Wide Track: Chrysler Conquest TSi


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Story and Photos by Antonio Alvendia

This Chrysler Conquest is the first car John Lazorack ever owned. He was only 16 when he bought it from the original owner, and he drove it to high school and back every weekday.

When he went to college, the Conquest came along, too. While studying automotive design and mechanical engineering, John used his car as a development platform for his own fabricated parts. The hatchback was a versatile test bed, as he entered it in autocrosses, time trials and even the occasional drift event.

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Once the Conquest’s factory turbo four-cylinder finally blew up, John decided he should swap in something with a bit more power and torque–something he could beat up on all day at the race track and still rely on to get home safely, he explains.

At first he replaced the stock engine with a 5.7-liter GM LS1 from a 2002 Corvette. Eventually he sought even more power and upgraded to an 6.2-liter LS3 from a 2010 Corvette.

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Choosing the right engine was important, but so was its placement. With optimal weight distribution in mind, John was dead-set on installing the LS3 6 inches behind the original engine’s location–so he cut into the firewall and transmission tunnel to make enough room.

The move also required fabricating custom engine mounts and long-tube headers as well as redesigning the entire power-steering system. The brake booster, master cylinder and steering rack came from a Fox-body Ford Mustang Cobra because, as John explains, those parts fit better.

After figuring out how to mount the steering rack, John focused on fixing the steering geometry and increasing the steering angle for drifting. His solution was to digitally modify the front control arms and steering knuckles in a 3D-modeling program, then have a local CNC machine shop turn his designs into new parts.

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The fender flares, the exterior’s dominant feature, weren’t added just to look cool: They were a necessity, John explains, after he bought wheels that were a little bigger than expected. “I have a 3D scan of the car,” he says, “so I built the flares digitally and then machined them out of clay.” Once happy with the clay mock-ups, John cast molds that he used to lay up the parts.

The flares embody two constant challenges of Johns Conquest project–and how he overcame them. “The biggest obstacles on the build were really money and lack of available aftermarket parts,” he recalls. “Every part has been handmade because of this. Even things that I may have been able to purchase, I would build because I could do it for less money.”

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Despite its wild configuration, the Conquest is still street-driven. Of course, it spends plenty of time on track, too. At last fall’s Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational, John was one of the championship contenders in his class–until a broken axle put him out of the running.

“This car has been with me since high school,” he says. “I’ve driven it literally everywhere. It’s a never-ending build, and by the time this article is printed, it will be completely different–again!”

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This article is from a past issue of the magazine. Like stories like this? You’ll see every article as soon as it's published, and get access to our full digital archive, by subscribing to Grassroots Motorsports. Subscribe now.

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Comments
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_
_ Reader
3/1/19 10:05 a.m.

Saw him on hoonigan, I am baffled as how much that guy looks like me. (Or rather, me like him, he’s older). He even talks like me. 

yupididit
yupididit UltraDork
3/1/19 10:13 a.m.

And somewhere in southern California, my conquest is rotting away.  crying

ebonyandivory
ebonyandivory PowerDork
3/1/19 11:07 a.m.
_ said:

Saw him on hoonigan, I am baffled as how much that guy looks like me. (Or rather, me like him, he’s older). He even talks like me. 

Post comparison pictures or we’ll assume you’re  lying laugh

BA5
BA5 Reader
3/1/19 12:01 p.m.

I looked up that racecarkits.com.  That's pretty cool.

I may have to give that a try with my car when the time comes....

pinchvalve
pinchvalve MegaDork
3/1/19 12:38 p.m.

The stickers on the tires are completely useless, and yet, I want a set so bad! The way I roll over tires, they'd say ".  .  . _ .  . _ .  ." 

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
3/1/19 12:59 p.m.

^They're more likely plasti-dip than stickers.

sleepyhead
sleepyhead Mod Squad
3/2/19 12:41 p.m.

this was also in the Gears&Gasoline "strees of willow" gridlife video recently, I think

spacecadet
spacecadet Reader
3/8/19 1:36 p.m.
sleepyhead said:

this was also in the Gears&Gasoline "strees of willow" gridlife video recently, I think

it was, Jabaay (#Gidlife motorsports director) thought it was the coolest thing.

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