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Old 09-20-2005, 10:59 AM   #1
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f-body for drag car?

not sure where to post this. hello all. it's been about a year since selling my 94Z. i turned to the darkside for a while and went with an 03 Ford Lightning (don't worry, my other two vehicles are chevys, i just needed something that could tow and drag race). been bracket racing it this year and while it's pretty fast (8.1 @ 84.5 in the 1/8th) with very minimal mods, it's very inconsistent due to the supercharger. So now I am considering my options for a true drag car, something for Footbrake classes (non electronics) that runs consistent mid 7s in the 8th (11s in the quarter) and will last for many passes and many years.

I was thinking about a 4th generation firebird/TA or camaro. It would NOT be driven on the street so that opens the door a lot. I'd pull the LT1 out and put something else in, carburated most likely, crate motor or something, strip a lot of the interior, maybe tub it some, heavy duty rear end, bulletproof auto trans, full rolll cage. i'm not dealing with the LT1's ignition system and I don't want to learn to tune the ECM. So my question is what would you guys do? I'd love to see anyones cars who have done this already and what their setup is. A major question I have is could I just get a V6 body/frame since I'll be pulling the drivetrain and powertrain out anyway? What would is a bulletproof transmission for these cars? I guess the dash cluster would become totally useless or could that be rigged to work for say the tach and speedo (probably doesn't matter). How much would you guys estimate a setup like this would cost?

Thanks for any input or pointing me in the right direction.
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2005 BMW 330ci | 2002 Suburban 2500 LT 4x4 | 1980 Camaro Footbrake/Mod drag car, 377 cubes, TH350 (IHRA div 1) | Previous power toys: 1994 Z28 A4, 1994 Z28 M6, 2003 Ford Lightning (420 rwhp)
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Old 09-20-2005, 01:18 PM   #2
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Re: f-body for drag car?

IMO...having a fast 4th generation is fun because for the most part...around here many of them are not fast (at all).

That aside...I would first determine how much you would like to invest in the car and then start looking around on a site like www.racingjunk.com .

You might be able to get a very good deal on a car that already is what you want.

I would consider an old school car if you really have no desire to run FI...good, mild big block chevy can get you mid 10's and pretty much never give you problems.

Good luck.
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Old 09-20-2005, 02:48 PM   #3
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Re: f-body for drag car?

Another thing to consider is your budget... When you start adding up all the suspension & chassis parts you can do to a 4th gen F-body you begin to realize they are far from the mmost econimical choice out there
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Old 09-20-2005, 02:55 PM   #4
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Re: f-body for drag car?

thanks. i'm not much into the old musclecars. originally i was thinking about 1st gens, but cost seemed to be prohibitive due to the demand and collectibility. right now i'm thinking 10-13k as a budget and of course i can see a really nice setup doubling that easy. i want to keep it simple, something in the 400rwhp range, lightweight. it will never be ran on the street.
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Old 09-20-2005, 03:00 PM   #5
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Re: f-body for drag car?

I would guess about $40K having someone else do the work. I would start out with a 6 cylinder hardtop with as few options as possible. Best transmission option for bracket racing is a powerglide. I still have the "stock" computer and FI and sometimes its hard to dial. SMC is cheaper to build than a LT1. IMO camaro's are lighter than the firebirds. I think it would be cheaper to find a turn key 4th gen.
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Old 09-20-2005, 03:05 PM   #6
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Re: f-body for drag car?

9.0's@150 for $18K turnkey

10.8's for $7500

High 6's 1/8 car for $6000

Low 10's on motor Fox body for $12,500

Just a few of 100's of cars there....
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Old 09-20-2005, 03:10 PM   #7
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Re: f-body for drag car?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CANTONRACER
Rub salt into a wound. Guy I work with just got a nice El Camino to bracket race. Rollbar 406smc turbo 12 bolt, etc, $7000. I got more than that in my engine. Sad part is that I would be luckey to be able to sell it for 1/2 of what I got into it.
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Old 09-20-2005, 04:23 PM   #8
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Re: f-body for drag car?

Get a tube frame car with a mild big block running alcohol and a 'glide. For brackets you want a car that is "over-tired" and doesn't spin (at all) getting off the line. Anything with much power that is restricted to a 10" tire is not going to be consistent. The Lightning was inconsistent not because of the SC but because of a lack of traction, primarily. That, and the computer trying to control too many things.

Look at the 60' times of sucessful bracket cars. They aren't typically blinding quick but should be mind-numbingly consistent. I bet your 60' times were all over the map with the Lightning, relatively speaking. They need to be consistent down to a few hundredths to win at the brackets.

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Old 09-20-2005, 04:40 PM   #9
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Re: f-body for drag car?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rskrause
Get a tube frame car with a mild big block running alcohol and a 'glide. For brackets you want a car that is "over-tired" and doesn't spin (at all) getting off the line. Anything with much power that is restricted to a 10" tire is not going to be consistent. The Lightning was inconsistent not because of the SC but because of a lack of traction, primarily. That, and the computer trying to control too many things.

Look at the 60' times of sucessful bracket cars. They aren't typically blinding quick but should be mind-numbingly consistent. I bet your 60' times were all over the map with the Lightning, relatively speaking. They need to be consistent down to a few hundredths to win at the brackets.

Rich
i was thinking th400 or powerglide.

