In 2002 Almac went back to the replica market.

by Patrick Harlow
clubsprint parts

The original CLubsprint had a narrow track and used Ford Escort running gear.

Strangely in 2002, after building a replica Cobra, and then breaking away from the replica with the TC\TG, and even more so with the Sabre, Almac returned to the replica market with the Lotus 7 styled ClubSprint. The main reason was consumer demand with the Cobra being the second most produced kit on the market it seemed only natural to go to the most common. What the Cobra has in raw power and simple beauty the 7 sacrifices for speed and handling.

With Sabre sales not going anywhere Alex started looking around again for another car to produce. This time it was fortunate that most of the hard work had been done. In the factory of 'Graham Berry Race Cars' was a completed chassis and jigs for a Seven-type car. Graham had tinkered around with it but had never really gotten the car ready for production and it had only sold in very small numbers through word of mouth. As Alex already had made most of the moulds for it, this would be the ideal car to add to his production line.

As per usual Alex developed the car to take a single donor. His intention was to make it a cheap kit car that could be built for less than $10,000. Cobras were somewhere in the forty thousand plus range to build and the Sabre was in the upper twenties to low thirties.

To keep costs down the little Seven was based on the Mark 1 or 2 Ford Escort. Once the jigs arrived in his factory, Alex went about getting it ready for mass production which involved the construction of several more jigs and writing a build manual. The car was introduced to the public as the Almac Clubsprint through Classic Car in 2002.

With a shape that is governed by function rather than beauty this little car has survived since the fifties in what is visually an unchanged format. It’s ancestor, the series three Lotus 7, was considered a very fast car in its day as it could go from 0 to 100kmh in about 18 seconds. Today’s 7 replicas have the advantage of modern technology and some of its siblings can do it in under 5 seconds. The 7 is generally not as expensive to build as the Cobra due to the number of unique Cobra type parts required, many Cobras have cost over $40,000 to build. Costs of the Cobra are also dependent on the sort of V8 motor and specs that the builder has decided he wants to do. Comparatively the Clubsprint could be built for between 9 and $12,000 dollars if the builder completes his car using only the donor car’s parts.

As the Escort based kit could be purchased for about $4,500 it was intended to be an entry level car. A key advantage this car had over others of its kind, besides price - was the fact that all - fibreglass panels can be used for the body work which were gelcoated in a wide range of colours and avoided the expense of painting. It’s competition i.e. other 7esque cars such as Chevron, Fraser and Leitch, use aluminium for a reasonable proportion of the body work which either needs to be painted or regularly polished to keep it presentable.

Powered by its Escort donor motor it was never the fastest 7 on the market but due to the high power to weight ratio it could still give most pocket rockets a run for their money and easily beat them out of a corner. Alex used his fibreglass skills to make a nice pair of bucket seats and the car had the option of the more aerodynamic cycle guards over the more traditional clamshell type. Unlike other cars, this had a boot which had been nicely moulded and is about all that sets this car apart from its ilk.

Clubsprint S1

Orignally designed by Grahame Berry, in 2002 Almac took on the production rights for this little car.

Clubsprint S1

Clubsprint XL

Clubsprint XL is wider and better, based on modern MX5 parts.

Clubsprint XL

Clubsprint XL

By 2007 Alex was very aware that the Ford Escort was an endangered species. In 2008 production of the Escort based car was stopped after four cars had been produced and Alex started work on a wide-bodied Clubsprint. This would not only use a modern car as the donor, it would be 140mm wider and more user friendly. The car chosen was the MX5 with its huge parts base and proven capabilities. For several years this would be called the Clubsprint XL referring to its extra-large width.

This kit only cost about $4,800 depending on what extras the builder wished to purchase. Once again the all-fibreglass gelcoated body panels did not require painting and the builder could choose from a wide range of colours. In additon, there is an extensive range of after-market parts and go faster bits that are available for the MX5 whch could be used by the builder to get the performance desired..

Mechanically the car had all the mechanical advantages of the MX5 but with superior handling due to the low centre of gravity and weight. The entire rear independent suspension could be unbolted from the donor car and rebolted in the Clubsprint. Wiring loom, dashboard, steering, brakes, engine and gearbox all came out of the donor car. Any MX5 could be used, from its first rendition in 1990, up until the release of the 2005 model. Builders would have the bullet proof reliability of the MX5, but in the classic and more aggressive lines of the Clubsprint.

Once again Alex has used his fibreglass skills to make several fibreglass mouldings to improve the look of the car and to make it more user friendly with such extras as a centre console and an armrest to assist in entry. The car was built with adjustable bucket seats and to accommodate drivers over 1.8 metres in height. Alex used his design skills on the proportions on the body so that the final car did not look any bigger than other sevens unless they were parked side by side. Like the Escort-based car, Alex ensured that it has a boot for storing some luggage. However, this boot also allowed for the stowage of the spare wheel, removing the need to bolt the wheel onto the rear of the car. The spare used is the space saver wheel found in the boot of most MX5s and removed the additional expense of the builder having to buy that 5th mag wheel which seldom saw the road anyway.

The Xl has proved to be even more successful than the narrowbodied Clubsprint. Since 2007 there has been a consistent demand for this car with no sign of production stopping anywhere in the near future.

Contact Details

34 Rockford Street
New Zealand

Email: [email protected]