AMBITION IS THE FIRST STEP TOWARDS OWNING A
THE ford based
The Madison Roadster
By 1983 the Madison was now established as an exceptional vehicle and one of the best in the kit field, but to date it had used VW components due to the advantages inherent in the Beetle design and the fact that VWs were readily available the world over; an important consideration to GP whose operations were international. However, there were those who were attracted by the Madison's looks, but shied away from its rear engine format and it was those people the new front engined, Ford Cortina-based Madison was aimed at.
Feedback to GP from many potential customers highlighted the fact that regardless of how much they liked the car they didn't like the VW base and would prefer the engine up front so GP tried adapting an Escort to fit, but it was not feasible due to the large number of modifications necessary to make the conversion, so they were reluctant to push it out to the public. They dropped that idea, looked at the Ford Cortina and found it had a separate suspension, steering and sub-frame (very easy to attach (four bolts, and it was located on rubber mounts).
The engine and gearbox presented no difficulty and the rear axle and suspension assembly were a doddle. So with more and more people saying they would buy the car if it had a front engine, GP opted for the Ford Cortina.
It wasn't just a matter of selecting the Cortina for the task; it went much further than that. The beauty of the VW Beetle was its separate floorpan, a feature shared with the Triumph Herald. "They were the only cars built in recent times to have a separate floorpan chassis; almost everything else was a monocoque design. The Cortina followed the monocoque route which required GP to design a chassis for the Madison if Cortina mechanicals were to be used for the new chassis design.
GP spent a lot of time talking to professional designers including Andrew Duncan of Max Perenco who built formula three racing chassis, and also looking at how others had tackled similar jobs.
Using their advice and expert help they designed a chassis suitable to take Cortina components and it was then back to the irrepressible Neville Trickett, designer of the Madison to come up with the necessary modifications to the bodywork.
One thing Neville didn't want to do was to change the overall style of the Madison, and he wanted to retain the original design which everybody seemed to like. But Cortina components are entirely different to VW which meant subtle changes had to be incorporated in the design."
The changes were subtle indeed and hardly noticeable unless comparisons are made with the VW-based car alongside; even then it would call for a tape measure to discover the differences. Most noticeable perhaps, would be the front wings which have been widened a total of three inches either side to allow for the Cortina's wider track. The bolts which join the body and chassis together between the bonnet and wings had often been criticised by the more pedantic amongst us as they were exposed on the VW Madison so Neville decided to relocate them when he modified the car to enable them to be hidden from view. Apart from the fact that the car now had an engine where the boot used to be and the front cowling which used to hide the VW's steering box (the Cortina had a steering rack behind the axle line) had also been modified, that was the sum total of the outward changes.
The chassis was a ladder frame design constructed out of steel tubing for extra strength with the locating points for the Cortina suspension pre-drilled for easy assembly. Engine and gearbox mountings were made up and ready so the builder had no nightmares wondering how he was going to make everything fit. So once the car was built, how would handle. Well the weight differential was the problem, having lost half the weight of the Cortina, therefore the spring rates were wrong so GP again employed expert help to find the correct springs and finally came up with units of the same size but just that little bit softer. These were made available to the customer and all he had to do was to remove the original springs and replace them with the new GP springs which just slap into place without cutting or welding so there's no difficulty at all. The new springs then gave the car both ride and handling comparable to its weight.
Naturally as with any vehicle that's lost a lot of body weight, the centre of gravity was far lower with little weight above to give that rolling sensation In fact, the Madison handled far better than the Cortina ever did due to the lower centre of gravity and the special springs."
The Madison kit originally came without doors and entry and exit was executed in the time-honoured fashion of lifting the left leg up and over the sill and sliding in, much in the way racing drivers do. However, for an extra £150, GP would supply a pair of doors complete with locks and hinges all ready for quick assembly. Door assemblies had always proved a headache to kit manufacturers and customers alike rarely (if ever) fitting properly and, more often than not, weakening the basic structure. GP used five or six ounce weight fibreglass for their kits which made for a pretty strong car.
Initially GP shied away from door assemblies, but once again the company listened to their many potential customers who wanted a kit with doors so GP looked at lots of different ways to construct a safe and strong door and using the GRP weight that they did they knew that strong doors were possible to produce and with a little experimentation the solution was pure logic. "For instance, they couldn't use a flat sheet of fibreglass as its too soft and it moves and vibrates all over the place. But if you form the fibreglass around a return edge it instantly becomes very, very strong. GP then made a complicated moulding and when they sold the doors they also supplied door jamb shuts which were also made in a complicated shape but
give considerably more strength. Even though GP offered a wide range of colour gels, the most popular was always Old English, especially for Americans.