The Extraordinary Carcreff Scora
|Hardly more than a
metre high, the Scora really gives the impression of
hugging the ground. You think that it will surely touch
the ground often when rallying but Carcreff will assure
you that this is not the case. The Scora's bodywork owes
nothing to the Jidé and is better looking than its big
sister with a steeper slope to the windscreen (derived
from the Citroën GS saloon rather than from the Renault
Floride). Even the doors which have retained the very
personal rugged look are different. In addition,
Carcreff's Scora has several original features such as
the "periscope" air intake on the roof to
ventilate the cockpit and the rear engine cover which
channels air to the oil and water radiators. Since these
are too vulnerable in the front of the vehicle when
rallying, they have been moved to the rear.
As in the Jidé, the polyester bodywork is naturally load bearing, but for improved rigidity the rollbar has now been incorporated into the shell. For the same reason, the tubular sub-frame no longer includes rear rails. So the detachable rear engine support which surrounds the rear axle and the power unit has its upper part sandwiched directly on to the polyester shell and the lower end is joined on to the tubular frame. The axles are the same as before (Renault 8 Gordini in front, Renault 12 Gordini turned back to front for the rear), but Carcreff has reworked the bracing. The base plate of the braces has been widened by adding tie rods mounted on swivels and fixed on the chassis side on the axis of the bracing joints so as not to spoil the linkage. This "Rally" Scora weighs 740 kg: at least that's it's official weight in France. (Of course it is easy to make it much lighter since the Scora's PJ 2 generation weighs 550kg!)
And how about power? Charly modestly claims at least 200 hp since, for some odd reason, he has never had his engine tested. But finding "Carcreff" moulded into the bright red aluminium of the rocker covers may seem somewhat pretentious - if you weren't well acquainted with the individual! Charly Carcreff is in a class of his own when it comes to assembling engines.
He specialised in Renault engines (the amateurs' engine!) and as he quite rightly says "You can't do research and get valid results unless you concentrate on a single make". One visit to his workshop was very enlightening and enabled us to appreciate the quality and quantity of ingredients that have gone into souping up the Scora's 2-litre engine.
In order to achieve 1950 cm3, the engine block has been rebored to accept 86mm diameter cylinder sleeves. These are made of special steel (exact formula a secret) and ground down so that their baseplates are never more than a millimetre thick! The pistons are from Cosworth, imported rough forged. Carcreff has them machined to his own specifications and then fined down. They each weigh 40g less than the 1596 pistons!
It seems as if the crankshaft has lost its counter-weights since they have been greatly reduced in size to sharpened like knives to offer less resistance when splashing into in the oil. Twelve kilos (!) were gained in the crankshaft-fly wheel assembly (in slender aluminium). H-section in forged steel for the connecting rods; rocker arm shanks made from zicral, spring retainers made from titanium - nothing but the best molecules! Piston rings and bearings are specially made as is the camshaft which has been designed to high performance specifications.
Add to that, the fact that the valves have a 45 mm inlet and a 40mm exhaust, and you will have seen nearly everything that is simmering away inside these 4 superbly designed and, what's more, very reliable cylinders. Though constantly drawing 8000 revs/min between each gear ratio, it experienced no problems during the season. "Some customers have even got as many as 9000 revs out of identical engines," says Carcreff and he adds, "I will have to make my engines less robust so that they come back more often!" And if he's asked if he wants to become better known as an engine builder, he replies, "No, not at the moment. I already have too much work and since I work alone, I wouldn't be able to meet the deadlines."
|Next to the (red) braking distribution knob, there are pressure gauges that are decidedly unusual! On the left: the monitor for pressure on the sump housing - if it stays at zero, everything's fine; if not then it's certain that one of the piston rings is playing up. In the middle: water circulation pressure - if the needle starts to wobble, check the cylinder head gasket. And the standard fuel pressure gauge on the right.|
|It's not easy
getting into the Scora's cockpit when you're more than
six feet tall. I grope about for a while before finding
the clutch pedal which is positioned very high. But once
my back has eased into its proper position, all in all,
it's quite comfortable in this completely black and
incredibly cramped cockpit.
Forward visibility is very good, and you can instantly centre yourself on the road between the two bumps of the front wings. Looking backwards is more of a problem and the small exterior rear-view mirror only gives a view of a tiny bit of tarmac under the enormous lateral air intakes. The Scora shakes all over, and the Granada Ford silencer absorbs what it can - which is not a lot! of the nasty explosions coming out of the home-made exhaust pipe. Wedged between the door and the central fuel tank (between the two seats) surrounded by a bank of dials including the chronometer in the centre of the steering wheel, your scalp grazing the roof, you are literally joined to this quivering and roaring cocoon and you feel almost ready to call it a day...
