Jump to content
HybridZ

Aardvark, my VQ35DE-engined track car with S13 suspension and custom widebody


karotta

Recommended Posts

  • Replies 64
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • 2 weeks later...

post-4045-025431100 1296492467_thumb.jpeg

 

Okay, so now we have a rear end as low as a beaten dog’s morale and as curvy as J Lo’s. What’s next? Naturally replacing those ugly, unadjustable control arms with some orange specialty items. As the whole suspension comes from the S13, a Pro Handling Pack from Driftworks shall do the trick. Besides the added sex, the adjustability they provide will enable us to set up a decent geometry and compensate for any minor inaccuracies in the transplant of the subframe.

 

post-4045-026127100 1296492489_thumb.jpg

That's where the VQ35DE's sump goes

 

The front end is much trickier. You see, the Nissan 200SX has the steering rack behind the front axle line. Unfortunately – or rather very fortunately – we’ll be having a lusty big V6’s oil pan right where that steering rack is supposed to reside. Now we could’ve chosen to keep the Datsun’s original forward placed rack and front facing suspension uprights, but that would’ve given us headache with the connection of the Driftworks CS2 coilovers and the 300ZX brakes, besides the small matter of depriving me of servo assistance. I do not intend to sound too sissy-ish, but having an unassisted rack in a wide-rubbered, high-castered drift car is a major PITA. As in pain in the arms, of course.

 

post-4045-070752300 1296492511_thumb.jpg

Ford/Driftworks hybrid front suspension

 

So Leslie (the guy who does all this fantastic work while I’m typing away on my laptop) came up with the ingenious idea of using Ford Sierra/Scorpio uprights and power rack. At first my mouth turned sour a little, as I preferred the idea of an all-Nissan trans-generational hybrid, but after seeing how nicely everything turned out, I had to accept he was right.

 

post-4045-026793900 1296492529_thumb.jpg

Spot the Ford!

 

Leslie tested the setup by bolting the Driftworks Nissan S13 CS2 HSD coilovers in his own Sierra, pounding it around a short, tricky sprint rally rack. Amazingly it worked pretty well. What’s more, he ran the setup for a few additional weeks on the scarred streets and highways of Hungary without any spectacular accident. That’s how I ended up having pieces of Cologne in my Datsun.

 

post-4045-007476200 1296492543_thumb.jpg

Cusco strut brace and lower brace

 

So for now it seems that the Ford/S13 hybrid front suspension fits rather well. The strut towers were transplanted from a chopped-up 200SX. The factory distance between the towers was taken care of by tying them together with a Cusco strut tower brace. This ensures their correct position relative to each other. Leslie used this same trick at the back as well. The present setup gives us some positive Ackermann geometry with average steering angle – not enough for backwards entries at Tsukuba Circuit, but enough for a season’s worth of moderately competitive fun. And we’ll be steadily experimenting with settings until we get it just right.

 

post-4045-093085000 1296492557_thumb.jpg

Inspiration

 

Now that the suspension is roughly in place, it is time to install the roll cage and properly stiffen the chassis. And, while cramming all that scaffolding into the tiny cockpit, we must try to figure out where the fuel cell goes – and more interestingly, where the exhaust system goes. One thing is for sure: we are not putting pipes under that car. No way. Stay tuned.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I'm very interrested in your Steering rack ideas. I'm sticking with my modified steering crosmember for the swap, but I would really like some power steering in the future. Some more picts of the rack setup and front suspension please. Also maybe some part #'s on the Ford stuff. I like the idea of staying w/ datsun/nissan parts, but if theres a solution that's a LOT better then oh well have to use the better parts.

 

Have you guys tried test fitting your engine yet? How ar eyou setting up the engine mounts? Are you using that Mckinney stuff?

