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Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

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  • Fair!
    started a topic Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    ...or "How to build the perfect autox/track car for $2K"

    Starting the build thread for this project here on Vorshlag, but it will be mirrored on several other forums. Feel free to ask questions in this thread, but PLEASE BE CONCISE and don't quote the entirety of one of my gigantic posts, or I'll trim/delete them. Thanks!

    Inspiration for the look we're striving for on the Vorshlag "$2010 GRM Challenge car"

    Project Update # 1 - The Project Idea + Buying the Car: So I was on the phone with our ad guy at GRM recently and we got to talking about the various GRM hosted competition events. We discussed their UTCC event (Ultimate Track Car Challenge), which Vorshlag entered in 2008, and how extreme the entries have become (a $220,000 600hp GTP car won the 2009 UTCC event). I wasn't too keen on entering that again, but then he suggested the GRM $200X Challenge. Why doesn't Vorshlag build a car? I didn't think you guys wanted "shop built" entries? Sure, as long as you follow the same budgetary rules as other teams. Hmm...

    What is the GRM $2010 Challenge? A team builds a car with a budget of $2010 or less, then enters it in the Grassroots Motorsports annual event which consists of an autocross, a drag race, and a car show. Your best times in both competition events + your car show placing are factored and the winner is the team with the most points. Labor doesn't count against you so most teams use considerable fabrication, home brew engineering, and cleaver eBay buys to make for cool car concoctions. Every year the budget cap goes up by $1. Here's the 2009 rules:

    The Dirt E30 Team placed 3rd at the $2009 GRM Challenge in their turbocharged, box flared E30

    So... I started brainstorming some ideas with a few local gear heads and we came up with an outline that could potentially be a lot of fun: BMW E30 + V8 + wide wheels/tires/flares. We're already known for BMW's with V8 swaps, so why not do another one on the cheap? The Vorshlag LS1 powered E36 "Alpha car" also sold this week, and I already miss that car, so this E30 V8 project is a good way to begin the healing.

    Honestly, I've always wanted to build a GRM $200X Challenge car, but only if it could be fast as hell. We always had some crazy fast race car around the shop until now, so the timing is finally right. This ain't going to be like 24 hours of LeMons here... we wouldn't be wearing funny costumes or dolling up the vehicle like some clown car (although some GRM Challenge teams do "get in the spirit" like this - that's just not my bag, baby). GRM has recently updated the Challenge rules to avoid tube framed cars and have even closed the "Zamboni loophole", and the teams themselves can protest other teams for BS overspending now. They also allow for a few select safety upgrades that are outside the budget, such as a 4-point roll bar, harnesses, and even new OEM brake hoses to replace the old/rotted junk.

    Again, I only want to build a GRM Challenge car if it could be a legitimately fast track/auto-x car, and somehow tie-in with the Vorshlag business (maybe another V8 swap kit, based on things we learn in this project?). Hell, I'd even consider taking it to UTCC if it survives the $2010 Challenge. We already know that a lightweight BMW 3 series with a cool motor swap is fast, and with the right bits and tweaks it even handles and stops very well. We will have to build it on the cheap to meet the extremely low Challenge budget, using a lot of home built ingenuity and fabrication. That sure works for this crazy economy!

    The rules/points are somewhat biased towards the autocross results, but the drag strip times and car show results are still important. We'll focus mainly on the autocross performance and get it done early enough to test the crap out of the setup. Then we will "make it light", then "make it pretty", and at some point get it to the drag strip to test the standing 1/4 miles times, too. Reliability will be a very high priority task - I hate race cars that break!

    L: Cleaning underhood. R: "Uhh... we're gonna pass on this suggestion"

    This array of events and skills needed to build a GRM Challenge car fits my personal background (drag racing/autocrossing/fabrication), as well as many on the talented crew of volunteers we've assembled for the Team. After our first meeting this week I'll post up the names of the Vorshlag Challenge Team and some of their backgrounds. Hell, we might even have a better team name by then.

    Want to get in on the insanity? If you live in the North Dallas, TX area, think you have the talent to help build/paint/tune a V8 swapped E30, and are interested in volunteering your own blood/sweat/tears into this harebrained project, please drop me a PM. This is a purely volunteer effort, and this project won't be worked on by any paid Vorshlag employees. Our first team meeting is Thursday Nov 5th, 2009, @ 7 pm here at the Vorshlag World Headquarters (ha!), in the north Dallas area. We're going to meet to work on the car regularly on Thursday nights 2-4 times a month, and at least one Saturday a month. As an added incentive, we will hold a driver's shootout in the E30 among the active team builders at the time of its completion, to find the GRM event auto-x driver. Only team members that have "put in the hours" are eligible for the driver's shootout. Or if your name is "Lewis Hamilton".

    Here's the rust-free $500 Craigslist find we are starting with:

    L: McCall, Amy and I looked at and paid for the car in the dark (never smart). R: We dragged the car to the shop the next morning

    Its a 1986 BMW 325 coupe that doesn't quite run (fuel leak and dead battery), which looks a little raggedy, but has a partially restored interior with new carpet, seats, door panels, even a new dash. That's a lot of work, and it looks so nice that we're leaving much of the interior in place - which was not what we had intended to do. We were going to gut the car to the bone to get the lightest weight possible, but now we might leave it semi-street worthy, unlike the Alpha car. The stock 2.5L motor and 5-spd will be sold off to recoup some room in the budget, and we've already had some interest in that. This little gem was located about 8 miles away (sometimes you get damn lucky on CraigsList!), and team member, long-time Vorshlag Tester, and Z3M-LS1 builder Jason McCall and I dragged it to the Vorshlag shop using his truck and trailer.

    L: We lucked out with this pristine/restored interior and cool seats. R: McCall fixing the hood release cable (so we could finally see the engine!)

    L: Much of the car is disassembled. R: It cleaned up OK, but the paint is totally fried and the body is banged up

    In the next thread update I will detail the drivetrain choices we're looking at using in the E30. Its not going to be the typical V8 we're known for here at Vorshlag, as the $2010 budget does not allow for an LS1 swap, not even close. Instead we're looking at lower cost V8 motors from 1990's sports/luxury cars. Don't try to guess what we'll use, because we don't even know for sure yet, but the 3 potential engine choices we've narrowed it down to are all very cool engines. I will also explain some of the other non-V8 motor choices and cars we explored, but dropped, and why. Just wait for Project Update #2, later this week.
    Last edited by Fair!; 11-03-2009, 12:54 PM.

  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Project Update for July 31, 2012: The eBay auction ended last Sunday at noon, finally. It was a nerve wracking week of waiting (luckily we were insanely busy on another project, which kept us preoccupied), with over 6000 views of the auction, nearly 100 watchers, and 34 bids. When the dust cleared and seven days were up, the E30 had met reserve, selling for $18,000.

    To some of you that might seem like a lot for a "$2011" budget car, but in reality that's a fair price for what you get. It could have gone for more, but I'm not complaining. Remember, we had a LOT of labor hours in this car (say... a thousand+) and in 2012 upgraded major components that were originally purchased under the old $2011 budget, swapping them for proper parts that were well beyond that price cap. The new owner will be bombing around road courses in California soon, which is a perfect use for this car. Already paid for, title already sent out, transporter coming soon.

    The E30 has been sitting in our shop behind the Brianne Corn Racing 2005 Subaru STi Hill Climb car (under a car cover), waiting to be sold. We've been thrashing on this Subaru for two straight weeks doing way more work than should be possible in that time frame. You can read more about that project here.

    A couple of days before the auction ended I was surprised to see the eBay auction and a write-up on Bring-A-Trailer, where vintage and/or race car featured on their site. There were some funny comments on there, of course, like: "This thing looks like it just drove through a herd of My Pretty Ponies. And hit every single one." Cracked me up!

    Epic E30 Picture

    Here's a nice picture taken of the E30 today, that our new photo/media guy whipped up for fun during lunch. Wow. Yea, Brandon has skills (he took some of the most memorable pics of the E30 previously, like this one, and that one). We'll try to get him to take a few more shots of it before the car is gone. You can get a full sized copy of this picture above, if you want a desktop background. Great, great shot... was a composite image of 6 or so individual shots with unique spot lighting on each. Expect more amazing photographs on Vorshlag project builds, race event coverage, and product pictures than you've ever seen before. He's going to Pikes Peak for the week and we will have those photos to show later in August.

