August 1997

The Skeetle - by Alan Bellamy

Have you noticed how most modern cars look the same. Ford or Fiat, Rover or Renault, from fifty yards it’s hard to tell the difference. It’s the same with trials machines. It’s all Beetles, Escorts, Marlins and Troll/Cannon/Dellow. When you do see a new special they tend to be what Tom Threlfall calls a "Latvian tractor chassis with a Beetle engine". (Letters to Tom please, not me!).

Into this dull world come a couple of characters who liven the scene with something a bit different, Dave Nash and Alan Bellamy. Alan has campaigned a VW Notchback in class six for quite a few years and is currently restoring a Brasilia. After a few years with a very rapid Rapide, Dave Nash embarked on some special building. Here is the tale, told by Alan Bellamy.

"Nashy tells me you want to write about the Skeetle.  Well here's how it all started, from my point of view.  Many years ago, like 35,  I used to do a bit of mud plugging.  Dave was quite a bit younger than me, so he could only come and watch.   I went on to have a go at many other forms of motor sport and lost touch with Dave when he moved to Milton Keynes.

Eventually we got together again, about eight years ago, when I was looking for a navigator for the Lands End.  Dave really enjoyed himself and decided he had to have a go himself.  I was the one with the work shop and tools but it was Dave who had the enthusiasm.  His step-father was a Skoda main agent so Dave decided to support the marque and use one of the Czech rear engined machines for his Classic attack.  We talked about all sorts of ideas and mods, mostly on the long drive home after MCC events.   We could see the potential and started with an ex autocross car from Holland, but the cam was a bit too hairy.  Then came a lovely blue car, which unfortunately ended up losing a head on clash with a fire engine!!!!

Next came the yellow car, and we really started to modify this machine.  However the main problem we had was getting a good power to weight ratio.  A tweaky cam was necessary to get the motor to produce any decent power but this was all at the top end and we wanted it lower down the rev band. So one day on our return from the Lands End we dreamt up the car that ended up as Noddy.  We had the opinion that removing all the interior trim would help to bring the power to weight ratio more in our favour.

Unfortunately we got a bit carried away and ended up removing 24 inches out of the middle of the car.  When we welded it back up again we eliminated all non-essentials, including the roof!  This had the desired effect and with the engine from one of the later Skoda's went very well, picking up some medals on the way and setting FTD at the Testing Trial.  With my uncle having been the work shop foreman at Frazer Nash for over twenty years, and Dave's surname being Nash, it just had to be Skoder-Nash .   When it was finished it looked just like Noddy’s car so we painted red blue and yellow!  Unfortunately some MCC luminaries didn’t share our sense of humour so we re-painted it in a conservative shade of blue.  Noddy hated his new colour and detached himself from the A frame while being towed home from the paint shop to the detriment of his body work!


skeetle

The completed Skeetle has yet to be blooded in competition. It has a really super paint job. Will it compete in class seven or eight?

We wanted more power so we started looking at bigger and more powerful engines. The Fiat twin cam was the top of our list, the question was would the gear box take the power?   After much debate it seemed obvious that a new car was going to come about.   With Dave’s passion for Skoda’s and mine for VW’s a bit of each seemed the way to go!  So the Skeetle was born.  Dave managed to get hold of one of the original Skoda Cabriolets, and we eventually married it to a Beetle floor pan.   Now we needed a 1600 VW engine and one came along thanks to a rather rusty Brasilia from Andy Clarke.  Dave wanted to take the engine out and scrap the rest.  But I managed to talk him out of this by giving him a good type three motor.  This fits well and gives a lower centre of gravity and more room in the boot area (enough for a spare wheel to be mounted over the engine).


noddy

"Noddy" at the top of Calton on the Edinburgh in 1994, before the ruts were filled in. Afterwards Dave re-painted the car a conservative blue out of genuine concern for Alan Foster's blood pressure.

Well, that’s about it, two years later the Skeetle is on the road, registered as a modified Beetle it sports a 25 year exempt tax disc.  What shall we do now?   There's a Brasilia to finish, well that’s another story."