Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Loko shadow!

Not long after the last race, we came across a craigslist ad for a 1987 Dodge Shadow. What with the Mystery Machine having blown yet another engine (and another pick-n-pull replacement in storage, waiting to be swapped in) and us pining for a 5-speed, we thought, what the hell?

The Shadow was for sale from a nonprofit, the Clean and Sober Homes of Santa Cruz. That makes the purchase price like a donation, right? It's practically altruism. So of course we bought it, stiff clutch and suspected broken motor mount and all, for $200.

(The fact that it came from a nonprofit came in really handy when we got pulled over while transporting it with expired tags. That, and the cop had friends who were LeMons racers. He was very nice about the whole thing.)

Here she is, the Shadow herself:
From Lemons dec 2010

Note the "turbo" on the hood and that stylish hood bump (almost like the turbo is really big and takes up all that extra space! Which it isn't, and doesn't.):
From Lemons dec 2010

This is a 2.2L Turbo I, the earliest version of the K-style Chrysler turbo engine. This engine line is the finest of mid-80's American economy engineering. It's not actually a great engine (after all, we've blown up 2 in a row) but what it is, is familiar. We've spent a lot of hours scouring the internet for minor technical details, we have a really complete service manual for a slightly newer version, and we know where all the bits are. Hard to walk away from that.

From Lemons dec 2010

The Shadow is quite a bit lighter than the van, and a 5-speed (the van is automatic), and it has a boost gauge (and hidden hatchback versatility!) so though it's not what you'd call a fast car (though it was the "sporty" version of the model line, that's not saying much), it's a whole hell of a lot faster than the van.

We were so excited we took it to an autocross for shakedown. Lined up beside subarus and mitsubishis and lotuses, it got about five times the tech scrutiny of any of the other cars, and I was about 10sec slower across the course than Rob in his Infiniti G37, but goddamn, it was fun to drive! I only lament the lack of photos.

A general worklist for the shadow:
- suspension. when we got it, pressing gently on the corner would make it rock like a boat on the ocean for about half a minute. Fortunately, stock shock replacements were $16 each from kragen. A whole $16! We did spring for the nice springs, but even those weren't exactly pricy.
- replace all fluids
- bleed horrible black chunky stuff out of brake lines
- cage, seat, kill switch - we sent it out to TC design to take care of all of this. A roll cage is something I'm pretty comfortable paying a professional for, since I want to live to get very old.
- new wheels & tires
- strip interior (it was nasty, and anyway, race cars don't have interiors)
- remove sunroof, replace with metal plate
- apply theme

Still to do:
- plugs & wires
- replace turbo oil line. Leaks like a rubber hose with a really big hole in it. That isn't really a metaphor.
- replace busted motor mount. For reasons known only to some chrysler engineer in 1985, the back mount was a weird little shock (a bobble strut!) which isn't considered a "wear part", but which no longer provided support or resistance of any kind
- replace valve cover seal (also very leaky)
- new brake pads (and optionally, rotors) in front. The backs are drums; if they give us any trouble we'll probably just disable them
- fix third brakelight
- fit the harness, fire extinguisher, transponder & wink mirror (from the minivan)

Yesterday, we painted it. We went back and forth on theme, but finally settled on a general and timely favorite theme... 4Loko!

The plan:
From Lemons dec 2010

The car, in progress:
From Lemons dec 2010

I won't lie, I'm pretty excited. Get some numbers on her, she'll be a real race car.