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maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand UberDork
10/30/16 7:11 p.m.


Page 6 - Frame fabrication

Page 19 - Gas tank and trunk fabrication

Page 20 - Engine running!

Page 22 - Grill, trunk bed, battery box

Page 25 - Return from 2-year hiatus

Page 28 - Painting frame and chassis assembly

Page 33 - Body sheetmetal work

Page 39 - Paint 

Page 41 - Body on frame

Page 44 - Driving!!?

Page 45 - Header fabrication

Page 50 - Coilover upgrade and ITB adapter

I was going to keep this a secret, but I got so much encouragement from this forum during my last Challenge build, the Buick Roadmonster. That's where this story starts: at the $2016 Challenge. Let's face it, the Roadmonster was heavy, slow, under-geared, and ... well, nice. It was a nice car. I kept it that way on purpose, because I planned to sell it. I had never planned to buy a giant wagon, it just kinda happened. Hence the thread title and team name "Wagon on a Whim". I had another plan in mind and it required the Roadmaster to stay nice so I could sell it.

So, a whole TWO DAYS after getting home from the Challenge, I did just that. I sold it. More accurately, I traded it straight up for a 1997 Lexus SC300. It has 294,000 miles on the chassis, was swapped for a 5-speed W58 about 10,000 miles ago, which included a new-ish motor with only 100,000 or so miles on it. The drivetrain is great. Lots of new replacement parts, ran great, only threw codes related to the swap. The body is expectedly aged. The sunroof leaks. The doors don't open OR unlock from the outside, but that's okay because the window regulator is broken which allows you to slide the window down by hand. Besides that, the car was great. By Challenge rules, I had $1,140.97 in the Roadmonster at the time of the trade. The 5-speed swap is worth over $2k alone. Not bad, not bad at all.

Everything else worked, including heat, A/C, power leather seats, etc...wait a minute...this sounds a whole lot like the Roadmonster! Better do something really GRM to fix this condition before another year and another underwhelming Challenge performance comes and goes. Enter the Model A. I picked up this pickup with my pickup back for the sum of $1,250. I had the idea to put a 2JZ in a traditional hot rod / rat rod a few years back in college, when I was working on Georgia Tech's MG Midget with the turbo 2JZ. Just a dream... nevertheless I had been looking for a decent budget-friendly Henry Ford steel body for years. It finally came up last March, so I snagged it.

And in the back of the garage it sat for half a year while I toiled over the wagon and old house projects. After the Challenge, and the SC300 came into my life sooner than expected, I got to work.

Woody GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/30/16 7:18 p.m.

This is the E36 M3. Continue...

84FSP Dork
10/30/16 7:19 p.m.

Only on GRM

Lof8 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
10/30/16 7:20 p.m.

Sweet! So is the truck body going on the SC300 chassis?

maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand Reader
10/30/16 7:21 p.m.


The SC300 really is a perfect donor car for many reasons. First, the legendary 2JZ and complete wiring harness. 200 whp is plenty for a hot rod likely to weigh under 2500 lbs. Second, the W58 5-speed trans. It's a little truck-ish but pretty awesome compared to an automatic. Third, the independent front suspension is easily swapped to other cars, much like a Crown Vic. Fourth, the car parts out very nicely thanks to Fast and the Furious franchise and #DriftNation.

So out goes the whole front end.

Just mocking up the front suspension. I probably won't use the subframe because it's too wide, so I'll make control arm mounts on the scratch-built frame using the subframe as a template.

Next up: how to make the Drift Tax work for YOU!

mndsm MegaDork
10/30/16 7:30 p.m.

A model a ford. Drug home by a really sweet El Camino. Set to recieve a Lexus supra driveline. Ok. I got nothing.

NordicSaab HalfDork
10/30/16 7:33 p.m.

Kinda sad that sc300 is no more, but really looking forward to the end result.

Ryed New Reader
10/30/16 7:33 p.m.

Awesome! Japanese technology with some 'Merican ingenuity!

maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand Reader
10/30/16 7:40 p.m.

If you're keeping track, this brings the Challenge budget to $2,280 and some change after selling the Roadmaster's AIR pump and stock exhaust manifolds.

Ultra rare '97+ "round" fog lights. Highly sought after for some dumb reason. They already sold for $86.55 + shipping on eBay.

Stock headlights. $139.09 + shipping on eBay

Front and rear bumpers. $200 for the pair on Craigslist. Brings me to $1,856.33 and plenty more parts to go!

Dusterbd13 PowerDork
10/30/16 8:20 p.m.

This may be the most incredibly berkeleying awesome thing I have seen on the Internet.

singleslammer PowerDork
10/30/16 8:23 p.m.

This is quite the project. I am going to be rooting for you!

SVreX MegaDork
10/30/16 8:25 p.m.

Oh dear...

The0retical Dork
10/30/16 8:27 p.m.

You have my undivided attention.

Woody GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/30/16 8:55 p.m.

Is there a thread on the El Camino? God, I love that thing.

TheV8Kid Reader
10/31/16 6:27 a.m.

I am very interested to see how this one turns out.

JohnRW1621 MegaDork
10/31/16 6:39 a.m.

Have you heard that there is a pickup truck sub-class for $2017?


dyintorace GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
10/31/16 8:26 a.m.

Holy sheeee-ite.

NOHOME PowerDork
10/31/16 9:15 a.m.

Seat-belt fastened and seat in the upright position...Settled down for the duration. Please don't keep us waiting.

I know of a few people that would hate you for what you are about to do to a reasonably solid Model A.

SVreX MegaDork
10/31/16 9:35 a.m.
NOHOME wrote: I know of a few people that would hate you for what you are about to do to a reasonably solid Model A.

I know of a few people that would hate you for what you are about to do to a reasonably solid SC300.

maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand Reader
10/31/16 9:43 a.m.

The Model A is a lot worse than it looks. It was given up on decades ago and buried 2" in someone's garden as an artistic way to display their propane tank.

The SC300 on the other hand was completely 100% rust free and much more than reasonably solid. Fear not, I have an SC enthusiast on the hook to buy the shell, since his was totaled and bent the frame. So it's all for the greater good

maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand Reader
10/31/16 10:33 a.m.
Woody wrote: Is there a thread on the El Camino? God, I love that thing.

The '72 Camino was my first car, which was a father-son project when I was 14. It's been through various upgrades and restorations over the years, including front disc brakes and suspension bushings last summer. It's never "done", but it's always close enough to "finished" to drive around. Obviously I use it like a truck. I am the 2nd owner.

java230 Dork
10/31/16 11:07 a.m.

Awesome. Following along

Crackers Reader
10/31/16 11:21 a.m.

Please tell me this thing is gonna be slammed!

jfryjfry Reader
10/31/16 11:24 a.m.

I wouldn't be too quick to ditch the front subframe. It is designed to work with the steering rack and if you narrow it, you will likely introduce bumpsteer and other negative attributes.

I would look at narrower control arms (which would also change geometry, likely for the worse but not as bad as the subframe most likely) or really positive offsetwheels. Ugh on the look but it might work.

Last thought is most appealing - widen the fenders!! Everything looks good with larger fenders

paranoid_android74 SuperDork
10/31/16 11:52 a.m.

Whoa- I did not see this coming!

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