Car Magazine Interview October 1990


Report by Stuart Johnston. Pictures by Steve Tronson.

DOWN Bellville way, The Environmentalists are often confused with the Ninja Turtles and Greens are something you use to pay speeding fines.

And right now, confides Roly Stanton (who has his tuning shop, Motordrive Cape, on the border of Bellville and Parow) there are street enthusiasts who are Junking their hi-tech fuel injection systems for belching side-draught Weber or Dellorto carburettors, in the name of horsepower.

Look, I tell the guys, you’ll get top-end power gains but your fuel consumption’s gonna go for a ball, but what the hell. What are we all working for?
Life is for fun. It’s a dream.

Roly Stanton, mid-40s, stocky, ice blue eyes, has lived a horsepower dream since he came of driving age.
Three months after he got married he took the lounge suite money and spent it on a set of Side-draughts for his Anglia. His mother didn’t forgive him for years but his wife found she could keep track of him more easily. She could hear me coming around the old Zoo Bend on De Waal Drive, even though we lived near the Newlands Swimming Pool.”

The Anglia was Roly’s dream and during the years that followed he made it as quick as anything in the Cape.
Towards the end of the 60s he went to work for the late, great Willie Meissner, who was the professor of performance in the golden years of speed.

A diesel fitter by trade, Roly learnt to port cylinder heads from The Professor and was involved with the development of the Meissner Overhead-cam conversions. “Willie was tremendous, but just never give him a spanner. He’d break the bolt head off for you.
He came in late in the morning, wandered around half asleep. But he was always deep in thought. He’d go to movies and in the middle of the flick he’d get up and walk home because he’d clicked on some brilliant idea. His wife would come home after movies to find him at the drawing board.”

Port grinder gift
Roly also worked with Billie Steyn, a man steeped in the art of cylinder head development. After the Meissner phase he went back to his trade but continued porting cylinder heads using a port grinder that his mates had given him at a surprise party one birthday. Then came his long time association with Charlie Rowe, the one-eyed marvel driver. “I saw Charles the other day and he’s still going strong. He was an amazing driver, he would give a tuner Such fantastic feed-back. You need a driver who relates to you and Charlie and I had that and today, Gary Smith and I have that. Charlie and Roly developed one of the fastest 1600 crossflow Escorts the Country has ever seen, a car that won the Western Province title a few times Roly developed the car to a point where it turned 1:29 around Killarney. Consider that this was almost two decades ago and that today, a Wesbank Modified 1600 car runs a 1:25 in fine fettle, and you get an idea of how quick that old Escort really was.

Roly has lost count of the number of drivers he has helped find the quick Way around Killarney but he says that the biggest trouble with the Cape Town competitors is that they listen to too many people and end up confused, instead of levelling with just one acknowledged expert – say a Koos Swanepoel, an Owen Ashley or a Roly Stanton.. Six years ago he opened his own premises and now has a large, modern workshop in Parow with the latest equipment, including a sophisticated Bosch LPS 003 dynamometer and a Superflow flowbench imported from the US. The Bosch dyno measures power output at the wheels and also computes the total loss through transmission and wheels, so that a flywheel measurement is obtained on the printout. As air temperature and density are taken into account during each run,the figures it gives on different runs,with different vehicles, are directly comparable with each other. “I reckon that South African motorists need to be educated about the effectiveness of a dyno.” comments Roly. “If Someone sells you an exhaust pipe and they say it gives 20 per cent more power, it makes good sense to give your car a run on the dyno before fitting it, and then to check it again after fitting the system, to see whether you have in fact gained 20 per cent.”

Ten per cent gain
Roly reckons that the best aftermarket exhaust systems in South Africa (and he rates Brospeed, Wildcat and Cowley), give up to a 10 per cent increase but not more. I don’t touch a car that has a stainless steel exhaust fitted to it. There is Something about the way these systems retain heat, or it could be to do with the harmonics. can never get satisfactory power out of a car that has a stainless steel system.” Stanton’s V6 Sierras, Sapphires and Cortinas are becoming legend in the Cape Town area. He markets gas-flowed cylinder heads, roller camshaft kits using cams modified by Nellus Toerien of Procam and modified intake systems, as well as pop-up pistons, to give up to 140 kW from a three-litre motor.I try to give the guys what they can afford. One of the first things to do with a V6 is to fit a K&N air filter system to the carb. With the latest Sierras and Sapphires, you are looking at an increase of 8 kW just by junking the standard air intake system.
“As far as camshafts go, the biggest problems are that guys use springs that are too stiff and wear out the lobes. Or they use the old valve-lifters which also wear out the lobes, or they don’t run the camshaft in. A new cam needs to be run in at a slow engine speed for at least 150 to 200 km.”
As for gas flowing, Roly reckons that his training in hydraulics helped him a lot. “I always visualize the air as if it was water. So you keep angles as straight as possible and you don’t go too big and lose flow speed. I try to keep the smallest part of the port at the point just before the valve seat, so that when the valve opens, you have maximum velocity into the combustion chamber.”

In Charlie Rowe, seen here driving a Formula Ford in the early seventies, Roly had a driver who gave him vital feedback.

Roly says his three favorite engines are the Ford V6, the Ford 1600 crossflow and the Ford V8 302. But he’ll work on Toyota Twin Cams, Golf GTis and Kadett GSi’s to equally good effect. It all depends on the customer’s pocket and what he wants to do with the car. He’s not worried about the possibility of tough anti-pollution laws, that under bonnet electronic proliferation might curtail the modification business or that speed fever might go Out of fashion. “Street-rodding is alive, you want to Come down to Voortrekker Road from Kuils River through to Goodwood, on a Saturday night. And if things change, well, we’1l just have to go and find a quiet little street somewhere.”