Well, not quite an ending as such, more a running diary of the main thoughts in my head throughout the build, through to the end. Some are good, some are bad, but all are worth mentioning I feel.
I must say from the start that I like Bill and Naz. Both are great blokes and Parallel Designs is a switched on company but like all businesses, things can always be made better. As a director myself I know that you will not keep all the people happy all the time. I am sure that Parallel will browse this site and read the contents and anything said here has already been said to Parallel so theres nothing to hide. Whether Bill or Naz choose to act upon the following is up to them, but either way I'm sure they are astute enough to hear what I'm saying. Like I said, both are smart and on the whole know how to manufacture and market their product. The fact that I am happy to continue a good relationship with them speaks volumes and I'll say here that this isn't a dig at Parallel at all, merely a statement of facts that I feel will be of benefit to future Torero builders.
1. The sheer cost, and Bill at Parallels statement, and which I have seen published in Which Kit magazine again since, that you can build a Torero replica for 'about 22k'. That in my mind is not possible for anything approaching a nice, accurate car and I have yet to hear a way of doing this since I questioned Bill about it very early on in the build. I'm not sure why Bill keeps stating this figure. Maybe it's because he doesn't want to scare off potential purchasers or wants poor quality cars out there. Either way, trying to bend the costs isn't the way to do it in my opinion. Theres nothing to be gained from unfinished kits sitting around with their rather confused builders. Neither is there anything to be gained from completed kits being finished to a shoddy level, which with a 22K budget is what you will get. If Parallel really wanted that then they could have released the Torero a lot earlier and competed with the other Diablo 'replica' marketed in the UK by Hand Crafted Cars. Personally I reckon you need at least 26K to get a tidy but low-specced (engine-wise) Torero together.
2. The rear
wheel issue with my car with regards to rubbing and lack of stud thread. I wouldn't
have made a point of this but to my mind it was unsafe and needed to be said. I can
understand slight alignment problems with any kitcar, but to send out a rolling chassis
with 4 turns on the wheel nuts is not right. Someone must have known about it because
spacers were fitted to try and cure the rubbing problem. On top of that, I can't help but
feel the person fitting the wheels knew it wasn't right because the nuts were done up so
tight (presumably in an attempt to make sure they wouldn't fall off) that I could barely
crack them off with a 2 foot bar. Incidentally, the fronts had plenty of turns on them and
were done up to a 'normal' tightness. So in short, spacers were fitted to combat a wheel
to wishbone problem which didn't work anyway as they still rubbed (and was quite obvious
to see) and this led to a dangerous amount of stud length left which someone thought they
could help by doing the buggers up to about 150lb/ft. To make matters worse I still
haven't had an explanation from Parallel regarding the issue. To be honest I'm not mad as
it won't be a major drama to my life, nor will it cost a fortune to rectify but my point
of mentioning it here is in case another builder doesn't see (what I consider to be) a
serious potential problem.
UPDATE: I reminded Bill about this again and he said that we will 'talk about it nearer the time' although he did say that 'the wheels I had were the first of a newer design, with a larger rear rim bead on them for strength, and that this may be the problem.' I re-stated the fact that even so, the wheel/wishbone clearance problem is extremely obvious to anyone turning the wheel and the fitter should have noticed it.
UPDATE @ 09/08/02: Following on from Naz' good service, he has contacted me to advise me that it's possible the wheels have been made/put together wrong, either with an incorrect offset of rim width. He added that he had not come accross the problem before but that I should return the wheels immediately for checking. He showed considerable concern and apologies for the problem. Will apdate on the outcome when known.
UPDATE @ 30/08/02: Naz confirms that indeed my rear wheels have been made incorrectly, with not only the inner rim being the wrong width, but the outer as well, both combining to give an offset which is miles out. Still, Naz was extremely apologetic and embarrassed about the incident and is sorting the problem immediately. I'm happy at the outcome, although still peeved it wasn't picked up by whoever fitted the wheels.
3. The rear glass, light surround, wing mirror and anti-roll bar query. I was told that I would need to purchase the rear glass panel, rear light surrounds and wing mirrors separately. This I find odd considering I would have thought that mirrors and light surrounds would belong in the 'body package', and the rear glass panel in the 'glass package'. Mind you, I guess the rear spoiler (which is charged separately too) could be in the body package too but I appreciate that maybe not all builders will fit one, hence it could be seen as an 'optional extra'. Quite who would drive around without rear light surrounds or the rear glass panel is not so understandable. Roll bars were something I queried Bill about early on in the chassis build, and asked if my chassis should have had them fitted as they definately weren't on there. He replied by saying, and I quote,
To date none of our cars have anti roll bars fitted
including the Demo and the chassis you have seen in
It appears that Bill was not aware I had taken
several photos of their silver demonstrator which clearly shows the fitment of a front
roll-bar, and the fitment of rear brackets for a rear one also. I responded to Bill,
giving him the benefit of the doubt and jogging his mind that I had pictures to suggest he
might be wrong. To date (March 2002) I have had no explanation.
