What is a Locost
Locost is the name that has been adopted universally to represent the brainchild of Ron Champion, originally named LowCost, revised to Locost the name represents a car built from the Haynes best seller book “Build Yourself a Sportscar for as little as £250”.
The whole Locost project started when Ron was the automotive engineering master at Oundle public school in the UK, not limited to a classroom Ron made his base in the Oundle Village garage giving him access to a wide range of fabrication equipment and tools, and a whole posse of budding Colin Chapman’s eager to create a masterpiece. At the same time Rons son eagerly approaching his driving test was keen to build a car himself, finances preventing him from buying the sports car of his dreams. The educational value of such a project was easily recognised and the concept was born, eagerly joined not only by his pupils, but their parents the Oundle village garage soon began to resemble a small factory.
Seeing the success and popularity of the project in 1996 Ron committed it to writing and approached Haynes to publish it as a book, this went on to be the company’s best ever publishing success and with the release of a second edition in 2000 has continued to rank amongst it’s best seller for many years right up to present day.
The book covers the construction of a two seater sports car from the cutting of steel to make a spaceframe chassis, through advice on donor parts to completion and with the new release even advice on how to race this in the immensely popular Locost racing series organised by the 750 motor club in the UK.
The starting point of the car is the chassis a spaceframe chassis of predominantly 16 gauge (1.6mm) rectangular tube steel, with levels of strength, torsional stiffness and light weight to most of its production rivals. The ‘book’ chassis can be improved on but for normal road use the original design has few flaws. The suspension followed traditional ideas of the time, the front end comprising of double round tube wishbones with Ford ball joints, uprights and hubs from the then copious supply of Cortinas in the scrapyards, a Ford Escort providing a suitable steering rack and column. The rear end comprising of a live axle from a Ford escort with trailing arms and panhard rod combination. The body being a combination of aluminium sheeting and glass fibre panels to produce an attractive outline not unlike Mr Chapmans creation.
The release of the book generated an almost cult like following and this in turn has produced a huge market which is still to this day growing at an amazing rate, the attraction of the car along with many peoples lack of ability to produce components to an adequate standard spawn a multitude of small companies producing all manner of parts for the Locost idea, many of these companies moving on to become more ‘traditional’ kit car manufacturers. Ron himself was a key member of one of the first companies, Locost Ltd, unfortunately Rons interest were never as a kit car component manufacturer, and the company sadly fell into demise, Grant Lockhead and Matt Wright of Luego Sportscars, who had for some time been producing chassis for Ron’s company, took over what remained of the business and still to this day produce parts and complete kits which stay true to the original design.
Many companies have developed within the Locost concept, causing a remarkable resurgence of the Kit car market not only in the UK but throughout the world, there is now a huge choice in commercially available cars which follow the Locost idea, with specification and options to suit any possible requirement. The lack of availability of suitable Escort and Cortina donors in the UK have persuaded many manufacturers to change the designs to accept the readily available Ford Sierra to be used as a donor, this producing a much improved design with a true Independent Rear suspension, whilst the Kent Crossflow engine still remains as a popular choice for a ‘traditional’ Locost the Ford Pinto engine and other high performance engines from Vauxhall and Rover offering truly amazing performance from this sportscar. Here in South Africa we still have access to the Cortina and Escort donor parts, although many opt straight for the Sierra as a donor, the Toyota engines we have readily available provide an excellent choice for a Locost car.
So assuming you decide to follow one of the varied routes to completing your own Locost, what can you expect to create, as always the answer has to do with costs, there are several reasons for opting for a lesser priced alternative to the guiding light of the Caterham Seven. Though the Caterham has undoubtedly been the catalyst for many a sports car dream, there are many who either cannot afford it or, if they can, are not prepared to invest the cost of ownership in a car which may spend the majority of it’s life parked in a garage. In addition, the Locost concept has produced a worldwide ‘club’ of likeminded individuals who will enthusiastically offer advice and experience for any manner of Locost build, The availability of economically priced components allow you to achieve an enormous amount of satisfaction from actually building a car yourself rather than just assembling a kit, whatever your ability.
Locost SA are committed to assisting SA builders by offering a 'one-stop' source for all products needed to succesfully complete your build, wether it be from scratch or from a kit.
The forum is a perfect meeting place to chat and get advice on your build, by getting involved in such a forum will drive you one to finish your goal, whilst offering the facility to discuss and resolve problems as a group rather than struggling along on your own.