Along a sweeping country road in the West of Ireland, a small gravel lane veers off without so much as a signpost. What lies beyond, besides a busy farm, is Red Hill Motorsport, one of the most incredible single-man operations in motor racing.
Dave Hunt is one of those people you can spend hours being utterly amazed by. Around him stands the warehouse that he has built – both literally and figuratively – to become a home to Dave’s never-ending stream of builds, each a reflection of his engineering brilliance.
As Dave works away from home during the week, everything within the shed is the result of weekends spent designing, fabricating and building some of the most ambitious and well-executed builds I’ve ever followed.
Dave’s internet handle, DieselDave, will be familiar to many forum build thread followers. For years, he’s meticulously detailed nearly all steps in the creation of his dream machines, and this becomes so easy to understand once you start to nose around Dave’s workmanship.
Spoiler alert: there are most certainly no diesels going to be featured; Dave’s nickname stems from his VW scene days, but we’ll come back to that.Take It To The Maxi-mum
Passing through the shutter of Red Hill Motorsport, one car instantly grabbed my attention. Granted, everything that Dave owns captivates me, but how many sheds have a raw Kevlar-bodied Peugeot 106 Maxi sitting down the back?
The story of the 106, or more so the previous iteration, is what brought Dave Hunt onto my radar in the first place. Developed from a road car, eight years of constant evolution and tinkering saw a pretty entry level 106 GTi rally car morph into a fire-spitting, wide-arched Maxi (see the build thread here for anyone with a few days to spare). After a small crash on the stages in mid-2019, the decision was simple: go all-out.
A ground-up build from a brand new bare shell, Maxi chassis #41 is using every bit of knowledge Dave learned from the creation of chassis #40, while taking it to the next level. Mistakes and compromises in the build of the old car are being corrected now; it’s the perfect opportunity with such a blank canvas.
All of the fabrication is, let’s not forget, from the hands of one man, working solely at weekends for his own enjoyment.
The cage is being utilised to mount a number of brackets, including those for the Red Hill-designed and built dry-break fuel system that will eventually find a home here. The 45mm tubing is a step up from the original 38mm items used by Matter Motorsport in France when building these cages for Peugeot Sport back in the 1990s.
Everywhere else, the lengths being taken on the engineering front are so incredibly fascinating that it takes a while to fully appreciate it. The front section will run a completely unique and self-designed tubular subframe setup, with pickup points for the lower steering arm mounts, as well as brackets to hold the gearbox torque arm as well as mounting point for the sump guard. The aim is to not just replicate the levels of Peugeot Sport, a factory motorsport outfit, but to see what would have been possible with today’s technology and knowhow.
Then, of course, there’s the bodywork. What you see here is weight saving taking to a new level when it comes to rally car builds. The front wings nearly fell from my hands when Dave handed them to me; at barely 720 grams the cognitive response is confusion. Body panels should not be this light.
The complete suite of panels – that’s bumpers, sills, arches and rear quarters – come in at 7kg in total. This being Dave though, the process of Kevlar and carbon vacuum-bagging was done by hand using original Peugeot Sport 106 Maxi moulds.The Collection
Just about over the experience of the 106, the guided tour continued. While the workshop is home to cutting-edge rally monsters, the next shed is home to ‘the collection’, a series of road cars that Dave has gathered over the years. Some are former projects, others future projects, and then there’s the welcoming trio out front, which I’ll get back to in a moment.
Just inside the shed, a familiar pair stands side by side; an ’80s and ’90s dream duo. A Lancia Delta and a Mk2 VW Golf are special in any shape, but when ones an Integrale Evo and the other a factory G60 supercharged, it’s fitting to remember that everything here is special.
Through the shadows, the shape and outline of a Ford Escort RS Cosworth is unmistakable, and naturally is has to be a Motorsport Edition, one of the rarest of the breed. Surrounding it are a number of BMW E30 M3 projects belonging to another family member, one of which is home to a rather controversial Honda power plant. That one will be worth returning for another day.
Thinking I’d seen everything, the shape of a Mk2 Golf poked out from under a cover in the darkest corner. Not just any Golf, of course, but an incredibly special Golf Rallye.
Dave chuckled about another sitting unfinished in another shed. I was dumbfounded, but sure enough, once the door was pulled back, indeed there was another shed, and exactly as described, sat another Rallye.
Alongside it, the shelves are stacked full of years’ worth of vital parts required to build, maintain and rally some of these incredibly rare French machines that Dave loves to keep pushing the envelope with.
For all of the cars sitting gathering dust in the darkness of the sheds, and for all the hard work going into the building of the rally cars, it always pays to have a few toys available to hand for periods of unwinding.
The first two – a left-hand drive Peugeot 106 GTi complete with Red Hill Kevlar arch and splitter protectors, and a fearsome-looking Renault Clio V6 – are obvious given the fare barely metres away in the shed, but it’s the Porsche 911 at the end that has Dave smitten.All About The Turbo
The Stuttgart weapon has opened Dave’s eyes to a whole new world of road performance. Years of fooling around in front-wheel drive stuff seems irrelevant now, he says.
Naturally, the Porsche has seen a series of tweaks within the shed, with a new cage and seats being added to the mix. Banging through the manual gearbox along nearby roads, it’s clear to see just how well the 997 is suited to a tight and twisty route, and a surefire performance bargain at present before values skyrocket like most older 911s in recent times.
That rounds us back to the maddest of all Dave’s ongoing projects. Taking a Polish Renault 5 automatic donor car that was transported across Europe in a tipper truck, and adding to the mix the barely-recognisable remains of another little Renault dragged from a ditch and a huge amount of home drawings, Dave’s build of his ultimate Renault 5 Turbo 2 Group B car is on another level.
Essentially fabricated from the ground-up, every part of this build is worth a time to stop and soak in. Having taken measurements and thousands of reference photographs from works cars, the aim here is to build a useable version of the Group B monster. Dave wants a car that can be taken out and driven hard, all without the fear of breaking rare and incredibly pricey components.
All around, off-the-shelf parts play a role in creating the vision. Dave’s even gone so far as to incorporate Ford Escort components, but with the addition of bespoke suspension and hub parts to give it the Red Hill Motorsport touch.
While the old Ford is intrinsically linked with Irish rallying, it’s a double-edged sword for Dave. On one side, it feeds his desire to push the boundaries to build something completely different for the stages, in a sense of railing against the Escort tide. But on the other, it opens a world of very easy to source parts.
Ironically, an Escort shell actually sits outside the shed. This is a rare customer car, but it’s a paying job that funds progress on the 106 and the 5 Turbo, so it’s given a pass.
Knowing Dave though, it will be an exceptional build once its completed. Elsewhere, a few AE86 dash panels sit awaiting flocking, another bit of work Dave completes under his ‘Flock It Anyway’ company.
Back to the Renault though. The standard narrow body is now almost lost between the massive extended rally arches, while the rear has been completely re-engineered to accept a turbocharged heart where the shopping would have once resided. Beyond that, the cage is again a self-build, copied off images and drawings of the works cars captured in period.
An incredibly inquisitive engineering mind and non-stop work ethic has made Dave Hunt and Red Hill Motorsport a huge inspiration for those that appreciate the finer and intricate details of a build. So much incredible craftsmanship is eventually covered by trim or tucked away from sight, but Dave doesn’t care. Every nut, bolt, bracket or part is open to improvement, and it’s the never-ending quest to find perfection that is so admirable.
If you are a car nerd and not following DieselDave’s builds, you are most definitely missing out.
And don’t worry, there is one other build that I’ll return to in the next few days…Cutting Room Floor