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unevolved Reader
5/12/10 10:30 a.m.

Originally, we had planned on keeping this build quiet, with intentions to reveal the car in October. More recently, however, we decided it's in our best interest as a undergraduate program to publicize what we're doing to increase the legitimacy of our program both in the eyes of potential sponsors and potential employers (which is the root of all we do, as students).

Our 2010 season began on the drive home from the 2009 Challenge. Over our two-way radios, we began debating what we should bring the following year. The first two things the entire team agreed upon were no Miata, and no Civic. We'd already done one, and EVERYONE had done the other. We bounced around ideas from motorcycle-powered MGs to big-block powered Volvos.

Weeks later, we sat down ready to make a decision. Being engineers, we laid out a list of criteria our ideal platform must have. Ready supply of aftermarket parts, proper suspension architecture, rear-wheel drive, and light weight. We agreed upon those criteria, thought for a minute and just looked at each other. "We're doing a Miata, aren't we?" The answer once again was Miata.

If we were going to do a Miata, we were going to do something that hadn't been done before. We considered our chassis and powertrain selection processes as two independant areas, within reason. We bounced around a few ideas, and settled on the VG30E out of the normally-aspirated 83-89 300ZX. We selected this engine for its high availability at low cost, stout bottom end, rear-sump design, easily modifiable ECU, and affinity for forced induction.

No proper Miata would be complete without forced induction, so we turned to Craigslist. We found a (very) used Turbonetics T3/T04E 60-trim that had more shaft play than we would be comfortable with, but on a $2010 budget, concessions have to be made, so we crossed our fingers and bought it.

I recently "built" us a new website on an official server, and it's leaps and bounds beyond our old site. We've also got our build of our 2009 car posted, and will have information on our Formula Hybrid cars shortly. The website is saeintl.tamu.edu (sae.tamu.edu was taken). The Miata bulid page is still a few workdays behind current, as it's finals time here, but it should give you a good idea of what we're planning on bringing to the table in October. We're going to try and be as transparent and professional as possible with this, so ask away.

Here's a teaser shot of a month or two ago, we've since gotten all the mounts fabricated. Surprisingly, the only modifications to the car were adding two hardpoints for the transmission to mount to. The subframes had to be modified for the engine mounts and the front mount for the differential, but other than that everything's playing along rather nicely.

Keith SuperDork
5/12/10 10:51 a.m.

Cool! Having the engine that far back in the engine bay has to be good for polar moment. What's the weight of the engine/transmission look like? What diff are you using?

I love the sheer number of people in all of your photos. Shows a lot of enthusiasm for the project. How many Texas A&M students does it take to unload a Miata shell off a trailer?

splitime Reader
5/12/10 11:03 a.m.

Can't wait to see how this turns out :)

unevolved Reader
5/12/10 11:05 a.m.

If I'm remembering right, the engine is about 75 pounds heavier than a 1.8, but the transmission's probably another 30 or 40 more. Don't quote me on those figures, though.

We're using the 7" viscous LSD out of a S4 Vert FC. Picked up the diff and carrier for $75, although it cost us $50 in gas to go get it.

And yeah, I had all the volunteers get in the car to compress the suspension as much as possible while we tightened the straps. So far we've had almost 50 volunteers on this project, and we average about 8 per workday. I'm keeping pretty good logs of who works how much, because our top volunteers are the ones who will get to miss class to go racing in October.

Having the engine that far back really wasn't much of a choice. It's nice, but it would be a lot of work to put it anywhere else. The front of the sump is about 1" from the back of the subframe. We're having to get pretty creative with the exhaust manifold, as the stock manifold had a rear crossover across the bellhousing, and that simply isn't happening.

We picked up some GC sleeves and "default" springs, and I'd like to try and trade off the springs for some stiffer ones. If you've got any tips for determining optimum spring rates for a significantly non-stock weight Miata, I'd love to hear them. Right now, my plan is to try and trade them for a Spec Miata set of springs, I think the stiffer fronts would be useful, but allow more roll than an SM with our increased mass. That's sheer ballparking, though, based on what I think I can find.

nderwater Reader
5/12/10 12:09 p.m.

