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


karotta

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Thanks a lot. Feedback like this means a lot, as dragging along such a monster of a project can be a real struggle. Anyway, here's an update in the following post.

 

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. :)

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Hey Karotta, Nice Video, You've done a ton of work since last you'd updated. I guess you decided to abandon the S30 front end and just go tube for the looks of it. Perhaps you'll add in the S30 metal after the fact for weatherproofing, but that's probably too much work. It's looking great. Can you tell us a few things, First, please tell us the specifics of the BMW parts you're using to make the front end steering pushed in front of the engine. I assume you've done that for the 240SX steering. I imaging you'll still have the tight radius. What about the S30 rear suspension made you decide to swap over the whole rear suspension?

 

Phar

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The reason we went for a full tube frame instead of further modifying the original front end is that adapting the (rotten) original would have been way more complex.

 

This is how the decision-making project went:

 

I already had a set of rather decent S13 coilovers, a full set of adjustable racing arms and several other goodies from a previous S13 project. (That was actually a real S13)

 

This meant that we had to use the S13 platform. With hindsight, starting from scratch, I'd choose the S14 rear subframe (slightly different geometry with less anti-squat, hence better traction, and same abundance of racing parts).

 

For the front, considering how far we've drifted from the S30 roots, I'd go for a double wishbone setup with a much nicer camber curve than any pimped McPherson. Anyway, due to the parts I had to re-use, my hands were somewhat tied. You may call it an extreme case of automotive leftover cooking.

 

So the rear seemed all set, and the transplant of the complete S13 subframe and all associated arms, knuckles and struts was finished long months ago. That is until I realized that the subframe angle was wrong and that the whole assy hadn't been set higher in the chassis the way we had agreed previously, but was at its factory height relative to the underbody. That's all wrong, because that way, after dropping the body, you end up with wishbones pointing to the cloudy skies giving piss poor geometry.

 

So the front subframe mounts were cut and re-adjusted, and I bought a set of Driftworks rear uprights that fix the geo. Just the way to burn money by mistakes. So that's where the rear stands now.

 

In the front the only thing we knew from the outset was the necessity of the front-steer setup. Seeing how many people have successfully transplanted VQ-s while retaining the original Z steering, we could have (and probably should have) gone along that route. The PCD would be good, the mounts of the S13 coilovers and Wilwood big brakes could be modified to fit and we'd preserve some authenticity.

 

So why ditching the Datsun front end?

1: power steering

In a drift car PS is a huge boon (not a strict necessity, I've spent 6 years wrestling a manual AE86), especially as you start shortening steering knuckles to increase lock and effort

 

2: the freedom to fail

With the venerable Z parts out of the equation, we are free to screw up in modern and innovative ways

 

3: the original uprights got lost

Oh well.

 

So after deciding on ditching the factory solution while sticking to the sweet but primitive strut, we had to find an upright that would fit the bill.

 

First it seemed that an old school RWD Ford item would do fine, but eventually we decided to give BMW a chance. It turns out that the E46 uprights are acceptable, if not perfect. Since I lack the skill, the money and the bravery to design a custom item, I went with the Bimmer instead. This brought with it the E46 steering rack, which has OK throw and decent directness. It's certainly not racecar quick, but much better than the unassisted Datsun rack and somewhat better than the S13 original. And we can always speed things up by shortening the steering knuckles, which we won't, for the sake of driver longevity.

 

The most important factor of the rack selection was length: I'm terrified of bump steer. Aardvark has a much wider track now, and with the super butch 90.7 in wheelbase of the S30, it has the handling fundamentals of a real snappy, twitchy beast.

To keep bump steer down, we must have perfect harmony between tie rod and control arm. The E46 rack allowed us to have the adjustable lower control arms right were we wanted them. Of course the LCA inner pickup points had to be custom fabricated to position the roll center at a suitable point in space.

 

The BMW upright somewhat limits the position of the strut tower: sadly, the cast upright has a ring that the strut tube goes into, which means that we can't change steering axis inclination without messing up the camber, as we could with a bolt-on upright like the S13 has.

 

All this meant that I had to relocate all the suspension hard points as compared to the factory spec, which in turn meant that it was easier to cut the whole bent and rotten mess of a car away, from the firewall forward.

 

That's how we ended up with a tube frame front. All this struggle for two lowly struts, Colin Chapman would surely laugh.

 

 

Anyhow, now we are busy tying all those tubes together to regain some chassis strength. The front X-brace holding the radiators will be removable to help servicing and trackside fettling. If the structure seems to be too weak, I'll have some sheet metal added to turn some tube triangles into shear plates, we'll see if that helps.

 

Oh, did I mention that fixing the rear and properly designing the front suspension also meant that those super beautiful fat widebody fenders that we've put hundreds of man-hours into producing didn't fit any more? So a new rear FRP fender was drawn up, this time somewhat wider and more suited to the very low static ride height of the car. I think that the end result is just as pretty, and now the wheels can actually travel up in bump without ripping off the plastic buttocks.

 

This also means that I can't use the first set, which is suitable for cars 6 feet 1â… inches or 187 cm wide. This is it, in its full glory:

 

Aardvark Datsun 260Z IMSA widebody on Flickr

 

I hope the new fenders will be just as great, but in order to tell that, we need to finish the frame and the suspension first, so that Aardvark can actually stand on its own feet again, after all these long months.