    Its going to be a sad day when this little E30 goes away - just like when we sold our silver STU-prepped 1997 M3 in February, or the E36 Alpha car in 2009. Having spent so much time working on this car, testing, tuning, upgrading, repairing - its always hard to let these long term, big effort projects go. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into this build. An extremely frustrating 2010 showing, then the amazing 2011 victory, and a rebirth with all new wheels/tires/brakes/suspension/drivetrain in 2012. I wanted to give a big thanks to everyone here who read the build thread, made suggestions + helped guide us through this project, who cheered us on, played "guess the engine" (you were good sports!), and to all of those that chipped in volunteer labor. We're going to have a party for the volunteers once this car is gone, too.

    Last edited by Fair!; 07-31-2012, 10:49 PM.

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  • jatoth
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    GO GO GO GO GO!!!!! If you need a place to store the car during the auction to make room for another car, I would then have a free space in my garage.

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Project Update for July 17, 2012: We are nearing the end of this project thread, as we've done the last tweaks to the E30 before it goes for sale. Here is what has gone down in the past two weeks on this little beast.

    Front Splitter Work Finalized

    The front splitter I showed in the last installment was not quite finished. There was a nearly 2" gap between the top of new splitter and the bottom of bumper cover. To effectively keep the air from going under the car or from pouring into the engine bay like a parachute above it, an "air dam" needed to be built to seal the splitter surface from the front bumper cover.

    We had looked at three different methods to fill this air gap: 1) With an air dam of sheet steel that attached to both the bumper and splitter, 2) A piece of metal that attached to just the bumper cover and laid on the splitter, or 3) Just a cosmetic plastic piece that sort of sealed the gap. After messing around with some materials and failed attempts at making a "quick and dirty" air dam, we went with a better, more time consuming option: a strong, free-standing structure of aluminum that bolts to the splitter and pushes snugly against the lower/front face of the bumper cover - for a rigid, nearly air tight seal. This air dam would not attach to the bumper cover, which should make splitter removal quicker.

    Vorshlag's fab man Ryan B. made a template of the bottom mounting face of the bumper cover in corrugated cardboard. Then the air dam itself was shaped around this template from a piece of 2" x 2" x 1/16" thick aluminum angle that was cut/bent/formed/welded into the matching shape. This took a couple of hours of shaping, fitting, and TIG-welding back together. The final result shown below is a strong, structural piece that weighed less than a pound.

    Once the shape was finalized and test fit several times, it was painted black and bolted to the splitter. It is shown below with clamps and Clecos holding it in place while the holes in the plywood were drilled. Pan-head 10-32 bolts were installed from the bottom with nuts and washers on the top of the aluminum, which are hidden out of sight.

    The aluminum was painted black and bolted to the splitter, then the final splitter/air dam assembly was bolted to the car and the four front support struts were attached (these bolt to the chassis behind the bumper cover). The entire splitter can be unbolted in a matter of minutes, with two bolts at the rear/subframe and the four splitter support struts up front.

    I test drove the car aroung the shop a few days later and the splitter worked fine on the street, as long as speed bumps and steep driveway inclines were "managed". It's a track and street-worthy splitter that is a bit more durable than most, and covers much more of the underside of the car than many splitters (it extends back to the bellhousing flange). Very happy with the final result, and we will likely build another like it for a dedicated track car soon.

    State Registration, Various License Plates, and More

    I had some novelty "euro" plates made up for this car and another project car we're building in house (we had a similar "VoRSHLAG" euro plate on the E36 Alpha car years ago) and I might add the "GRM 2011" plate to the front of this car, but not with any drilled fasteners. Like a lot of Euro plates, we'll just use some double-sided tape to secure it to the front bumper. Then again, I might leave it off and let the next buyer handle that, in case they don't like the idea. This car will also be sold with a mounted and framed copy of the 4-page October 2011 GRM article, a NASA log book, and a bunch of spares.

    The last formality for this car's "paperwork" was getting current registration completed and the car finally re-titled. I went to the local tax office to get new tags and the state sticker, and by my 2nd trip I had all of the right forms and signatures. Now this car is nominally "street legal". It has zero emissions equipment, so street legality will depend greatly on your local laws. Since the car has turned 25 years old, it's exempt from all emissions checks in the State of Texas, and just has to pass an annual safety inspection - your own laws may vary. We did add LED turn signals, fixed the horn, replaced + rewired the windshield wiper motor/arms/blades, and fixed several other exterior lights to make it pass the safety check. The electric windows still work, which is a plus - the car can be driven in the rain, but I wouldn't recommend doing so on the bald Hoosier A6s which are on the car (we swapped on some 285/30/18 Yokohama AD08s from another BMW we have to pass the safety check).

    Test Drive, Interior Clean-up, and "For Sale" Pictures

    Amy and I drove the car around Plano last Saturday to test the new spring rates, the cooling capability of the new electric fan, the splitter's streetability, and to find a good spot to shoot some pictures. The ride is phenomenally better on 450#/in front and 550#/in rears with the AST 4100s than it was on $10 shocks and 800/900# springs we used for competition in the $2011 GRM Challenge! The engine temps never went north of 185°F on this hot day, so that fan is working great.

    The guys at our shop also mounted a fire bottle to the roll bar and cleaned up the interior. Lots of vacuuming, detailing, and finish work was knocked out last week and the interior pictures came out great. The dash pad, door panels, and steering wheel are in near perfect shape - surprising given what this little car has been through. The fact that this was always a Texas car and the interior's condition was why I bought this car in the first place. The new "knee pad" panel added under the steering column was a nice addition, covering up the factory wiring and under-dash area, thanks to an eBay find.

    Several little dash opening "block off" panels were made in our shop out of aluminum, painted, and then bolted into place. The auxiliary gauges added before the 2011 GRM Challenge event are also visible here. Nice and tidy in there, but it's still no show car - more of a "clean race car look". The 4-point roll bar that we had powder coated in crinkle-black finish looks pretty darn good, and makes for a nice in-car camera mount and a place to hang the G-Force harnesses.

    There is a pair of I/O port seat back braces bolted to the cross bar as well, for more on-track safety. The left side seat still has a slider and the seat back brace can be re-drilled for each driver's position. The trunk lid is lightened and held in place by three 1/4-turn Dzus fasteners. The hood is similarly lightened and held on by 4 hood pins. So yeah, it is more of a race car that can be street driven.

    The ride height is a tad low, so I will have the guys raise it up another 3/4" all around later this week. Makes for stance-y looking pics, but not a very realistic street ride. For track use it is fine though.

    That's all I have for now. Next up - gotta write the ad for the online auction. As soon as that is live, I will post up again and let you all know. It should be within the next couple of days, and I will let the auction go for at least a week.

    Get ready... I will update this thread soon with a link to the auction!
    Last edited by Fair!; 08-08-2012, 02:35 PM.

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Project Update for July 5, 2012: While other work was being performed on the E30 in the past two months, I kept seeing little things that bugged me - various fluid leaks that were easy to ignore on a $2000 race car, corners that were cut during construction to meet the budget, etc. Since this car has long surpassed any hopes of returning to $20XX GRM Challenge, I have held up the sale of the car so we could fix all of these issues.

    In late May, after a small fuel leak was temporarily fixed, I test drove the E30 around town (with a fire extinguisher inside) and it was... interesting. The car gets a LOT of looks on the street, as you could imagine. Whoever buys this car shouldn't be a shy introvert. After some miles around town I decided to soften the spring rates (900# is a bit much on the street) and found a few little things I wanted to tweak before we try to get the state safety inspection. We did some of these things and then the car passed with flying colors - its street legal now and never has to have another emissions check (at least in Texas) since its 25 years old.

