Empire’s Extra Effort!

There are a large number of new or modified cars underway in workshops all over the United Kingdom as the hillclimb world prepares for the 2014 season.

Empire Racing Cars


Few facilities are as busy as the Empire Racing Cars workshop of Bill Chaplin down in darkest Somerset. Mr Editor paid Bill a visit earlier in the week and had a quick look at the workload that Bill and his small team have ahead of them!

The Empire boys have four brand new cars underway for the new season, to three different designs, as well as taking on some general car preparation and modifications as well.

Amongst the projects underway were the following:


Empire Wraith

Production of the next two Wraith cars are well underway, the tubs for Phil Cooke and Simon Fidoe/Paul Knapp have been delivered from Panther Composites, are painted and are being prepared for assembly. Both of these cars are being produced for the ever more popular 1100cc Racing Car Class, and will feature tuned GSXR1000 engines and the full aero package with sidepods, tunnels, flicks and scoops which will also be retro fitted to Clive Austin/Chris Aspinall’s Wraith 001. The aero development of this concept has moved a long way forward after an extensive Computational Fluid Dynamics program.

Phil Cooke Empire Wraith

The new Empire Wraith for Phil Cooke is taking shape at Bill Chaplin’s workshop



Empire Sports Car

The much-anticipated Sports Libre contender from Empire is very nearly complete with corners on the car and bodywork ready to fitted. Gurston regulars Chris Cannell and Sue Hayes will run the blown Suzuki Hayabusa engined car in the 2-litre Sports Libre class. The spaceframe-chassised car has an innovative aero concept which is sure to ruffle a few feathers. The ‘busa lump is being built by New Techniques boss Tom New. It will be great to see how this car fares in the head-to-head scrap it will face with the Force LM of Pete Sexton & Jonny Gates at the Wiltshire hill.


Empire Single-Seater

A new concept of spaceframe single-seater is in progress. The new car, which will be used by 2007 Leaders Champion Ed ‘Kimi’ Hollier, features a similar chassis to the Empire 002 run by Simon Fidoe in recent seasons. There are a few less tubes in the chassis, which uses carbon-skinned honeycomb instead to create a phenomenally stiff and light chassis. Hollier will transfer his highly successful Mistral-built ‘busa from his Pilbeam (which is now for sale!) to remain in the 1600cc Racing Car Class.


Modification Work

As if the above projects are not enough, the guys also have a load of work to do on existing cars which need some winter fettling. During Mr Editor’s visit the highly successful Terrapin of Tom Poole was receiving some attention. This Kawasaki-powered car, which was built in the late 1990s by Ed & Bob Hollier and took a stack of hillclimb FTDs in Ed’s hands, is being re-engined with a more modern Kwak ZX10 engine in place of its previous ZZR1100 motor.

Tom Poole Terrapin Kawasaki

Tom Poole’s ex. Hollier Terrapin will have more modern horses in 2014


Bill and the Empire team certainly have a challenging few months ahead of them, but hard work has never scared Bill and he is sure to have this little lot ready to rumble in time for the season. Now all is needs is some peace and quiet to crack on with the joblist!


  1. Andy Barton says:

    Staggering Statistics from Staithe!
    As ever, JazWills has his Foremost Forefinger on the Pulse of the Future Firsts.
    If everyone else in the field is only half as busy as BillEmpire, then it’s going to be a great gripping season on the hills in 2014. More Energy to All Elbows.

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