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Thread: The Semi-Unofficial Pistol-Forum Car geek, gearhead, hot rodder, and vehicle thread

  1. #1
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    The Semi-Unofficial Pistol-Forum Car geek, gearhead, hot rodder, and vehicle thread

    Seeing as we've had countless instances of P-F thread drift into cars, I figured it ought to be consolidated to preserve data integrity of other perfectly good threads.

    The starting topics are:

    @blues misses the Grand National; so does everyone else with a soul. It is the high polish blue Colt Delta Elite of the car world and it's somehow still awesome despite its character that other folks mistake as shortcomings.

    @RevolverRob has a Sunbeam Alpine that's pining for Non-British and actually reliable horsepower. No, we already tried to talk him into smallblock V8 Ford with a 5spd manual trans sort of combo with a Dana 44 behind it... But some guy named Shelby beat us to the punch about 50 years ago, because that Shelby guy had a bigger shoehorn (welder) and could do all the elaborate fab work and custom parts to make it all fit. So we're thinking of various lightweight 4 cylinders like a Honda K-series, Toyota 3S-GE, Nissan SR20, Maybe a Ford 2.3L Ecoboost out of an S550 Mustang?

    @OlongJohnson has an E36/E46 on the mind, toying with the idea of an ultra lightweight 4cyl engine swap (Honda K20 or K24 at the moment) and a 'because racecar' track day style build to properly scratch the itch that a Miata hasn't been able to; The Germans do steering and chassis rigidity like nobody else, though engines and electrical systems leave much to be desired. Why not build the best of both?

    @Doc_Glock and @HeavyDuty are enjoying stock cars!
    Let's encourage them to stay happy, be jealous of their happiness with stock vehicles, and remember that money spent on car projects is money that could be spent on ammo, training, more pistols, or trying to build that inevitable house out of barely-used holsters.

    @OlongJohnson: E36/E46 swaps fall into two categories; race car only, or something that can still wear a plate and be street registered.

    First things first, for a race car build I personally believe you're making the science projects into bigger issues than they really are.
    While the NB Miata engine + turbo almost makes sense on paper, only the earlier E36 chassis can really be carved down to that kind of weight in a sane manner, and you run into problems because simply doing a turbo Miata will be cheaper to cage, maintain, keep alive, keep tires/brakes/consumables on, and it'll almost certainly be faster than the same engine/HP in a BMW shell. So to take advantage of the BMW chassis, I'd suggest aiming for a streetable build and more HP that isn't so hamstrung by the weird Miata aftermarket like the NB 1.8L.

    K24's are comparatively cheap and even a TSX K24 with the RBB cylinder head is a ~170-180whp engine left NA on stock cams with tuning, etc, and turbo setups are simple and plentiful to tune with K-pro, which can combine with a retained EGR system and catalytic converter to maintain OBD-II compliance on the Honda PCM if needed for a '96+ BMW that you want to put plates on.

    The K24's stock oil pan is really the only downside vs the NB 1.8L. The K24 makes more power and torque everywhere in the rev range, has better throttle response, it's wonderfully Honda-reliable, has mountains of aftermarket parts and plentiful donor Acuras/Hondas stateside to support Hotrodding hijinks. Plus the intake and exhaust sides are opposite the Miata engine so you don't need to worry about turbo setup clearance with the LHD steering shaft, etc which turns into a problem on SR20DET/RB25-26 swaps in LHD E36/E46 builds.

    I think it gets down to two main questions; do you want any HVAC, and how much HP is enough?

    If HVAC can go, you can cut the firewall to accommodate the K24's stock oil pan and simply set the engine as far back as it needs to go, and decide on a gearbox from there once your total flywheel-to-shifter distance is known. That will do wonderful things for your weight distro and frees up tons of front end real estate for a big radiator/intercooler setup.

    On HP; A simple single turbo setup and Kpro on a Honda PCM should do everything you need it to do with the stock engine. 350-400whp on unopened TSX K24's is fairly common so keeping it around 325-350whp on a small turbo will spool fantastically well and wonderful Honda cylinder heads don't need boatloads of boost pressure to make decent HP.
    If you want to stay NA, ITB's and a custom header with some big cams can get the K24 into the mid-high 200's at the wheels and it sounds incredible, but it will cost significantly more than a modest turbo setup.

