14 hours ago in Articles
Christina Lam went from the sidelines to full-on track enthusiast in 8 simple steps.
Well, the reason I ended up on GRM in the first place was because of my buddy Turboswede. I came along him and many others from the 924board.org forums when I purchased my first project, a 1977 Porsche 924. I was learning cars a lot more back then, very new and steep learning curve, and the car taught me a lot.
I figured I'd share this since it's the car that really got me hooked and started me on my auto adventures.
The car started as intentions to restore, but got vandalized, the motor got ruined and I ended up rebuilding it. I decided to say "screw it" and gutted it out and decided to go with the intentions of building it as a trackday car.
I figured, "Well, since I'm rebuilding the motor, and since the CIS system is ancient... I may as well just go megasquirt." So I did.
The car was a mess when I got it, it sat in the valley for 10 years. Looking back, I'm actually amazed that I got it to start and run for a little while.
It was a sad story. I bought it from the original owner. The car had sat in this same place in the valley. The husband bought the car for the wife. He passed away, she parked the car on the property where it happened, and she never drove the car again. Years later she met a new guy and decided it was time to let the car go. I wanted a project, she wanted it gone. We put it on a trailer and then I had no idea what I was getting myself into. (I guess that's why a project is an adventure eh?)
Some pics of the car when I first got it (a sight for sore eyes):
I cleaned it up a little and replaced the core parts it needed to run so I could see if it was worth saving. Went through the throttle body, cleaned up the metering plate, did a tune up... surprisingly, it ran. For a while.
First gas station visit in over 10 years.
Then... It got hit by a drunk driver.
Then it got fixed.
Then eventually, I moved. In that process, it got vandalized.
I debated doing anything at all with it for a while, went back and forth over it. I eventually said, "Enough is enough. I won't let it get the best of me, I'm just going to build this car the way I want it." and said goodbye to attempting to restore it.
I began the process of gutting it out.
The interior eventually finally got gutted, and I started making things out of CF. Gas tank cover, dash, pillars, etc. It was a steep learning curve. My first attempt (on the right) was E36 M3ty. After a while I got better (left). The top has drain tubes that are exposed, so I wanted something to cover them up with, and it was much lighter and easier to protect them.
Since the dash was no longer stock, and a much smaller version, I started using my arduino kit to work on making a little prototype for basic temps with some standard thermistors (demo below, not actual thermistor values) - I wanted to have something near the megasquirt sensors to test and be able to verify they stay accurate.
last thermistor active in this photo
I finally started rebuilding the engine. When I took the head to the machine shop, it was bad news. The head was completely warped with no hope of fixing it unless I wanted to spend a ton of money on it. The cam was ground down from running dry.
A donor car came along through a friend of my father's, who used to work with him. His son had one and said as long as the car would go to good use as a parts car it was all mine. So we parted it out, and turned two cars into one good car. The bad news was, his car had a blown head gasket too. It was a mess. A complete mess. I once again was starting to feel fed up. Either way... it was a better candidate than my motor.
I wanted to keep the original engine as much as possible. So I put my block together with the donor car's head. I took it to the local machine shop, we cleaned the E36 M3 out of everything and rebuild it from top to bottom. I tracked down a set of Euro pistons since the stock compression was something like 8:1 and euro was 9.3:1. King bearings, ARP hardware for the rods and head. Modern materials for the guides and fresh gaskets all around. (yes, I'm aware 2 of the bearings are upside down in this pic, it didn't go together that way, I was just happy to get new parts)
Finally, after a lot of reading and careful assembly, a whole motor.
I told my dad, "Hey, I got my crappy Porsche motor finished before you finished your camaro. Wanna come help me put it in the car?" and he came right over and helped me put it in. We don't share too much in common, but we both love cars.