UPDATE @ 09/08/02: Naz has informed me (again apologising for the delay in giving a full answer) that all customers cars to date have not been been shipped with roll bars fitted. This is due to an ongoing R&D program that Naz is carrying out to their demonstrator with regards to anti-roll bar specification, and until such a point that they work as he wants them too he will continue to supply cars without them. He added that the car performs very well under road conditions even without them, but that eventually there will be an anti-roll bar option for very 'enthusiastic' drivers. This does not explain why Bill told me that they had never fitted rollbars to any car, demo or otherwise, but this could have been an oversight on his part.
4. The difficulty in trying to get hold of Bill. Nearly every time I ring I get a message asking me to leave a name and number but this is rarely followed up, and even if it is it's usually at least a day or two later, sometimes more. The same goes for requests via email, which are often not even responded to. To me this is a right pain and not good. Again, Parallel is a fairly new company at the time of writing so hiccups are allowed but an ongoing service like this will drag me down after a while. It may well be that all kitcar manufacturers operate like this but coming from a retail industry myself we go overboard to make sure that phones are answered and calls returned. Likewise, if I'm going to give in excess of 20 thousand quid to someone I expect to be able to speak to them during working hours. In short, If I bought a car from a main dealer I wouldn't have any problem in speaking to someone. To me it shouldn't be any different for kitcar manufacturers. UPDATE @ 07/08/02: See 'The Showdown' below.
5. The brakes. You can read more about this on the 'chassis' page but basically I had a mare trying to bleed the system because there were air leaks everywhere. Whoever fitted the lines should either have left them loose, finger tight or done the bloody things up properly. On top of that, it doesn't excuse the use of 'T' pieces which were not compatible with the male pipe nuts as they were bottoming out on their hex heads well before clamping up the copper pipe. Not an expensive rectification but one which should have been obvious to whoever fitted the brake lines. Maybe it was the same individual who fitted the wheels.....
6. The showdown. As I thought might happen, my patience with Parallel came to a head (early
July 02) when I sent off yet another email to Parallel asking, and I must admit rather
stroppily, if I would get an answer 'within the next decade'. Unusually, Naz replied
rather than Bill and fired back a 'we don't care much for your sarcasm' reply which
finally tipped me over the edge. I mailed back a long explanation as to why I had been a
bit 'perturbed' and Naz was unaware of most of the problems, hence why he had been a bit
abrubt with me in his mail. Thankfully, once aware of how I had been treated he understood
how I might be a little peeved and gave me his own mobile number in an effort to try and
reconcile the differences I had with Parallel (Bill in particular). We spoke for a long
time and I emphasised that neither Naz or Bill had ever been less than helpful but my
problem was that I just couldn't ever get hold of Bill. Naz said that he and Bill shared
their customer base 50/50 and thus if it was Bill who I started dealing with then Bill
would also be the one I would normally be speaking to. It was suggested I deal with
Naz only for the immediate future to see if it works any better. I must say that 3 weeks
down the line the service from Naz has been much better. It's still very hard to get him
first time round but I can leave a message and I DO get a call back, usually the same day.
I have also sent emails off and received answers next day which is pretty good. We'll see
how it goes on.......
UPDATE @ 07/08/02: I have to say that Naz' service really has been very good. I am getting answers to my emails and calls back usually the next day. Naz has also done what he said he would do (fax me diagrams of various help sheets) and has also cleared up most of my outstanding issues such as the wheel and rollbar queries. He seems genuinely interested in making sure I'm happy and hopefully this level of service will continue. It would still be nice if they had someone in an office on the end of a phone anytime you want (Naz tends to be busy building cars or doing R&D) but this may be something that Parallel will address in the future. Either way, at the present my faith in Parallel has been considerably improved. I hope it can be maintained.
UPDATE @ 14/11/02: I am still getting good service from Naz but fellow builder Andrew is not best pleased that his chassis is going to be supplied 5 weeks over the quoted date. Naz blames this on moving premises which I would hope is more for keeping customers happy than anything else. It may just be that Andy just happened to be the one that was caught up in the middle of it but even so I would like to think that all hands were on completing customers orders rather than moving the contents of garages....
