Quantum IV Formula Saab

Page 1
Click here for Page 2

This is a current photo of the Quantum IV at February 2, 2012. This photo will change as
the refurbishment continues.

History of Formula SAAB (Formula S)
A search of the internet for "Quantum" "Formula S" will return a lot of hits of articles that describe the history of Quantum Motorcars, and the history of Formula S. Not all are consistent, so rather than repeat them here, what seems consistent is that Walter Kern designed the cars, and the formula car was his fourth Quantum design, the others being full bodied cars. By 1966, Henry A. Rudkin, Jr. was president of Quantum Division as indicated in this letter, which was in the scrapbook we received with our car. The letter includes the information that by June 30, 1966, 35 Formula S cars had been shipped from Quantum. The original sales brochure was also in the scrapbook. As described in the sales brochure, the cars were sold as kits, and the expectation was that buyers of the kits would finish the kit using an engine, transmission, and suspension from a SAAB 96 sedan, (and a second set of suspension from a second SAAB 96), although you could also buy the parts to finish the car directly from SAAB. What is clear, is that Quantum had hopes that the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) would recognize Formula SAAB (Formula S) as a racing class, but in spite of the letter from Rudkin, the buyers of the kits were never able to get enough of them to show up at one time for SCCA to recognize the new class.

History of Quantum IV Formula S #4117
In the 1960s, Clyde Billing was owner of Washington Garage, a SAAB dealership in Maine. He was also a race car driver, and one of my boyhood heros. In the mid-1960s, my Dad and I went to Marlboro Speedway in Maryland every summer to watch the Marlboro 12 hour sedan race. In those days, this was an important race on the international schedule, with almost as much prestige as the Sebring 12 hour race for sports cars. In 1964, Clyde Billing and Hal Mayforth finished third overall in the race, behind the Lotus Cortinas of Jackie Stewart/Mike Beckwith and Sir John Whitmore/Tony Hegbourne. See: click here for the full results of this race. In 1965, Clyde finished fourth overall, click here to see the full results. At that time, Clyde also acquired Quantum Formula S #4117 from SAAB, and owned the car until he died in August, 2010. We acquired the car from his estate in March, 2011.

Restoration of the Car - Mockup and then dis-assembly

April, 2011
Passport Transport delivered the car to us in good shape at mid-April. We've used them several times to transport cars and their door-to-door rate for the trip from Maine to Florida was about the same as the cost of just gasoline for us to take the mini-stock trailer to Maine and back.

The crew from Passport transport unloading the car out in front of the shop.

Passport helped us move the car into the shop and this is the photo we took to use as the "before" photo.

Since this Quantum IV is one of the few remaining that still has the original 1965-spec main rollover bar, our goal in this restoration is to make the car the way it was when first assembled in 1965. To that end, we don't plan to upgrade the car for vintage road racing. To make the car ready for vintage road racing, we would have to upgrade the rollover bar to 1972 specifications and change the fuel system from fuel-in-frame to a modern fuel cell. In addition, we'd have modify the seat belt/shoulder harness mounts on the frame to change from a three-point harness to a six-point harness, add a rain light and add an on-board fire system at the very least. Also, we're now too old for the speeds in vintage road racing. So, our plan is to first get everything working correctly on the car, and then simply disassemble it, paint the frame, and then reassemble the car. We like to do it that way, rather than disassemble the car first, so that the assembly isn't quite so big a job as we know during assembly that all parts are in working condition. Once we finish the car, we plan to take it to a few vintage events that have slower speeds than real racing.

The first step in the restoration is to test run the engine, and then test drive the car. As designed, gasoline is carried in two fuel tanks that also form the main chassis tubes. The two gasoline tanks are connected together with rubber hoses behind the driver's seat. We discovered that there was a Formula SAAB Registry on the web maintained by Stefan Vapaa, and started making contact with other Quantum owners. Stefan told us where to look for the chassis number on the car, and with a little lacquer thinner, we were able to find it, right where it should have been. He also told us where to look for the original mounting spot for the battery up in the footwell. We removed the add-on, non-original rear battery tray, and mounted a new battery in the original location and ran wire from it to the rear of the car. Since the car hadn't been run for a few years, the next step was to replace all the rubber hoses in the fuel system with new hoses. When we disassembled the center fuel tap, we found that it was designed with a fuel filter inside of it, and so we were also able to eliminate the add-on external fuel filter as redundant. We then moved the car outside to test run the engine, so as to minimize the danger of burning the shop down.

The two in-frame side fuel tanks are joined together with rubber hoses behind the seat.

The chassis number on this car is 4117.

We put some 110 octane leaded gasoline mixed with oil at a six-to-one rate in the fuel tanks and the engine fired right up.

