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Starting my home-built sportscar "Junkyard Exotic"


Kenny474
06-29-2015, 12:23 AM
I have always been a fan of the small, open wheel sports cars like the Ariel Atom, but as my budget does not allow the purchase of such a vehicle, I have decided to built something along those lines. However, my plan is based on being as low-budget as possible in an attempt to show that you can build a car that is fast, fun, handles well and looks awesome for very little money. Basically, I will try to get as many parts as possible for free or very little money, meaning parts will likely come from junkyards, donor cars, friends, etc, as well as scouring places like eBay for the best possible deals and fabricating parts when necessary.

The basic design idea for the car will be an open-wheel type, with a completely fabricated body of my own design, built upon a tube chassis. I am hoping to keep the car well under 2000lbs, hopefully between 1600-1800lbs. I have not decided on whether it will be front-engine/rear drive or rear-engine/rear drive, mostly as I have not made my final decision on powerplant yet. I have 2 engines in my possession which I am currently considering. First, a 1981 5.3 liter Jaguar V12 that came out of a rusted out car with 80k original miles, cost was $75 after I scrapped the rest of the car. Next is a 1970 500ci Cadillac V8 from an eldorado, complete with trans axle, that I picked up for $200. Each has pros and cons, and while I like the idea of a V12 (nothing sounds like a V12!), the Cadillac V8 and trans axle would make for a great rear-engine set-up with tons of torque (approx 500ftlbs), though it is an automatic transaxle. That said, the benefits of a rear-engine design may outweigh the coins of the automatic trans axle. And there is the possibility that I can eventually locate a manual trans axle that can be made to work.

The chassis will be a tube frame, with 2"x3" rails and the rest being round tube mild steel. I have built several tube chassis for short-track racecars, so I am very much familiar with chassis design, and I have a ton of front suspension components in storage (upper and lower tubular control arms, steering racks, coil-over shocks and springs, basically most everything needed to build a proper front suspension).

This is obviously a long-term project, but I will provide updates as they become available, and I welcome any feedback.

Black Lotus
06-29-2015, 05:55 PM
If the Jag V12 isn't in perfect shape, it'll cost you a bit to renovate it. But yeah, V12s are the best.
Cad or Olds' sitting on top of that transaxle aren't noted for being great handlers as the engine sits pretty high on the transaxle--raising the cars CG, which fouls things up like ride and handling.
Youu never hear about Fiero or Corvair guys raving about their cars handling after swapping in a Toronado drivetrain.
If they do, they're talking about how it drives to the grocery store.....
I'd stick the Caddy in front of a beefy 4 speed, and put it up front, but as far back as possible. Might want to look in the wrecking yard or craigslist and find a 93+ Thunderbird or Cougar front and rear suspension. The rear is independent, and you can get 4 wheel discs.
The 89 and up cars (MN12 chassis) have the independant rear, but things like wheel bolt circle and ring and pinion size come into play.

Kenny474
07-02-2015, 09:22 PM
Thanks for the reply.

I have actually acquired an engine more suitable than either of the others for this project, a 215ci all-aluminum Buick V8, which I traded a 6hp outboard boat engine for. My engine builder has always loved these engines, but has only worked on a few. When I spoke to him about freshening it, he was very excited and told me he would essentially do it for the cost of parts if I let him essentially build it as he chooses. After he explained his plans for it, I told him to go for it. Basically, he wants to do some port and valve work, try a special cam grind he thinks will work well, lighten the crank and rods just a bit, and he has an aftermarket intake of some sort he wants to run. As he has always built me very strong and reliable motors that made tons of power in the past, I'm going to let him do whatever he wants.

I also picked up some other new parts. An aluminum case Muncie 4spd trans with gun-drilled shafts (from my uncle's circle-track car) which is lighter with less rotating mass, a Dana 40 rear end with 3.50 gears and some type of limited slip diff and disc brakes with 5 on 4.75" bolt pattern, 2nd gen Firebird front spindles and brakes, a Pinto steering rack (non power), a bunch of heim joints and aluminum tubes (to make rear suspension, also from uncles circle track car), tubular front upper control arms and mounting plates, a 12 gallon fuel cell, and a bunch of steel tubing (30' of 2"x3", 40' of 1.5" .090", 40' of 1.75" .090", 30' of 1" .090 and 30' of .5"x.5" square tube, a bunch of gussetts and 3/16" steel plate) I have enough tubing to get started, and I'm going to try to get the front clip going before the engine goes to the shop so I can figure its location, etc.

I'm pretty excited to get started. Its been a dream of mine for years and its finally starting to take shape!

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