    Wildcard/random idea; The Toyota 1UZ-FE 4.0L V8 is an all aluminum, DOHC 32V engine that makes ~220-230whp with open exhaust and everything else stock, including the PCM. If that'd be enough horsepower for your projected E36 build, an OBD-I E36 and OBD-I Lexus SC400 donor engine will be rear sump and set up for a tighter I6 engine bay.
    Adapters for Toyota W58, R154, and Nissan CD009 transmissions are plentiful. It'd be profoundly reliable, torquey, and sound pretty good too. Even better? It'd be relatively cheap if you cherrypicked the combo as deals came up.

  2. #2
    banana republican blues's Avatar
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    Aug 2016
    Blue Ridge Mtns
    Well, I don't really consider myself a true car guy as I don't collect or tinker with them. I appreciate them but I tend to keep the vehicles I buy for many years before looking for the next one.

    The Grand National I referred to was not my own vehicle but a government owned or leased vehicle for UC work and assigned to another agent. I used to "borrow" it from him occasionally when we still qualified out in the Everglades and open that sucker to top speed on the Tamiami Trail. It was throw you back in the seat fun.

    Another fun little car that surprised me that belonged to Uncle Sam up in NYC was a Chrysler LeBaron (four cylinder) with turbo. That was a little screamer in sheep's clothing.

    I will be a voyeur in this thread...but not a true member.

    (Even my motorcycle is languishing in the garage waiting for me to get off my ass and repair it...)
    Last edited by blues; 12-08-2019 at 08:20 AM.
    There's nothing civil about this war.

  3. #3
    Old man yelling at cloud OlongJohnson's Avatar
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    "carbine-infested rural (and suburban) areas"
    JRB, I appreciate your thoughts. And look forward to hanging out if we ever get the chance.

    We also need to tag @Rapid Butterfly.

    Last time I thought about the E36 concept, I was able to let go of it by realizing that if it was built, and I believed it was built right, and ready to go and I could just write a check for the cost (assuming labor was free/cheap) and roll it onto my trailer, I wouldn't write the check. Another big part of it is that I currently live in SE TX, which is flat with no good roads. After almost two decades of living in sportscar paradise, I have zero motivation to build a car here. I've been thinking about just giving up and buying a TSX wagon. Of course, me buying a four cylinder automatic Accord would still involve unobtanium lightweight wheels (have them from my last Honda project), nice Michelins, Konis and a big rear bar.

    Somewhere on one of the BMW forums is a post where I compiled all the verified solutions in another mega-thread that can be summarized as, "My E36 runs just a little bit crappy and I can't figure out why, but I live with it and daily drive it." I did that for years. The list ended up exceeding 30 verified solutions that had done the trick on various peoples' cars, all with symptoms that sounded essentially the same. I had done every item below four figures in cost on mine, without finding it. Finally, when I threw enough E85 in it to get to ~E18 in the tank, it ran like it should have. All it needed was a bit more octane than Cali's 91 cat piss. But by then, it was already time to sell it for other reasons. But man, even with stock suspension, wheels and tires back on it, you could look where you wanted to go, set the steering, hold it steady, and hit your spot within inches a quarter mile further along the freeway ramp. It was a joy on the track.

    The turbo Miata project is a victim of bikes and Texas flatness. I was making good progress, had it running on a stand-alone in parallel with the stock ECU. Volvo radiator and intercooler with coolant reroute functional and track tested. Then I bought the first bike, and didn't touch the Miata until it was time to smog it. Wasn't really happy with the steering, so messed around with different configurations. Finally found an OE manual rack. Ditching the A/C and PS took 47 lb off the front end, and I was surprised by the noticeable difference in handling and even seemingly acceleration. But the manual rack efforts were just a little high and the ratio a little low on the really tight stuff. And it was all pointless anyway, living where I do. With no roads to drive it on and only one race track (and not a very interesting one) inside a four-hour drive, I sold it to a guy back out in Cali. He loves it and it makes him happy.

    I still have the gene, though. And it is also activated by bikes. They're like a cross between mountain biking and track days. I love riding. I have an SV650 with a bunch of GSX-R parts. Kind of a two-wheel version of an Integra with wheels, tires and suspension. I have a YZ250 with full WR426/450 gears and an Eric Gorr 300 kit. I have a big (~600cc class thumper, not "big") dual sport bike that may get a sumo setup at some point.

    And the gene is activated by guns. Current projects include the Contender carbine, figuring out how to make the rest of my Sigs as smooth as the M11-A1 and how to make the M11-A1 extract reliably, figuring out why the DA on USPs is crap and what to do about it, learn to fix my S&Ws because nobody at S&W knows how to any longer and good smiths don't want to work on newer guns, etc.

    You might detect that focus can be a problem.

    Not another dime.