After letting the engine warm up, we drove the car up the lane to see if the clutch, gearbox and brakes were all working. The clutch was nice and smooth, the gearbox seemed to work in all gears, but the brakes were pretty weak. We moved the car back into the shop, replaced one of the steel brake lines to the front brakes, and then found that a few of the rubber brake hoses had swelled up with time, and so we took all four rubber brake hoses to JP's in Hernando and JP was able to make exact duplicates of the originals. After installing the new rubber hoses on the car, the brakes seemed to work like new.

While we were working on the fuel hoses, we found a bag behind the seat that contained a NOS carburetor leveling plate. The intake manifold for the engine is designed so that when the engine is in a SAAB 96 sedan, the carb is level with the ground. However, when the engine is installed in a Quantum IV, the engine tilts forward, presumably to lower the center of gravity to improve handling. This also tilts the carb forward, and while it works in this configuration, it would be better to level the carb, so we spent a half day installing the leveling plate. We also painted the exhaust system with high temperature white paint.

With the engine tilted forward in the chassis, the carb isn't level with the ground.

Here is the NOS leveling plate that came with the car.

Here is how the carb sits level with the leveling plate in place.

We painted the exhaust system with white high temperature paint.

May, 2011
During May, we continued to make minor improvements to the car. The right rear suspension link that ties down the steering arm had been damaged in a race crash and had been replaced with a homemade link. Fortunately, the link on the left rear was still original and we were able to use it as a pattern. We ordered a piece of 7/8" aluminum hex stock, and after it arrived, we drove up to our friend Bill Willmeroth's shop in Alachua, and he made the piece and a spare for us on his lathe. We also were able to machine the piece left over from the right rear of the car into an exact replacement for the same link in the front suspension, so we now have a spare steering link for both the rear and front of the car.

The right rear steering tie down link had a homemade repair.

The left rear steering tie down link was still original so we were able to use
it as a pattern for the right rear link.

Our friend Bill Willmeroth duplicating the link on his lathe. Bill was owner of European
Motors in Miami and was our boss when we worked there in the late 1960's.

The 7/8" aluminum hex piece in this photo is the original front suspension
link that connects the steering arm to the steering rack. We now have a spare one of these,
made from the old right rear steering link.

The car came with a nice scrapbook, and one of the pages was a complete wiring chart. We cleaned up the wiring, and decided to clean up all the dashboard instruments and get them working correctly. The charging light didn't work, and since the bulb tested good, we cleaned up the generator commutator and installed new brushes in the generator. We re-installed the generator and the charging light now works as designed. We were pleasantly surprised to find that our vintage Bear Engine Analyzer had a three-cylinder/two-stroke setting, so we used the Bear machine to do a complete engine tune-up on the car. We also calibrated the tachometer in the car by adjusting the internal potentiometer in the VDO instrument, using the Bear machine as the standard reference. The VDO mechanical water temperature gauge worked perfectly and we didn't have to do anything to it. We also installed an air filter on the carburetor.

The generator charging light is to the left of the VDO tachometer.

We cleaned up the generator commutator and installed new brushes.

The VDO water temperature gauge works perfectly and we didn't need to do
anything to it.

We used our vintage Bear Machine to tune up the engine and to calibrate
and adjust the VDO tachometer.

We were puzzled by two mounting brackets at the front of the car above the footwell that didn't seem to have any purpose. After looking at pictures of other Quantum IVs on the Formula SAAB web site, we discovered that the purpose of the mounts was to fasten a cross brace of 3/4" square tubing to the chassis to triangulate and stiffen the front suspension mounts. We fabricated the brace, duplicating the style of the ends of the rear top brace on the car, which was original, and then bolted it in place above the battery. We also washed the entire chassis with lacquer thinner to remove a top coat of non-original yellow spray paint that had been added at some point in time. The original yellow paint below the top coat was hard enough to resist the thinner. We'll strip the rest of the paint off the chassis when we disassemble the car to paint the chassis.

We'll paint the new front chassis cross brace yellow at the same time as we
paint the chassis. This photo also shows the correct location of the battery.

June, 2011
We didn't work much on the car in June, as the focus was trying to figure out how to get the car comfortable to drive, and deciding what to do about the seat, and seat and shoulder harness. This took more study than actual construction. The problems we are wrestling with is that while sitting in the original seat, we can't reach the pedals, gear shifter or dashboard, and that the car has only three seatbelt/shoulder harness mounts on the chassis. While we don't plan to vintage race the car, we do hope to drive the car some, and so we do need to be able to reach the pedals and other controls. The three-point belt mounts, along with the 1965 rollover bar, and gasoline in the chassis will all raise eyebrows with technical inspectors anywhere we do drive the car, so at the very least, all of these parts have to be in like new condition.