    After the inspection was passed we knew there was still more to update. We've addressed all of the big stuff (new T5, fresh aluminum L33 5.3L V8, AST suspension, CCW wheels, second seat added, etc) and have been focusing on the little things. And of course, the "little list of little things" has snowballed into two months of work, to the point that we've gone overboard. But as I keep saying, for as much as this car is going to likely sell for (I've turned down three different offers for $15,000 so far) it's going to be worth it to the new buyer, in the end. Gone are the $10 shocks and $2000 worth of new ASTs are in their place. The 15x10" steel wheels have been replaced with 18x11" CCW 3-piece wheels. And on and on until we've got a substantial chunk of money invested into this car well beyond the "$2011" moniker. And I don't even want to contemplate how much work we did to the car before (with the volunteer crew of 15 workers) or after the Challenge event (at Vorshlag, by our technicians)... it's too painful to try to put a value on 1000+ man hours.

    Driveability and Reliability Updates

    As I mentioned in my last post, the steering rack was replaced with a remanufactured E36 unit, along with the tie rods and is now 100% leak free. While the steering rack work was going on, we put in some more reasonable spring rates. The 800 #/in front and 900 #/in rears were pulled in favor of some 450 #/in fronts and 550 #/in rears, almost cutting the spring rate in half. We don't know who the next owner will be, or what he will use this car for, but I didn't want this the E30 leaving our shop sprung so stiffly; it was "unpleasant" on the 18x10s with 285/30/18 street tires and the old spring rates. In case you are wondering, 900#/in rates are outside of what off-the-shelf-valving AST 4100s can deal with effectively (duh!). With the new springs (Hyperco front, Swift rear) the street ride has improved immensely.

    There was also a small fuel leak that had started earlier this year, which come to find out stemmed from re-using some 25 year old fuel hose, to meet that insane $2011 budget. This is one of the areas that I think could be improved in the GRM Challenge rules - a little flexibility when it comes to safety items. The various CrapCan road racing series don't ding their $500 cars for fuel or brake parts, and now I see why. So many compromises have to be made on such a strict "dollar budget" build, but we can go back and fix all of that now - and we have.

    My buddy Ed owns a hose and fitting shop and he came by, worked with Ryan on the list of parts needed, and ordered a gaggle of AN fittings and a couple dozen of feet of -6 and -8 braided line. So after a day of measuring, cutting, fitting the hoses into the fittings, installing new fire sleeve to both engine bay lines, and then attaching the completed assemblies to the car with P-clamps, the E30 now has a fuel system "done right". Safe, leak free, good looking, and rugged as hell.

    Another thing I learned from my street driving in May, when I drove the E30 across town in stop-and-go traffic to get the safety inspection, was a tendency to run warm. It was almost 100°F out and the little OEM a/c auxiliary fan just wasn't moving enough air to cool the E36 radiator in the car.

    We ordered a single 2800 CFM electric fan, Ryan made custom aluminum mounting brackets to get it spaced close to the radiator, then wired it into the car with GM style weatherpack connectors, new wiring, a proper relay and a dash-mounted switch. It is wired to run when the ignition is on, but you can switch it off manually if needed. That puppy moves some air! The old evap fan went into the dumpster, where it belonged. There are tons of GM weatherpack connectors on this car now - everything Ryan has re-wired has been done so with these modern, water-tight connectors (these are the standard for use on race car wiring).

    Above you can see the new fan wiring work being completed as well as a shot of the interior (from a few weeks ago). Every auxiliary gauge is plumbed and working, and an oil leak was found and fixed on the engine during the process (the car is now 100% leak free - a first!). The bundles of OEM wiring visible under the driver's side of the dash will soon be covered by a replacement OEM lower "knee pad" dash piece and brace, which were missing on our car for the past two years that we've had it. This and some other interior clean-up work will be shown in our next update. The original dash is in PERFECT condition, as are the door panels - this was why I bought this particular car way back when, and we've managed to keep them in this condition through two years of thrashing.

    A Cosmetic Tweak + a Little Bit of Aero

    While the interior work will be shown in the next update, some exterior updates have also happened lately. Of course the "Art Car" theme improved the looks from 2010 to 2011, but we've been doing some other little bits as well. One thing that always seemed "unfinished" to me was the underside...

    Here you can see the massive expanse of "exposed underbelly". This makes for extremely poor under-car aerodynamics and an overall incomplete look. Since this E30 has an E36 front (and rear) bumper cover, and it has an LSx V8 underhood, there wasn't an easy off-the-shelf aluminum undertray or splitter we could just buy and slap onto this car. So I decided that we should make an undertray, and while we were at it, let's go ahead and make it extend past the bottom of the bumper cover to create a splitter.

    The 2011-2012 Leguna Seca splitter is $700 and made from ABS plastic

    What material to use? We looked at aluminum, Alumilite, composite, and even ABS plastic. The splitter on my 2011 Mustang is a 3/8" thick sheet of ABS (from the factory Leguna Seca), and it has held up remarkably well after many many months of street driving, autocrossing, and road course lapping. It only scrapes on an extreme driveway entrance angle, but so far this material has been completely unharmed by the occasional road scrapes, or crashing into cones at an autocross.

    So we priced a 4'x8' sheet of 3/8" thick ABS from multiple local sources... but when I saw the $450 price tag I nearly choked. When it comes to splitters, don't discount the low cost, rigidity, ruggedness, wear resistance, and ease of manufacture of PLYWOOD. I picked up a 4'x8' sheet of 5/16" thick plywood, and might even suffer the extra weight of 3/8" if we were to do this again. Splurge the extra couple of bucks and get one that's finished smooth on both sides. I have seen plywood splitters in club racing and pro racing paddocks for years... there is some stigma attached to it, so just call it "carbon-based, multilayer composite!"

    Step-by-Step Splitter Construction:

    Using plumb bob, mark the outline of the bumper on some corrugated cardboard.

    Mark the mounting holes by piercing the corrugated cardboard at any factory holes you can find, while mocked up on the car.

    We welded some nuts to open holes in the subframe.

    Transfer the corrugated template to the plywood, then cut it to shape using a jig saw. There is a small rectangular hole cut-out to clear the E36 steering rack, which has a slight protrusion.

    Paint or stain the wood in the color of your choice...

    Here the four mounting struts are shown, bolted in place. Two mount to the front core support and two were hung on some aluminum angle brackets Ryan made.

    The bumper cover was notched around the struts and re-installed.

    The lower mounting brackets that came with the struts were bolted to the splitter and the lengths adjusted.

    The final look worked out great! There is still a gap at the front from the bottom of the bumper cover to the splitter that needs to be covered up. We will use sheet metal to cover the gap from the splitter to the bumper, and I'll show this step in a later post. In the end this will clean up the underside airflow greatly, improve radiator airflow, and should even provide some front downforce at speed.

    Getting close!
    Last edited by Fair!; 07-21-2012, 03:32 PM.

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  • modernbeat
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Where's the pic of the hilariously large torque wrench used on the crank bolt?

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Project Update for May 16, 2012: Long time no update, right?! Well a lot has happened with our $2011 GRM Challenge winner over the past few months and now I am going to try to catch up the build thread with reality. There will be a few update installments as we are still wrapping up some final things this week. Something YOU can potentially be involved with is happening NEXT week! First thing this morning I got my June issue of GRM Magazine and what do I see on page 150? This ad (below left) for the $2012 GRM Challenge...

    Left: Page 150 of June 2012 GRM issue. Right: Cover of April 2012 GRM

    Not to mention the cover of the April issue, shown above right. That art car look is very photogenic! You can click on either picture above to see a full sized version. Now this April cover was the early artwork that they had before they photoshopped out the Vorshlag banner. Long story - stuff happens and it's mostly our own fault. Kumho deserves the space, as they ponied up the $$ for the event... and for the set of 315/35/18 Kumho V710s we won for taking the $2011 GRM Challenge. Amy and I have had a blast racing these Kuhmo's on our 2011 Mustang in both autocross and road course events!

    The fat loot from winning the GRM Challenge! Kumho V710s in 315/35/18 size being used on the front and rear of the Vorshlag Mustang

    After we got back from the GRM Challenge event last October, we had planned on several "upgrades" to the Scrap-E30. Since then we kind of got carried away and replaced a LOT of the junkyard parts we had used for the magazine shootout. Now that we are not restricted to a $2012 budget, there were so many things we wanted to fix, replace, or upgrade. We have replaced major components like the engine, transmission, wheels, shocks, springs, brakes, interior, camber plates, and more. It still looks similar on the outside, but so much of it is new and improved.

