Driving Impressions
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This page records my thoughts on the build-up and driving of my Dax Rush.

The Build - The Verdict

This was my first self-built kitcar, so I haven't got wads of comparative experience to bring to bear when judging the experience. These are therefore my subjective, personal impressions.

However, I do know one end of a spanner from the other and can tell a good engineering solution from a bad 'un. I've seen plenty of other kitcars - some better, some worse - and I've a pretty good feel for where mine lies in this spectrum.

Bad Points

These first as they are outweighed by the good ones.

The build manual is out-of-date. It's wrong in places and incomplete in others. Some topics, such as the V8 clutch or cooling systems aren't even touched on. Some parts of it are vital reading material however, so you can't (as one Rush owner told me to) just chuck it in the bin. Some vital numbers, like the suspension bolt torque settings, are buried in a morass of text and cannot be quickly found when you're standing there, torque wrench in hand. A table of these numbers would help enormously. The photos are few in number and of poor quality. The diagrams are very good though and clearer than the equivalent photo would be.

I've recently had the chance to thoroughly read a Westfield 1800 Zetec build manual (thanks Jim!). Although the font is unneccesarily hard to read and the Use of Capitals is a Bit Strange, its clear step-by-step instructions, dozens of clear diagrams with lots of measurements and sheer completeness left me in no doubt that the Rush manual has some way to go. That said, the Westfield is a kit-in-a-box and the Rush presents more of a challenge to build. Horses for courses ...

Some parts are unduly expensive. A good example of this is the V8 stainless steel exhaust system. Over 2000 for some bent pipes and heat shields? I would say this is completely out of order if I hadn't fallen for the looks and convenience of them and stumped up the cash. Trim prices seem at least as high as the highest available from the likes of Caterham and Westfield.

Good Points

Friendly service. DJ is a family-run business and they seem to want their customers to be satisfied. Simon Johns has given me a few small extras (badges etc.) when I merely asked about buying them. It's nice to order some part or other and have Simon know all the details of me and my car without having to look them up.

Component quality is generally very good. For example the wiring loom, despite not being just right for a car with SVA bars and side repeaters where I wanted them, is excellent in its quality and description. The GRP parts had no warps, ripples or flash lines that needed seeing to. The chassis is a work of art. To balance this, the occasional bit is cheap 'n' nasty. The rear fog lamp & reversing lamp spring to mind here. These are real carboot-sale quality! Fortunately, my 'Dalek eye' lamps passed SVA and they match the other rear lights.

The technical support from Dax's chief engineer, Gary, is always good and always available. When I had to call him up to say I didn't know how to do something or other, his reply was always to the effect of "Oh yes, you do it like this ...". All the SVA issues are sorted out for the Rush. Mine passed first time, due largely to Dax's "Guide to the SVA" booklet. I've received some Build Manual updates in the post. They are (slowly) improving it. I guess a new version covering the De Dion car is due.

Overall

Am I satisfied with the result? Yes, very! I know I'm a bit of a perfectionist (OK - a picky sod) about these things, but I couldn't have done such a good job (judging by the number of admiring comments I've had) in 5 months if the kit was poor quality to start with.

It's not a kit-in-a box. 95% of the car is either supplied or described by Dax. The other 5% is builder's innovation. By this, I mean that I had to design and make many small brackets and fixings, decide where to put things, how to fasten things together etc.

There are none of the serious squeaks or rattles that can plague a kitcar. The whole thing feels very taut, strong and 'together' on the road.

Driving Impressions

This is one fast car! I've not been able to time the 0-60 sprint accurately, but it must be low down in the 4 to 5 second range. Mid-range acceleration is particularly pleasing. 'Ordinary' traffic seems like it's nailed down when you drop down a gear and floor it past them. Most overtakes can be quickly and safely accomplished in about 3 seconds with the hardest part being avoiding wheelspin when accelerating! Again, to be confirmed, but 100mph comes up in about 10 seconds.

It's difficult to express in words the sheer visceral acceleration. At any speed, hitting the throttle in the right gear gives an instant and strong push in the back that goes on and on. It's as if someone large is suddenly sitting on your chest. It's the kind of force that you feel at the fairground, when you hold your breath and clench your stomach (and other ;-) muscles without realising it. This is why Torque is Good!

I have had the rear wheels chirrup when making full-bore changes into second or third in the dry. First gear is almost useless unless indulging in a traffic-lights Grand Prix and even then, slightly too much throttle just results in wild wheelspin. There's more than enough torque to start (and spin the wheels) in second. In the wet, I've had wheelspin in fourth and I'm sure I could get it in fifth, but by then I would already be doing a stupid speed.

I haven't tried the top speed although Dax estimate 145mph. This type of car just isn't a high-speed cruiser - it has the aerodynamics of a brick. Without sidescreens, the wind turbulence over 70mph makes seeing ahead difficult. With crash helmet on, I saw 125mph at Donington Park with more available, but I ran out of straight (and bottle!). With the sidescreens in place, things are much more civilised. Your hat doesn't constantly threaten to leap off your head and you have hearing in your right ear, sight in your right eye and no squashed bugs rammed up your right nostril after a drive!

The handling is surprisingly predictable and simple 'tail-out' manoeuvres can be made with some fair degree of confidence. Grip is enormous. I have noticed that my favourite tight corners can be taken about 5mph faster, but with the same feeling of confidence and security, than my MR2 which is itself no mean performer.

However, driving in the wet is a nerve-wracking experience. With so little weight on such fat tyres and such torque, it is so easy to lose grip that you have to constantly be very aware of how much input you can give to the controls before driving turns into spinning. Wheelspin in third is too easy to achieve and doing so while cornering probably spells doom. I avoid wet roads now if at all possible.

The torque from the 4-litre engine makes burbling through urban areas easy. At any speed over 20mph I can stick it in fifth and treat it like an automatic. It will pull cleanly from under tickover speed until your eyelids tear off! At 20mph it sounds extra deep and woofly as well. As the speed rises, the exhaust note rises to a harsh uneven drumbeat when heard inside the car, as you can only hear the nearest exhaust outlet. From outside, however, it has the traditional V8 grumble and roar.