After we made the new front chassis cross brace last month, we realized that the throttle pedal was mounted so that it swung forward of the left-to-right permanent chassis brace above the pedals. A homemade pedal stop was attached to the master cylinder mounting bracket. It is clear to us now that the previous driver of the car was about a foot taller than we are. With the cross brace in place, the throttle pedal would hit it, so we now understood why it had been missing. As shown in the photo of the cross brace, we moved the throttle pedal to the rear of the left-to-right chassis brace, and now the pedal stop is the left-to-right chassis brace, as was the original design. This moved the pedal about 4 inches closer to the seat, and we can now just barely reach it. In addition to the modification to the pedal location and pedal stop, the lever that attaches to the pedal rod had been modified to fit the new configuration. When we returned the pedal location to the original design, we also returned the lever to it's original configuration and then made a new throttle cable as needed for the original design.

We made a new throttle cable using the double pulley cable setup as originally
designed. While at it, we made an aluminum plate to mount two throttle return springs.

This is a close-up of the cable end where it mounts on the carb.

We again studied all of the photos on the Formula SAAB web site, and found that there were no two cars with the same seat. In addition, there are no indications of any seat mounts on our chassis, and no sign that any were removed. We weren't sure if our seat was original, as we couldn't find any pictures of one like it, but the plywood seat back looked like a factory piece, and the chassis was factory constructed with a curved seat bottom piece welded in to the middle of the chassis. The description of the kit in the original sales brochure said the kit came with "upholstery and seat back" and that is exactly what our car has. Nonetheless, we couldn't figure out how the seat that came with the car could be made to work for us. Since the windshield for the car is identical to the windshield in a Lotus 31 Formula Junior from the same period, we decided that the best non-original seat option for us would be to figure out how to mount a Lotus 31 seat into the Quantum. We owned and vintage raced two different Lotus 51 Formula Fords about ten years ago, and the Lotus 31 and Lotus 51 are almost the same car except for the engines, and the seats in both are identical. We knew that the Lotus 31 seat would fit us perfectly. In addition, the width of the Lotus 31 seat is the correct width to fit into the Quantum. We ordered a new Lotus 31 seat from Lee Chapman Racing, and when it arrived, we TIG welded up a frame for it to mount the seat in the car. The seat frame we made mounts to the original seat belt mounting points and so we didn't need to modify the Quantum chassis to use the Lotus 31 seat.

The Lotus 31 seat and frame mount we made from above.

The Lotus 31 seat and frame mount we made from below.

After we finished the Lotus 31 seat mount, we began corresponding with Ryan Gamber, who had also just bought a Quantum IV, in his case from California. Like our Billing car, his car still had the original 1965 rollover bar, and hadn't been modified for vintage racing. He confirmed that the seat that came with the Billing car was identical to the seat that came with his car, so for the first time we had two Quantums with the same seat. This information, plus further study of the chassis convinced us that our seat was the original seat for the car. We decided to continue to try to figure out how to make the original seat work for us, and plan to keep the Lotus 31 in reserve as a backup plan, or if we plan to drive the car faster than originally planned. We might use the original seat and two inch seat belt for show, and the Lotus 31 seat and a modern three inch lap belt for go.

This is the seat upholstery that came with the Billing car. We think this upholstery
was included as part of the original kit.

This is the seat back that came with the Billing car. We think this seat back is an
original one that came with the kit.

This is the underside of the seat upholstery.

The actual seat bottom is a curved piece of sheet steel that is part of the chassis.
The seat upholstery simply sits on top of this curved piece.

We still haven't decided how we can use the original seat and still reach the dashboard and shifter, and so we started work on the other tough problem, that is, how to use the original three point seat belt and shoulder harness mounts. The description of the kit in the original sales brochure said the kit came with "seat belt and shoulder harness mounting points" and from this original photo of the car, it is clear that the cars had only one shoulder harness mount. In 1965, seat belts in cars were just becoming required. SAAB sedans were one of the few street cars that came with a shoulder belt and lap belt, and SAAB was considered to be leading the world in safety technology. It is reasonable to me that the three point seat belt and shoulder harness mounts designed into the Quantum IV were considered to be leading technology as well, as most race cars before that time had lap belts only, if that. Unfortunately, it wasn't long before the standard seat belt shoulder harness in race cars had two shoulder belts and three inch lap belts became the norm.

This 1965 photo of the chassis in Washington Garage clearly shows the chassis was designed with only one shoulder belt mount.

