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2014 Panda V.03 - Street Mod and More

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  • 2014 Panda V.03 - Street Mod and More

    I figured it's beyond the point where I should've just started my own thread for the new car I'm fielding this year: my 1997 S14 for Street Modified and Super Street Mod.


    Last year there were 2 events which inspired this year's attempt at taking on the SM category: a blistering top PAX under the SSM index at the Devens Match Tour, and raw timing SSM on day 1 at Nationals (unfortunately forced to drive a hastily repaired car on day 2). With that in the back of my head, the gears began turning on how to make a fast car faster, and how realistic was it to take an overweight SM car to battle against cars with less weight, more power, better weight distribution, and better starting points for suspension.

    For starters, the old car (Panda V.02) was showing signs of being tired. We had already torn out the subframe mounts, and there were known areas of rust that were becoming concerning. Rather than continue to patch and band-aid the unibody, we had decided long ago to move to a newer, much lower mileage, and far less rusty car. And so, this winter I stripped the old car and sent it to a friend's place to have the remaining usable sheet metal used to salvage another shell.


    The plan for the new car: build it lighter, smaller, better weight balance, and more power. The first thing you'd likely notice is that the car lacks the old one's hips, with 315's tucked under "massaged" factory sheet metal. There's still some work to do in the rear but with 315's mounted on 18x11's, it already has plenty of clearance. I'm pretty sure with a bit more work I can make the 18x12's work in back, and possibly fit 335's, but that will be much further down the road.


    With just the new shell and a few tweaks to try and shift weight rearward, the car is already faster. Off the bat, I needed to soften the front suspension. My assumption is the old frame was so sloppy that the unibody was absorbing some of the suspension in flex, which then required stiffer springs (which likely worked the chassis even harder). The new frame is noticeably stiffer and better "put together". Having dropped the front springs 100 lb-in the car is biting nicely up front, and still just as nimble and eager to turn as before (if not better)!

    This change followed a pretty dismal performance (and a front suspension hiccup that led to a binding kingpin) at DC, and led to a successful run last weekend in NJ.

    Tom's quick run on Saturday:
    YouTube Video
    ERROR: If you can see this, then YouTube is down or you don't have Flash installed.


    My quick run on Sunday:
    YouTube Video
    ERROR: If you can see this, then YouTube is down or you don't have Flash installed.


    At the end of the event (NJ National Tour), Panda V.03 won both SM and XP (2nd and 3rd in SSM) and sat in 4 of the top 5 overall raw times while holding top PAX by over a full second. There's a decent lull from now until the next major event, so I'll be working some of the minor upgrades until then, with most of the major stuff planned before the Ohio leg of the season (Toledo and 2x Wilmington events). Hopefully I can get enough done this year to make my goal a reality: to take on both SM and SSM at Nationals.

  • #2
    I'm curious what changes you're making going to the new chassis to lose/shift weight and other tweaks you made because you're starting "fresh".

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    • #3
      Wondered when you were going to share. Looking good but SSM seems like a hard nut to crack. Get craken.

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      • #4
        For weight I'm basically shifting everything back towards the firewall. I'm not quite done yet, but while installing the new motor I modified my motor mounts to shift the engine back another inch, which resulted in a decent shift in weight bias (currently 53.8/46.2) versus the last chassis. This, combined with the stiffer chassis, is what necessitated a pretty big change in front spring. The rest is just moving whatever accessories and components are allowed to be moved (i.e. electric power steering pump in the back).

        As far as other tweaks, the biggest one is probably getting the car down to CSP Miata width by narrowing as much of the suspension as possible, and going to 11" wheels. I could probably even be narrower in back with better wheel offsets, although I might use that "extra space" for 335's once I have a better understanding of how the car handles.

        The next step is going to be dropping weight. I was about 100 lbs overweight last year, and have an additional moonroof on top of that. My plan for this week at a minimum is to ditch the roof glass and mold a plug that sits flush with the roof.

        The other item I've been planning is a fuel cell, just to shift the fuel weight to behind the rear axle. I've been debating whether this is really a good idea or not, as it becomes pendulum weight or rotational inertia. The other option is to just run a surge can and run less fuel (currently have to run the tank with a decent amount of fuel to prevent starving). What's everyone else running for a fuel cell? I was thinking that a simple "drag strip" cell with a surge can would be enough...

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        • #5
          You can get a 5 gallon plastic fuel cell, cut the floor of the spare tire well and get it as low as the stock tank, but you'll have to seal the opening in the rear bulkhead and it will still be 3ft farther back and a pendulum weight. Can you improve on the pickup arrangement in the OEM tank? What about pouring closed cell foam in the drivers side of the tank to keep the fuel on the right side where the pump is located? How about a crossover tube connecting the left and right lower section of the OEM tank (protected by a driveshaft strap) with a check valve to allow the fuel that sloshes to the left side to flow back to the right?

