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Found 1 result

  1. Mark (smokey mow)

    Smokey's JW4 Formula Four Rebuild Thread

    Much anticipated, and as promised, but before i give you the rebuild thread, first a history lesson...... Whenever I seem to mention Formula four people seem to pause for a moment, look at me and then question "did you say formula ford?" my answer is of course "no" which generally leads towards discussions about what exactly was formula four? When I speak of Formula Four i am referring to the 1960's variety, although more recently the columns of the motor sports media is once again being filled with talk of both FIA and MSV Formula 4. This thread is not about single seaters with wings producing 185bhp and costing in excess of £30,000 but instead something entirely different and originating from the grass roots of motor-sport. Formula four racing can trace it's origins back to 1962 in the US where the first F4 races were held. The cars were typically scaled replicas of the F1 cars and powered by 250cc motorcycle engines. It didn't take too long for the idea to be brought to Britain by American Servicemen working in Europe and in 1963 Trak-kart built the 500cc Triumph engined TK. As the concept gathered momentum in Europe in 1965 Tecnokart in Italy began producing the Tecno powered by 250cc Ducati engines and In the same year the first Johnny Walker cars appeared from their Gloucestershire factory with the JW4 Mk1 powered by the 250cc Villiers Starmaker. Johnny Walker was better known at the time for operating a bearings and machine tools business but he had a keen interest in motor sports through his son Stephen for which he'd built a kart they'd successfully competed. Walker saw the potential of Formula 4 and their first car emanated from someone who approached them with a design into which they built in the 250cc engine. The car was initially competed against the 750cc motor-club cars and with the interest this created Johnny Walker Racing Ltd was subsequently born. They employed David Peers a racing designer as their manager, together with a couple of engineers with previous racing car building experience and entered negotiations with the RAC and FIA for the formula to be officially recognised. The first car the Mk1 was 250cc but this proved to be slow and unreliable so the 650cc Mk2 was born fitted with a BSA engine and reportedly was capable of 120mph around Castle Combe. One of the conditions of the new Formula was that the cars should have a basic price (complete with engine) for less than £650. And following the new formulas acceptance by the RAC production of the new cars began. The regulations allowed for 3 classes which were 250cc and 650cc using motorcycle engines and 875cc which used car derived engines. The Mk3 & Mk4 JW4's were fitted with 875cc Imp and Saab engines. All the classes were tightly controlled for cost and engine tuning. Initially while the grids were small the cars were competed with the 750 motor club in Formula Libre however for 1967 and 68 they had their series comprising of around 7 rounds which included the British Grand prix meeting at Silverstone in 1967. Notable works drivers at that time for JW4's were Bev Bond and Derek Minter who had switched to four wheels following his retirement from motorcycle racing. In 1968/69 Johnny Walker teamed up with aerodynamic designer Frank Costin and together they built a completely new car the Costin Walker. The chassis was designed for a number of different engine options including Imp, Honda, Saab and Ford. It could also take any FIA formula 2 engine making it eligible for Formula 5000. In 1969 the car was exhibited at the international Racing Car show at Olympia receiving much interest and publicity. It was unfortunate that just as Formula four was starting to get going Johnny Walkers firm suddenly went into liquidation. This left left Tecno as the only major manufacturer and a handful of smaller companies producing specials and in November 1969 Johnny Walker retired from racing. It's reported that altogether some 50 cars were built and shipped all over the world including Japan, Jordan, Sweden, Belgium and Germany. Formula four racing ended soon after, but the cars lived on by adapting to complete in many different series and in 1970 the 750mc took Formula four under its wing amending the regulations to allow for 1000cc engines and aerodynamic devices. The JW4 did however live on to be used as the base for the Jedi Mk1 and many of the original cars have since evolved and now wear Jedi Bodywork and modern motorcycle engines. How many original cars still exist i cannot be sure? Of the owners I have managed to make contact with all the cars are now "slicks and wings" Jedi's and I'm only aware of two other cars such as my own that may be close to original, one in the USA and the other possibly now in south Wales. So that's the history of Formula four.... soon to follow a bit about the history of my car...
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