The Billing car came with a two inch aircraft style lap belt, and the shoulder harness mounting point looked like it had never been used. Since the sales brochure didn't say that a belt and harness were included with the kit, and SAAB was about the only manufacturer using a three-point harness in their street cars, it is a pretty good guess was that the intent of the design was to use a seat belt out of a SAAB street car, or at least use the same design. That is, a long belt runs from the shoulder mount point, across the chest, down to the side of the lap, and then across the lap to the other side of the lap. Ed Todd who lives in Alaska and also has a Quantum IV as well as a SAAB Sonett, sent us a used seat belt/shoulder harness setup from a SAAB Sonett. In a Sonett, the belt buckle clips into a metal piece attached to the floor of the car. This piece was too short for use in the Quantum, so we temporarily made up a piece made up of excess belt to replace the metal piece. The Sonett belt was made by Davis Aircraft, and has a nice belt buckle with a SAAB logo pressed into it. We began a discussion with Davis to see if they would re-web the belt for us. Short of rewebbing the Sonett belt, the only other thing we can think of is to use a three inch lap belt, and then use a second lap belt diagonally across the chest. That means using two modern buckles instead of an original SAAB belt. Other Quantum owners solved this problem by welding a second shoulder harness mounting point to the chassis above the left shoulder, and then using a modern four or six-point seatbelt and harness. This is the solution we hope to avoid, as we don't want to make any additions to the original chassis.

This is how we modified the SAAB Sonett harness to fit the Quantum. We cut
the excess piece of belt off the end of the main belt, and then used the excess to make
a piece for the buckle to clip into. If Davis Aircraft will re-reb the belt and make
the buckle clip for us, then this is the set-up we plan to use.

Late in June, the VDO adapter rings we ordered for tachometer and water temperature gauges arrived from JEGS and we installed them behind the instruments to replace the homemade adapters. The small engine cover plate that came with the car also wasn't original to the kit, and we contacted as many Quantum owners as we could to see if anyone had an original engine cover plate, with no luck. So far, we don't know what the original engine cover plate looked like, and even what material it was constructed from. It may well have been a fiberglass part. It is clear however, from pictures of several other Quantums, that the cover was held onto the back body with two Lion quarter-turn fasteners, one at the center front and one at the center rear of the cover. We made a cover plate from aluminum and mounted it on the car. We were missing a few Lion fasteners, so we ordered a complete set of new Lion fasteners for the car, and installed them as well. We also disassembled the mirrors and polished then and reassembled them, tightening the interal fasteners as we went.

The new VDO tach adapter ring is now on the car.

The new VDO temp gauge adapter ring is now on the car.

The two Lion clips on the front and rear of the engine cover opening are the mounting
points for the engine cover.

The engine cover that came with the car was a homemade piece made out of galvanized
sheet metal. It clearly wasn't the part that originally came with the kit.

We made this new engine cover plate out of aluminum sheet. It will have to
be good enough until we can find an original one to copy.

November, 2011
Near the middle of November, we felt that we had a good window of time, about 9 weeks, where we could work on the car nearly 6 hours a day for 5 days a week. It seemed like the right time to tackle the big job of cleaning up and painting frame. Everything on the car was working, and we wanted to be sure that we would have time to put the car back together if we took it all apart. The last thing we wanted to do was to take the car apart, and then have it be apart for a year or more. We started disassembly right after Thanksgiving. The first step in the disassembly was to remove the engine. We disconnected and removed the radiator and water lines, the fuel lines, top chassis brace, and various other small connections.

We removed the radiator and water lines.

Once we removed the exhaust system, the engine was ready for removal from the chassis.

The engine is a stock 850 block with a 850 GT head.

This shows the detail of the stock engine bay with the engine out.

We removed the suspension, steering column and steering rack and then put the chassis upside down on the sawhorses to make it easier to remove the bellypan and side body panels. The bellypan appears to be original and is 22 gauge galvanized sheet steel. It is riveted to the chassis with full brazier head aluminum drive rivets. We began a search to see if we could still buy those rivets new.

The chassis upside down on the sawhorses.

December, 2011
After we removed the bellypan, we spent several days straightening minor dents in the chassis, and getting it ready to paint. Once we finished that work, we took the chassis to Dynamic Performance Coating in Inverness for sandblasting and powdercoating. We then started cleaning up the engine and other parts. We broke the cast iron exhaust manifold while removing it from the engine. We also broke the cast iron brake master cylinder when taking it apart for overhaul. We didn't realize how expensive to replace the brake cylinders are. Next time, we will be a lot more careful.

We'll now start a new web page covering the re-assembly of the car, to allow for quicker loading of photo-rich pages. Click here to follow the re-assembly of the car.

[Vintage Garage Home Page]