 

 

 

Hey Karotta, Nice Video, You've done a ton of work since last you'd updated. I guess you decided to abandon the S30 front end and just go tube for the looks of it. Perhaps you'll add in the S30 metal after the fact for weatherproofing, but that's probably too much work. It's looking great. Can you tell us a few things, First, please tell us the specifics of the BMW parts you're using to make the front end steering pushed in front of the engine. I assume you've done that for the 240SX steering. I imaging you'll still have the tight radius. What about the S30 rear suspension made you decide to swap over the whole rear suspension?

 

Phar

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Wow, Thanks for the great explanation! That's a rough story. but that's customizing for ya. It hurts when you realize you have to rework something. Keep massaging until you can make it work. It's a shame about the old rear flares. They are pretty darn sexy. As I said before, if you make this a kit, I'm certain you'd sell quite a few of them. I was hesitant as first, but I really love your venting behind the wheels. Those are also going to look amazing with smoke pouring out of them when you're drifting on the track. The Karotta Wide Body kit, a little production might make it as noteworthy as the prima-donna Z, or maybe BRE kit. I can't wait to see what you do next.

 

Phar

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  • 5 months later...

Wow, that was pretty fast progress! I like the unique styling of your car, very cool. The finished weight is excellent too.

 

Thanks, although, in all honesty, the current weight of 2220 lbs is expected to raise somewhat. At the time of measuring, the following were not present:

- driver

- driver's seat

- front windshield

- FRP hood

- side lexan windows

- composite splitter, undertray and diffuser

- fire suppression

 

All in all, we shall see an increase of 200-300 lbs to reach the race-ready total weight. Still not bad IMHO, but obviously not extremely light anymore. With hindsight, a better thought-out frame could've saved us a good 100 lbs at least, and we could remove at least another 50 from the rear metal bodyshell (I decided to keep nearly everything intact under the rear FRP quarter panels for energy absorption reasons). If I had to do it all over again, we could easily dip under 2222 lbs.

 

What I'm ecstatic about is the beautiful 48/52% F/R weight distribution (unloaded) that will lean some more towards the back once fully loaded. A mild rear bias was an important design goal, and I'm very glad we reached it. This is what a short VQ (pushed somewhat past the stock firewall) gives you. I hope it will handle.

Edited by karotta
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Karotta, Great work man, I'm amazed at the progress you've made. though I guess you decided to remove the fender vents from your current rendition. Was there a reason for that? I don't think it would have been much of a weight savings. The car looks amazing though, I can't wait to see the videos of the massive amounts of smoke it will produce.

 

You didn't try calling me last weekend right? I was turning down calls from hungary, You're the only one I know out there, but I doubt you'd ever call me. How'd you end up running the electronics? Did you do the BCU Delete, or did you keep it for added security?

 

Phar

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Thanks, guys. If there ever was a video I was proud of, that is this 20 sec item I shot yesterday. We finally got around the fuelling with the ITBs, and it rips like nothing. Just crazy. All the calculation and fabrication that went into the headers was a good investment, too. Check it out.

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Phar,

The black vents will return, but first I wanted to be perfectly sure that the new fenders fit well. After all the epic trouble we had from finishing the first iteration of the custom body kit, all painted and airbrushed to perfection, only to find that it wouldn't fit while on the final suspension any more, this time I decided to leave the cosmetics till the very end. Hence the unpainted fenders, the lack of vents and the fit issues here and there.

 

No, I did not call you, I'm not particularly fond of speaking through telephone anyhow.

 

As for engine management, because of the ITBs I had to go standalone. So everything unnecessary got ditched. I'm glad I went down that road, as the throttle response and the sound is just plain vicious, as you can see in the short video above. Of course I can not be an unpartial juror, but damn me if I've ever heard anything that sounds considerably better. And it rips from idle to 7500 rpm in half a second. The hunger for revs comes partly from the lighter rods, flywheel and clutch, maybe the C8 cams, but mostly from the ITBs with the proper programming. You can see puffs of black smoke on rev-rise, that's due to the huge burst of fuel the engine needs with the ITBs. And that crazy sound is mostly down to the custom long tube headers, I'm so glad we took time and effort to fabricate them.

 

 

Karotta, Great work man, I'm amazed at the progress you've made. though I guess you decided to remove the fender vents from your current rendition. Was there a reason for that? I don't think it would have been much of a weight savings. The car looks amazing though, I can't wait to see the videos of the massive amounts of smoke it will produce.

You didn't try calling me last weekend right? I was turning down calls from hungary, You're the only one I know out there, but I doubt you'd ever call me. How'd you end up running the electronics? Did you do the BCU Delete, or did you keep it for added security?

Phar

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What? No Smoke? I thought we were getting a wheelsmoke video! Yeah okay, Puffs of black smoke do qualify, But those weren't the droids I was looking for.

I can't wait to see you driving it. Your vids are awesome. I'm glad you're bringing back the vents. the car sounds amazing. I'm actually really digging on those headers too, I'm liking how you've pushed them through the fender. Are you concerned about heat at that point wit the custom fender? I expect quite some temperature right at that point. (that's why Nissan has the shields on the stock headers to help contain that heat.)

Can't wait to see the next vid!

Edited by Pharaohabq
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