Works Rally/Sebring Ducts

One of the harder decisions I've had to make regarding the "look" was whether or not to incorporate works (factory) ducts in my front shroud.  There were two reasons I had trouble with the decision: 1) Some works rally cars had them and some didn't.  2) I wasn't sure if I liked the look well enough to go to the effort to include them.  The works had the ducts to provide a direct source of fresh air for the oil cooler that was frequently used on works cars.  While I am not using an oil cooler, as anyone who owns an Austin Healey knows, the Healey 6 cylinder can always benefit from more fresh air.   

Some of the works ducts were little more than rectangular holes cut into the front shroud.  However, when I saw this picture of them on the Works Sebring car, I started warming to the idea....particularly this style.  Pic #1 

But, I wasn't completely convinced.  So I talked to Steve Norton of Cape International.  He had the patterns for the ducts and graciously agreed to send them to me.  I used the patterns to make some cardboard templates.  I spray painted the cardboard black and used some double sticky tape to put them in place on my front shroud.  Then I took a bunch of pictures of it to see if I was happy with the look.  Pic #2 is one of those.  Yes, these are just painted cardboard stuck on the car.  This really helped me see how my car would look..... I liked it.   

To go from this mock-up to installed ducts I needed more than just cardboard cutouts.  I wanted to ensure that both ducts were identical and that there was a nice roll to the lip contour.  To establish the desired roll of the duct lip, I experimented with different size rods.  I settled on a 3/8" rod as the size that would give the lip the roll I found most pleasing.  Now I could proceed.  As you see in Pic #3, I transferred the cardboard templates (7" x 2.5") to a 3/4" wood buck....then I shaped 3/8" round rod by heating and bending it around the buck.  I found it was too difficult for me to accurately match the buck with a singe piece of round rod, so I did it in two pieces.  I then cut and welded the two pieces together.  Low and behold, it fit the buck!  I made two identical rod hoop forms.  Pic #4 

 

I took the templates and marked where I wanted them on the front shroud.... then I had no one to blame but myself if I didn't like their placement.  Next it was off to Brad Aregood at R-Good's Autoworks to have him finesse the aluminum around the round rod hoop forms I'd made.  Pic #5  Brad has done all the body work on my car....very talented and a great guy!

Pic #6 gives an up-close and personal inside look at the aluminum getting formed around the rods.

Pic #7 shows how they were looking from the front.....albeit upside down!

When I got the front shroud home, I temporarly remounted it on the car to check out the look.  Pic #8

Looking at the ducts on the car, I felt they didn't quite look finished.  So I welded plates with nuts on the back side of the duct hoops to allow attaching stainless steel mesh.  If you're building these ducts and want the mesh, I highly recommend welding these nuts to the rod hoops before you install them in the front shroud.  It sure would have been easier!  While the mesh may not be completely accurate for a works car, they did frequently use a similar mesh for their grills, so it is period correct to have them as grills on the oil cooler ducts.  Pic #9

With the mesh in place (Pic #10) and the driving lights on (Pic #11), the front is starting to take on its finished look.

 

I'm very happy I made the decision to include the works oil cooler ducts in the front shroud.  I think it gives the Healey a more aggressive appearance....I like that.

Steve Thomton

This project paper was first posted on March 14, 2010.