    Above left is the T5 that gave its life on the wet dragstrip at the GRM Challenge. The unit above right is a fresh T5 from a 2000 V6 Camaro in conjunction with a new T56 hydraulic throw-out bearing assembly (the old V6 unit still worked, but since we had it out we replaced it). Then we replaced the junkyard LS1 Camaro clutch and flywheel with fresh LS7 Corvette parts.

    The iron block 5.3L "LM7" we had used for 2 years of GRM competition was a bit of a heavy lump, and it had a nasty camshaft that made it a bit of an on-off switch. I had wanted to replace this with an aluminum LSx motor, so we swapped them once we had a replacement motor lined up. After a couple of months of looking we found a low mileage "L33" engine locally, which is an all-aluminum 5.3L used in a small number of GM trucks to save weight. We wanted it for the same reason - to lose 80 pounds off the nose of the car. It looked like this L33 engine spent most of its life in Oklahoma due to the red dirt "staining" on the bare aluminum, which is common in that region.

    After sealing up all of the ports, the block was pressure washed and scrubbed clean, and the red staining was mostly removed. Short of a full-on high temp acid bath, it's as clean as it's going to get. The insides of ports and heads looked clean with the intake and valve covers off, too.

    We swapped over the modified GTO oil pan, a Camaro LS1 intake manifold, and the truck coil packs from the iron LM7 onto the aluminum L33. We replaced all of the gaskets with new FelPro parts, installed a new PowerBond balancer + OEM crank bolt (which took a positively massive torque wrench - that was fun!), new NGK spark plugs, new serpentine belt, and some Castrol GTX oil for the first oil change flush (I always go with a quick 50 mile oil change after opening up any motor). It fired up on the first crank and runs like a champ - I have driven it around several times and now that it has street tires, it will be getting some street use (more on that in a bit). The stock L33 heads and cam are darned good, and I suspect it makes pretty close to the horsepower numbers it made before (which was 355 whp). The car has lost weight too (I'll take a corner weight picture of it tomorrow), so it should be as quick, if not quicker than before.

    This extremely budget restricted car has had numerous leaks, and each time it was moved we had to clean up coolant, diff fluid, power steering fluid, and sometimes fuel. When there's no money left to replace seals and gaskets, you do what you gotta do. Now that we are done with the $20XX budget event I wanted the guys here at Vorshlag (and yes, my own shop techs can finally work on this car on the clock, which is a huge relief! No more need for all-volunteer work effort) to get this thing "leak free".

    First up was the diff side and pinion seals, which were all replaced with new seals from BMW. Since the halfshafts had to be popped out to remove the diff, the sketchy looking CV joints and boots were replaced with a pair of new halfshafts - just because we can. The very used E36 steering rack in this car leaked ever so slightly for the past 2 years, but then a month ago it started puking fluid each time it was started (internal seal blew). We found a rebuilt E36 rack for under $300 and it went in this week (that was fun). We still need to chase down the slight fuel leak, which just started on Monday - the car is going on the rack tonight for a look. So now the little E30 is almost 100% house-trained. One more leak fix and no more "potty pads" or unwanted puddles.

    I will cover another gaggle of updates (brakes, seats, belts, coilovers, camber plates, CCW wheels/tires, lights, gauges, and state inspection?!) in my next project update, later this week. Why am I covering all of this now? Well... we need room in the shop for some upcoming V8 swap projects so we're going to sell this "$2011" beast. Just like the Vorshlag E36 LS1 "Alpha" car, this one is going to have an eBay auction, and all proceeds will go to the charitable foundation titled "Vorshlag LS1 Swap Addiction" (money from the sale of this car will fund our next LS1 swaps!). I will talk more about the upcoming auction in my next update.

    More soon,
    Last edited by Fair!; 05-16-2012, 07:10 PM.

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  • Shortcutsleeping
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Someone needs to post a pic of Scrappy in the comments section. Anyone have a jalop acct?

    cars and such...

    Leave a comment:

  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Project Update for Oct 27, 2011: Just had a few updates to the car to share, Costas' blog write-ups from the Auto-x Test and GRM Events, and a request for help located upgrade parts.

    Costas' Blog Updates

    Costas found this pic on the GRM Forums - The turbo rear engined Honda600 2-wheelin it!

    Let's start with the two GRM write-ups Costas wrote to his own website (, which are both very detailed, informative and hilarious. For those of you interested in his point of view about the event, plus his little side-trip to go fly a plane right before the welcome party, make sure to read up. He has different and a wider variety of pictures and details on some of the nicest GRM Challenge competitor cars, too. I learned several things about some of the other team's cars there, and I was at the event. Good stuff!

    Vorshlag Scrap-E30 Updates

    Our Scrap-E30 sitting on fancier wheels, parked at its new home

    Like I said in my previous post, we are not taking this E30 to another $20XX GRM Challenge again. The plan is to fix the issues we ran into due to budget compromises, and then see what we want to do with the car. Sell it to a new owner that will appreciate the big thumping V8, the engineering, the look, the racing pedigree (ha!), and the 1500+ hours of work we put into this car? Or keep it and continue to develop it for track use? Whatever we do, the transmission needs repair once again and a few braking system issues need to be addressed. We also need to install a passenger seat, two I/O port seat-back braces (from seat backs to roll bar), a 2nd 6-point harness, and some other little improvements and upgrades.

    Now that we are out of the GRM Challenge restrictions, and can actually spend some money and work on this car in the shop. With real Vorshlag employees wrenching on the clock we can finally get some work done quickly. AJ has already swapped out the non-M E36 front spindles/brakes/control arms for the larger M3 rotors, calipers, spindles, and arms and he and Ryan have re-bled the system. The 18x11's are back on for good, then the dead 15" HoHos will be removed and the shiny 15 x 10" wheels will be sold off.

    Aluminum Block LSx?

    One of the fundamental problems with the car was the heavy front weight bias... 61% on the front nose hurts everything. An easy way to remove 80 pounds off the nose is to switch to an aluminum block, so we're looking for a running, aluminum block, sub 100K mile longblock. Something like the all-aluminum L33 5.3L? Anyone have a lead?

    There's nothing wrong with the iron block 5.3L in the car, other than its iron block weighs so much more. We'll use this in another project or move it along. Any leads are greatly appreciated! We are always looking for aluminum 5.3L L33, 5.7L LS1, 6.0L LS2, and 6.2L L92 and LS3 engines, as well as '98-02 Camaro/Firebird T56 transmissions. Now that we are doing turn-key builds these are always on our shopping list.

    Transmission Repair or Upgrade?

    As for the trans, we have some easy options and some not so easy upgrades. We've thought about countless other transmissions we could use, like going to a T56 6-spd, but each has its drawbacks. The T56 is 125 lbs, and will likely require changes to the headers, which I am loathe to do. All of the external rail shifted 4-spds "seem" cheap but when you shop around for a nice M21, T10 or Toploader, they get up into the $1000-1500 range for rebuilt, close ratio units. And 4-spds are a step backwards from a 5-spd. We did make a trans crossmember for the 3rd gen Camaro V8 T5, and the 90-92 versions had great gearing and were "World Class" rated. They've gotten pretty scarce (and thus costly), and these would not work with our existing scattershield or shifter, and the LSx starter didn't line up, but at least the GM clutch and GM driveshaft would not need to be altered. Meh, its more unknowns and work for nothing stronger...

    The 3rd gen V8 Camaro T5 has not only been in the car, but we made a crossmember for it (dead end)

    One major point of contention against all of these other transmissions above: I have nearly $600 invested in this SFI scattershield, and I don't want to "toss that out the window". After seeing a T56 lose its input shaft and scatter parts through the aluminum bellhousing, I don't want to lose that added safety, either. Keeping the scattershield is going to alter the transmission choices, but I'm OK with most of the options. We can stick with the Camaro V6 T5 (easiest, cheapest option) and just finally break down and get one rebuilt and maybe even slightly upgraded (help on this is requested!). Couldn't afford more than a junkyard dog for the $2010-11 budgets, but a rebuilt and upgraded T5 might be all it needs to stay reliable. Avoiding shock-loading with any T5 is key, like not letting the rear tires hop-hop-hop under load or wheel spin wildly down a wet drag strip.