  4. #4
    I think I count as a former car guy. Used to do a bit of racing but gave it up due to cost. Started in SCCA Solo II but moved to 24Hrs of Lemons when that series was getting started. Did that for a few years racing a Civic. Some races I drove, others I was pit crew. Total blast and sometimes I miss it. Wheel to wheel racing kinda ruined me though. Autocross and track days just don't seem worth the effort in comparison. Kinda like going to an indoor range with a "no holsters no rapid fire" rule vs shooting a USPSA match.

    The only fun personal car I had was a 91 Miata. It was a fantastic car that I foolishly sold when we were bouncing naround as renters before buying our first home. Didn't have a good place to keep it and work on it.

    Coming up on 10 years later we've got the house, and garage. Just paid to have 1200 square feet added to the driveway so it extends naround and behind the house. Recently acquired an old low mileage Tundra in excellent condition. These are the building blocks for enabling the car hobby to return. I'm thinking more project street car than race car.

    After watching Ford vs Ferarri I can't shake the idea that a V8 Miata would be the modern equivalent of Shelby's original Cobra.

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    Desert Southwest
    @RJ who is also enjoying his stock vehicle should also be tagged

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    Wait what!?

    I will bring the Single Malt.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  7. #7
    Site Supporter 0ddl0t's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JRB View Post
    Wildcard/random idea; The Toyota 1UZ-FE 4.0L V8 is an all aluminum, DOHC 32V engine that makes ~220-230whp with open exhaust and everything else stock, including the PCM.
    And is as soul-less as a washing machine... I can understand people swapping it into other Toyota/Lexus vehicles, but if you're going to swap from an outside manufacturer GM's LS engines are so much better in almost every way.

    What's wrong with the S54? I've always had the perverse desire to stick one in an E-type...
    Last edited by 0ddl0t; 12-08-2019 at 09:42 AM.

  8. #8
    Old man yelling at cloud OlongJohnson's Avatar
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    "carbine-infested rural (and suburban) areas"
    Quote Originally Posted by littlejerry View Post
    After watching Ford vs Ferarri I can't shake the idea that a V8 Miata would be the modern equivalent of Shelby's original Cobra.
    And the original Cobra had to be massively re-engineered from the AC Ace to not break itself. The Miata doesn't have chassis stiffness until you cage it, which makes the interior even more cramped and makes it not a street car. Heads without helmets and steel bars don't go together. Even a roll bar in a Miata is questionable: Marginally protecting yourself from crashing and rolling creates a hazard of traumatic brain injury if you get rear ended moderately. You can't put enough tire under it for real power, and you can't put enough brakes inside the wheels for real power. Brakes are one area that is my lane. I quite possibly know more about that situation (specifically with regard to what's possible on an NA/NB Miata) than any other human on the planet, and disappointment with where it stands today is another reason (though not a big one) that I sold my car. The rear suspension, brilliant when stock, is weird and doesn't work like a lot of other cars when you start modifying things away from factory spec. I have a hypothesis, but didn't get far enough to start sorting it out.

    All in all, the E36 is a massively better chassis in every way, except that it comes with BMW trim and driveline installed. My last round of E36 projectitis came when I contemplated putting a SBF in one and ten seconds of Googling revealed that's already a thing. Think of it as the Daytona Coupe to the Cobra roadster, if that makes you feel better. It's occurred to me that the E36 today is in exactly the space that early Z cars were in when I was in college and couldn't afford to do any of this stuff. Except they're better in every way, not to mention having galvanized unibodies.

    Quote Originally Posted by 0ddl0t View Post
    And is as soul-less as a washing machine... I can understand people swapping it into other Toyota/Lexus vehicles, but if you're going to swap from an outside manufacturer GM's LS engines are so much better in almost every way.

    What's wrong with the S54? I've always had the perverse desire to stick one in an E-type...
    What turned me off from the 1UZ was a reliable source telling me that if you port the heads to hell and back, they may flow almost as well as a stock 2JZ. The LS engines are good, but they are bigger, and just a little bigger can create all kinds of headaches and compromises.

    The S54 is a pretty good engine, but doing anything to it (as well as maintaining it) is crazy expensive. It's also expensive to buy in the first place, and it's a big, long, cast iron pig. Also, stock M3 exhausts sound tinny and lame. The Honda K series is massively lighter and can make nearly as much power from 3/4 the displacement, while being relatively simple to work on and really cheap, once you solve the problems of getting it installed. Also, being leaned over ~30 degrees to the exhaust side makes it nearly impossible to build a good, high-performance turbo manifold. There are lots of bad ones you can buy...

