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obsolete GRM+ Memberand Reader
4/20/21 9:54 a.m.

THATS a swap!

Berkeley yeah it is! I missed this the first time around, so it was fun to catch up on all the progress to the current day. Looking forward to following the rest of the way.

newrider3 Reader
4/22/21 11:15 a.m.

Got a junkyard Ford 7.5 rear end stripped and mocked up. This is going to be a huge beef upgrade over stock. Plan is to shorten using two early Ranger short side axle shafts to end up within .75" of the original WMS width. 



Just squeaks past the fuel cell cage.


Started mocking up a cheapo eBay aluminum radiator and fans. Much googling of dimensions and images led me to go for a S13 240sx SR20DET radiator. Fits like a glove (we already slightly widened the core support opening to fit a junkyard Prizm rad and fans with the last engine), and outlets are the perfect size and location for the H27a. Just making lower mounts and a new upper core support piece. 


I call this *plenty* of clearance :p


OE Suzuki XL7 lower rad hose works perfect for the upper with a trim, will probably use the same part number for the lower hose as well.


singleslammer GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
4/22/21 8:34 p.m.

Cool project! I have an 81 rotting in my yard that I have been thinking hard about for the last day or two. 

accordionfolder SuperDork
4/23/21 12:11 a.m.

Well this is awesome.

bobzilla MegaDork
4/23/21 7:41 a.m.

Love these engines. Glad you're fixing theweak point (main chain tensioner).

newrider3 Reader
4/23/21 9:34 a.m.

Upper core support finished. Think I'm even going to go so far as adding tabs to hold the grille in.


noddaz GRM+ Memberand UberDork
4/23/21 12:05 p.m.

Amazing work you are doing there, BTW I noticed this.  Stock engine, the oil filter is bigger than one of the cylinders...

Shavarsh Reader
4/23/21 1:02 p.m.

Very cool, following along

Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
4/23/21 1:50 p.m.

Sweeeet! What's the engine managment plan? Isn't that a direct injected motor? Canbus issues?  

newrider3 Reader
4/23/21 1:59 p.m.
bobzilla said:

Love these engines. Glad you're fixing theweak point (main chain tensioner).

Do you have experience working on these? Care to elaborate about the timing chain system faults?
Suppose I'm shooting myself in the foot if I bought one of those cheap eBay chain/tensioner/sprocket/water pump/oil pump/etc kits?



Thanks for all the positive comments, glad to know people are watching and enjoying.

bobzilla MegaDork
4/23/21 2:23 p.m.

The main chain tensioner (lower passenger side, little box with a plunger) was redesigned in mid 01 IIRC. The big culprit was incorrect oil used way too long. I will have to check I may still have a new OE tensioner I can send you. We did one on our 01 GV and the tech lost it... then found it a month later. He jut gave it to me in case it went again. 

GM > MG New Reader
4/24/21 12:46 p.m.

Nice build, interesting choices. Great fab work there too, very clean.

But an Auto? Hurts my Racers Heart...

broken heart

malibuguy GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
4/25/21 6:38 p.m.

I breifly considered this engine for my Malibu due to the super low weight and weirdness 

newrider3 Reader
4/26/21 9:27 a.m.

Had the team over this weekend to do some work. Tore out most of the electrical in the car as it's easier to redo completely to match the new engine/trans/digi-dash/computer box; pulled the engine to allow me to finish weld all the various mounts; started cleaning and scraping greasy crust off of components. Also took the plunge and cut down the axle tubes on the 7.5; no turning back now.
Also started painting my new parts as they're finished; just because it's a hooptie-ass Lemons car doesn't mean it has to be ugly and hacked. 



RandolphCarter New Reader
4/26/21 9:50 a.m.

Love the progress so far.


Are you changing up anything in the front suspension, or are you going to run Toyota 4 lug front / Ranger 5 lug rear?

newrider3 Reader
4/26/21 1:03 p.m.

In reply to RandolphCarter :

We're machining the new axles to match the front; which is somewhat easier since the Starlet is 4x114.3 compared to the Ford 5x114.3; so we can reuse one wheel stud hole.

malibuguy GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
4/26/21 7:12 p.m.

Great work.

4lug fox axles from 2.3 car wont work?

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) UltimaDork
4/26/21 7:34 p.m.

In reply to malibuguy :

4 lug Fox axles are 4x108 PCD. I re-drilled mine to 4x100, but 4x114 should be doable, too, but getting the right axle length would be an issue. By using two short side Explorer axles you get the narrower overall width that a Starlet requires.

malibuguy GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
4/26/21 8:12 p.m.

