Building a Rally Car- MP3 Podcast

Episode 5 in our series on how to get into RallyingFitting_Escort_Seat

In this episode we cover building a rally car. Where to start, where the greatest expenses are and what is needed to get a car together.

Download here: Get_ into_Rally_5  or right click and “Save As” (MP3, 28 minutes)

Topics for this episode?-

  • Building a rally car.
  • Let’s get stuck in.


  • In the EP, we’re going to be looking at building a Clubman Cup Car. So the first rally car then? Yes however some of this will transfer into higher level cars as well.

Clubman (WA) & ARC

  • In EP4 we covered  2WD formats so you can pick either front FWD or RWD.

Building a Car

  • As part of the build do we need to set a budget? Yes, very important and also a time frame. Why a time frame? Well, if you’re going to build a car in a hurry, it will invariably cost a lot more money, it could be up to 50% more. If you take longer to build a car, your expenses are spread out and you have more time to search for bits and pieces. If you have to order parts, freight can make a big difference if you need items quickly.
  • Where do we start, need a base to build into a rally car? Yes, the trick here is to build a car that’s easy and cheap to source parts for. Why? Explain
  •  Currently in FWD, the Hyundai Excel leads the way and in RWD, the Nissan Silvia. Why? Explain
  • Do you build the car yourself or get someone else to build it?  A done for you service, where we can find and build a rally car for you. Or complete parts of the build and you do the rest etc. or to contact us or you can do it yourself.  Tip: Buy with your head, not your heart. So like we talked about in EP4, don’t just buy something shiny that’s full of rust or needs huge amounts of mechanical work. Correct.
  • If our listeners are going to do it for themselves, what do they need to do? Same as we talked about in EP4. Do the research and ask around.  If you build a popular car, the known problems and weaknesses will already have been discovered by others which will make your build much easier as you can address the issues during the build.
  • Next step to buy road car to build? Yes. The trick is to get the best car you can as cheaply as possible. Depending on your skill level or budget, a car with mechanical problems or slight damage may be a good option. What about buying a brand new car off the show room floor and building that? Yes it that does happen, it depends on your budget, however it’s usually not done for a Clubman car. Building from brand new is usually for someone wanting to tackle national or international events.

Found a car

  • So you’ve sorted the car, what next? Start looking at getting max power out of the engine? No mate. Classic mistake. Engine is the area to focus on last. Why? Well, if you have heaps of power for the straight lines all well and good, however if you aren’t able to stop and turn or the car is unsafe, what good is all the power?
  • So what first? First up is to fully assess the car (which should have been mostly done before purchase) and work out what is worn or damaged and how much mechanical work needs to be completed and start getting it sorted. Why not body work such as paint first? Well if you arrive at scrutineering and your paint is faded, chipped or scratched, chances are they’ll let you compete, however if your brakes or suspension are worn or damaged, there’s no way you’ll be starting the event without fixing it.

Roll cage & shell prep

  • Next is the type of roll cage to fit. How many choices are there? There’s a few choices, we don’t want to get too bogged down in it so we’ll just go over it broadly. Can you just get some pipes and make your own roll cage? Not exactly. CAMS have a set minimum design and material list that cages must be constructed of. You can build your own cage if you have the equipment and skills, however it’s fair to say that most don’t. You can either fit a weld in or a bolt in roll cage and it depends on budget, time, the value and type of car, skill level etc. The best bet is to ask around at your car club for advice and do some research.
  • Whilst talking about the cage, there’s a bigger task of shell preparation. What is shell prep? Stripping the body shell, like removing the seats, carpet, roof lining & other unnecessary items, additional welding, adding brackets and mountings etc. It is usually the most time consuming part of a build.


  • What next? From a cost point of view, possibly the biggest single expense is likely to be suspension or rather dampers (shock absorbers?) Yes. It’s one of the most crucial parts of a rally car. Is this because of the work it does and the pounding it takes on a rally? Yes exactly. We always advise to fit the best suspension your budget will allow. Uneven roads, high speeds and jumps all take their toll. Standard road suspension will just not cope and you need suspension that will handle the hard work for km after km and not throw you off the road at high speed. There may be a lead time on suspension as well so it’s best to get onto early.
  • OK so cage and suspension is sorted, what next. The order that tasks are completed depends on what else has been removed from the car during shell prep and what parts have been ordered. Even if the standard engine and gearbox are retained, we recommend replacing the clutch. Why? Well many parts on a rally car can be replaced during service (providing you have spares), pulling a gearbox and replacing a clutch is generally a time consuming task and usually cannot be completed in the allotted time. Better to replace it whilst the car is apart at home then tackle it on an event.

Seats & Harnesses

  • Race seats and compliant race harnesses should factor highly on the list too. Can you use the standard seats and seat belts? You can use standard seats, however it is not recommended as they are much heavier than race seats and don’t offer as much side bolstering which means you can move around a lot in the seat. You have to use compliant race harnesses, you cannot use standard lap sash seat belts. There are certain types and standards that must be used, CAMS have a list. Fire extinguishers, first aid kit and reflective triangles also rank on the safety list along with correct roll cage padding.


  • What about brakes?Need to stop, whatever you start. Definitely we advise to service the brakes, flush fluid and replace worn or damaged parts. Depending on your driving style and type of car will determine whether you need to upgrade brakes. It may also be worth upgrading brake linings to a h/d or race compound. You mean brake pads or shoes? Yes. Again, it’s worth asking around amongst your car club, getting online and/or talking to a performance brake specialist.


  • What about under the car?Are there guards etc that need to be fitted? Yes, we always fit an alloy sump guard aka bash plate to protect the engine/trans, where required we may fit under body protection to the floor pan/sills and fuel tank guards. It is also mandatory to fit mud flaps.
  • What else is needed?There’s still a long list. Items such as a rally computer (we now recommend and fit Monit GPS computers), map reading light, helmet hammock, an intercom for driver/nav comms, additional lights if the car is going to be rallied in the dark, bonnet pins, spare wheel restraints etc.
  • Does the car need to comply to road traffic requirements?In most regards yes. That means that all the lights, indicators, horn, washers/wipers, doors etc must be operate correctly as rally cars are driven on public roads during rallies.


  • What about paperwork? We talked about a log book in EP 4, what about for a new rally car? Yes new rally cars also need a log book. Basically the car needs to be complete to be inspected and signed off by a CAMS appointed chief scrutineer. The inspection will involve looking at all aspects of the car and if the scrutineer is satisfied the car has been put together properly, they will sign off on a log book application form. The fully completed form needs to be sent to CAMS along with a roll cage form. If CAMS are satisfied with everything and the application fee is paid, a log book will be issued as well as a sticker to be affixed to the roll cage.
  • What about vehicle licensing for the road? It varies from state to state so best to check with your local office or ask at your car club.


  • What about the engine and more power? With most rally cars, there is a process of upgrading once the car starts competing. Examples? Well it may be as simple as adjusting a seating position or finding a place for holding spare pens or it may be mechanical like upgrading to bigger brakes or more engine power. We take the view that it’s better to get out there with what you have, start competing and upgrade the car to suit your driving.

More Info

  • Where can our listeners find more info? There’s a couple of places. Our site actually has the details of two separate builds that go into much more depth than we have covered here. Where, just on the home page? Yes, the posts are detailed on the home page.

Also for Australian rally cars, the CAMS manual and appendices contains all the info on what is allowed and what isn’t as far as cars go.