 

Phar

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm very interrested in your Steering rack ideas. I'm sticking with my modified steering crosmember for the swap, but I would really like some power steering in the future. Some more picts of the rack setup and front suspension please. Also maybe some part #'s on the Ford stuff. I like the idea of staying w/ datsun/nissan parts, but if theres a solution that's a LOT better then oh well have to use the better parts.

 

Have you guys tried test fitting your engine yet? How ar eyou setting up the engine mounts? Are you using that Mckinney stuff?

 

Phar

 

hi there

 

that rack is a non-servo dummy for measuring, moving the car, but the crossmembers middle part also came from a ford (sierra-scorpio) and the servo rack fits the same place. moving 140mms, original steering angle is 35degrees, 2.6 lock to lock and we usually modifiing up to 55 degrees (good for drift)

 

i'll do a few more pics soon.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cool, I'm looking forward to the picts. One idea that most people doing this saw haven't really considered is flipping the steering crossmember 180 degrees, and mounting it in front of the rack. Cut sections mounted in the original locations could hold the lower control arms of the front suspension. But this is reinventing the wheel. The cutout crossmember Austin and Myron designed works okay. I've just posted pictures of my crossmember mods on my VQ35HR thread.

Edited by Pharaohabq
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

hangyasz_omg14.jpg

 

Welcome back to our lousy garage where the world’s least authentic Datsun 260Z is being restored. If you can call a process where a car is replaced with bits of other cars and clad entirely in foul-smelling fibreglass restoration.

hangyasz_omg25.jpg

Semi-finished fibreglass front

 

Last time we left off with the suspension nearly finished and the chassis ready for the roll cage. Alas, we were wrong. Now, if the idea of combining a Ford steering rack and uprights with Driftworks Nissan S13 control arms sounds a bit insane, your intuition is just right. It is insane, but it almost worked. Until, of course, science kicked in the door and slapped us in the face with spreadsheets of ugly numbers and terrifying graph plots.

 

I’ll spare you the details, they’re tiresome. The bottom line is that our first take at the front suspension sucked big time. Mostly for two reasons:

 

- There was no camber gain in roll

 

- The front experienced horrid bump steer along the calculated suspension travel

 

If by now there is a sizeable speech bubble above your head with the letters WTF in it, you should never – and I mean never – start cutting and welding a car’s front suspension at random. We thought we’d had a rather good understanding of how things worked and yet we screwed up real bad. Lesson learnt: to build a proper race car, you need friends way smarter than you are. Thankfully this description fits my friend Tschangow quite perfectly.

 

DSC_6549.jpeg

S13/Ford hybrid front suspension

 

So Tschangow came one evening, armed with a pen, a notepad, and a tape measure. Three hours later he had the whole suspension system sketched up. Another few hours later a wireframe simulation was created in CAD. By the next morning I knew we were in trouble. Our suspension looked OK at standstill, but once it started moving along the arcs defined by its arms, mean things started to happen. Things like front toe changing by 6 degrees during bump. If you’re wondering what that means, picture the car approaching a corner. You take the perfect line, aim for the apex, and as soon as cornering forces build up and the outside front suspension gets compressed (or you hit a bump), you find yourself hanging on for dear life as the car tries to spin and bite your hand off in the process. This is bump steer.

 

SANY0144_crop.jpeg

Random illustration of cleverness

 

Bump steer is caused by the suspension arms and the steering linkage travelling along different arcs. Normally, they should be parallel and equal in length, so when the wheel moves up and down, steering is unaffected. However, if you mess up the geometry by installing a rack from a different vehicle and have tie rods pointing at silly angles with the control arms, your front wheels will have a will of their own. And they will win. And you will crash.

