses and that was quick enough, but it would be nice to have a little more.  Trouble is, as the bhp rises so does the cost.  This prompted me to do a little adding up as to the final cost of the GTR.  I had a rough figure of 40k in mind.  Anyway, Amerspeed engines :

500 bhp - $ 11,795 ($ 24 for each bhp)
535 bhp - $ 12,350 ($ 16 for each extra 1 bhp)
550 bhp - $ 13,100 ($ 50 for each extra 1bhp)
600 bhp - $ 16,800 ($ 74 for each extra 1 bhp)
640 bhp - $ 17,230 ($ 11 for each extra 1 bhp)
700 bhp - $ 25,500 ($ 138 for each extra 1 bhp)
720 bhp - $ 26,600 ($ 55 for each extra 1 bhp)

What this tells me is that 535 bhp is good value for money.  But if you want more, you pay proportionally more and more for that extra bhp.  That said, if you are gonna go mad, go for 640 bhp, or 720 bhp, rather than something in between.  NB Amerspeed need a 50% deposit and 10 weeks delivery time.

Ultima say that the 383ci 535bhp engine is very driveable, returns reasonable MPG (not an issue really) and is pretty much bulletproof.  The supercharged version has 600bhp, costs $ 4,450 more and kicks out a lot more heat, which can be a problem. Having 600bhp does sound a great figure, but most owners I have spoken with say that anything over 500 is just "bragging rights".  Hmm - have plenty of time to decide - let's see how the rest of the build goes.

In terms, allowing for $ 700 delivery and $ 75 crating, plus 4% import tax, the 383ci 535 bhp engine comes to $13,650, or 7,583 at 1=$ 1.80.  With this engine, two fuel tanks, air con & heater, wing, AP racing brakes, Ultima seats / dials / wheels (in fact 100% ultima parts) and 200 for tools, the grand total comes to 44,000 for a very well specc'd GTR.

Sat 5th August 2006
T minus 7 weeks

Ordered all the remaining stages up to 14 (bodywork is 15).  I asked Ultima whether any of the "options" are needed during these stages of the build and they confirmed I need :

Chassis - Gas strut for rear canopy
Body - Luggage containers / covers
Engine bay - Clutch pipe and fittings / Accelerator cable kit and fixing brackets / Silicon water hose kit
Cockpit - Air con unit
Electrics - Battery cables / battery / clamp

Have also ordered the wheels and tyres (well, what would you do ?) and the AP racing brakes upgrade.

Total bill 14,662 (including delivery) so total spent now 19,353.  

A few things to note :

1) Order time on the above is 8 weeks, so you do need to pre order ahead of time to keep momentum on your build.
2) The air con has a built in heater, don't order both !
3) As before, Ultima charge a 25% deposit.  They don't offer bulk discounts or a reduction for cash (so slap it on the access card and get your Laithwaites free wine points !).
4) Order time on the bodywork is also 8 weeks - I'll order this when stages 1 to 5 are completed and I have an idea about the time for stages 6 to 14.
5) Delivery is extra ( 180), but they can get 1 - 14 in one load.

Mailed CJ again to ask about metric / imperial sockets - which does the GTR build use ?  Answer = both, so I need a nice new set with both sizes.  CJ's just added some vents into the top of his Can Am engine cover to help the heat escape (see his web site) - must remember to get a lower temp thermostat or at least ask Ultima about it, esp if I get the supercharged engine.

NB Pound on way up against the dollar (now $1.9 per 1).  If it keeps going north I may get the 600bhp engine within budget !

 Sun 20th August 2006
T minus 5 weeks

Time passing slowly ...  E-mailed Ted & Co to see if they anticipate an early delivery; unfortunately "no", they are pretty busy.

At least I have managed to have a good look at a few other build sites and have sourced a few tools at discount prices.  I'm keeping tabs on the tooling side too.  If, like me, you have a few tools but not a lot of specialist gear, then you might expect similar bills.  Even with discounts galore, I doubt that the 200 Ultima quote will come close.  Again, all figs exclude VAT.

Tooling to date

Work bench (see below).
Pillar drill.  
Air Riveter   
Air Nibbler  
3.2mm drills x 20
Deburring tool  
Cordless drill + 2 batteries
Various drill bits
Air hose & sockets
Metal rules
Spanner set
Digital calipers
Ties (various sizes)
Adjustable spanners
Dustpan & brush

Total tooling to date



See trip to Ikea (below)
Dinstock - special offer.  Table mounted (18kg).
Dinstock - special offer.
Dinstock - special offer.
Dinstock - special offer.
Dinstock - special offer.
Dinstock - special offer.


Although I like a trip to Ikea (Birmingham) as much as a poke in the eye, Ikea sell some sturdy pine tables for just 16 each.  Three of these clamped together make a strong 225cm workbench.

Dinstock in Telford are great for offers and stock everything under the sun .  Tel 01952 676700, or see www.dinstock.com.  The pillar drill is essential to drill neat straight lines of holes in the ally (*) panels

Those of you who visit Aldi will know all about their ecclectic supply of non-food products.  Next to the cans of beans you can find some interesting low, low price tools, and the digital caliper at 9 is fantastic (30+ at Dinstock).

