We've been hard at it the last couple of weeks starting another Grassroots Challenge car in Portland and I'm pretty excited about our progress, so thought I'd share. I'm excited because today the engine found its new home and we have confirmed that the powertrain and tires will indeed fit, now it's just a matter of lots and lots of fab work to make it permanent.
Here's the plan:
The body - This is definitely my favorite part of the project, a 1972 Honda N600. I first saw one of these at a Honda dealership in Idaho many years ago and knew that I'd have one eventually. I bought this one in November 2009 with intentions of making a project car out of it...took me a while to decide what to do with it. It was sold to me as a "fixer" car for $1500...it hadn't been running for a while and supposedly needed a starter and a carb rebuild. The body was also half-primered and missing a few trim and interior pieces. It was a runner in short order and a hoot to drive around, but the stock 600cc engine just wasn't cutting it. My buddy Aaron and I kicked around lots of ideas and eventually he talked me into building another $20XX challenger.
For those who don't know much about the N600, it's basically Honda's version of an old Mini. It was the first Honda that was officially imported to the US. Here's a picture of the car shortly after I got it, parked next to a Smart at work for a reference of size.
The donor - I love to keep it in the family, so I had to use a Honda powertrain. A motorcycle engine was the initial plan for the awesome power:weight ratio, but the budget:power ratio wasn't so great. Instead, we decided an early B or D series equipped car would make for a proper donor, and as many parts would be reused as possible. I eventually bought an '89 Civic STD that was not only a runner, but had some decent aftermarket parts on it and had a D16 swapped into it. The clutch was on its last legs, the car wouldn't pass emissions, the interior was soaking wet due to some nasty water leak, and the seller wanted to unload it quick. I bought the donor for $660 and drove it to Aaron's house. The car is now naked of its useful bits and looks something like this:
The plan - Number one priority is to keep the car looking close to stock on the outside. No box flares and no crazy body work. Number two priority is to keep it under the $2011 budget, for obvious reasons. Number three priority is to keep the weight as low as possible on the budget, we're targeting 1500 pounds complete. The Civic engine is going in back, of course, and we plan to try and stretch our fabrication skills a bit with this project. Aaron and I are doing the majority of the work, but of course a project like this is easy to sucker friends into helping with! I like Honda engineering, generally speaking, but there's not much left to do to a Civic that hasn't already been done so they're just too vanilla for my tastes. Hopefully this will be something new to the Honda world and definitely something new to the GRM world.
Obviously, there isn't another West Coast challenge, but it seemed appropriate to call it that since there aren't many of us left coasters building challenge cars. This one will end up in Florida this year, if all goes to plan.
Reference links (I'll probably add to this as I go):
April 4 - Rapid prototyping the tubes
April 8 - Making room for the front tires
April 17 - Dry ice tarboard removal
April 19 - Relocating pedals and starting sheetmetal
April 27 - Starting the roll hoop
May 1 - Welding in the dash bar and rear cradle plate
May 24 - Starting the engine cradle
June 26 - Done with the rear tubing!
July 17 - The rubber meets the road
August 24 - Copying Kirkey
August 28 - Structure welded in
September 6 - It's ALIVE!
September 14 - First peek at paint
September 22 - Finally, assembed!!!
October 9 - Challenge wrap up
January 13, 2012 - Pictures from the event
June 17, 2012 - Rising Sun roof