          And congratulations on the new Panda!
          Don Johnson (really!)
          Just so you know.

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          • #6
            You could make a custom aluminum tank in the oem spot, or cut the old tank in half, or into thirds, and braze it back together. Logr might be willing to share info on both those ideas, as I've seen him successfully pull off both ideas.

            I mounted my 5 gallon Summit plastic fuel cell as far forward, and as far to the right as possible. I can run the fuel tank empty and not notice any surges. The car pretty much just looses power and dies when running out of fuel with the fuel cell/surge tank option. The only warning I get is the sound of the Walboro lift pump cavitating/sucking air.

            With a surge tank you could run .5-1 gallon of fuel for all out attack runs with out issue.

            Also, the weight reduction of ditching the oem fuel tank is substantial, when factoring in the min amount of fuel you need to run. For my S13, 40-50lbs overall weight is a fair estimate.

            Good to finally see a build thread!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Jason M View Post
              You could make a custom aluminum tank in the oem spot, or cut the old tank in half, or into thirds, and braze it back together. Logr might be willing to share info on both those ideas, as I've seen him successfully pull off both ideas.

              I mounted my 5 gallon Summit plastic fuel cell as far forward, and as far to the right as possible. I can run the fuel tank empty and not notice any surges. The car pretty much just looses power and dies when running out of fuel with the fuel cell/surge tank option. The only warning I get is the sound of the Walboro lift pump cavitating/sucking air.

              With a surge tank you could run .5-1 gallon of fuel for all out attack runs with out issue.

              Also, the weight reduction of ditching the oem fuel tank is substantial, when factoring in the min amount of fuel you need to run. For my S13, 40-50lbs overall weight is a fair estimate.

              Good to finally see a build thread!
              Jason,
              Logr had an S13 with the metal tank and PJ has an S14 with the plastic tank. It's not that heavy, but it's shaped like a saddle over the driveshaft and under the back seat (like BMW's). To get it out, you have to drop the rear subframe. Page 3 of this link;

              http://www.240edge.com/manuals/97_240sx/fe.pdf
              Don Johnson (really!)
              Just so you know.

              Comment


              • #8
                I'm debating leaving the stock tank in and just running a surge can, as the plastic unit its apparently pretty light. I think I'd get more benefit just running low on fuel, but I can always just do it in "stages".

                Sent from my XT907 using Tapatalk

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                • #9
                  I installed an SR in a 510 this winter and I added a surge tank. It was a piece of exhaust tubing with the ends welded up and fittings added. The only place to put it on this 510 was next to the radiator with the pump right below. Worked great.

                  I would keep the S14 tank and keep the weight inside the wheelbase. S14's are so much better for this.

                  What p/s pump did you use? I considered the Mini Cooper one but ended up with a Suby XT one since I already had it. The new owner loves it, as long as he remembers to turn it on before starting his run.

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                  • #10
                    Ya, guess I'm in S13 mode, forgot that the S14 has a plastic tank... I guess it depends on where the tank is located (how the fuel weight is distributed), and the corner weight situation on whether it's worth it to swap out the oem tank for a pos plasitc fuel cell. A simple surge tank system sounds like a practical solution.

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                    • #11
                      I don't want to say Panda 2.0 was looking rough, but 3.0 looks awesome. I'm pretty surprised you were able to massage that much rear fender clearance without seriously distorting the fender.

                      The nice thing about autocross is you won't need a huge surge tank. The slosh issues should be brief.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by BAMF_S14 View Post
                        I don't want to say Panda 2.0 was looking rough, but 3.0 looks awesome. I'm pretty surprised you were able to massage that much rear fender clearance without seriously distorting the fender.



                        The nice thing about autocross is you won't need a huge surge tank. The slosh issues should be brief.

                        I'm just starting on an S14 and there's lots of room in the rear wheel well. 315's fit with a roll. Going bigger without going wider will require modifying the LCA and some shenanigans with the shock/coil over.
                        The real trick is doing it within the SM rules. ;-)
                        Don Johnson (really!)
                        Just so you know.

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                        • #13
                          Really just need an 18x11 +35 wheel... As it stands now, if I could trim 5-10mm off the Rotas I'd be able to run 335's.

                          Sent from my XT907 using Tapatalk

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                          • #14
                            I was scraping the inside of the wheel to the LCA with a 10" wide wheel & 25 offset under certain conditions. I spaced mine out 10mm to fix it. I should replace my stock LCA's with ones with more clearance though.
                            Chicago Region SCCA SM # 688 http://www.scca-chicago.com
                            TSSCC SM # 688 http://www.tsscc.org

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                            • #15
                              18x12 Forge star f14's are 350 each, custom offset. Jussayin
                              Originally posted by Jason M
                              I have no chance to win without the Giken...

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