Speaking of Nissan V6's, the VQ35 from the Z and Nissan/Infinity sedans has been around for about a decade now. These have got to be showing up at junkyards around the country - why aren't they a more popular engine swap option?

poopshovel SuperDork
5/12/10 12:47 p.m.

Very cool, dudes. Glad to see you'll be making back. Have you considered bringing the Civic back too? That sucker had potential! Will 2010 be the showdown between college enginerd-built miatae?

AutoXR Reader
5/12/10 1:15 p.m.

Holy crap , 50 people..

I have 1

Build looks great!

4cylndrfury SuperDork
5/12/10 2:52 p.m.

Its nice to see a few GRM tshirts in the website. Looks awesome...you are now officially in my bookmarks ;)

Osterkraut Dork
5/12/10 3:25 p.m.
nderwater wrote: Speaking of Nissan V6's, the VQ35 from the Z and Nissan/Infinity sedans has been around for about a decade now. These have got to be showing up at junkyards around the country - why aren't they a more popular engine swap option?

Well, because it's my engine swap so it can be for whatever reasons I want, they sound like thrashy ass. That's why I wouldn't use it if I was a-swapping.

turboswede SuperDork
5/12/10 3:38 p.m.

Uh, doesn't that not-funny clown that haunts this board (and our nightmares) run them in more than one of his Challenge Clown Cars?

Whenever I hear one of the newer cars with their tuned exhaust, I think it sounds nice at first, but then it seems too nice. Eventually I realize that it is like a modern pop musician, they're all pose and no true sounds anymore.

unevolved Reader
5/12/10 3:44 p.m.

nderwater, we considered a VQ35 for the aluminum block, but the engine management system is exponentially more complicated than this one. The VG30 uses a simple OBD1-style ECU where the fuel and ignition tables are stored on a single 28-pin EPROM. All we have to budget for the tuning process is the new chip that's in the car at competition, not any of the tools that helped us make the maps. That helps immensely with the budgeting.

poopy, the Civic will indeed be coming back. We're removing the Ostrich ROM that was in there to free up a little bit of room, so we'll have that exhaust leak fixed and our own drag slicks.

And the sound of this thing is the least of my worries. Current plans are a 8" dump off the turbine straight out the fender, with a seperate pipe for the giant eBay wastegate.

Oh, and you didn't hear it from me, but there's a third college that's building a Miata for the 2010 Challenge. I've been working with them and teaching them how the budgeting works. Even found them some free R888s.

Tom Heath
Tom Heath Webmaster
5/12/10 3:53 p.m.

I like this. It shows great promise.

College builds are the next big thing. I've heard rumblings of other schools (other than Ga. Tech, who are coming again for 2010) getting started on challenge builds also, but we'll have to see who makes it.

Keith SuperDork
5/12/10 4:05 p.m.

unevolved, please find more free R888s :)

Any chance of a college class for the Challenge? Just a trophy for top-placed college team or something. It would be cool to highlight these schools that put in the time and effort for the event.

I've always thought the current 350/370Z with a more open exhaust sound like Chewbacca.

mistanfo Dork
5/12/10 4:16 p.m.
Keith wrote: I've always thought the current 350/370Z with a more open exhaust sound like Chewbacca.

Star Wars quote FTW.

unevolved Reader
5/12/10 4:30 p.m.

By "free R888s" I mean R888s with 2 or 3 32nds left in the trash after a NASA weekend. Not great autocross tires, but better than street tires and you can't beat the price.

I've heard rumors of a college class before, and I'm all for it. I mean, maybe not a college class but just an award for top college team or something? I'd love to be able to compete against all the other competitors as well, it'd get a little dull if it was just three or four Miatas fighting amongst ourselves.

