As the police force slowly grind away all forms of modified motor cars we are slowly rolling suit. Our business focus changed directions early in 2015 to steer away from the high performance builds we have been doing over the past few years. Thats not to say we don’t love building them or don’t want to build them, but with increasing pressure from the police force and the financial limitations that the owners of these vehicles tend to have, the sensible business adaption required was to simply move our focus away from this.
Our intentions are still to work on and build these vehicles wherever possible, and whilst we have never turned clients away based on the type of vehicle they drive we have begun to focus more on the family car market. With that came the need to wrap up a few of the existing builds that we had on the go to make way for workshop upgrades and other jobs that were getting held back due to the lack of space. One such build that has been a work in progress for a good six to nine months is Drew’s amazing Sprinter.
The sprinter is working its way into the Japanese collectors car market with average Sprinter developing rust, knocks and bumps and worn out paint are still fetching prices of anywhere up to $15K. Naturally Drew knew this so when his motor developed some concerning noises late one night the thought never occurred to him to get rid of it.
The events of the night of engine failure are questionable. Bearing knocks at 3am close to known drifting circuits tends to cause one to raise an eyebrow. It matters little to us as to how it happened but whatever the events that occurred, the result was the little Sprinter came for an extended stay in our little workshop. The Sprinter came in with a twenty valve Toyota four cylinder engine in it. It was running an after market ECU set up and ITBs (individual throttle bodies). This set up had some serious sting to its bite and we can vouch for it as we had the car in our care many months before this happened for a diff upgrade and the car was a lot of fun to drive. Now it was time to put that motor to rest and for whatever reason Drew decided to walk away form the 20 valve engine and sourced himself a 4A-GZE . For those of you that don’t speak car mumbo jumbo thats a super charged four cylinder engine most commonly found in the Toyota MR2.
The motor arrived and work began. The exact words from Drew’s mouth were “there is no budget” a pleasant change from the financial limitations we were working with on some of the previous builds. The old motor was removed and the engine bay got a serious clean up. The bay displayed tell-tale signs of proper skid kid behaviour. Brackets cable tied on, wiring hanging willy nilly throughout the bay, half the air conditioning system removed but the difficult parts left fitted and holes in firewalls letting exhaust and engine fumes straight through to the cabin. “Long trips always make me sleepy”, this is because you are slowly poisoning yourself with your “she’ll be right mate” mechanical skill set.
With the bay mostly sorted the preparations began with the super charged engine. General service items should always be your first point of call when building cars. Mad turbos, pod filters and blow off valves should always come after you replace the semi slick Bob Jane all rounders fitted to the rear axle of your car. Timing belt, water pump, spark plugs, rocker cover gasket, rear main oil seal, a new stater motor and an Exceedy heavy duty clutch all adds some dollars to the parts list for this build.
Before the new motor went in some serious modifications were needed to the brackets used to mount the various pulley driven components on the car. With the introduction of a super charger there was some need for modifications to relocate the alternator to the other side of the engine. Brackets were made and painted up and dummy fitted, at this point the fitment of the extractors was sampled on the engine stand and we discovered our flash new bracket would not work. It was back to the drawing board and we started again. The second attempt to get the alternator relocated was far more successful but introduced new problems as drive belts and tensioner pulleys had to be matched up from hundreds of options as there was no part number suitable.
One of the said holes in firewall were actually a pair of holes for heater hoses to run. The heater had been removed from the Sprinter and the standard solution to this is bend a V6 Commodore heater hose back on itself to bypass the core. The concept is a little foolish gives that a hose bent back on itself does not allow coolant to flow. Some custom alloy pipe was made up to allow the heater core bypass from the engine cooling system to function with actual flowing water. Amazing!
Whilst the motor was on the stand all the brackets, covers and pulleys got a lick of paint and the motor was assembled ready to go in. Hard race engine mounts were fitted as we dropped the new rather little engine into the engine bay.
Now the challenges really flew at us. The first was it did not look like the bonnet would close with the motor in. We were facing some serious body or sub frame modifications if this was the case. Fortunately it fit, but only just.
Fuel supply and return lines had to be made up. The idea of mounting a cooling fan by running zip ties through the core of your radiator is on par with kissing your cousins. Brackets were made up to mount the fan properly and then hundreds of radiator hose combinations were tried before the correct combination was located.
The home stretch was the intercooler and the intercooler pipe work. A solid weeks work in itself if you’re doing it properly. It is required to point out here that properly fitted, an intercooler pipe kit should never constitute taking an angle grinder to your battery tray. The intercooler itself actually was taken from our Deawoo build that is currently on hold. The cooler we sourced for that car almost two years ago was found to be a perfect fit after a day or so of trying to make Skyline, Supra and even OEM coolers off various vehicles fit.
Some modifications to the bonnet release bracket and some reinforcement bracing was needed to allow the mounting brackets to hold the weight of the cooler. Then more of the same activities of trailing various pipe and joiner combinations until something worked. Off cuts of pipe here and there, the use of our beading tools and a few last minute calls to rocket industries got us over the line. The finishing touches were the air filter and air intake work
Whilst we had it the Sprinter also got a new boot latch, a replacement set of front brakes and a driver window regulator. Now its just awaiting the wiring from a third party and the next of our great projects is out on the streets.