Vintage Chenowth 2000 Desert 5 Link Restoration

LantanaTX

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Earlier this year a very rare Chenowth 2000 5 link desert car popped up in the San Diego Craigslist which was purchased by Lynn Chenowth. The car was purchased for his Legacy Lodge Museum at Rancho Percebu just a few miles south of San Filipe. Lynn believes that only 4-6 of these cars were ever built and has decided it should race NORRA when not doing museum duty! Lynn struck a deal with my uncle, Dave Tilton to restore the car and for myself and Jake Johnson to race it in the Legend Buggy class at NORRA. Now that the car is in the shop and Dave has started the teardown, I thought it was a good time to introduce the car with a build thread.

The History:

A week ago we knew nothing about the car other than it looked like a time capsule with its dry sumped engine and Porsche 5 speed all still in the car. the only body panel on the car was the roof which had the sponsor "Trailer Train" on it. I texted a photo of the roof to Rory Ward, Mark Stahl and Martin Gill to see if they remembered it. Leave it to Martin Gill to remember everything and come up two drivers names, Bob Gookin and Bill Silverthorn. Thank you Martin!!! With that information I was able to search pictures on Trackside Photos and found that other drivers included Ivan Stewart, Doug Fortin, Jim Feuling, Ron Stacy, and Bill Thomas. Lynn was pretty excited as the history started to become known as these were all buddies of his back in the day. There were also some surprises as we learned more about the car.



The car was owned by Cliff Clark and "Jingles" Gardner (Auto shop teacher). The two of them never raced the car and their buddy Bob Gookin was the primary driver. The biggest surprise was that the car was originally a swing axle car in 1977 and updated to 5 link for the 1979 season. According to Bob Gookin and confirmed by Don Hatz, the car ran fuel injection. When it was updated in late '78 the transmission was changed to a 5 speed Porsche. We are still are trying to learn more about the race history but Trackside Photos has this car at all the major races they covered from 1977 - 1984, including the Baja 1000, Baja 500, Mint 400 and Parker. One great result we have documented is that Bob Gookin and Ivan Stewart were 2nd overall at the 1978 Parker/Mexicali race. The car beat all class 1 cars but came in second overall and 2nd in class to Bobby Ferro. Bob Gordon was 3rd overall in another 2 seat class 2 car. All three of them beat all single seat cars which hadn't happened much by early 1978.





I am working with Jim Ober to get a ton more pictures which I will start posting during the restoration.

Here is the car as found. We did find out that sometime after 1984, the car was stored in Cliff Clark's Warehouse for many years. He owned Tri-City TV and Appliance. A friend of Cliff named Kevin bought the car from Cliff about 15 years ago for a play car and never raced it. Kevin said he took the body off to probably work on it and is not sure what ever happened to the body. He thinks it was destroyed by the Cedar Fire which took his house and his friend, Mark Veeter who was the next owner, and who also used it as a play car.

















Checking Track Width with our Ultra Wheels and Yokohama Tires before teardown



Tear down begins!





 
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CMA GUMBY

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Another piece of History fell into the right hands.
 

Alvinapm

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Very cool piece with lost of history !!! Should be a great ride. !


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Fourstroker

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The first car my pops raced was a 2 seat Chenowth 1000, although it was a swingaxle
 

LantanaTX

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The first car my pops raced was a 2 seat Chenowth 1000, although it was a swingaxle
Technically, a two seat Chenowth 1000 is a Chenowth 2000 like this car. We also believe this car first raced in ‘77 as a swing axle with a unique 4 torsion setup. This system was very similar to the IRS 5 link the car has now. Lynn Chenowth told me the 4 torsion swing axle wasn’t around long as everyone started switching to IRS. We believe this car’s chassis was updated in ‘78 to the current 5 link IRS setup. This is also when the Porsche 5 speed was installed. I was told the car owner, Cliff Clark was a former drag racer and was always interested in the latest and greatest innovations.


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harleys dad

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there was one of those with a Evan-rude outboard engine, now that would be a find as it only raced maybe a hand full of times and as many cars of the time it vanished. Very nice car and loud as anything I have ever herd. I believe hot vws did a photo shoot of it
 

LantanaTX

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there was one of those with a Evan-rude outboard engine, now that would be a find as it only raced maybe a hand full of times and as many cars of the time it vanished. Very nice car and loud as anything I have ever herd. I believe hot vws did a photo shoot of it
I could have used an Evinrude engine at NORRA this year!



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Fourstroker

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Technically, a two seat Chenowth 1000 is a Chenowth 2000 like this car. We also believe this car first raced in ‘77 as a swing axle with a unique 4 torsion setup. This system was very similar to the IRS 5 link the car has now. Lynn Chenowth told me the 4 torsion swing axle wasn’t around long as everyone started switching to IRS. We believe this car’s chassis was updated in ‘78 to the current 5 link IRS setup. This is also when the Porsche 5 speed was installed. I was told the car owner, Cliff Clark was a former drag racer and was always interested in the latest and greatest innovations.


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Yes same car. I have a photo of the German Auto car my Dad drove in a very similar nose dive as your first photo....wing and all
 

y2kbaja

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Putting 1 and 1 together to make 4. The original owner of this single seat Chenowth (Kennedy Auto Parts) had a Chenowth 2000 he raced back in the 80's with Vorra. I think it was a 5-link also. He had 3 cars, all yellow, some of them had Pinto or Dodge motors in them. Going thru old videos from 1988 & 1989 I'm seeing his Chenowths. I'm not sure of the location or condition of the 2000 or any of them.
 

