Project "Fiat V-Spec"
Extremism hits a new high at DATSUNS.COM
To all my 510 buddies: I'm done screwing around. Read on!
So, I "rethunk" my entire project car situation - go ahead with my Datsun 1200 with 2.0L turbo SR20, or do something more with our current 510?. I talked it over with a couple key influences. Even reading Sport Compact Car had some influence. Other car guy websites like mine. One thing I found with 99% of even the most radical "old car" projects: Extreme swapping to get the motor fit and work great, lots to tuning to get the suspension to work well, beautiful attention to detail and extremes to get the "look" perfect. Many have one weird "quirk" that makes their project unique, but still...
Take a 30yr old car, put in a much more modern powerplant, modern brakes, springs, paint/bodywork, and interior. What's not to like? In a word: Geometry. Take a 30yr old dedicated race car, stick modern tires on it, and race it against a modern high-performance street car (Say, a C5 Corvette). The C5 has a 30yr technology edge. Same goes for old Datsuns. Take a 510, tune and tweak the stock geometry with tuned spring rates, etc, and what do you get? Something that is about equal in handling to a moderately suspension tuned Miata with good tires.
"Project Fiat V-Spec" (old-timer 510 guys surely heard "Is that a FIAT?" in the '80's) is going to entail some radical suspension redesign. Not really breaking new ground (there's another strutless 510 running around, and us internet 510 guys all KNOW who THAT is), but taking what's been done a step further. In fact, this whole project is about taking what's already been done, one (ok maybe two) steps further. Oh, and keeping a signature quirk!
Without further ado, I present you with "Project Fiat V-Spec":
CAR: "Red" Our VG30DE 510
It's probably obvious why use the no-longer-currently modern VG30DETT in our case - it's simply an extension (of sorts) of our existing powerplant. The Project 1200's SR20DET would have probably made more sense, but SR20DET powered 510's are becoming more common just due to the fact they are an excellent choice for a major power upgrade to a 510, and I don't blame a single person for swapping that into any car - it's a proven, excellent engine. The problem is I have an ego. The ego trip of opening the hood of our 510 to reveal a completely filled engine bay is something that sadly, I have become used to and enjoy, probably more than I should. You don't have to be a 510 guy or even Datsun guy to see that it just does NOT belong there. That's the cool part - no explaining "well normally there's no turbo" or "normally it's a single-cam engine" to the uninitiated. The "HOLY SHIT" factor is there even for die-hard V-8 onlooker.
Another piece is, more than just my wife commented "Red's a V6 car - it was named 'Red' only after it got the V6 and had attitude, it should stay a V6 car". Impossible to explain, so I won't even try. Makes sense to me though :-).
Having rambled about the engine, in my mind the bigger effort will be the suspension. We're still in the planning stages, but it's pretty certain at this point very few suspension parts will be sourced from other cars. To get the geometry to where we want in the 510 means using pieces that compliment it's wheelbase, track, CG, etc, which very likely means scratch-built stuff. Like I said, we're still planning it out, but that's the general feel from here. There is no doubt the struts will go away and we'll create the second (known to me) "strutless" 510.
Ron Tyler (www.rontyler.com)- the same guy who put the VG30DE into Red in the first place - will be doing this project. It is FAR FAR beyond my abilities and frankly, past my motivation level when it comes to working on cars. Project 1200 made this painfully clear as there is no reason it isn't finished other than my lack of motivation to do the work. Enough about that...
Adapting the twin turbo setup will be difficult, but at least he has the freedom to redesign the front suspension at the same time, so he does get the benefit of being able to design each system around the other.
If you're wondering about specific performance targets like I submitted for my last two, you'll be shocked to find I don't really have anything too specific. Here's' what I gave Ron for suspension criteria (in order of importance):
1) Better geometry
So, taken in sum I am looking for an extremely quick, excellent handling, completely reliable street 510 that looks stock to the untrained eye. If someone is unfamiliar with 510's, then by looking at this finished project (unless the hood is opened), all they should notice is wider wheels and tires, and a rollbar.
In addition to that criteria, I do have some expectations on how the car will perform. I would expect very low 12-sec 1/4mi times, with 11's an outside possibility. Overall it should handle and stop far better than it does now, in spite of the anticipated weight gain of the two turbos and associated plumbing. A skidpad test will be in order, I'd expect something over .9G, but it will be a much better track day car than an autocrosser - at least that's my expectation.
What will I do with this monster? One word: Compete. Car & Driver and Michelin put on an event called One Lap of America (see www.onelapofamerica.com for details). Magazines like Sport Compact Car put on events like "The Ultimate Street car Challenge". This car will STILL be, first and foremost, a street car. It won't be tuned with an inch of its life for maximum power - very much OEM stuff as far as powerplant goes for maximum drivability and reliability. Look at it from 50 feet, and all you'll see is a fairly normal looking 510. Hell, looked at from any angle with the hood closed and thee will be little to suggest anything unusual.
Do I expect to have the ultimate 510? No. See www.bryanf.com for a few more radical examples. Even an SR20DET 510 will be a few hundred pounds lighter and have a nearly equivalent power/weight ratio and possibly comparable handling. It remains to be seen if we can design the suspension to overcome the weight penalty. Should be unique as hell though.