 

hangyasz_omg27.jpg

Slightly too wide at the front

 

So it was back to the drawing board. But of course we don’t have drawing boards. We have a pile of greasy parts in the backyard and a strong tendency to improvise. If you’ll remember, all this trouble is because we’ve transplanted the whole S13 suspension under the Datsun, but the old Z must have her steering rack in front of the axle line, as there is no room behind it because of the big-ass VQ35DE engine that comes from the Nissan 350Z. This deprives us from the chance of using the great GeoMaster2 knuckles, which would’ve been our primary choice. If you take the steering rack from a rear steer car (such as the S13) and put it in front of the axle line, you end up with the road wheels turning in the opposite direction to your steering wheel. Now, that’s pretty hilarious when done by Buster Keaton in a Model T, but rather frightening in real life. So we needed a steering rack that had the same dimensions as that of the factory S13 item, but turned in the opposite direction.

 

SANY0150.jpeg

Nino Karotta with an RHD S13 steering rack looking mean

 

However unlikely, it was actually me who came up with the ingenious – and in retrospect pretty obvious – idea to actually use a rack from a right hand drive vehicle, turned over, and placed in front of the axle. Remember, I’m from continental Europe, so I need the steering wheel on the left. An RHD rack would place the steering wheel at the wrong side. Simply turning it over would cause the wheels to move opposite to the steering. But moving it to the other side of the axle gives us just what we need. So if anybody fancies the same transplant in the UK, Australia, or even in Japan, just buy a decent, used LHD rack and flip it over.

 

hangyasz_omg6.jpg

 

OK, enough of all this oily nonsense, let’s look at the exterior. That’s Aardvark’s painfully beautiful custom widebody with the Rota RBX’s all around. The reason it’s so pretty is that the car is due to appear at a classic car show on the 15th of April. This means that all this blessed backyard engineering was brought to a screeching halt two weeks ago and the empty shell transferred to OMG Visuals, where we tried to tidy up the semi-finished fibreglass panels and create some more from scratch. The idea is to finish and paint the shell before the show, have the car displayed, gain some inspiration from all the people falling over, drooling and crying from its surreal hotness, then take it back to Driftgarage where we’ll remove the fibreglass panels once more and actually build the car.

 

hangyasz_omg2.jpg

Desperately wanting a bumper

 

As far as I can tell we have all the parts assembled, so after the show there is only the small matter of finishing the roll cage, the stitch welding of the unibody, the installation of the suspension, and bolting in the 350Z’s engine, tranny and a few miscellaneous ancillaries. If everything goes according to plan, we’ll be putting out smoke this summer. Let me know if you like what you see!

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

aardvark_ot-expo_dw1.jpg

 

After long weeks of sleep deprivation to finish it in time, Aardvark was finally ready to be shown to the public at last weekend’s classics show. The shape is inspired by the Datsun 240Z-260Z IMSA-GTU race cars of old.

 

 

aardvark_ot-expo_dw2.jpg

 

The body is all custom fiberglass, made by OMG Visuals in Hungary. Every single panel, the doors, the roof, everything. You name it, we moulded, hand-laid, sanded and painted it. The rear windshield and the side windows are Lexan, with a very subtle tint to emphasize the shape.

 

aardvark_ot-expo_dw3.jpg

 

Look Ma’, no B-pillars! As the body is strengthened and there is a full roll-cage inside, we decided to do away with the stock B-pillar, to really bring out the gorgeous svelteness of the silhouette.

 

aardvark_ot-expo_dw4.jpg

 

The front bumper is attached by duct tape – if it’s strong enough to hold together LMP-1 race cars at Le Mans, it must be OK as a temporary fixture until we build a proper mount.

 

aardvark_ot-expo_dw5.jpg

 

The quarter panels / wings were hand formed to exactly match the width of the S13 rear suspension underneath with the Rota RBX wheels. Total width is 186 cm or 73.2“, up 24 cm or 10“ from stock.

 

aardvark_ot-expo_dw6.jpg

 

If you are a termite, say goodbye to your beloved queen, for Aardvark is after your ass.

 

aardvark_ot-expo_dw7.jpg

 

You can just about see the factory B-pillars on the orange original car in the foreground. We cut them off, and welded the window surround.