    As Thomas Sowell says, there are no solutions, only compromises.

    Hey, @JRB (or anyone else), can you school me on XJ Cherokees?
    Last edited by OlongJohnson; 12-08-2019 at 11:21 AM.
    Not another dime.

  9. #9
    F.A.R.T. Lab Tech RevolverRob's Avatar
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    Somewhere Salishious
    Let's be clear - RevolverRob's car guy problems do not begin and end with a '63 Sunbeam Alpine, that is merely the most recent manifestation of them.

    In approximate order:

    1963 Mercury Comet (I still own this, though not much longer, I'm afraid), an original I6/Auto car - I converted it to roller cam 5.0 out of an '88 Mustang (first engine, flat tappet out of a '84 was the second engine), a T5 World Class out of a '93 Cobra, 9" from a '59 Ford station wagon, front disc brakes from a '71 Maverick, and '65 Mustang suspension all the way around. Shelby-drop front control arms, progressive rate coil springs, adjustable Penske shocks, dropped 2" all the way around. Car was raced for awhile, but I blew the second motor and parked it in a single-car garage at my parents house, and went to college. I'll probably let it go in the Spring, I simply do not have time and space and my mother has decided to sell the house.

    1967 Mercury Cougar XR7 S-Code - An original big block 390 car. I bought it sans engine, but sourced a 390-2v out of an old Thunderbird. Dropped it in, had fun with it for awhile, sold it. It still needed a lot of work when I sold it.

    1977 Dodge Diplomat - 318/727, probably amongst the nicest cars I've owned. This one I did heads, cam, 4-barrel on top, shorty headers, 3.73 rear gears. It would scoot and put many an early 2000s Mustang GT (4.6 2-valve) to shame. Not the fastest thing I owned, but it was fully appointed, with a red leather interior, A/C, bumping stereo. I sometimes wish I still had it.

    1991 Honda Accord - 2.2/5-speed car. The "shit brown Honda O'Doom" as it was called. All stock, but got the shit flogged out of it at Harris Hill Raceway and in Solo II many times. This car was free from an ex-girlfriend's dad and the greatest gift a 20-year old kid can get is a free car with a stick.

    1993 Mustang LX - 2.3/5-speed. A very fun car to drive, believe it or not. This was a very, very, clean 2-owner car, owned by a father and son before me. I bought it and used it as a daily driver and occasional autocross car. I never did anything, besides put new tires, brakes, and a set of Konis on it. It was a very fun car and of all my old cars this is one I miss a lot. Light, well balanced, if I had been smart, I would have kept it, and thrown a Boport head and maybe a turbo on it. It would have had enough power then to be more fun than is legal on the road.

    2010 Mazdaspeed 3 - By far the car I miss the most. Celestial Blue Mica, 2.3 DISI turbo, 6 forward gears, 155 mph on the top end, I got it there once. It was deceptively fast as a station wagon. I bought it in 2011, with just 17k miles on it. And I loved that car. I still love it. I sold it to move to Chicago. Sometimes I wonder if the PhD was worth giving up such a fun car. Being front wheel drive, it always had traction problems. I swapped in heavy duty motor and transmission mounts, Michelin Pilot Sports, Porterfield brakes, Corksport short-shifter, Konis, big rear sway. I had all the bits to start doing an engine build (high flow fuel pump, FMIC, intake, was going to E85 tune it), when I had to sell it. I ran SoloII and Harris Hill a bunch with it. My bright blue (a friend's ex-wife called it "Jackass Blue") station wagon that could smoke almost anything. Pure sleeper, pure fun.

    2011 Mazda 2 Sport - 1.4/5-speed Technically the wife's car, but let's be clear how bad the bug is. This car has Koni ST.Rs all the way around, Corksport rear torsion bar, Porterfield brakes, Michelins. I haven't touched the engine and don't intend to. The car weighs ~2300 pounds at the curb and can run off and leave most cars on a twisty road. It's not the fastest alive, but you can wring just about all there is in it, out of it. 105 horsepower will, in fact, carry 2300 pounds north of 110 mph.

    1971 Ford F100 - 302/AOD, SWB. Lovely truck that I bought - worked on it a bit with my dad. Traded it to him for the Sunbeam. He ended up selling the truck last year to help cover medical bills.

    Finally - we come to the end of this list - The 1963 Sunbeam Alpine Series 3.