Charly has no qualms about entrusting me with the steering wheel. "Go up to 7500 revs to start with to get used to it (!!!), then you can go up to 8000." "Er... Let's start a bit more gently." I first needed to get used to the Borg and Beck titanium two-disc clutch (the smooth controls make things much easier), the inspired gear control, (see below...) and how the engine reacted.
But already, as soon as the wheels started turning, you were aware that this was an astonishingly nimble car. The steering is a positive pleasure - light, direct and very precise. Helped by the very good visibility and your ground skimming position, you feel that you can place the car exactly where you want. Confidence comes quickly as you realise that the Scora is easy to handle and reacts well and you really want to get to grips with the steering wheel.
This is only to be expected and it's just what the car is made for. So you press harder and harder on the right pedal - its long travel makes it very sensitive - until you have opened it right up! And, my word, we were not disappointed! This engine is like a bullet once it's passed 5,500 revs! Not that it's slack below that. On the contrary, it is even easier to drive, but from 5,500 revs, all the horsepower really explodes behind you. Up to 8000 revs (but you feel the engine could go even higher) its acceleration is very lively and is accompanied by a sharp noise that really hits you in the ears. You really feel the force of the 200 horsepower and you have to play the gearbox which gives you even more pleasure from the acceleration of the engine. The Renault gearbox is such a delight (somewhat modified it's true) that you can hardly recognise it!
Firstly, because it's easy to control, but also because of its stepping. To the first three "Monte Carlo" type ratios, Carcreff have added the "home-made" 40 and 50 ratios. Just look in the specifications table for the transmission reduction values: 30 (1.69), 40 (1.41), 50 (1.16). Changing from 3rd to 4th or from 4th to 5th is exhilarating since you lose so little engine speed (1,400revs) and the acceleration is always as lively. It's one hell of a car!
It's even more wonderful that controlling the gearbox (very well thought-out) is even more praise-worthy. Although there is a long travel (much to be preferred for rally driving), the gears engage precisely and incredibly quickly. With its clean and neat handling and an absolutely fiendish engine/gearbox, pairing Carcreff's Scora offers very high level performance and intense pleasure to the driver. It's a real experience!
You can change gear without having to think about it. You are close to the performance of a Hewland (truly!), with the extra travel as a bonus. Fantastic! And I have to admit that I was surprised by the Scora's performance. It under-steers just a touch going into a bend, but it corners with absolutely no problems. The road holding potential of the rear axle is enormous and confirms - as if you could have forgotten it - that on this little prototype the engine is in a central position.
To such an extent that you have to brake as much as possible into tights bends so as not to under-steer too much. The wheels only have to lose the least bit contact with the road for you to feel it and the few hints of skidding on the rear axle which were never unexpected, were easily corrected, helped by the excellent engine and the high torque which was always available to the wheels.
The braking isn't bad either. However, I would have liked a little more power or bite when I hit the pedal. It's when you get to the highest performance of the car that you notice its limitations. On the other hand, a point in its favour is the distribution which can be adjusted from the driver's seat.
The "Scora-Carcreff" is a real racing animal which brings together a large number of unsuspected qualities. Driving it gives a good quota of thrills. And what's more, for our test it was using dual-purpose racing tyres (TB2O). What could have it done with slicks? You realise that this devilish machine could come within the time limits and tickle the "5 Turbo Renault". These cars are the very expression of motor sport, high-powered status symbols, with peerless perfumes and sounds, so why must the rule-makers take a perverse pleasure in sidelining these prototypes that the public love so much into bastard categories that have been abandoned for trivial reasons?
Along with every win for the Scora-Carcreff goes the cry, "I am a car and I have the right to race!".....................by Patrick Michel
evolution of Scora Maxi compared with the last version,
is the R5 Turbo engine "Tour de Corse". Engine,
Gearbox, rear axles and wheels come from this car. The
Scora style is easy to recognise even if the new car is
quite different from the old one: wings big enough to
accept 15 or 16 inches wheels, all the rear bodywork can
be dismantled and a F1 type rear wing or aerofoil was
added. Charly explains to us the inside of his car: the
principle of the composite structure, steel body/
polyester bodywork has evolved. Except the steel rollbar,
everything else is in aluminium and it's pretty solid.
Anyway, all the car seems to be oversized and the parts
were designed to last. The Scora is first a rally car;
so, it's better to be not too sophisticated. The assembly
is meticulous, and to a very high specification. The blue
colour is blended with polyester, not painted. The engine
and the gear box are from the R5 tour de Corse. The turbo
blows at 1350 bar. With a little preparation, the Scora
should have at least 40 horsepower more.