UPDATE @ 28/03/03: Things still seem fine with Parallel, although I've had very little reason to contact them due to build delays etc.
7. Build manual. At the time of writing (07/08/02) there is still no build manual and this is something which will make things difficult for people that know their way around a car, let alone a complete novice. To give Parallel their due, Naz has sent me various hand drawings which has helped no end but I can't help feeling that Bill and Naz would be pestered a hell of a lot less if they had a site such as this to look at. I would think that both Naz' and Bill's time would be far better spent running the company if they invested a little time in getting an illustrated manual together, even something basic with scribbled drawings and pointers. OK, it might take a few weeks to sort out but the long term time saved would be immense. Of course, Parallel may well have this in motion but it would have been nice to have all this ready for when the first kits were sold.
8. The losing of Bill Glazier from the company. In October 2002 Naz advises that Bill has officially 'left' Parallel Designs......
9. The bloody windscreen that I broke on Sunday 3rd November 2002. Ironically, in an effort to prevent storm damage I removed my unfitted windscreen from the car and stored it safely in my kitchen until the winds died down. On laying it back onto the body the bottom corner got wedged into the recess in the body and within milliseconds after me seeing it I had applied a little too much pressure and put 2 bloody great cracks down it. An expensive mistake. Moral? Do not pick your windscreen up until it's needed. Anything can and will happen. I treated my screen VERY carefully (I had had it on and off the car at least 5 times previously) but still managed to break it. Do not make the same mistake. The feeling of desparation, foolness and depression is too much. Not to mention a considerably lighter wallet after it being emptied of another £350.
10. The sheer time that you need to build one of these cars. Make no mistake, this is not like putting together a Caterham 7 lookalike. At the time of writing this I am up to 222 hours and the car isn't even sprayed yet. At this point I'm estimating on 500 hours to complete. To put that into perspective, that would be like working solidly for about 13 weeks or over 3 months, based on a 9am to 5pm, 5 day week, with an hour lunch break. Imagine yourself, like most people, getting up at 7am, getting home at 7pm and then trying to put one of these together on what time you have left at the weekend and after work. I'm not going to get all moral on anyone but although I have an understanding wife I don't have kids and neither do I really do any overtime, but it's still been hard. Ask yourself if you can really make the time to put one of these together. It may wreck a dream but thats better than having an unfinished project which has cost you 20K+ in parts (which you would be lucky to sell for 5K) or more importantly, losing your family. It has happened and will continue to happen if people are not realistic. Either be in a very good position time-wise, increase your completion date or get Parallel to build it for you. If you can't do any of these then try and put the idea out of your head until you can. Every perspective kit-car builder that has done any sort of research knows that unfinished projects litter the classified sections of magazines, and of those many of them were Countach replicas....lets not hope the Diablo takes it's place.
11. The full price list that I received on the 15/11/02. If I had this when I started the project it would have made calculating a completed price much, much easier. I can't stress how much better this will make things for prospective Parallel customers from now on. If you add up the parts contained to build a decent replica you will get around £24,500 after which when you add paint, trimming, engine & gearbox costs you will get near my estimated 31K completion cost rather than the 17K or so that you get when you add up what is on Parallels website. To give Parallel their due, it's pretty clear to anyone that the website doesn't contain everything you need to build a car, and you'd be a fool to think it does, but I'd wager that most potential builders would still underestimate. Like I did in fact. Hopefully Naz will get around to putting this new price list on the Parallel website so that the old pricing on there can be lost in the ether. Bloody good riddance too.
12. The prep work needed for the body. I'm not going to moan about the quality because I haven't got a lot else to compare it with. Suffice to say I've seen the only other Diablo 'replica' that is currently available in the UK (The Hand Crafted Cars RD1) and in my opinion the overall shape is totally wrong, and it may have been designed like that so I can't really use it as a comparison. At least the Torero is moulded from a real car so the overall shape and dimension is right, but a lot of work is needed to smooth out panels, gap fits and alignments. This is what bumps the bodyshop cost's up if you want to achieve a 'nice' car. I originally got quoted between 2 and £2.5K to prep and paint the body, with a 4~6 week job. Once I had got the guy to go over it carefully and give a more accurate price it went up to 4K and 4~5 months. No joke. I'm not denying that you could get the car done for £2K but it really depends on how fussy you are. For me, the prep and paint will make or break the car, so I decided that for an extra £2K I may as well get it right. This set me back an extra 4 months on the build, and was a hard choice to make, but I couldn't justify spending 31K on a car with a crap exterior rather than spending 33K on one to get it finished properly. One very important piece of advice; sort out well in advance who will be undertaking the job. I lost 4 months of build time through getting messed around with bodyshops who said they could do it, then couldn't or simply weren't skilled enough to trust with it. Bear in mind thought that it will never be 100% perfect, so you need to decide how good you want it, then agree a price and stick to it. You could easily spend £6K on the job but you have to draw the line somewhere.
