1 2 3 4 5 6
wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L)
wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/21/23 8:18 p.m.

Bravo, sir. Stunning work.

Trent PowerDork
3/11/23 3:12 p.m.

Small update.

Few things back from nickel plating. Not a lot nicer than freshly plated hardware.

Transaxle is rebuilt 

New bearings where needed and a fresh OEM gasket and seal kit. One item off the list and onto the shelf.

Calipers powder coated and assembled

Then wrapped up and set in the project drawer

That makes TWO things that are DONE!


On to the exhaust manifold. I tacked the flange to a stout piece of steel and cut the runners off. Then milled it flat

Flipped the runners and welded them back. Thank whatever for the symmetrical design

Then sawed off the turbo flange and milled the collector flat

And welded the new one in place

Then started plumbing in the oil and coolant. Sure was nice of the Suzuki engineers to put oil pressure and return areas in such convenient locations.


Oh yeah. I have a very strange fondness for old Fiat shift knobs. I think they are perfect. 

But the 901 transaxle has a dogleg pattern. This won't be as easy as using a 124 spider 5 speed knob. But the other day I was doing a test drive and looked down at this beauty

Holy Frijoles! it's perfect. Happens to be in this BTW

"If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up"

But it looks like repops for a 246/308/328 can be had for under $50 so I will deffo be nabbing one.


What else????


Oh yeah.

Something happened in the world of tires! Michelin has introduced the Pilot Exalto in 175-60/13 and 185-60/13 as part of their "Classic tires" line.  I can finally stop wringing my hands and build the dang car!


  Hopefully this is a result of 80's cars suddenly becoming collectible and we are on an upswing in regards to small tire availability.


So I pulled the aged out mockup tires off the shelf and quickly finished one wheel for a very much needed mojo boost. 

It is perfect. Exactly what I had envisioned. 

How can a 13X7 et12 seem so dang deep? 

So now I have this thing staring at me giving me the inspiration to sandblast the other three wheels. I dislike sandblasting.

Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
3/11/23 5:02 p.m.
Trent said:

So now I have this thing staring at me giving me the inspiration to sandblast the other three wheels. I dislike sandblasting.

As near as I can tell, sandblasting mostly puts sand in places I didn't know I had places. But I've never done it with a cabinet.

You have to admit that's a lot of progress all tallied up in one post!

RichardSIA Dork
3/11/23 11:30 p.m.

Interesting as I have a similar eng/trans conversion to do for my Tatum build.
But my plan has been to just buy the KEP adapter, #1400.
Meant for 1.0 3 Cyl.,but I think the 13B will bolt up the same.
Since my build will be Rear engine I get to swap the ring gear around.
On the plus side the tail shift trans linkage will be direct, like a Bug.
I will not be taking on the complication of Turbo but with a target weight of about 1,000 Lb. and rear engine I think I will have plenty of power.
VW air-cooled as original would be the easy button but the 13B is lighter, water cooled, and much more durable.

Trent PowerDork
3/12/23 1:38 p.m.

In reply to RichardSIA :

My car is rear engined as well. I did look at a Kennedy adapter but it just didn't fit with the ethos of this build. 

Trent PowerDork
3/15/23 1:21 p.m.



I think this is the last of the things I need to do to before dragging down the body and seeing how much I have to cut away to make it all fit.

Trent PowerDork
9/2/23 10:20 p.m.

A shop project moved from metal repair to paint and body. That meant the chassis cart it was on was free. Time to get the Fiat down


I built the frame about a decade ago and I spent a lot of time making it as flat as I could. This meant I could take some time and level the Fiat to the frame. 

So now the body can is centered, leveled and firmly mounted to this ladder frame. It is sitting too high but that is fixable later.


Once it was mounted I quickly mounted the original trailing arms to make some jigs. I couldn't resist mocking up a wheel. I threw a VW rabbit fender flare on top as a rough idea. It might just be the way I go. Not a bad look

Jig made to hold the hub faces in situ at ride height

This jig fits tightly to the ladder frame and is pinned in place so it can be removed and accurately installed in seconds.


Trent PowerDork
9/2/23 10:38 p.m.

Strange photo that happened as I was playing with a bluetooth phone camera remote.

A man and his ill advised life mate.


Anyhow using the same idea as the suspension jig I put engine and transaxle in place. For the rear I just welded to the oil pan as I anticipated replacing it anyway.

For the transaxle I took advantage of the casting for the shift rod. A set collar was welded to enough stock to set the height I required

And there we go. A repeatable method to be able to remove and reinstall the drivetrain

I might even be able to replace the spark plugs without removing the engine! The intake manifold will not fit. I never expected it to.  I never even cleaned it. I am currently trying to decide how I want to hang this thing back there. I was thinking about those E30 control arm bushings as motor mounts. I have been looking at 911 rear mounts for inspiration too


Racingsnake Reader
9/2/23 11:21 p.m.

