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Oakie's Manta B1 dedicated ring tool


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Hi guys,

I'm just starting out on a new project so I thought it might be helpful (for me) to write a few details about it as I go along. It's going to be a long one, so be patient!!

So, introductions.

My name is Nick, I've been lucky, I've done a bit of racing and the odd track day, but a few years ago I decided to visit the Nurburging. Obviously I would need a decent car to do it in, so after much youtube trawling, I decided it had to be an E39 M5. Obviously as that was what they were using for the Ring taxi at the time.



It was great, I did 7 laps, drank far too much, averaged 6mpg, met some top folks and generally really enjoyed myself.

Thing is, driving the Ring in your £20k daily driver really made no sense. They guys having the most fun all drove DRT's. Or dedicated ring tools. So they M5 was promptly sold and a plan hatched.

We built two- both mk2 Golfs, one with a 2.0 16v making 195bhp (dark grey) and one with 270bhp 1.8t. The latter was my one and has been a real labour of love. The BMW is a car built for another mate of mine.



This is what happens when the body flexes!


Anyway after I had finished the car and done a few more track days with it, I got bored and started looking for something else. The 20vt was sold to a mate of mine, as was my beloved Caterham which had endured 3000km on the Ring with me thrashing it's testicles off.


I knew what I wanted to do. When I was 18 (ahem sadly nearly 20 years ago now) I owned a Manta Berlinetta- I loved that car so much. I wanted another one.


The search began. But I live in France nowadays and so it had to LHD. Also there is a different attitude towards cars in france, so finding one that had not been used as a tractor/ barn/ door stop was proving tricky.

I eventually found this one owner 1976 Manta B1, with 1.9s, 4 speed, and a genuine 140,000km. Documented.


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The body is basically in good order. I found one piece of rust in the base of the A post that will need attending too first.


Great dash:


An engine with a carburettor!! Check out the airhorns!


13" wheels


and SOOOOOOOOFT suspension. This is my 35kg son just checking it out!


So to the plan:

This is no cheque book build- please don't get the wrong idea, I'm not rich or anything, I got all these toys and did all the track stuff by running up huge credit card bills!

I'm moving house again in November, so until then I will not be working on the car, just accumulating parts. First thing ordered will be a cage from custom cages. We fitted one of those in the orange BMW above and they are incredible.

I am undecided about going redtop or Duratec. Problem is that being LHD an XE will have the primaries routing straight onto the steering shaft. Duratec is the other way round but bloody expensive.

Gearbox I think will be ford type 9, five speed, but if I go for a duratec the MX5 six speed bolts straight on.

I want a Quaiffe diff, would love to convert it to IRS but it looks like too much work.

So how can you lot help me????

Has anybody got a build diary of an XE conversion?

What do you guys use for the rear disc conversion?

Are there any particular weak spots I should be looking for?

Really appreciate any tips you guys can give me, email me on nickoak@me.com if you have any parts I might need too!

Cheers and check back regularly- I'll be starting in earnest from November I hope!


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Hi Nick

very impressive golfs, that much power from one of them must have surprised a few people on the track

not sure about build diaries as such but i know there's quite a few discussion threads on the forum about XE conversions and drum to disk upgrades as well as many really clever people

I'm not a technical person by any means but If the exhaust on an XE engine gets in the way, would an LET engine clear it any better? i've never looked at the two side by side but i'd have thought it'd be different what with the turbo unit being there, plus you could fabricate a different manifold to move the turbo around?

Of course that idea could be as easy as saying "well, couldn't we just move the channel tunnel over a few feet..."

please keep us up to date with the project and good luck with it

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Hi Karoshi,

Thanks for the response.

yes the Golf surprised quite a few! I ran a low ratio box in it so top speed was not that impressive, but pulling 145mph on various back straights did give the odd 911 driver reason to look in his mirror twice!

After much digging I have decided to go for the 2.2 ECOTEC engine. They are cheap, relatively modern and tuneable. Have bought an old Vectra with this in as a donor car and will see how it all looks.

Pics to follow.


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I love the ring and for sure the best cars on it are always the crappest the one having the most fun Ive seen was a vw camper van total nutter but well driven..

Ive got a c20xe in mine not much help to you as mines rhd but its weak part is the gearbox I use a std 1.8 manta box at the moment would like to convert to a 265 getrag from a monza/400 much stronger than the ford box btw...but the bellhousing for the 16v abit of a sod to get but the std 1.8 manta box is ment to take 200bhp I used to put over 270 thru mine but when Im on track will break one every outing.

As for weak parts of the car I always have problems with the 2nd carousel as on the exit due to being much lighter you loss the backend on the hump even with my zf lsd its hard to control.The other items you may want to look at are the front xmembers may need boxing in see one of the other project cars below but this is always a good thing to do anyway.

The rear disc on mine are solid mk3 ford escort disc redrilled these are very cheap and the calipers are from a granada or escort cossy both the same, you can also get the vented disc from the cossy but Ive never needed them,the fronts I run 305mm willwood and dynalite 4 pots and a bias box.

Ecotec engine are ment to be abit prone to problems when tunned but as you say are cheap not sure if you can or not but look into changing the cambelt pulleys for the c20xe steal over the plastic later crap

btw c20ex will fit into lhd you can get manifolds but they are quite restrictive to flows and will keep your bhp down..

Hope Ive been of some help :thumbup

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