 

aardvark_ot-expo_dw8.jpg

 

The side view wants to evoke the Japanese flag. The purity of the lines is preserved by the lack of fancy colours and decals. The black vents are there to cool the engine bay and the brakes, inspired by the magnificent Alfa Stradale of the sixties.

 

aardvark_ot-expo_dw9.jpg

 

I can barely wait to weigh the car, I’m very curious how much weight have we shed.

 

aardvark_ot-expo_dw11.jpg

 

Proper ladies for a proper old school GT. Knowing how petite Japanese girls are, you can guess how slammed Aardvark really is. In fact it’s 1175mm or 46“ tall, a full 4“ drop, done properly with redesigned geometry and Driftworks arms and coilovers all around.

 

aardvark_ot-expo_dw55.jpg

 

The crowd reaction was just unbelievable. There is no JDM crazyness in Hungary, basically nobody knows what an S30 is. Most people have never heard of the Datsun 260Z at all. Yet people just loved Aardvark to bits. I actually had to sign a scale model kit for a boy who decided to build an exact replica. What an honour! So now it's time to strip the panels and actually build that race car.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I read the comments on the site. People saying it's too tall don't know what they're talking about, Maybe the front could be lowered slightly, but you said that could cause suspension geometry issues. So just raise the rear about .5" that'll shift the look aside just should I bet. It only looks tall because of the flares anyway. I bet you're only 4" off the ground already.

 

You guys did an awesome job getting the paint and all installed in time for the show. But did you get the engine in?? I didn't see any picts or hear you talking at all about the engine install. Yeah it looks great but if it doesn't go.... Oh and I saw you did some work on the flares, but The tires still look a bit like they'd rub. perhaps you can tell us the plan for that? It's pretty awesome showing it next to a stock S30 in the show too, it really enphasizes the amount of work you've put in.

 

The Fender vents, Wow, they're kinda large, but they don't look bad at all. When I saw the outlines I thought you were going to cut them on the front top and botton edges and indent an inch or two to make tall vents. The top and bottom would then be glassed in to finish the look. it's all good though, and since you've got moulds you can make more easilly too. You ever consider selling a Kit? The Karotta S30 widebody. Sounds cool huh?

 

Now your rear quarter window, Seems to me you could do a lot with it, since you're using Lexan, you had a lot of options. What I was thinking would be realy cool would be to get a set of S30 2+2 rear quarter glass mounts and integrate those, so that you could pop open the side glass easy for ventilation, you'd have the mounting handled. (Though the front edge you might need to use early honda civic glass mounts since you already removed the B pillar.) I'm planning something really similar, but I'm looking at drilling a stock set of glass for the 2+2 quarterglass conversion. I know, not easy on tempered glass. I think we can heat it and drill and hopefully be okay.

 

So very nice, keep up the picts, I'd love to see more.

 

 

Phar

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Phar, thanks for the support.

 

About ride height - or stance - you were just spot on. The front crossmember is 4 inches off the ground. However, all this is meaningless, as the present state is merely a rough guess, with the coilovers set to whatever height they could be set in the few minutes of tinkering we had before the show. The final setup will be done properly on wheel scales. What is sure that the front air dam will have to be modified, that is definitely too high. I plan to attach a removable lower section to it, basically a lip with a splitter for the high-speed tracks.

 

The engine isn't installed, actually the whole car is just a bare shell with a semi-finished roll cage. However, the rear S13 suspension has already been fitted, as has the font, albeit in an incorrect way. So we'll have to modify the front setup again. This is next, together with the engine install.