    Left: The two T5's we've played with. Right: 4th gen Camaro V6 T5 crossmember in the E30 now

    We could also use a Ford Mustang T5, but its not any stronger than the World Class 4th gen V6 box we have (300 ft-lbs), yet the gearing is slightly better. Then there are the "big brother" Tremec 3550/TKO500/600 options. All of these work with this scattershield but need new driveshaft and clutch disc. There's also the provisions on thie scattershield for a Jerico 4 or 5 Speed, but those are $2500+ used, and don't have synchros. That makes them harder to drive, which might limit the pool of folks that might want to drive it (or buy it).

    The Scattershield

    Quicktime SFi-rated spun steel bellhousing ($540 on Summit)
    Chevy 1999-2009, 4.8/5.3/5.7/6.0/6.2/7.0L, to Ford T5/Tremec Manual Trans., Kit Part Number: QTI-RM-6037

    Notes from QT's application chart for this part number:
    • Engines: Chevy LS1/LS2/LS3/LS6/LS7/LS9 SB/BB CHEVY
    • Trans: Ford TKO 500/600, TR3550, T-5 Mustang
    • Clutch Operation: Std LH Clutch Fork & Hydraulic Release Bearing
    • More notes from the QT product page: (looks like QuickTime has now been bought by Lakewood?!)
    • - 3D motion rendering of this part

    Specificaitons for RM-6037 - LS Bellhousing to Ford TKO 500-600/TR3550/T5 Mustang Transmission
    • Height = 6.925
    • Trans. Bore Ø = Universal 4.850/4.910 (looks like it has an adapter ring included)
    • Engine = Chevy LS-1, LS-2, LS-3, LS-6, LS-7, LS-9
    • Trans. = Ford TKO 500-600, TR3550, T5 Mustang/Jerico 4-5 Speed
    • Clutch Ø = 11"
    • Flywheel = 168 tooth or 153 tooth (LSx flywheels are usually 16
    • Weight = 22#
    • Full engine plate, trans ball and grade 8 bolts included
    • SFI Certified @ 6.1

    So this scattershield is staying, is made for an LSx block, and mates up to a number of Ford style transmissions. We got lucky and it also worked with the GM V6 T5 (which has a Ford front pattern for some reason), after we made a long pilot bushing for the block. This allowed us to use GM LS1/T56 clutch assembly and the Camaro V6 hydraulic slave/TOB. Cheap, plentiful, and it works.

    After looking around I can find a Mustang T5 for ~$500, and I've run across some Tremec 3550s for at or even slightly under $1000. The 3550 has larger shaft spacing & gear widths, so it is fundamentally stronger. Both of these choices will take a new clutch disc, new driveshaft input yoke, and some work cobbling together a working clutch slave (or worse - conversion to a fork and cable?!).

    So we're still contemplating the options. If we find a Camaro V6 T5 and a good T5 guru that can rebuild & upgrade it for us for a reasonable price, we'll probably go that route. We have 3 of these broken "cores" to rob for parts, but all have broken 3rd gears, so we need another "good one" to start with before any upgrading. And no, not going to do the $2500 Astro or G-Force upgraded T5s with custom gears and no synchros! I'm anxious to get it back out on track this year and another 4th gen Camaro V6 T5 this is our easiest path back to "running and driving." Whatever we put in there won't be some junkyard dog this time, that's all I know.

    I am looking for these used parts:
    • 5.3L aluminum L33 longblock
    • Ford style Tremec 3550/TKO500/600 transmission
    • 4th gen Camaro V5 T5 transmission
    • A T5 specialist that can do rebuilds/upgrades - affordably!

    Thanks with any help on finding these parts.

    Last edited by Fair!; 10-27-2011, 05:54 PM.

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  • clifton23
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8


    Leave a comment:

  • Shortcutsleeping
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Good writeup. Crosspost to, bimmer and r3v

    cars and such...

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    GRM $2011 Challenge Update - Part 3: Continued from above.

    As great as this event was from the beginning, this is where it took a turn for the worst, in my eyes. Much of this was Mother Nature's doing, but I feel some of the issues could have been handled differently and wouldn't have altered the final result. Just my opinion, but I think they rushed the track prep and allowed some drag racing in wet conditions that were unnecessarily dangerous. In the end I'm just glad nobody crashed or got hurt.

    Drag Race

    Saturday morning we were again at the track by 7:30 am, waiting for the gates to open. The weather wasn't good - skies were dark, looked ready to dump at any moment, and the radar showed a big red blob wider than the state of Florida "coming right for us!". We went ahead and got the car ready for drag racing by 8:15 am, and were more than ready for the drag strip to be opened at the announced 10 am. By 8:45 am it was raining, and we were discretely and quietly doing the happy dance. We knew that once the skies opened up it probably wouldn't stop raining all day, so the drags had to be cancelled, and therefore we should take the overall win.

    Au contraire mon frere! Right after the rain started we pulled our car under the covered covered arena / concours area and dried it off - the GRM folks had asked us to stick around Saturday afternoon after the drag racing for some photo shoots, which we were more than happy to do. We also wanted to take some more pictures ourselves, before we loaded the car into the trailer for the long tow back to Texas. It rained pretty solid for a good bit, then slowed up. We were about to go grab the front 15x10" wheels and mount those on the car, so we could get pictures on these wheels, but we were told to "stay ready for drag racing".

    Left: Weather RADAR at 7 am, at the hotel. Right: At 7:50 am, out at the drag strip site

    "What the...?!?" The pavement everywhere had standing water, the track surface was under water, the skies were still very dark and overcast, and the main weather system hadn't even hit the area yet. The PA announcers were adamant - they were going to dry the track off and get everyone at least one drag pass.

    We were doubtful that the track could ever be dried enough to be safe in the short amount of time before the next wave of the storm front rolled in, but we watched as the track crew worked valiantly to push/blow/sweep/burn the massive amount of water off the track. A local drag racer said "It takes about 2.5 hours for the track to dry out here, if the sun is out, which it ain't." Still, the workers kept at it and concentrated on drying only on one lane of the drag strip, and didn't dry anything past the finish line. We were warned to "not get on the brakes hard" after the finish, and to "only try to make the 2nd turn-off", not the first. If anyone crossed the center line, or had tire spin after the finish, or got on the brakes too hard, well... they were probably out of luck.

    "Is this really happening?!?" we said. There were a lot of confused looks, and we said we didn't want to drag race in the rain, no matter how much the drags added to the event. But then you have to realize - every team except ours + the organizers wanted the drag strip runs to happen; the teams all wanted the chance to move up in the overall standings, and the organizers wanted to keep the show on a roll. Many folks knew that a few teams would likely displace our top spot, and they said as much over the PA several times, so our safety concerns seemingly fell on deaf ears.

    Oh well, we're good sports and I drove into the staging lane, getting in line about 11th out of 48. Note: we didn't hang back, trying to get in line late and wait for the rain everyone knew was coming, because we were told "the drag race is going to count". So we had to get a time in, or risk falling way back, even possibly to dead last. Everyone lined up and waited for a couple of hours in the staging lane while they worked on drying the track. I felt rain sprinkles more than once, and the staging lanes were still plenty wet, but they kept at it.

    The Nelson wonderbug was first in line, and he made the first pass down the track about mid-day. The run was pretty scary (see the video here), and you can just barely see where he let off at about 1000 feet, because the car got sideways from the still-wet track. That could have been ugly. He still managed a 10.58 @ 114, letting off and without nitrous, and he mentioned his mph was way off (esp. for the E.T.), expecting to run 127 mph on motor. This is a 10 flat car, easily. Nobody else had built anything that fast for the drag strip. I don't know how you do that on $2000, but its not my event to police (as far as I know nobody has ever been protested or kicked out for any rules infraction). Cars kept lining up and making passes after Nelson's car, as it got slightly wetter and wetter.

    Videos - all 13 drag race passes start here, and if you hit "next" you can watch them in order. The E30 was the 11th car to go down the strip. It started raining at about car 9, and really started to dump by car 11. I don't know how car 12 and 13 made their runs, other than they were both fairly low-powered (16.0 and 16.2 ET's). Somebody had a moment of sanity and stopped the drag racing after car 13.