13. The way in which Naz handled my faulty wiring loom (15/10/03). After waiting some eight weeks for Naz to visit me and sort out the various problems with my loom I gave up and called a fellow Torero builder to see if he could shed some light on the issues. We ended up solving most in an hour. This wasn't until after I had spent at least 15 hours trying to sort it myself. More can be read on the 'Electrics' page via 'Interior' or by clicking here.
14. My thoughts on finally nearly completing my car (10/08/04): At the time of writing the car has just been shipped back to Parallel to have the windscreen and rear quarter glass fitted, the wheel alignment done, headlights aligned and any other little jobs needed before SVA. After SVA it will get registered and then we're rolling. So, pretty much done (although I will add another thought after this one when I'm actually road legal and driving it) but even at this point I can safely say I will never do another. There are two main reasons for this; the time spent and the aggravation of building outside with no shelter. The shelter scenario can be fixed, and most builders will already have a garage to work in, but short of getting divorced there isn't a way around the quality time you will lose with your other half or god forbid your kids. This isn't to be taken lightly. My wife, Victoria, has been kept updated by myself all the way through this build and was as happy as I was to undertake this project when it was first started but I could only tell her what I knew myself and that was 'oh it'll take about one and a half years max I think'. Yeah right. After two and a half years both her and my patience have been well and truly tested and it's only her understanding and forgiveness that have actually kept us together. Shes a diamond. It's at this point that you begin to realise that not having a garage is a double edged sword because now your 'car building time' can only be done in fair weather so all of a sudden the quality outdoor time you could have spent with the other half is now gone. You're left with a scenario that only allows you to be with the ones you love on the crappiest of dark rainy days in the winter. Great.
Unless you're single, or have a partner that is as willing to put the car together as you are, please don't consider building without a garage.
15. 'The time had come'. On 21st August 2004 I had planned to go to PD to help out Naz with a couple of pre SVA jobs. The text below is a word for word copy of what I put on the lamboreplica.co.uk forum....."Well a pretty monumental weekend for me! Had arranged to go to Naz' on Saturday to help out with a couple of little jobs on the car that needed doing. It turns out that Naz thought the car was getting a little hot, and I had thought the same thing. It never boiled up and always ran fine but it would hit 100deg C and the temp was quickly variable. I thought it might just be some air locks but Naz wasn't so sure and advised removing the thermostat. As it's a pretty simple job I offered to do it and save some of his labour time. One thing I did notice upon pulling off the thermostat housing was that the little bleeder pinhole in the stat was at the bottom (it should be at the top to help bleeding) so that cheered me up a bit. Anyway, after removing it the car still seemed to get a bit too hot but Naz noticed that the water didn't appear to be whoosing around in the header tank, which all of his other cars did. He suggested I take my header feed out of the top rad hose line and put it to the bottom one. Neither of us was sure if it would make any difference but it wouldn't take long and was worth trying. Sure enough, it sorted it 100%. Temp never varies between 80~85 deg C in any condition now. Well chuffed.
16. 500 miles with a fully road-legal Diablo replica that you built yourself. At the time of writing (25th November 2004) I have spent some 6 hours in the car and have to say I'm grinning from ear to ear. I did have plenty of SVA and registration hassles but as I have documented most of them on the forum I won't bother repeating myself here. Suffice to say that nearly all of the initial niggles (wheel alignment, speedo calibration, rattles etc,) have been ironed out and I'm now really enjoying the car. Again, most of my driving thoughts have been put on the forum but to summarise, the car is essentially finished and it proves that with enough will-power (read: stubborness) it IS possible to build one of these amazing replicas, even without a garage if needs must.
FOR MY WIFE
Most importantly, my biggest thanks go to my wife, Victoria, for putting up with the huge amount of disruption to our relationship. I think I have made it clear on the previous text here just how much time these replicas take and she has been extremely understanding, even in the face of total loneliness. My promise to her is that I will never build another Lamborghini replica!