Byline: RAY MASSEY
QUESTION: What do you do with a rusty Ford Escort, a leather handbag from Oxfam and a shopping basket?
Answer (if you're a pupil at Oundle): Turn them into a classic wind-in-your-hair sports car costing just [pounds sterling]250.
The public school, founded in 1556, has started its own production line using cannibalised parts to make the DIY vehicles.
So far 32 of the `LoCost Sevens' have been built, all uncannily similar to the classic Lotus 7 designed by the late Colin Chapman - hero to the school's head of motor engineering, Ron Champion.
`We are one of the few truly Britsh motor manufacturers left,' Mr Champion said yesterday. `It's effectively fallen to one of Britain's top public schools to be a last bastions of the British motor car industry.'
Now Mr Champion, 52, has written a manual revealing the Northamptonshire school's engineering secrets. It will be released today by motoring publisher Haynes at [pounds sterling]14.99.
It advises would-be car makers to scour scrapyards for a Mark I or Mark II Ford Escort with a good engine, gearbox, back axle and tyres. Body condition is immaterial. The school says it has never paid more than [pounds sterling]75 for a whole car.
The manual then gives full details of how to strip the Escort and turn it into a shiny new sports car.
Top tips include making the radiator grille from a discarded wire shopping basket, using [pounds sterling]2.50 bath sealant to fix the windscreen and making old leather handbags and coats into trim for the dashboard and gear-stick surround.
Once the car is complete have it inspected by a vehicle licensing centre, fix on the number plates, insure, MOT and tax it - then head for the open road.
Oundle's motor industry connections run deep.
Former pupil Rudolph Stahl designed the first Chrysler, while Charles Amherst Villiers created Malcolm Campbell's land speed record-breaking Bluebird and later designed the landing craft for Nasa's Mars exploration.
Mr Champion has more down-to-earth ambitions. `I'm writing another book - build your own vintage sports car, similar to a pre-war two-seater sports car, for as little as [pounds sterling]1,000,' he said. `We're working on a prototype now.'