    Anyway, so I'm the 11th car in line. I kept edging forward as cars were going down the strip, with Costas talking to me on the radio. "Hey, its raining... they have to stop this." But I refused to give up. "Let's stay in line until they call it." He was worried - "Fair, this is insane... you have to pull out of line." me - "No, they will call it any minute now". "Terry, pull out of line now! You're going to get hurt!" "No, let's just baby it down the track and get some sort of time on the board - they told us the drags were going to count, no matter what." They didn't stop me as I got to the burn out box, where the windshield is covered in raindrops, because it was raining. I turn on the video. "This is insane!"

    Left: The in-car video from my one drag race run, fully captioned. Some audio is NSFW. Right: External video of run

    So I drive around the water box (no need for that, and I'm only on the Hoosier autocross tires anyway - we couldn't afford special drag slicks and additional rear wheels in our $2011 budget), did a quick burn-out in 1st, to try to dry the tires off. No stick at all in the heavily glued launching area, massive easy wheel spin, axles and tires hopping like mad. This isn't good, as we know that wheel hop and subsequent abrupt loading/unloading is what keeps breaking the transmissions. I line up, stage, and plan on a super easy launch. Still, I have to get a decent time in to try to salvage a top 5 finish, so I cannot take an "easy run" in the 14s, then work my way down to the 12 second ET in another 3-4 runs, like we had planned on if it was dry. I have to drive FLAT OUT.

    The lights come down the tree, and since reaction times don't matter I take it easy and launch at 1000 rpm, just off idle. The rear tires instantly go supersonic - its like driving on ICE! What the Hell am I doing, drag racing in the rain? I try a few light squeezes on the pedal, hoping for traction. The tires are just free-wheeling so I to back completely out of the throttle, tires hopping like mad, and reach for 2nd gear. CRUNCH! The wheels are going 5 times faster than the car so the synchros cannot cope. Finally in 2nd, I roll into the throttle ever so gently and WEEE! Tires spinning madly, hopping badly, there is zero traction. You have got to be kidding me! Shift into 3rd gear, roll into the throttle... spinning, back out of it, roll back in again... finally grip there, then... BANG! Something broke.

    Oh no, not again. 3rd gear let go again, but not from abusive speed shifting, it was the tires hopping from all of the damn wheel spin... because we're freagin drag racing in the rain! I was so pissed. This should never have happened. Coasted through the lights, transmission sending gear teeth through and eating itself. BANG! CLANG! CRUNCH! Coasting down the drag strip, across the line, rain is really coming down now, and I am having trouble seeing the opening in the wall for the 2nd turn off. Finally find it, still coasting, make all the way down the return road under momentum, find the timing shack, and somebody runs over hearing the loud crunching noises of the transmission to take a look. They look for fluid under the car, see that its a self-contained explosion, and give me the thumbs up. Its raining pretty steadily now but I see another car coming down the drag strip!!??!!

    I ask the timing shack worker "When are they going to STOP this!? It is pouring rain!! Someone is going to get killed." I grab my 14.6 @ 86 time slip, which you can see in the pictures, covered in water drops. A total of two cars were allowed to take passes right after me, in the beginnings of a downpour, but luckily they were slower cars. Then they finally stopped the madness after the 13th car. It was over, as the skies opened up once and for all. Costas is trying to hail me on the radio, asking what broke, and seeing if I need a tow back. Since we're familiar with this exact transmission failure mode, I tell him I can make it back under power, in another gear. I limp the car back over to the trailer and hop out, furiously mad. This didn't need to happen!

    Because we were drag racing in the rain, and had such ridiculous amounts of wheel spin, the tire hopping shock loaded third gear so badly that it broke the trans. What a waste. This transmission wouldn't have broken if we were running on a dry track, as I've safely run the same unit on road courses in the same 3rd and 4th gears, on the same sized/grippy R compound tires, lap after lap, without wheel spin or tire hopping issues. It only breaks when the gears see shock loading, from axle hopping or curb jumping, while under power. That's how I broke the trans at MSR in March - going over a big bumpy track section under power, with the tires on/off the ground.

    Post Race Pictures

    I took a moment to calm down, then brought the 15x10" front wheels out of e the trailer and mounted them in the rain, in record time. I'm soaked at this point but we half drove/half pushed the car into the covered concours arena for pictures. By now I realize, once again, that they have to throw out the drag racing so I'm in less of a bad mood. We broke the trans but at least we'll get the win.

    Video of post-drag racing meeting - announcement of drags not counting.

    A total of 35 entrants never got a shot at the drag strip, but it took several meetings and 2 hours before they decided to not count the drag racing runs in the overall score. They talked about counting the drags even though only 13 cars made passes, then discussed using "theoretical drag times", given to the officials by the teams, to judge overall placings. I can't make this stuff up. I don't understand the confusion - its not like this is the first time they had rain at a GRM Challenge event, where they had to throw out the drag racing. Its happened before and it will happen again - its in Florida, where it rains often. Per gave everyone the news that the drags were not going to count a couple of hours later, and we were relieved. We weren't really sure what they were going to do up until then.

    It made for a nerve racking day, both before the drags and up until they made the announcement. We stuck around and helped some other racers dry off their cars and take pictures, they did a video interview with me and Costas, and took a ton of pictures. Then we loaded up and headed to the race hotel for the banquet.

    Awards Banquet

    We got to the banquet about 3 hours early, since the rain cut everything about half a day short and we had checked out of our hotel that morning. I stuck around the lobby and listened to the same loud guy tell the same car story to about a dozen different groups of people, while Costas wisely slept in the truck. By 6:45 pm we went into the banquet room and grabbed a table. The food was excellent and we got stuffed. Since we planned on driving back to Texas immediately after the awards, we didn't celebrate with any alcohol, although that would have been a nice distraction from the stress of the past 2 days. They had an odd video presentation made by one of the competitor's (a joke on his car's name, Uranus), plus had a video slide show of pictures from the event showing while we ate.

    They gave out dozens of awards, but saved the autocross and overall awards for last. We were pleasantly surprised that Kumho offered up a set of free tires to the overall winner, and we thanked them profusely. When Per handed us the overall trophy he built, he said "Be careful - its heavy." Boy, he wasn't kidding! This thing must be 50 pounds, and its filthy dirty, but I've got it proudly displayed in our new shop's showroom anyway! We thanked everyone, loaded the trophy up into the trailer, then drove though the night, straight back to Dallas in a hair under 17 hours.

    Worth Every Minute of It!

    As much criticism and bitching as I've offered up here, we did have a really good time and I'm glad we came back this second year for vindication. The $2010 Challenge was such a disaster for us, and winning in 2011 made it all worthwhile. This was just a very stressful event for us, both in waiting for the autocross times on Friday and waiting for the rain/trans explosion/drags cancellation discussion on Saturday. By Saturday night it was a huge relief for it all just to be over.

    Yes, we got lucky and won the whole thing based on autocross + concours alone - but I've been on both sides of this "rain thing" before. I'm overjoyed with the overall win, and would have been more than happy with just the autocross win. Big thanks to all of the volunteers who helped build this car in 2009-2011! Cannot thank you guys and gals enough. We put so many hours into this thing - never could have pulled it off without all of this help. Thanks to Grassroots Motorsports, Kumho Tires, CRC, Racing Junk and all of the sponsors for making this event happen. Lots of fun, and I encourage others to build for and enter this event.

    What's Next?

    First off: We are not bringing our E30 V8 back for another GRM Challenge - we accomplished more than we set out to do with it, and the car is so imperfect for the GRM Challenge in so many ways. If we were to ever come back it would be armed with everything we know - from building the wrong chassis, making budgetary mistakes, and seeing what other teams have done (and gotten away with). We could make another $20XX autocross car that was easily 3 seconds quicker, for instance. I will talk more about what we think it takes to win in an upcoming post. I will also talk about the future of this car very soon - we're already working on several repairs, out-of-budget upgrades, and finishing touches on the little car.

    Thanks for reading!
    Last edited by Fair!; 10-24-2011, 04:58 PM.

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    GRM $2011 Challenge Update - Part 2: Continued from above.

