The Drambuie Imp
Car:  Imp Californian
Class:  Special Saloons up to 1000cc
Sponsor / Driver:  Drambuie / Ian Forest
Body:  Basically glassfibre with removable rear section from the centre of the roof line
Suspension:  As standard Elden F. Ford with coil springs and dampers at each corner
Brakes:  Discs all round
Wheels:  9 inch front and 10 inch rear
Steering:  Standard rack and pinion
Engine:  998cc Chesman full race unit with estimated power output of 118bhp
Carburation:  Experimenting with injection
Exhaust:  TDC
Transmission:  Hewland F3 five speed gearbox with Jack Knight LSD
Cooling:  Front mounted radiator, rear mounted oil cooler
  Blakburn prankster 2011

The Imp Site

Ian Forrest

From: Ian Forrest
Sent: 19-Apr.-2011
Subject: RE: Drambuie Imp

I started racing in 1971 and thought at that time I was a good driver !! How wrong I was. In my first race I crashed after only 3 corners!! Only then I realised that there was more to this racing game than driving fast on the public roads.

Late in 1974 I bought a space framed Imp from Eric Paterson for £250, which was previously built and raced by Brain Coyle (he was co-driver to Andrew Cowan London to Sydney Marathon Rally winner). At that time I was married with a kid on the way - £250 was all my savings at the time!!!

I first raced this car at Croft and very quickly realised why it was so cheap: it was un-driveable!!! On returning home a bit despondent to say the least, I discovered that the steering geometry was all wrong. The Ackerman on the steering had the outside wheel scribing a tighter angle than the inside wheel !!! So what was happening when cornering? As you turned into a corner the inside would lift as Imps do. However, as soon as it lifted, the outside wheel would take over the steering and as it was actually scribing a tighter angle, it had the same effect as suddenly putting more lock on and would immediately spin!!!!
The solution was simple and only cost about £1: I made brackets, welded them to the front uprights altering the Ackerman to give the correct geometry when cornering. This transformed the Imp and in 1975 went on to win the Lombard Scottish Saloon Car Championship outright and the Knockhill Dart Saloon Car Championship outright, the car was fantastic.

My father approached Drambuie (who were based in my home village Kirkliston) for sponsorship that year, and The Drambuie Imp was born.


He enjoyed a great deal of success racing Imps and Davrians in Scotland and the North of England between 1970 and 1987. A number of photos can be found at, which starts with 'Ian Forrest's 998cc Imp (Ingliston, April 1974)', red Imp, white top, comp. no. 112, bib spoiler.; Ian Forrest's 998cc Drambuie Imp (Ingliston, July 1976); Imps everywhere at Ingliston in September 1977 - Ian Forrest leads from David Ogilvy, Jim McGaughay, Duncan Fisher (in a Fraser Imp), Bill Thompson, Ricky Gauld, and Roy Knowles

The winner of the Lombard Scottish Saloon Car Championship in 1976 was Ian Forrest in his Imp Californian.

He bought the car in 1974 from Eric Patterson, who in turn had bought it from Eric Coyle. Ian got it cheaply, because there were some basic things wrong with the steering and suspension. With his usual flair for spotting a problem and devising an answer, he managed to correct matters for about two bob (10 pence).

He had reasonable success with the car and in 1975 took the championship, retaining it in 1976.

The car has a full race Andy Chesman Imp engine which, during winter, Ian has turned round to improve the weight distribution. One of the side effects is that the gear lever is now on the right hand side for the Formula 3 five speed box. In the engine he has a Greetham GE3 camshaft, Chesman angled head, polished rods, a tuftrided crank, a modified oil pick-up and, as the engine has been raised to the vertical, a short sump. The usual Imp angled sump would scrape along the ground, so he has fitted a special one, which was originally a Chesman experimental unit. So far the experiment seems to be working.

The wheelbase is two inches greater than the standard car, making it seven feet. All suspension is as an Elden Formula Ford, The reason for all this innovation and hard work is that last year Ian lost his overall Saloon Car championship title, so is eager to gain revenge.

One advantage he has over many is that after winning the 1975 title his father approached Drambuie, the liquer makers (it's good, I can vouch) and they agreed to sponsor Ian. This year their contribution doubled, making the chances of retrieving the title a possibility.

When I asked him if he would go to single seaters he replied: "I would like to have a shot, but I think that after driving a Special Saloon like mine, Formula Ford would be a retrograde step, because they don't have slicks and the suchlike. You are driving something that is not going to handle as well. That leaves F3, but the cost and the travelling is prohibitive if you have to run a business as well."

[From the 1992 article?]

Ian Forrest recorded the fastest-ever time at Ingliston for any Imp: the time of 49.2 was a qualifying time not an actual race lap and he believes it was in 1986.

absolutely @, 15-Sep.2008
Rob Knox has an ex-Drambuie Imp and Brian Cutting's old car, he races at Lydden now and again.
absolutely @, 28-Oct.2008
Watching the Drambuie Imp and others made me want one, I got one when I was 23, I think! There was word that Ian was in line to buy back one of the Drambuie cars to race, funny thing is my car was about 2 secs a lap quicker than Ian's old record.

Gerry M @, Dec 12, 2005
The drambuie Imp became a AC3000 there was an article in CCC many moons ago

seamonsta @, 20-Dec-2007
Ian Forrest with his Drambuie Imp stands out in my mind as fastest under 2 litre.


AC/DC : is it an AC or was it an Imp? history of the Drambuie Imp. - Cars & Car Conversions 1992, February
Find scans at Al's Imp Stuff

Northern lights / John Brigden. - Cars and Car Conversions 1978, June. - p.47-49
John Brigden looks at four of the best drivers and cars in Scotland. A quarter of p.48-49 is on Ian Forrest.

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Not Imp-related

He drove a BMW M3 in the 80s sponsored by Novaphone. He took the Mason for the boss of Novaphone, Bob Jamieson, to use as a novice's car.

Apparently there is one Ian Forrest, chief instructor at Knockhill circuit in Fife.

Mark Evans - His experience of learning to drive a car on a circuit has made a big difference to his enjoyment of the 996. When I got the Porsche, I felt very confident because Id had the opportunity to make my mistakes on the track, he says, before revealing that Ian Forrest, the chief instructor at Knockhill circuit in Fife, keeps a fork about his person to ensure his pupils really get the point. I learned simple things like getting all my braking done in a straight line, and when it gets wet those lessons do come into your mind.
The fork-wielding Mr Forrest would be proud.

Schtum @, Oct-08-2007

That's Ian Forest's old Drambuie Imp. I remember watching him racing that at Ingliston, where that pic was taken. Years later I was to have the pleasure of having him instruct me in how to conduct a 300 bhp 2 litre turbocharged Sierra Cosworth around Knockhill, which has now assumed the mantle of Scotland's national motorsport venue following the closure of the Ingliston circuit.