I had no idea they were 108.  I just assumed they were 114.3. 

Well.  E36 M3.

newrider3 Reader
4/26/21 10:43 p.m.

We're using two short side early Ranger axle shafts, which are the shortest stock 7.5/8.8 axles available; at 26.25". Even short side Explorer axles are too long for this car.

Ben_Modified HalfDork
4/27/21 6:25 a.m.
newrider3 said:

We're using two short side early Ranger axle shafts, which are the shortest stock 7.5/8.8 axles available; at 26.25". Even short side Explorer axles are too long for this car.

If you want to go narrower, my v8 hijet uses the two short side axle route from a postal jeep in the form of a Dana 44.  It came in limited slip with either a 3.07 or 3.73 being the common ratios and I believe a few came with a 4.10.  As an added bonus, you can go back to the salvage yard and grab the wheels off the Vitara and they will bolt right on!  If you want to go 4 lug, here is a link to for that conversion.

4 lug link

Overall width from the outside of each tire with stock vitara steel wheels is 52"


newrider3 Reader
5/5/21 9:32 a.m.

I unfortunately didn't get any pics of the process, but as of this past weekend we got the axle jigged together and ready to weld. Checking with long straightedge and tape shows we're within 1/8 degree of straight in both camber and toe. 

We bought some thickwall 2.5" DOM and turned down the OD slightly to make an interference fit with the inside of the Ford axle tubes. Pounded it all together and it came out dead nuts with no real adjustment needed for straightness.


Crossmember has been painted and installed, Rustoleum Industrial "gas meter" gray. I even scraped and powerwashed the engine bay. Really too bad there was so much stock paint missing from brake fluid and battery acid leaks, the remaining red really cleaned up well. I squirted some primer on the bare spots after taking these pics. Really contemplating painting the whole bay white.


Whittled out an oil pan flange from 1/4" steel using drill press, plasma cutter, and angle grinder flap wheel. Started by clamping/bolting the OEM pan down and using a transfer punch to mark the holes. 


Started the same process for the intake manifold, until I realized the scrap of diamond plate was upside down and would have the textured side facing the heads where it couldn't seal the gasket. Waiting for fresh new material to come from Stock Car Steel (damn they have good prices) so I can start again. 



Also adapting a 2000's Corolla/Prizm brake master cylinder without booster, as we just realized the stock Starlet booster/master were hashed and very hard to get parts for. We already swapped in '93 Subaru Legacy front calipers in the initial build, so now I'm going to match with rears from the same car since they're just sitting in the shed. Our "that sounds about right" maths say the 21mm Corolla master should be about perfect with the Subaru calipers and manual brakes. Adapter still needs a little drill+tappy-tap and counterbore action. 


Feels like the scope creep is continuing and more and more things get added to the to-do list every workday, but I'm still mildly hopeful that we'll get some testing before the BFE GP in four-ish weeks.


newrider3 Reader
5/16/21 11:05 p.m.

Progress report; *because racecar* we're getting down to the wire with lots of work still to do before the BFE GP in just a couple weeks.


Totally unnecessary and unimportant considering we already had good wheels and tires, but the car will finally have the wheels it always deserved.


Ignition is going to be handled by a Jeep distributor (mechanical advance only) wired to an HEI module, driven with McMaster Carr timing belts and a custom adapter attached to the Suzuki cam position sensor housing.

Yes, forstner bits work great on aluminum, and cut closer to advertised size than a holesaw.


Got my new CNC plasma up and running just in time to cut parts like the intake manifold lower flange and some control arm tabs.


Shortened 7.5 rear axle tubes are fully welded, two passes with stick weld. Welds look like Frankenstein's monster's butthole because all I had was 6011 rod, but it's definitely permanently stuck together.


Scary Suzuki timing chains installed, engine is starting to get buttoned up for good.


Oil pan fabrication is almost done, just needs baffles, final welding, and pickup tube mods.


Cross your fingers that we get all the little piddly jobs done in time to get this thing fired up soon.

metty Reader
5/17/21 9:52 a.m.

that distributor drive is bonkers and very creative. Did you guys consider using a speeduino or something like it to do electronic spark control instead?

newrider3 Reader
5/17/21 1:53 p.m.
metty said:

that distributor drive is bonkers and very creative. Did you guys consider using a speeduino or something like it to do electronic spark control instead?

Of course, just no desire. Fabrication is more fun than laptop tuning. See some detail from our other Lemons car, 1UZ swapped Volvo 940:


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