During this process I had started building megasquirt components for it. I wanted to do something a little bit different though since most people who had done megasquirt on these cars had generally just got rid of CIS and kept the stock intake manifold and throttle body. I really wanted to go with ITBs. A friend of mine owns a composites shop, so getting CF was easy. I didn't feel confident making a set of runners though, so I gave him some gaskets to play with, my warped head, a set of GSXR 1000 throttle bodies I bought, he dabbled in cad for a while and came up with this for me.
See ya, heavy, giant, heavy CIS system.
I decided that the most efficient way for me to do it with readily accessible parts would be to go for some common fuel system. One day I visited a friend of mine who owns a honda repair shop. He had a giant bin full of sorted injectors and rails. I brought my old head in and started matching up. Within a few minutes, we found a rail that fit fairly well from a mid 90s accord. He had a set of injectors to match. Didn't cost me much. I bought a new fuel pump while I was there, adjustable fuel regulator, new fuel lines, filter, and mounted everything in pretty much the same locations as the stock bits went.
Everything matched up and mounted well.
I eventually ditched the old drum setup, did a 5 lug conversion, with 4 wheel disc conversion, as well as got rid of the booster and converted to a VW Rabbit manual brake setup.
A local and member of 924board.org had a set of freshly rebuilt brakes with SS lines. He was moving to better brakes, sold them to me and I installed them.
I had sold my 944 a while before and kept the BBS wheels that I loved so much. Now I had a reason to use them again.
Since I had already lost weight, I decided to take it a step further and get rid of the GTS lights. There was a really nice writeup (part 1 | part 2) on making your own GT lights. Benefit is losing the weight of the motor, linkage, the heavy assembly etc. Downside is that most of the GT lights use halogens, which I tried and hated. So I bought some buckets and made my own lenses and put projectors in it.
My first attempt was with some spare CF I had. I hated the halogens though because they weren't well positioned and didn't really do good visibility wise.
My second attempt was to buy some premade buckets. I found a focus nearby with a projector conversion, tore those apart and added those. The car got hit (again), so I ended up replacing the fender (again).
Covered those puppies in felt.
Cut some acrylic from home depot
Put them in the oven when my wife at the time wasn't home.
The result was much better.
The old exhaust was rusting into a pit of nothing. A full Bursch system was purchased with a Bursch header.
I also began the process of stripping it to put down some basic paint so that I can do a wrap on the car. By basic paint, I mean a glorious rustoleum paint job sanded down smooth enough to put vinyl wrap on it lol. Because race car.
No recent pics since it's been black. I'll try and get some this week.
Fastforward to today. The megasquirt was being a pain in my butt. I tried doing squirt and spark only to find out that MS1 v2.2 doesn't do that all that great. I installed an MSD 6AL and blaster 2, new wires, ran the megasquirt with fuel only on Alpha-N from the tacho signal from the MSD and the car is FINALLY running and driving at last.
In this pic, cap is off so I could set timing.
I'm on the last bit of wiring for the tail lights, turn signals so I can finally go drive it legally. Schroth harness installed along with a decent harness bar and sparco seat. Comfy, still a tight fit in such a small car.
Some days I still look and it and go, "There's still so much more to do." but I have to remind myself with what I started with, and then I feel much better.
How hard was it to setup the mega squirt on the 924? Did you notice better drivability, fuel consumption is not a worry as these cars get super mileage. Also does it feel more powerful?
My little car has the Eurospec engine so it has better oomph than the strangled North American version. But more is always better.
Thanks and your car is looking great.
Mike924 wrote: Corse; How hard was it to setup the mega squirt on the 924? Did you notice better drivability, fuel consumption is not a worry as these cars get super mileage. Also does it feel more powerful? My little car has the Eurospec engine so it has better oomph than the strangled North American version. But more is always better. Thanks and your car is looking great.
That's a difficult question to answer. The engine is no longer stock, and is now an ITB car, and just tuning it with basic drivability the car seems to be a bit of a gas hog, though I'm not entirely sure what the mileage is. I don't have hardly any instruments aside from basics in the car right now (oil pressure, voltage, temperature, etc).
