Neil Fletcher Racing

HAVOC Article No 1.

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Dear Andy,

I was glad to see from Karen Roberts letter (HAVOC Oct/Nov/Dec 88) that someone else still uses their AVO car for what it was intended. So I decided to drop you a few lines about my Mexico. 

Firstly I am sending you registration forms for two Mexicos I own. One of these, FIA6386 is only a pile of bits sitting in the corner of a barn on our farm, I hope to start a major restoration job on this girl sometime later in the year. My other Mexico JIJ9975, (originally OGL411L) is our rally car. Like Karen I also use my Mexico for various forms of motorsport, autotests, navigation rallies, stage rallies etc.

  I bought this Mexico about five years ago and drove it on the road for about a year and a half. Unfortunately by this time it had got rather rough body wise so I decided to pension her off and use her for Autotests which I had been doing in a Dutton. To cut a long story short she lay in our yard for nearly two years before I got round to doing anything with her. In the meantime I bought an engine-less big wing escort 8833 UI. Into this we put the engine out of JIJ. We did four years of navigation rallies in this car, our best year being 1987 when we finished second overall in the Northern Ireland Navigation Rally Championship but I'm getting away from the point.

  About two years ago we started on JIJ and decide to build her into a car that we could do various types of motor sport events in. Needless to say after sitting outside for another two years the dreaded "brown death" had really taken hold. It didn't help when one stormy March night one of our cattlehouse doors blew open, it didn’t hit the Mexico but some of the cattle made a bid for freedom and you guessed it, my car was in the way. The cattle charged off down the lane leaving the Mexico in need of a bonnet, front panel and drivers wing. 

 After this I moved the car into the garage (hayshed really) and started by stripping everything out. We put a couple of old mattresses on the floor and rolled the car on to its side. Out came the air chisel, you only think a car is bad until you start cutting out the bad bits, there really wasn't much left. About this time I got a Mig welder until then I had only used Oxy-Acetylene for welding and brazing but I don't think I could have done all the work I did to the car without the Mig. It really is a great tool. Well I did all the usual Escort preparation jobs, seam welding, gussets, radiator supports etc. This was as well as new sills, driver’s footwell and the parts wrecked by the cattle. When this was done I said "let's go the whole hog and fit a 5 link kit". Well our local goodie shop was looking about as much as our car was worth for everything we needed, so I made my own turrets, body boxes, links etc and only bought what I couldn't make myself.

 By the summer of 88 I had a fully prepared shell all ready to be painted but the small matter of my wedding to Carmel intervened. I was not allowed to paint the car until after the honeymoon in case I turned up at the Church with Sebring Red hair. Just at this point I would like to thank Anne and Tony Quenault and the other Jersey AVO members for their hospitality when Carmel and I were over there on honeymoon.

 Once back from Jersey I started the build. This took nearly four months, many of the parts I took from my original rally car 8833UI. In November we had JIJ ready for her first event, a local club navigation rally and even with some teething troubles like clutch slave cylinder failure we managed to finish second overall and first in our class. Our next event, the final round of the 1988 N I Navigation Championship was not so lucky, we had our second retirement of the year. The problem was alternator failure, a connecting rod went straight through it, it was quite a bang as everything locked up at seven thousand five hundred rpm in mid-corner and we slid into the hedge. Luckily there was no other harm done apart from a blown engine and we were able to spend the winter months building a new one and trying out a few new ideas on the car. No matter what you do there always seems to be another job still to do so I'll have to go now and finish off the preparation for the 1989 season which starts this weekend. I'll try to keep you posted as to how we get on and maybe give you some more info on our rallying Mexico.

All the best.

Neil Fletcher

FMX 800J - RS1600
JIJ 9975 – Mexico
FIA 6386 – Mexico
Membership No. 1472


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