    Our Goals for the 2011 Challenge

    We came to this year's Challenge with our little E30 with two goals: to do better in the concours, and to win the autocross event. Our auto-x testing showed we had made significant gains over our last year's set-up, and the Art Car theme looked pretty good to us. While our entry still didn't have any 1/4 mile development, we figured with what it weighs and the power it makes, that it should run a low 12 second time (if it could hook up and hold together!). If everything lined up we might snag a top 5 finish, and with some luck we could still theoretically pull out a win. With as much abuse as I threw at a previous T5 on a road course on 3rd and 4th gear straights, I knew the trans could stay together down a 1/4 mile drag strip, if we could avoid wheel spin and axle hopping. Who knows, right? Bench racing is always fun.

    Concours Judging

    So we get the car stickered up and roll into line at the concours area early, before all the judges had even arrived. Waited about 45 minutes while everyone showed up, they set-up the PA system and camera rigging, and got ready to start. We had the car cleaned up and ready to show.

    While Costas was walking the autocross course (5+ times) I pushed the car to the judging area, then laid out the build book, the NASA Log Book, the special 2011 E30 V8 Calendars we made for the team's volunteers, and got ready for be judged. A crowd quickly formed as soon as they started judging and we had some great comments about the car. They handed me the microphone and I rattled on about the build and our 2011 progress for probably 10 minutes, and then thanked the judges and took the car for its weigh-in.

    That part was a bit disappointing - as you can see, our car was far from a lightweight at this event again, tipping the scales at 2507 lbs. There were lots of top finishing cars in the 2000-2200 pound range, and the lowest weight I saw was 1300 from them rear engined Honda 600. Yikes. The front:rear bias on the V8 E30 was terrible at 61%F/39%R, and the cross weights were even way off (54%/46%). Clearly we had not placed the motor in the chassis far enough back to get the weight off the nose. This was from a combination of time saving and a conscious choice to not alter the firewall. Cutting out the firewall/dash and moving the engine way back would make the car not legal for almost any autocross class outside of EMod, and would remove a lot of the "street" features (wipers, dash, etc) that the Challenge rules say we were supposed to keep. We also chose to keep the full interior, all of the wiring, the complete/functional dash, steel body panels, and all of the OEM glass. This was half the reason we chose this particular car to build - it had a perfect dash, door panels, glass and carpet.

    Yes, we knew that to win overall we needed to build a completely gutted, if not fully tube-framed car, like some of the other consistently top finishing competitors. We had plans for a killer $2012 car that would be just that, but I was not sure I could get as many volunteers to ever donate this much time to a Challenge project again - and wasn't sure I could afford to spend as much of my time on a build like this.

    Autocross Event

    No matter, that was out of our control at this moment. We were through the concours judging and ready for the autocross. The skies were overcast and the weather report threatened of rain, so we waited for other teams' to run, hopefully cleaning the course off, and watched their times. It was a big game of chicken, waiting to see which top teams would go up first to take their runs. I suck at waiting, and with the rain potential I talked Amy and Paul into getting up there by 10:30 am, hours earlier than we originally planned. Costas wired up the radios, we stuck the video camera in the car, checked tire pressures, and Amy got set-up to take pictures. I forgot to turn the vidcam on, but we got videos from later runs.

    We could take 5 timed runs that counted (only 4 with a Pro driver), and Costas drove over to the autocross course area planning to just make 2 quick runs, bang-bang! This was to beat the rain, and get some clean, quick times in early. Sure, it might clean up more, and track temps could rise and add grip, but it could also rain, somebody could dump oil or have a wheel come off and make for a big delay (that actually happened, twice), so these were to be just some "Safety Runs".

    His first run looked great, but the dang finish timers didn't trip! We were frantically talking on the radio while I dumped tire pressure and checked the tires for heat after the run. They were warm, the car felt OK, so he pulled up for a 2nd run quickly, with no one waiting in line. His 2nd run looked great, but it was obvious the limited slip differential was toast, laying down a long black stripe from the right rear on corner exit. After his 2nd run, I gave Paul some bad advice on the radio: "push the braking points deeper!" On his 3rd run he was cautiously pushing the brakes harder into the big braking zones. The brakes still suck on this car, they got really squirrelly braking into the fastest section, and he had to drive around a corner and DNF to avoid a wall of cones.

    Left: In-car video from one of Costas' late afternoon runs. Right: Video of a built $2011 C4 Corvette, with motor running.

    So after 3 early attempts he had one good, timed run - but it was 2 seconds quicker than anyone else had run up to that point. Costas hopped out of the car and had 2 teams ask him to drive their teams' cars, but he politely declined - that's what the Pro drivers were for. And the Pro drivers looked good, with a line forming behind one in particular Pro driver (Alan - great driver & super nice guy), who put down most of the other fastest teams' times.

    The announcer talked about Paul's quick autocross time on the PA system and soon after some of the faster cars stopped waiting, coming to the grid to take some runs. There were several teams that got close, including the wonderbug, but nobody's car could match Paul's early run time. We waited and waited until late in the afternoon, when the sun was out and the track surface was up, to finally take his last 3 runs. At around 3 pm conditions looked perfect, but 3 more attempts at the course didn't result in a quicker time. His first afternoon run was only 3 tenths off his best morning time, but the brakes started getting worse and we ended up sitting on his first timed run. It was a nervous wait until the course was to close down at 4 pm, but our little E30 was still on top by day's end!

    There was some late day drama, with the Texas A&M team getting their car finally running minutes before the course was supposed to close. It was pushed started by the team and their own team driver made 3 quick runs, dropping 10 seconds between their 1st and 3rd runs, with laptop engine tuning in the pits between. For one attempt at a hero run they stuck Pro driver Alan in their car, but it crapped out at the starting line and he didn't get a good start. They then shut down the course and the A&M team members, Costas and I picked up the cones and helped load the trailer.

    We then got the car ready to drag race for Saturday - bolted on the skinny front drag tires, unhooked the front swaybar, and put the E30 back in the trailer. We headed back to town, got cleaned up, and went to the Friday night banquet (all 3 banquets are included with your entry fee). The food and beer were good - even better than Thursday's party - and we met some cool folks that sat at our table for dinner (Team CM Racing), and chatted up some other teams.

    We got to see the concours judging scores, and we were happy to be in 7th place out of 48 entries for that category. There were some AMAZINGLY clean cars there, with insane levels of detailing, so to be 7th was an improvement for us over last year. That score coupled with the autocross win put is in the overall lead by a small margin. With some seriously fast in the drag cars right behind us in overall placings, however, we knew our moment in front was probably short lived. Asking around for estimated drag times we felt that at least 3 cars would pass us after the drags were done. The ones we worried about were Matt & Matt's 4th gen LT1 Camaro, Nelson's wonderbug, and the Special K dodge.

    ---see part 3 below---
    Last edited by Faerus; 10-24-2011, 05:26 PM.

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    GRM $2011 Challenge Update - Part 1: Sorry for the delay, the past two weeks have been very busy here at Vorshlag, and I am finally getting caught up after being at the Challenge for several days. All of the new build tables are fabricated and moved into our shipping and assembly room, which de-cluttered that area considerably. We moved 7 cars into the shop area in the past week, and I finally wired up the new lift yesterday, so we're cranking out some prep work on our own cars + customer cars.

    Warning: this thread update is LONG. We have 950+ pictures uploaded and a lot to talk about (especially with our entry unexpectedly winning the whole GRM Challenge?!), so go grab a frosty beverage, sit back, and get ready to read about our GRM Challenge experience. I know some of you reading this are thinking of building a GRM Challenge $20XX entry, and that's great - it is a fun event. I hope after reading this thread you know more about what you really need to do if you want to win, and can learn from some of our mistakes (we made some big ones!). I try to be as open and honest as possible, don't pull any punches, and this version of the event coverage is from my point of view. It is based only on what we know from going to the GRM Challenge for the past two years, building our one Challenge entry, and is by no means all inclusive. Just our opinions, comprende?

