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Craig Wilkinson's Dax Rush

A V8 powered Dax Rush is a serious car, and the build of this example has been approached equally seriously. Which Kit? took a closer look at one of the best.

It says a lot about Craig Wilkinson that, when we asked him for some performance figures for his V8-powered Dax Rush, he quoted separate 0-60mph times for road and race tarmac. This is a guy who's totally hooked on his hobby, passionate about his pastime.

When you learn what Craig does between the hours of nine and five, you'll understand why. After leaving school, he trained as a race engine builder and then went into F1 and world rallying. For 16 years, he's worked in motorsport and automotive development, so it comes as no surprise that he approached the build of his own Dax Rush professionally. In fact, it's the fourth Rush to be crafted by the Wilkinson hand, Craig having previously built one for himself and two for other people. In his time, he's also knocked out numerous race and rally cars, so we can safely assume he knows a thing or two about creating fast, effective cars.

Craig didn't carry out much research before he opted to buy a Rush kit. From his previous builds, he already knew the high levels of quality DJ Sportscars achieves, while he also felt that the Lotus-Seven-on-steroids looks suited the character the V8 engine. The Rush offered all the plus points he was after, so he placed an order...

We often hear heroic tales of people building kit cars on their driveways in the rain, but that wasn't for Craig. With a professional background, he was lucky enough to have a well-equipped workshop at home: "I have a fully-equipped, painted-out, race-style workshop with Snap On tools to hand, an airline system and so on," Craig explains. "Without a doubt, this is the best way to achieve a good result."

So now that we know why and where the Dax was put together, let's take a look at the finished item. Power comes courtesy of a 3.9-litre Rover V8 which, to date, has cost 4500 to release 270bhp. The next logical step would be an upgrade to Stage 5, which would boost power to around 315bhp.

The unit is mated to a five-speed Rover gearbox which delivers power to a Cosworth 4x4 rear axle. Suspension at that end comprises a De Dion tube with Spax coil-over dampers. The latter also find employment up front, along with chromed double wishbones. The brakes match the high specification outlined so far, being AP Racing six-pot calipers up front working on discs, naturally, and standard Cossie discs and calipers on the back.

On a more aesthetic note, the Rush is finished in Oxford Blue with loads of chrome highlights to brighten things up. Those gold wheels (shod with Toyo T1-S tyres) are Image HT split rims, 7x16" on the front and 9.5x16" on the rear. Inside, the car has a bespoke trim package and features DJ Sportscars 'luxury' seats and Willans four-point harnesses. But the hardware only tells part of the story; the outstanding thing about this car is the way it's been put together it's truly immaculate and is surely one of the best Rushes in existence.

The kit was collected in December 1999, but work didn't start until January 2000. The build progressed swiftly and smoothly and, after 450 hours of work, the car was complete in May of the same year (although, to be fair, the engine was already prepared and ready to install prior to the build). "I worked late into the night on many occasions," remembers Craig, "and was often woken up in the middle of the night after falling asleep on my bench."

During the constru ction of the car, Craig's previous experience no doubt made things relatively easy, although there were one or two moments when a certain build aspect couldn't be figured out (it's worth pointing out that he confesses to binning the manual). In those instances, though, DJ Sportscars was always very helpful and happy to offer advice.

In addition to the kit of parts bought from DJ, other parts are a mixture of new and second-hand. The powerplant was rescued from a Range Rover that was buried in a scrapyard. Craig then rebuilt and modified the engine at home, sub-contracting some of the machining work. With his well-equipped workshop, he was also able to modify the Cosworth axle with a new viscous coupling diff, overhauling it with new bearings, seals and so on as he went.

And it doesn't end there. This builder's specialist skills allowed him to carry out tasks that most simply couldn't contemplate. For instance, he made his own centre bearing arrangement on the steering column, one-off CNC machined stainless steel exhaust manifold surrounds, bespoke CAD-designed mounting brackets for the front brakes and much more that's too extensive to list, including the aforementioned interior trim. It's clear that this is a very special car indeed. In context, the 16,000 build cost sounds reasonable, even if it was 1000 over budget.

The car has been impeccably built, then, indicating that Craig is something of a perfectionist. "The reason I built a second Rush is that my first car was done on a tight budget and there were many things I wasn't happy about. These were all put right on car number two and this one is perfect to me in every way." Which makes it all the more surprising that A119 AVV may be sold soon.

But before we talk about that, you're probably still wondering about those performance figures. Craig claims a 0-60mph dash in 4.3 seconds on the road or 3.8 on decent race tarmac and an indicated 145mph flat out. So, for somebody so enthusiastic about his car, why should he offer it for sale? After 16 years of playing with cars, he's going to take up building and flying model planes and helicopters. The Dax's performance figures suggest he's already used to flying machines...

This isn't the first time Which Kit? has noticed Craig Wilkinson's wild Rush. Back in 2000, when it was almost fresh out of the box, we voted it Best Roadster at the Summer Rendezvous event at Hickstead Showground.

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