Now that the fuel map is better than it was, drivability is nice. It is certainly more peppy than before. I had the old compression pistons in the car which I believe on the old 95hp motors was around 7 or 8:1. The euro pistons are 9.3:1, and with the intake setup, itbs, headers and exhaust and megasquirt, I would expect better than the euro motor numbers (which were around 125hp).
I plan on taking it to the dyno soon and getting it dyno tuned.
My adventure in setting up megasquirt started as incredibly difficult because I started the hard way. If I knew then what I knew now, the car would be in a completely different state.
My best recommendations if you decide to go with megasquirt, as recommended to me by many other megasquirt gurus is to do one thing at a time. Starting over with a new ignition and fuel system is a pain to tune.
I did squirt AND spark at the same time, and I never could get it to work right. The trigger system was primitive and unecessary (HEI module driven, really bad, should have used a trigger wheel), the ignition system was undesirable, and it made it hard to get a base map.
I've since gone away from that, put an MSD 6AL on it to run ignition off of a stock dizzy, and the megasquirt now does ONLY fuel. Which fuel only is far far far easier to tune. In my opinion, the stock ignition system is really not that bad as it is, and is therefore really not totally necessary to get rid of and move to megasquirt, at least not until you get fuel right.
That's just my $.02. The car doesn't weigh much, so compared to what it was, it moves a whole lot better. I'll be sure to report back though once I've actually got a dyno tune on it with some dyno numbers and can get the AFR consistent across the board. I can tell you though that it has the capability of being a hell of a lot more efficient than the CIS system.
The weight savings were nice as well. The intake manifold, throttle bodies, fuel injectors and rail altogether weigh almost exactly 7lbs. The CIS system weighed a lot more than that when you consider the big intake manifold, the throttle body, the metering plate, all the lines, the warmup regulator, the accumulator setup, etc etc etc. Freed up a ton of space under the hood as well.
In reply to Mike924:
I also run MegaSquirt on my 924. The wiring and physical conversion isn't that bad. It can be tricky gathering all the parts and pieces and not going into the poor house.
Before you go to far into it, you have to start with a solid base and develop a good plan of attack.
Both Corse and I fell into the same trap of making too many changes at once.
I switched to distributor less ignition and fuel injection, both controlled by the MegaSquirt as well as a larger cam and ITB's. I eventually was able to get it running well enough to limp through the local emissions testing. It was not enjoyable to drive.
Once I switched back to the stock intake and a single throttle body, it was much more drivable and easier to tune.
The initial startup is the hardest part. That is just trial and error and requires patience. Once it is started and idling you can start fine tuning the base fuel map to get it drivable and slowly drive around at different throttle positions, allowing the auto-tune feature in the TunerStudio software to bring the fuel map closer to a working solution.
Cool build! I've always liked the old water porches, Someday I'll fall into one. It's great to see that old 8v getting rebuilt to euro spec. Everyone is LSX swap crazy these days but I prefer to see the old cool engines getting all the potential they can on a modernized management like ms. Currently running a few old cars on MS and I will never go back. So much better and easier to work on.
In reply to 2K4Kcsq:
If you wanna have an interesting engine swap:
Gotta love the fact that the 2.0L in the 924 is the fore bearer of the mighty inline 5 used in your car and others. In fact a ChumpCar/Rally buddy of mine is swapping a 10VT into an old 944 for Rally use. It will be interesting to see if the intake clears the strut tower.
There was a inline 6 version of that engine that someone in Europe swapped into their 924. Of course the early V8's used the same bellhousing pattern, but the oil pan and oil pickup creates problems with swaps into these cars, not insurmountable, but its challenging.
I'm slowly collecting parts on my own to swap to 20V, but I'm going to have some fun with and probably blow up the little 2.0L before that happens :)
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