 

As for the fender vents, indenting the front edge was considered but later deemed unnecessary. The vents are right behind the widest point of the flares, effectively in a nice low-pressure zone, so we could keep 'em flush. This makes for a much cleaner, purer shape. We can easily pull uncut-unvented panels from the mould as well, if later we need for some reason. Originally I didn't consider selling the kit as the whole project is for learning/entertainment purposes, but there seems to be a quite unexpected demand. Still, I'd never sell something that I couldn't stand behind 100 percent, so first we'll have to check how the kit fits on another car to make sure that we haven't produced something that only fits my particularly bent example. Then we might have to make some adjustments, as there are some minor fitting issues, especially where the front fenders and the hood meet. Fiberglass panels this large are quite difficult to fit just perfectly. So the idea is that first I finish my master set, then we'll make new moulds based on the final parts. Then if there's still demand, I'll sell a demo set at a very-very low pice to a well known and trusted Hybridz member who can trial fit and examine it, and tell whether it's worthy of being commercialized or not. If yes, we can produce a small batch. I guess shipping would be rather expensive (or slow), but we'll cross that river when we get there.

 

And finally about the quarter glass. I've had this vision of an integrated, pillarless side window since I first saw a dismantled, stripped Z-shell. I don't want to complicate things as this is supposed to be a race car after all, so I guess I'll eventually cut a moderately big rectangle out of the lexan, and make it slide. Won't be pretty, but will do the job of keeping me alive during a 20 minute stint in hot summer. I've also considered the idea of a contoured cutout that enables a big part of the lexan to be wound down with the original mechanism (like on a Subaru SVX), but that is too much hassle and weight. Good luck with your 2+2 glass conversion, it sounds promising.

 

I read the comments on the site. People saying it's too tall don't know what they're talking about, Maybe the front could be lowered slightly, but you said that could cause suspension geometry issues. So just raise the rear about .5" that'll shift the look aside just should I bet. It only looks tall because of the flares anyway. I bet you're only 4" off the ground already.

 

You guys did an awesome job getting the paint and all installed in time for the show. But did you get the engine in?? I didn't see any picts or hear you talking at all about the engine install. Yeah it looks great but if it doesn't go.... Oh and I saw you did some work on the flares, but The tires still look a bit like they'd rub. perhaps you can tell us the plan for that? It's pretty awesome showing it next to a stock S30 in the show too, it really enphasizes the amount of work you've put in.

 

The Fender vents, Wow, they're kinda large, but they don't look bad at all. When I saw the outlines I thought you were going to cut them on the front top and botton edges and indent an inch or two to make tall vents. The top and bottom would then be glassed in to finish the look. it's all good though, and since you've got moulds you can make more easilly too. You ever consider selling a Kit? The Karotta S30 widebody. Sounds cool huh?

 

Now your rear quarter window, Seems to me you could do a lot with it, since you're using Lexan, you had a lot of options. What I was thinking would be realy cool would be to get a set of S30 2+2 rear quarter glass mounts and integrate those, so that you could pop open the side glass easy for ventilation, you'd have the mounting handled. (Though the front edge you might need to use early honda civic glass mounts since you already removed the B pillar.) I'm planning something really similar, but I'm looking at drilling a stock set of glass for the 2+2 quarterglass conversion. I know, not easy on tempered glass. I think we can heat it and drill and hopefully be okay.

 

So very nice, keep up the picts, I'd love to see more.

 

 

Phar

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Hey Karotta, I've been thinking about your S13 suspension. and while it looks awesome, how is the VQ going to fit in there? I know the DE is pretty tall, most of the installations I've seen hang about an inch lower than the stock crossmember. I know you've changed that with the S13 suspension, but did you measure to insure your height is still going to clear? You'd said the Hungary roads are a bit rough, then with 4 inches clearance. if the oil pan hangs down much at all you're tempting some fate... a skid plate certainly would be in order. Have you already obtained your engine?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...
  • 7 months later...

Nino, as a guy who's restored a Z, done a crazy engine swap, written countless articles, and has been running a forum for 10 years, I have to say this:

 

This is one of the best threads, and best builds, I've ever read about. You're a talented writer, the car is amazing, and I hope to see this car doing its thing in the US at some point.

 

Congrats to you for setting the bar for hybrid Z's MUCH higher. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...