Happy to see this back at the top and hopefully more progress soon too. That Rabbit flare works really well with the widened wheel.

TurboFource HalfDork
9/3/23 9:27 a.m.

Lotus Europa mount is like this....

I realize yours is 180 out from this but maybe an idea...

Trent PowerDork
9/3/23 12:04 p.m.

In reply to TurboFource :

That actually is helpful. I spent most of yesterday afternoon wondering if Jaguar motor mounts would work in that orientation. I mean.... Jag used them for lots of things and in many orientations (Bumper mounts? Really guys?) But I assumed they did their job primarily in compression.



I wonder if they are the same unit (typical British parts bin stuff) or if the Lotus part is a little smaller. If the Lotus piece has a 1/2-20 thread in the center I bet they are the same.  I haven't had a Europa in the shop in a few years so I can't just go check.

TurboFource HalfDork
9/3/23 12:35 p.m.

That looks like the front trailing arm mount for the Europa rear suspension (they aren't threaded though).

Tranny mount looks like this....

I repoured them with 80 durometer urethane from McMaster

Shavarsh HalfDork
9/3/23 12:38 p.m.

Glad to see this updated! Thanks for sharing

Trent PowerDork
9/3/23 12:43 p.m.

Oil pan clearance.

At this point I am delighted I chose to go with the slant four layout. 

Yeah, It is the lowest part of the car but that is nice.

For reference a stock OT1000 Abarth oil pan


So I think we are good there.

I had hoped that there would be enough material on the valve cover for a bit of reshaping to make it look a bit more vintage. I was hoping to round over/make less square the bulk of it. No way. One of the reasons this motor is so very lightweight is why it was so cheap to manufacture. They didn't leave a gram of material it didn't absolutely require. I did steal a few minutes and machine off the logos on the valve cover because I felt I just HAD to do something.


So, since I have jigs to hold the transaxle and the hub carriers in place I can start to take measurements for the axles. I haven't built VW rabbits in over 15 years but there were still a pile of axles in my garage which I started stripping down the hollow, passenger side units for modification. Seems premature in the timeline but, very soon it will be important to know exactly which points in space these occupy.

Interesting design. They are friction welded in the center. I have NEVER heard of one of these failing on anything but a full drag car build. I am trying to decide if I cut a chunk from the middle and reweld as they were, or cut the end and machine it like a typical driveshaft yoke.


Ransom and I are in the midst of turning a bunch of measurements into data for Susprog3d to chew up and spit out into even more numbers.

Back in the engine bay I need to come up with the cross brace/motor mount so I can go over the next hurdles. 

I need to relocate the thermostat housing which is currently on the back side of the cylinder head and currently will occupy the same space as the firewall and fuel tank. That's cool but, to know where that needs to go I need to build an intake manifold........ except to do that I have to decide what intercooler I am going to use and where that will fit and how I will duct fresh air to it. Also! I really want to use a Haltech on this car and if I do I want to use a DBW throttle body except I also wanted to make a custom Raspberry Pi  dashboard but the software I was looking at is designed for Megasquirt soooooo.

So yeah.... While I am thinking about that stuff I remembered I saw a lot of filler on top of the passenger front fender 20 years back when I painted it in my garage so I might as well inspect that. Which lead to

Because I noticed this

Which isn't bad. For a vintage Fiat this car is surprisingly not THAT rusty.  I knew it needed repairs going in.


So I am doing exactly what I tell all my customers NOT to do and thinking about eschewing the body dip process. This is a false economy. At the same time, the dippers are booked about 6 months out so it gives one the hope that they could do the the job in that time. 


Anyway. I think I am up to date.

I get about 30 minutes a day to try to eat this elephant. Bites are small.

wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L)
wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/3/23 5:30 p.m.

Yep. Stunning work.

chandler MegaDork
9/3/23 9:32 p.m.

Did you sell the caddy, I see the gottis sitting in the background 

Trent PowerDork
9/3/23 10:09 p.m.

In reply to chandler :

No, just switched back to the banded 12 holes for a bit. The offset of the wider rear Gottis is a tad too aggressive and I was shredding tires.

TurnerX19 UberDork
9/4/23 8:11 a.m.

A note about 1/2-20 threaded "Jag" motor mounts. Kinda surprised you didn't know this one.......McMaster Carr has them in 4 durometers cheap.....Also fit Lotus 14 many Caterham, and with a simple mod MG TC! 

Trent PowerDork
9/4/23 11:48 a.m.

In reply to TurnerX19 :

Odd. McMaster is usually my first stop.

Vibration damping mounts

 Use them in compression load applications. Shear Capacity per Mount: Not Rated

That does confirm my suspicions. Of course going up in capacity would make that a non issue at the cost of a loss of vibration damping.

I know I have a few Jag motor mounts laying around the shop. We must order a dozen per year (we build a lot of E types)

I must have a dozen different motor mounts in a Rockauto cart right now while I think about ways to do this that will be small, lightweight and actually do the job of absorbing vibrations.