    Already restored once. My dad bought this one circa 2002'ish, not long after the family business (we started in 2000) actually turned a profit. It ran and drove on a swapped in 5-main bearing 1725cc engine, with twin Solex carbs, semi-regularly for years. At one point the brakes locked up and dad parked it and got busy restoring two houses and getting cancer. It still sort of runs, but I've got a sticky ring on the #3 cylinder. In the time dad had it, it's had two different gearboxes, neither wouldn't pop out of gear. We rebuilt the rear end a couple of years ago and I rebuilt a gearbox two winter's ago. Dropped them in and that's when it overheated and stuck a ring. At this point, I'm very over the Britishness of British engined cars. I've had my small block V8 fun, for now, I think it's time to build something quick, but reliable. Something I can actually drive without worrying about the maintenance of it.

    So far, with some good direction from JRB, OJ, and a few others - I've narrowed it down to a K-series swap, though I considered (and still am, I guess) a Mazda MZR in 2.0 flavor. But the Mazda engine doesn't have the power potential of a K, nor the revviness of a K, nor is as light as a K. It's main advantage is already being setup for a RWD chassis. The alternative might be an F20 out of an S2k, but even the S2k guys are going to K20s or K24s. So, after looking it over, the advantage goes to a K-series. I haven't decided, part of me wants bigger (K24), but the extra 30mm of engine height may prove too much a K20 should fit under the hood. Using a KMiata swap, I think I'll go with the E36 gearbox (I know, I know @OlongJohnson) - the reason is space the square E36 box will fit within the existing trans tunnel without a second thought, the shifter can moved easily and I think, from eyeballing it and tape measuring it at KMiata, that the 5-speed box will all the shifter come out almost exactly in the stock location. Which appeals to my preferences for a sleeper look.

    Out back, I'm going to just throw money at the problem. Rather than fuck with rebuilding some old rear-end or narrowing something, or whatever. I'm just going to have a custom-width quick change built. At this point a custom quick-change will be less than $3k and frankly a rebuilt 8.8 or 9" will run me $2k. It's not worth messing with. A quick-change will handle anything I want to throw at it and allow me to tune for different racetracks*.

    Suspension wise, I'm working on a new setup. The stock Sunbeam front end is a double-wishbone not unlike a Mustang II. It has fairly good geometry, but limited adjustability (and parts availability) to it. No problem, SPC has an adjustable upper control arm, that will accept custom cross-shafts to mount, I'll use either MuttII balljoints of good old fashioned GM balljoints. Down low, again SPC has me covered with an adjustable lower, I'll need to move one of the rear pick-ups slightly. Spindles - Mustang II to allow me to use whatever brakes and bolt pattern I want. QA1 already has supplied a few Tiger guys (same front suspension, just heavier coil springs) with coil-overs. A quick call will get them sprung properly once the car is mostly setup and corner-weighted. Out back, let's keep it simple. Leaf springs, adjustable QA1 shocks, and a Watt's Link to keep it centered. Steering, the Alpine has much better steering than the Tiger, the K-series swap will clear the original steering linkage that goes along the firewall. I'm not fixing something that isn't broken.

    The biggest challenge for the Sunbeam is tire. You can wish, hope, pray, and use a fender roller to stretch, but you'll never get more than 205s under a stock sheet-metal car. A car that isn't cut (mine isn't); is either going to get bolt-on JDM-style flares (which I'm not opposed to), stretched fenders a bit, but regardless. 205/50/15s or 205/40/17s is about all I'll ever get. I'll probably go 15s in a Bridgestone or Yokohama flavor. Since Michelin seems to think 15" performance tires are not needed.

    Interior wise, I'm still debating stripped with a partial cage or full interior. On the one hand - weight on the other - comfort. I'm leaning towards a 6-point half-cage with door bars, but no overhead loop, because this car will be driven a lot on the street.

    *This little asterisk. The car will be street driven, but I have aspirations - SoloII keeps my beak wet, but also Nasa Time Trials, One Lap of America, and the Ultimate Track Car Challenge are all on the list. I won't risk the car doing door-to-door, but time trials are on the table. To quality for Track Car Challenge and certain classes in NASA events the car needs at least a roll-bar. A 6-point half-cage would be better and over more protection overall, without compromising safety on the street.


    Then there is the new-to-me FJ Cruiser which renews my lust for off-road driving (I thought about building the Sunbeam for retro rally racing, but that appears to not exist here in the US by and large). The wife is always telling me that yes, I can have a SCORE Class 11 off-road Beetle. And eventually...I will acquire my Porsche. But those are all for a different day.
    Last edited by RevolverRob; 12-08-2019 at 10:53 AM.

  10. #10
    F.A.R.T. Lab Tech RevolverRob's Avatar
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