Daihatsu Applause rally car build part 1

Rescued from the jaws of the crusher post 1.

This story started with a casual chat at our end of year car club presentation in November 2015. As with any motorsport function, the conversation got around to cars and particularly what may be available to use for the Clubman Cup. At that time there weren’t many cars available for sale. Our conversation focussed on starting rallying and a first car needs to be a relatively cheap and simple machine to get a foot in the door.
To give some background to this discussion, we have to go back a couple of years. One of our team was after a new Khanacross car and at the time they requested a car with a roll cage. I had a good think and knew of a car that may fit the bill in the form of a Daihatsu Applause. I’d been offered the car some years earlier, however declined as we had no need for it at the time. Since then, the car had changed hands and was possibly going to be scrapped as the current owner had no use for it.
Daihatsu_Applause_KhanacrossOriginally in the early 90’s, Daihatsu had sponsored the Australian Rally Championship and through certain deals, two or three Japanese import Applauses were given to Rally Australia to be converted into course cars (officials’ cars). Those Applauses were 4WD, naturally aspirated 1.6 machines sporting the 16 valve EFI engines that were also fitted to the Charade Detomaso. The cars had basic roll cages, seats and harnesses and were used for a couple of years by Rally Oz before being sold off. For a while the cars were used in a rally driving school and then sat for several years, occasionally changing hands along the way. By the time I went to look at one of the Applauses, even for a Khanacross car it needed some work. The main attraction was the welded in roll cage. A day or two of tinkering in the workshop had the car up to Khanacross spec and then for a few events, the car was raced.

One thing that I failed to mention earlier was that the 4WD transmission had been removed from the car and a front wheel drive gearbox fitted in its place. The conversion had not been done very well and poor mounting resulted in stripped threads in the gearbox and a couple of driveshaft failures. After one such failure, the Applause was parked up whilst we decided what to do with it.
We found a replacement Khanacross car so the Applause sat until one day whilst pondering, I realised the cage in the car was compliant with the current regs in terms of base pattern and tube specs. It only needed four additional bars to be welded in to get the cage up to state level. I put some thought into building or rather rebuilding the car into an entry level rally car. Added to that, the green and yellow machine already had rally suspension, race seats and harnesses so the whole thing seemed like a straight forward enough project. This is where we will re-join the car club presentation dinner conversation.
I happened to mention the Applause and my plans and within a few days the car was back in our workshop and we were underway. It was fair to say that the car had suffered a hard life at times in its past history and here and there evidence could be seen. Our first task was to establish a base line. A compression test surprisingly showed healthy numbers in all cylinders and structurally the shell was straight and sound with no rust or major damage. Most of the suspension parts and other mechanicals had fared well too.
Whilst we were taking the car apart, the new owner had located a complete and running 2wd Applause road car that we could use to garner any bits we needed. The donor was one of those “little old lady” cars with only 120,000km on the clock and a full service history.
As the gearbox needed replacing, it didn’t take long to decide to swap all the major mechanicals from the donor to the rally car as a complete unit. Ordinarily, we’d have split the engine and box to replace the clutch, however a receipt for a new clutch was in the paperwork in the donor’s recent past, so the rally car will retain a standard unit to begin with and a race clutch will follow down the track.
With the old mechanicals out (to be saved for use as spares), the brakes were tended to next. The rally car had an early form of (complex) ABS fitted. Once removed, we estimated that the set up weighed about 20kg! We took the booster, master cylinder and some of the front brake lines from the donor and bolted them into the rally car without the need to completely re-plumb the front brakes. We’d sort the rears later as it was a little more complicated.Daihatsu_Applause_rally_car_engine_bay
The donor engine and box went in, complete with drive shafts and the good exhaust system from the rally car was mated up to the standard manifold. In time to come a set of extractors will be fitted, however right now, the emphasis of the build is to get the car out there competing with upgrades to follow as required. During re-assembly the front suspension was all re-bushed with Nolathane and a couple of parts that were worn or distorted were replaced with good units from the donor.

Next post will cover the interior, fuel system and external cosmetics.

Karl Drummond

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