So the tooling is nearly there now.  I will need to hire a few bigger items, like the hoist for the engine.  Ultima assume that you have some of the items like the cordless screwdriver, and I guess one could make do with a hacksaw rather than a nibbler.  But all the sites I have seen say that you need the air nibbler and riveter, otherwise it's a long slog.

Remaining items include a good socket set (got one already) and a copious supply of G clamps (on order).

Continuing the engine debate, I emailed Amerspeed to ask how much it would cost to dry sump the 535bhp engine, and what the increase in bhp would be.  Am still not sure where to pitch the power but if the dry sump takes it towards 600 then maybe that's the one to go for.  Hmmm .....

(*)  A note on Aluminium

All those "in the know" refer to Element 13 as "ally" or "ally-meeee-nium".  Say you are after "aluminium" and they look at you as if you have never bent, cut or riveted a sheet in your life (which in my case is correct !).  I have been trying to find a local firm that can supply a few sheets so I can practice my riveting, but no cee-gar.  Will have to set Trevor on the case ....

Fri 1st September 2006
T minus 3 weeks

A quick lunchtime update.  

Earlier in the week I called Ted to check progress and now have a definite delivery date : Fri 22nd September.  A day's holiday has been booked !  Looking forward to going through the parts check list, even though I know Ultima will have counted every nut and bolt twice.  Will also b interesting to see the "beautiful packaging" that everyone talks about.

Trev and Paul also came up trumps with the dolly that Paul had fabricated for me.  If the car looks as nice as the dolly then I'll be a happy man.  It's a work of art !  Powder coated with locking wheels.  See below.

Still haven't managed to try out the nibbler / riveter, as Ally still hard to source.  Will try over the weekend.

Still looking at engine options.  Toyed with getting the 640 bhp engine (and to Hell with the cost) but Ted confirmed that the 640 needs a special exhaust built that could add as much as 4,000 (so a quick U-turn from Hell).  Ted is also not totally convinced on the supercharged engine, saying that it is great as a track car and makes a great sound, but a little rough as a road car.  He also mentioned that Gail from Amerspeed (yes, Gail is a man's name in the US of A) recently built someone a 600+ bhp engine that didn't need a special exhaust, just some mods to cylinder heads.  Have fired off an e-mail to Gail to ask him how much etc but no reply as yet - will call later today if I remember.

Just remembered that I still need some G clamps.  Our Internet is "down" at the mo (bloody BT line !) so can't go e-searching.
Will head out on foot over the weekend.

Fri 15th September 2006
T minus 1 week

Seven days to go !

The engine has been ordered.  It's a monster !  Four hundred and twenty seven cubic inches of Chevy V8 muscle.  That's 7, yes seven, litres.  Standard exhaust system with a few mods on the head and the cam.  Should be a totally reliable, driveable but obvioulsy it's a phenomenally powerful engine.  Horsepower is well over 600 - the last one Gail did comfortable reached 627 bhp using slightly lower octane fuel than we have in the UK.  With Optimax it should be pushing out well over 640 bhp, so I can claim the world record run times as my own.  It's still sinking in, more bhp than a Mclaren F1 and 100kilos lighter.  Holy smokes !!!

Well back to more mundane stuff.  I've tried out the nibbler, which does need careful handling.  I've drilled my first practice holes and popped my rivet cherry.  Riveting seems quite easy with a hand held one, and you have more control, so perhaps I don't need the air riveter after all.  I still need a 90 degree drill - can't find one anywhere.  But everything else is ready to rock.  Even have the G clamps, 5 from "home bargains".

Insurance is a slight issue.  Ultima recommend a few companies but they admit that people get different quotes for the same car on different days of the week.  I've tried Adrian Flux and Footman James, both can provide cover but only Footman James do wedding car cover (see later).  Both may have an issue with the value of the car being over 50,000.  MSM is another company - they were useless - chased twice but never called me back.  My best result so far was Direct Line.  800 or so to cover unlimited miles and business use, but then they declined when I called to check the details on the basis that my GTR has a 7 litre rather than "standard" 5.7 litre engine.  That's underwriters for you ....  Anyway, I seem to be looking at 1,500 p.a. whichever route I end up going.

I thought I could insure the car during "build time" via an addition to my household insurance, but I can't.  It's a no go with all insurers.  Flux and James do a build policy, costing 300 for a year.  No refund if you build it in 2 months flat either.  What a rip off.  Will probably need to pay it as, if the worse happens and the garage goes up in flames, I'd be screwed.

That's it for the getting ready and costs section.  Before I go, an update on costs.  Ultima parts, including those still to be ordered, amount to 35,850.  The engine will be 9,852 and the tooling 450.  Insurance during build is 300.  With 1,000 to cover SVA testing and transportation as needed, this comes to 47,452.  It's a lot of dough but for what you get (assuming I can put it togther) it's amazing value for money.

On to stage 1 !!!


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