Keith SuperDork
5/12/10 6:02 p.m.

That's what I was thinking. Recognition of the top-placed school team. Not necessarily college, I want to see a high school come out and kick some butt too

Marjorie Suddard
Marjorie Suddard General Manager
5/12/10 7:42 p.m.

I like the college class idea!


Raze HalfDork
5/12/10 7:54 p.m.

the Wreck Racing Lexus swapped Miata is gettin pretty sweet, saw it at the autoshow a month ago!

DirtyBird222 Dork
5/12/10 9:03 p.m.
nderwater wrote: Speaking of Nissan V6's, the VQ35 from the Z and Nissan/Infinity sedans has been around for about a decade now. These have got to be showing up at junkyards around the country - why aren't they a more popular engine swap option?

Google "LS1" and you should get some results as to why.

Anyways looks like a cool build man. The last picture on the civic build is a bit disturbing

ckosacranoid Dork
5/13/10 12:50 a.m.

who was it that had the home school high shchool team in the past that come and raced? and i knoe there have been some high school kids that built a car and ran it a couple of times.

good luck on this build, i tryied to do something like this for my college and they would not let us since the event was not old eough or some such stuff, then the car club i started would never do anything and then got some autocross out if it somewhat for a coulple of years till they got kicked out of the college...sigh...

unevolved Reader
5/13/10 1:17 a.m.

Just looked through Wreck Racing's website, I can't tell you how much I envy their shop. Apparently they're adding forced induction this year, as well as water injection. Should be an interesting high-horsepower shootout.

[bench racing]

At 27 psi, our Turbonetics T04E 60-trim compressor can move 40 pounds of air a minute and still be 78% thermally efficient. IF we can port our heads and design manifolds to take advantage of that mass flow rate, it would not be unreasonable to expect 400 horsepower out of this engine. IF.

[/bench racing]

ZOO Dork
5/13/10 6:44 a.m.
AutoXR wrote: Holy crap , 50 people.. I have 1 Build looks great!

You'd have two if you ever invited me over when you were working on your car :)

tb New Reader
5/14/10 9:44 a.m.

excellent build and web page. I am glad that you decided to share and am looking forward to seeing the car in September.

My girlfriend and I had the same rules when shopping for car: No Honda & No Miata, they are just too common. You were probably right to just go ahead and get a miata anyway.

Good Luck.

Wreck Racing
Wreck Racing None
5/25/10 1:41 a.m.

Looking good, guys!

As for the speculation about what's happening to our engine this year, I'm just going to deny everything

Besides, if past experience has taught us anything (and it has), it's that it ain't workin' till it's workin'...so really, it's reasonable to leave that out of the discussion for now.

We know how you feel about the Miata...we may have recently purchased a future Challenge car (if we can all get on board with this one by October when it's time to start working on it) that is very much in the spirit of doing something different. Unfortunately, it almost always means giving up a better suspension geometry, but you can swap your way back--it just costs a little more.

I like the idea of a College sub-category; there are a lot of things about working with a university team that make building a Challenge car a...unique experience.

Feel free to get in touch if you've got questions about anything; we'd be happy to share what we know with you guys. We've been building a crazy Miata for a few years now, so we have learned a good bit about what doesn't work! wreckracing at gmail is our address if you want to email us.

Good luck! I look forward to seeing you guys in the fall!

-Josh (last year's team leader)

redzcstandardhatch Reader
5/25/10 7:19 a.m.

awesome dudes...awesome

my brother is a VG LOVER...he has one of the highest horsepower stock VGs in the world in him maxima (91 5 speed)

tune them RICH. with proper ignition timing and 20 PSI from a monster turbo, he runs 10.5:1-11.0 AFRs.

DONT be afraid to tune it rich. AFRs dont kill power like people think.. that thing can make 400/400tq for a LONG time if you make it safe.

i gotta get started on our "ratty" car this year.

i have NO INTENTION OF WINNING AT ALL this year. hahaha

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