23 January 2013

Alfa-Powered Skoda Rapid - Bohemian Brio

Skoda have recently revived the Rapid name on a new model; a smart if unremarkable-looking 5-door hatchback which is basically a VAG model with a Skoda badge on. We've no doubt it's a perfectly competent modern family car that does all that is asked of it, but it wasn't that long ago that Skoda built cars that seemed wilfully diametrical to the current range. Pre-VAG Skodas were cheap cars and quite frankly felt like it, but they had charm and character by the Vltava load. Autocar & Motor magazine dubbed the 136 Rapid the poor man's Porsche; their handling being compared to Stuttgart's 911. What they don't have in abundance is power, but this car makes up for that with a timely transplant of Italian brio, courtesy of an Alfa Romeo twin-cam. 
This Estelle Rapid came up on eBay last year; a clean rust-free two owner car with the UK-only options of the rare MKI bodykit,  Spax adjustable dampers, lowered sport springs and those perfectly suited 15” Compomotive ML wheels, now cut with Yokohama A539 and Toyo Proxes rubber, front and rear.
To the point of the transplant, the engine. The 2 litre Alfa Romeo twin cam mixes and matches some of the best bits from the engine design's long run; an '83 Alfetta Gold Cloverleaf block with high compression pistons is mated to a '79 GTV 2000 top end. Twin Dellorto DHLA40 carbs are fed by a huge SU fuel pump, normally found on Rolls Royce and Aston V8s, which is probably a wise choice to feed the thirsty twin '40s. Making the lump at home out back seems to be a list of the usual things you'd expect with any engine swap; a custom-made adaptor mates the standard gearbox and flywheel to the engine, while custom-made engine mounts and exhaust round the mating process.
The car sold for around the £2k mark together with a cartload of spares; we can't help but feel someone got a bloody good bargain. We'd love to know how the 130bhp the engine puts out affects the handling; it must be a hoot.

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