LantanaTX

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Putting 1 and 1 together to make 4. The original owner of this single seat Chenowth (Kennedy Auto Parts) had a Chenowth 2000 he raced back in the 80's with Vorra. I think it was a 5-link also. He had 3 cars, all yellow, some of them had Pinto or Dodge motors in them. Going thru old videos from 1988 & 1989 I'm seeing his Chenowths. I'm not sure of the location or condition of the 2000 or any of them.
Do you have a name? I would love to see pictures of the car. Lynn thinks maybe 6 cars were built and the only cars I Know of was Mario Alesi’s and Mike Lund’s. This car was probably not one of those six as it seems to have been updated into a 5 link. The only other 5 link I have seen has the long radius rods mount on tabs off a tube. This car has them mounted right through the tube. It looks like the bar was an existing bar which required the engine and trans to be pushed back resulting in the 108” wheel base.


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Fourstroker

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Do you have a name? I would love to see pictures of the car. Lynn thinks maybe 6 cars were built and the only cars I Know of was Mario Alesi’s and Mike Lund’s. This car was probably not one of those six as it seems to have been updated into a 5 link. The only other 5 link I have seen has the long radius rods mount on tabs off a tube. This car has them mounted right through the tube. It looks like the bar was an existing bar which required the engine and trans to be pushed back resulting in the 108” wheel base.


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I don't believe Mike Lunds car was a 2000. It was a 5 link car but was something between the 2000 and the Magnum cars. I will try to find photos of it. Much higer sides than the 2000
 
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Fourstroker

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Found some photos on trackside. Huge resource. Mike Lund's 5 link car plus the 2000 German Auto car my Pops drove

adasfaa.jpg
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LantanaTX

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Dave has been working hard on the car. He continued to strip down a car that sometimes didn't want to come apart but he did get it all apart. Here are a few pictures of the teardown.



He washed up the only remaining part of the body which without this piece we may have never figured out who's car it was.



Here you can see why the new shocks may have to be mounted with the cans down



The pile of parts is getting large



The front torsions were rusted in and a bear to get out. That was nothing compared to removing the rear main torsions



Stripped and next step is to remove all the un-needed tabs. Lots of grinding!







Getting loaded to be sent to sand blast



Back from the sand blaster. Dave said this is the only time he wants to see the car upside down.



New skids plates being made. Because the main torsions and adjusters are very venerable, Dave used 1/4 aluminum all the way forward to the adjusters



Dave didn't like the original pan being dzus'd on and changed all the mounting tabs so that it can be bolted on



The rear hubs are back from powder coat



The beam is all cleaned with new bushings and new torsions from Sway-A-Way. Brian took great care us! The original Wright arms passed mag check as well. He temporarily set the beam to work on fixing a few issues. You can see the cross bar at the front has been removed because it was 1" and should be 1.5" tubing.





New Saco rack. Notice the double shear Heims. This car will be bullet proof when done.



All the new parts for the original Porsche 915 5 speed arrived at Rancho Transaxle and Shan who is their Porsche expert will have it done soon. Stay tuned for the next update!
 

Bro_Gill

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The VORRA guy who raced the yellow/orange and white cars, I believe most were Hijumpers. I believe he was from near the Fresno area. And yeah, 'Colt' motors.
 

LantanaTX

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I received a CD from Jim Ober of Trackside photo. I now have over 40 photos from 1977 when the car first started racing to 1984 when it was hidden away in a warehouse until about 15 years ago and will be sharing a few with each update.

Here are a few from the 1978 Mexicali 300. This race was supposed to have been the Parker 400 but a week before the race it was moved to Mexicali supposedly because of insurance issues. This was a wet and miserable race but was historic in that Class 2 (2 seat unlimited) took the top three overall positions for the first time ever and beat all the single seat class 1 cars. This car was second overall and was driven by Bob Gookin and Ivan Stewart. 1st went to Bobby Ferro and 3rd was Bob Gordon. The first 3 class 1 cars finished very close to each other but about 35 minutes after Gordon's class 2 car and included Perry McNeil, Jeff McPherson, and Mark Stahl.

1978 Mexicali 300






Dave Tilton has been busy on the car except when he gets the call that something is broken at Glen Hellen and he has to race up there to keep the equipment running. The Chassis is now ready for a few coats of Steel IT and yesterday he visited Rancho Transmission to pick up the Porsche type 915 5 speed. Shan at Rancho did all the work. We initially hoped that since the car was raced since '79 with a 5 speed we could put in any 5 speed we wanted to such as a Hewland like Mario Alesi was using during the same time period. However NORRA made a fair determination that since the Legend Buggy class requires a bus box unless it raced differently that we could only run how it raced differently which is the Porsche box. After lots of research we were able to rebuild the transmission with all new Albins gears and ring and pinion.



 

LantanaTX

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It has been a couple of weeks since the last update but we were busy racing The BITD Laughlin race. As far as Laughlin went, we brought our Chenowth NORRA car to a sprint race. Our NORRA gearing proved to be very wrong for Laughlin so we basically brought a 3rd place car and finished a very close 2nd and ahead of a very distant 3rd. So not too bad.

Dave had been busy prepping suspension parts, painting the chassis and when he went to start installing the rear suspension he encountered a big problem. after machining new bushings the main torsion bars would not go back in. The sleeves that hold the bushings were way off. So Dave found himself doing more chassis work.

Chassis being painted in Steel It



Looking like new!



New Bushings made



Uh Oh Off just a HAIR







Getting it corrected





Front end coming together







Rear Torsion's now fit



Main Torsion and secondary/sway bar connected



Main torsion adjusters



Rear suspension coming together





What do you do when it is too high for a creeper and too low to stand?

 
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