Recon1342 SuperDork
9/4/23 1:05 p.m.

Small cars are awesome!!!



TurboFource HalfDork
9/4/23 1:40 p.m.

I found on the Lotus suspension rubber mounts they deflected 30% less by putting a t-bolt hose clamp around them.

Trent PowerDork
10/7/23 6:53 p.m.

Content warning: Hammer forming ahead


I decided to take inspiration from the Lotus Europa transmission mounts (thanks Turbofource) Once that decision was made I had to figure out how I wanted to do it.  First step, tie into the rear chassis rails 

I went to the plasma table blasted out a few 1/8" thick tabs and held them up in the engine bay and hated the look. I went back to the table and cut them out of 3/8" material and then grabbed a bit of 14ga sheet.

Over to the vise with a selection of hammers

Started tapping it over

Keep going until it smooths out

When you are done it should be tight to the form piece.

out of the form and with rough edges.


Instead of grinding and sanding the edges I opted to mill them flat and to size

And then there were 4

I did weld captured nuts to two of these

That was fun. They definitely look more like car parts than the square edged version did.

I drilled two holes in a piece of 1.5" square tube to allow me to level the mounts to the frame the body is mounted to. I found the only area that they could be fit and still have access to the fasteners, centered it and coped the newly minted tabs to the chassis rails and sheet metal. Tacked them in situ and then I could work out what the next piece needed to be.

Keep an eye out for that piece of square tube, it gets used in every single step


Much cardboard was cut, many sketches were made, I still wasn't sure what I wanted it to look like. I was planning on using Jag mounts as I had a set of old ones laying around for mockup purposes

I considered fabricating it from square tube. I thought long and hard about making it from 3/4" bent tubing, I mean the JD2 is literally 18" from the car right now but, I just wasn't feeling those options. I did however just have fun with hammer forming so.......


Full scale measured drawing. I found a slab of 1/2" Corian countertop material. I figured it would work pretty well, I mean I usually use wood so this had to be fine. Plus it was free and right there. I laminated it up with epoxy and cut it to shape, smoothed it out and rounded over the edges with a router

I quickly tacked together a sandwich plate from steel flat bar and cut the first piece of 16ga

First piece was semi successful. I left 3/4-1" of overhang and that was too much. There is simply no way you can shrink that much material, especially around the tighter corners. 


The next two had an even half inch of overhang and went much, MUCH better. 

Sandwich it all together

Start tapping down the edges. Use the softest hammer that will do the job. A rubber mallet or deadblow will work great for the straight areas without dinging it up

The corners are where it gets tough. An inside corner needs to be stretched, and outside corner needs to be shrunk. A rubber faced hammer can't do it.

I did as much as I could with a nylon teardrop but resorted to body hammers and ball peens where needed.

Nice and tight around the difficult shapes


And after a few hours I had a mirrored pair

Which was immensely satisfying.

Back to the mill to make them uniformly thinner

And the two fit up surprisingly well.


At this point it occurred to me that the original design I worked out with tubing had every bend being a compound angle and making that 2D like I did wasn't going to work. Still, I needed to fix this. That extra piece of 1.5 tube is the offset I need. At this point the square tube is officially a jig

out came the shrinker and stretcher

And I crept up on it

I'll take that!

Oh, this was remarkably helpful to hold this mess together during the countless times I had to refit every thing

I cut the heads off a pair of 1/4" bolts with a good long shoulder. That way I was able to thread them into the jig, secure the bottom piece and have an alignment dowel for the second

Then it was welded up

Put back into the jig, then into the mill and the ends were cut for fit the tubing I machined to hold some standard 4 link bar bushings

Which bolted right into the jig because, well..... jig!

And then I moved to the center and made the stepped holes to hold the reinforcement/recess portion for the motor mounts

Some more welding and.....

Well. It is weird looking.

I mean, I like it but, it is inarguably an odd looking thing.


I like that it doesn't look "fabricated" or "race car" It is light weight and strong. I am pleased with it. Are there things I would do differently next time? Oh yes, but this is "fine" I doubt most folks will even notice its existence in the (someday hopefully) finished car.


Stay tuned for the next episode where perhaps I will decide how to make the parts that hold the rubber mounts to the engine block, or maybe I will just cut the front end off and wonder what radiator I want to use.

matthewmcl Dork
10/7/23 7:04 p.m.

Yes , the shape is a little funny, but the work looks awesome. They really don't look "fab shop."

Trent PowerDork
10/7/23 7:05 p.m.

Crikey, I have got to make myself crop my dang pics before uploading. Makes it seem like I work in filth.

I genuinely don't. I have to keep it clean!

The shop this morning  Walkthrough

lnlogauge Dork
10/7/23 7:23 p.m.

In reply to Trent :

I'm quite sure the only thing we're paying attention to, is the absolutely gorgeous fabrication work you do. 

1 2 3 4 5 6

You'll need to log in to post.

Our Preferred Partners