Traction has never been a problem in my Lightning. I run 28 x 11.5" Hoosier Quick Time Pros (Dot slicks) and i can't recall them ever spinning to my knowledge. But my 60' times were well slower than other folks with same power level. I finally concluded it to just be the nature of my stock torque converter which seems to stall lower than normal.
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Old 09-20-2005, 08:13 PM   #10
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Re: f-body for drag car?

The TH400 will net quicker times for car with a relatively lower power:weight ratio due to the much lower first gear ratio (2.48 or 2.75:1 vs. 1.76 or 1.82:1) and the smaller steps between gears. But the 'glide is the most consistent drag racing tranny. It's not for nothing that it's what see on 90+% of bracket cars, even heavy ones. Lower gear sets are available, but that makes a bigger jump to high and they may make it more difficult to control wheelspin.

Were your Lightning times consistent? By that I mean REALLY consistent. In the context of brackets, your 60' times better vary by no more than half a tenth or you will be at a disadvantage. Good bracket cars usually don't turn a wheel, maybe a few revolutions at most.

Rich
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Old 09-20-2005, 08:30 PM   #11
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Re: f-body for drag car?

A budget? Ha! Calculate how much of a budget you intend to spend then triple it to come up with a closer answer.

The cheapest route is to buy a turnkey car. Having someone else do all the hard work is cheaper than your own experimenting. I've added and changed a lot of things on my car since I bought it and although it's a lot getting closer to what I want, I'm still changing things.

If you want to run real cheap, buy a street car, put some slicks on it to help consistancy and run it like that. Replace stuff that eventually breaks.

Very few people will be racing in any kind of class racing. Just about everyone will be a bracket racer. Speed means nothing in a bracket race so going faster doesn't do anything except make your wallet lighter. If you do want to do something special, make the car into a Stock Eliminator car. An LS1 fourth gen running low 10's with full interior and limited engine mods on a 9" slick is still pretty impressive. Not sure what the LT1's are running.

I love my glide. I have the torque to get me out of the hole quickly with the 1.76 first gear and I only have to do one shift around mid track.
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Old 09-20-2005, 10:46 PM   #12
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Re: f-body for drag car?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CANTONRACER

this car is sick, id love one minus that scoop
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Old 09-21-2005, 05:04 PM   #13
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Re: f-body for drag car?

Here's a few pics of my 4th Gen. F-body drag car. It's got a 383 LT1 with Accel Gen 7 DFI connected to a Turbo 350 and a Strange 12 bolt. It's got stock style aftermarket rear suspension with a Spohn adjustable torque arm, Eibach drag springs and QA1 adjustable shocks and BMR subframe connectors. Up front we installed a BMR tubular K-member and A arms, QA1 shocks and springs, a pinto manual steering rack, Aerospace lightweight front brakes. Got rid of the ABS and power brake booster. I took out both front and rear bumpers, and installed a Be Cool alumimium radiator. I also replumbed the front brake lines so they don't go across the K-member so when we remove the motor for any reason we don't have to break any brake lines.

We pretty much stripped out everything not needed, windshield wipers, headlights, interior, and everything behind the stock dash. As you can see from the pics of the Gen 7 ECU. We stripped out the factory wiring harness and rewired it with just the necessary circuits, i.e. Start, Ignition, Fans, Water Pump, Lights, and Linelock. I replaced the factory gauges with Autometer ultralites in a gauge panel I fabricated out of ABS plastic. You can see that in one of the pics. The Turbo 350 is controlled by a Hurst Pistol Grip Quarter Stick. The car weighs 2800 lbs. w/o the driver, and runs mid to low 11's at 118MPH with a very consistent 1.59 60' My best time is in my sig. I haven't gotten a chance to run it this year with the converted Stealth Ram and distributor as some unforseen financial problems have limited my budget.

http://community.webshots.com/album/131356229hMaXFm
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Old 09-21-2005, 08:08 PM   #14
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Re: f-body for drag car?

A factor that no one has yet mentioned is the convenience of maintenance. I currently have a 4th generation firebird running in NHRA Super Stock. Nearly half of the engine is under the cowl and is fairly difficult to reach for engine installation, valve adjustment, plug changes and other normal work. If I didn't have a removeable transmission tunnel it would be even worse.

A good alternative would be a 3rd generation F-body. It would be cheaper to buy, it is relatively light and easy to make lighter, it has the same short wheelbase (101") for weight transfer, uses the same excellent torque arm suspension, and is infinitely more user friendly under the hood. Having run Camaros and Firebirds of practically every configuration, if I were starting over I'd be looking for a clean 3rd generation body to begin with.
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Old 09-21-2005, 08:51 PM   #15
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Re: f-body for drag car?

I cut my cowl off right at the firewall. My BBC is pushed back as far as it will go and I can still pull the heads off the engine while still in the car. Of course I also don't have a heater assembly or a brake booster in the way.

I agree that working on any engine in a fourth gen is difficult especially with a high maintenance race engine. Unless you do some major modifications like making a large removable tranny tunnel to access the back of the engine, any sort of work you do to the engine will get annoying real fast.

My engine is so easy to access I can yank it out and have it sitting on an engine stand in less than 90 minutes. 60 minutes if I really push it. Depends how much I pull off the engine before yanking it out. It's easier to pull if I take off the tunnel ram first.
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87 IROC ET Bracket race car 540 alcohol big block
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Best 60 foot: 1.293
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Old 09-21-2005, 08:51 PM
 
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