    Pictures & Results

    Of course we snapped some pics, and maybe even went overboard. We took pictures with three iPhone4s, an iPad2, a Nikon D90 SLR, and even got pictures from another team's point-and-shoot camera (thanks to Team CM Racing/Tim Spellmen!), and also some video from the iPad, iPhones and my Sony 1080P vidcam. Lots and lots. Some of these upcoming vids are very enlightening to people planning to build a car for this event, so keep reading if you want to know more.

    As for the results, we took pictures of each results sheet as it was printed, and that's what I've got. If you go to full screen you can read it all clearly, so it works. One quick explanation on the points scoring system: 125 points is the perfect score. Up to 25 points from from concours, and up to 100 from the "dynamic score" of your ranking in combined autocross + drag time. The team with the lowest combined drag + autox time = 100 points for their dynamic score, and every other team's dynamic score is a percentage of that (team with lowest combined time / your team's combined time * 100). We had a perfect 100 for winning the autocross + 21.9375 in concours for a winning score of 121.9375. 2nd place was 120.3548. See? Look at the Overall Results to see the breakdown.

    My previous post covered the last minute thrash Art Car theme application and our 17 hour tow to Gainesville. Here's where I start our event report of the $2011 GRM Challenge. After we got unhooked we went over to the race hotel (we didn't stay there because parking our big enclosed trailer was impossible) for the registration party on Thursday night. Last year we were rushing in and out of this party, since the car wasn't ready, but this year we were as prepared as we could be, so we stuck around and had a lot better time. Ate some pizza, had some beers, talked to the GRM staff inside, then we walked the parking lot - and even with some light sprinkles of rain it turned into a car show. Lots of people were working on their cars, having some drinks, and it was good to catch up with some Challenge competitors we raced with last year. So many teams come back, year after year, that you will always run into a core group of racers you have seen before.

    We noticed some very cool cars in the parking lot, and it was obvious the level of competition had gone up for 2011. The Condor Speed Shop crew had their vintage, patina'd, wide-bodied & turbocharged BMW 2002, the rear engined, turbocharged "Honda 600" feat of engineering was beautiful (see how small it is, above), and the Texas A&M engineering students were thrashing on their 300ZX turbo powered Miata (above, right), which had decided to push the starter bolts out of the block the day before. There was work and bench racing going on everywhere, and it was well worth it to hang out and talk to everyone and see their cars.

    Friday morning we were 3rd in line at the gate, hoping to get a good spot for our trailer. We met some guys from Kentucky that had an 18 wheeler full of cars, including 2 green C4 Corvettes. While waiting, we saw two 2012 Boss302 Mustangs (including a Leguna Seca!) drive up and sneak in the gates, driven by the GRM staffers as part of their press fleet. The Leguna car was later used to let the Pro drivers get a feel for the course, and they set the baseline autocross time to beat of 46 seconds.

    Costas and Amy were still adding "art car" stripes to Costas' new white helmet while I drove the trailer into the pit area. We unloaded the E30, which was still on the pretty 18x11" CCWs, and took a few pictures with the sun coming up. Then we swapped on the 15x10" steel wheels and got the car ready for concours. After waiting in line 2+ hours last year, we wanted to be the first in line for concours this year, and we were. Since we had everything ready before we left, Costas and Amy only had to install a few event sponsor decals + the Kumho "windshield" banner, which they put on the rear "windshield".

    The Kumho Tires truck (a one man show; he solo drove the rig from California to Florida and set-up their area by himself - great guy!) was setting up a big covered display while Georgia Tech's Wreck Racing massive student team unloaded their hugely-winged, now roots supercharged Lexus V8 powered Miata. They have a phalanx of team members' bodies surrounding their car all day - it was hard to even get a close look at this beast.

    As expected, all eyes were on the popular returning teams with crazy cars, like Nelson's V8 "wonderbug" and Wreck's supercharged and winged Miata. Apparently Nelson put back together a previous year's Challenge entry (with the same nitrous-fed, monster SBC V8 motor and chassis that seems to end up under all of his Challenge cars) in a short period of time, but now apparently had the car handling well, and of course its a low 10 to high 9 second drag car (if it ever needs to run that fast), so it was expected to do well overall. Wreck Racing brought their Challenge winning Lexus V8 Miata back, but had added a huge rear wing and a big supercharger was now sticking through the hood, so they were also expected to do well overall.

    Observation: It seems that the wilder, more over-the-top, super-gutted race cars are more hyped and loved, photographed and published at these Challenge events. Builds that still have the interior, working sub-systems, things like windshields and working lights, more believable street car cars - not so much. Hey, I get it - wild and crazy sells magazines. Just realize that if you bring something that still looks like a regular car, its probably not going to get the same coverage as the wild-and-crazy, open wheeled, well painted (add flames!), super-detailed, tube chassis mega winged car. That's just how it goes. Not a gripe, and I'm not complaining - we bucked that trend and got a published article with Condor's E30 + our little flat-black E30 from last year's event, and as a build it was not as wild-and-woolly as many. With so many rear-engine conversions, crazy motors, ground scraping chassis, crazy paint jobs, and giant wings its easy to miss the sedate looking sedans in this field. So if you are building for the GRM Challenge with the intent of doing well and getting in the magazine, you better go over the top (chop the top off!) and don't hold back.

    ---see part 2 below---
    Last edited by Fair!; 10-25-2011, 10:03 AM.

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Project Update for Oct 11,2011: First off, lets get the good news out of the way before I start with this post...

    Vorshlag E30 V8 Won the $2011 GRM Challenge!!!

    If you didn't hear yet (Costas and I were uploading videos, pics and details on Facebook during the GRM event), our little E30 V8 took the autocross win (with Costas at the helm), we placed 7th in the concours showing, and the drag portion was rained out (lucked out on that front). The points added up in our favor and we took the overall win - we're still in shock, and extremely grateful. Nice job for the Vorshlag GRM volunteer build team, and nice driving Costas! More details about the event will follow in another post later this week - we gathered 978 pictures and videos (!?) that I'm still cropping, editing and uploading. This little update today is just covering the bit we held back from you, our awesomely patient fans....

    BMW Art Car Exterior Theme

    Below are some pictures of the car we took our exterior inspiration from. This is a V8 powered BMW 3 series with giant flares and a colorful look. What more could we ask for? This is a perfect fit!

    We try to hold back something for every build project like this, that we can unveil at some major event. This time the "hold back" was the much-hinted-at, all new exterior theme, shown at the top of this post. Earlier in 2011 I started thinking about a re-theme on our Challenge car. Since we didn't plan to do a lot of updates this year - we didn't add any different hard parts in 2011 - we had to do something new. Most of this year has been spent refining the suspension set-up, but that doesn't "show well", so I picked the Jeff Coon's Art Car, the 17th Art Car BMW has commissioned an artist to make an exterior theme. This one was from an E92 M3 V8 run in last year's 24 Hours of LeMans, shown in 2 pics above. You can learn more in this article.

    It was a very striking, colorful look that I felt would work well to spruce up our boring flat black paint scheme, and I figured it would photograph nicely - and boy, it does. There must have been 1000 pictures taken of this car last weekend. Every time you looked up, there was a camera. Everyone LOVED it. Anyway, back in the planning stages, we had no idea how it would look on our crapcan E30. Amy liked the idea, as did Costas and some of the rest of the team. The ones with good taste.

    We started gathering scrap from a local sign shop a while back (when vinyl gets too thin to run through a plotter they just throw it out - lots of usable thin strips) and ended up with most of the colors in the Coons art car, so the Sunday before the GRM event we started getting the E30 ready for a new look.

    Before we began on the colorful theme there was a little house cleaning on the E30 to do. Starting last Sunday, Oct 2nd, at about 9 am the E30 was taken to the new Vorshlag shop, vacuumed out, the underhood area was washed and detailed, the LR fender damage was hammered out, and the front fender arches were re-trimmed - all before the new graphics started. Long time GRM team volunteer and SCCA racer "Big Paul" came by with his hammers and dolleys and worked on the rear fender ripple, which was caused by an errant cone that stuck between the rear tire and the fender lip at the $2010 Challenge. Paul spent about an hour on that fender and got the rippled area flat.

    Next up, the front fender arches never lined up with the E36 front bumper. The flares we made were a bit rushed and the arches were off by a good 1.5" at the leading edge. We meant to make a filler panel but never got around to it. This bugged me every time I saw the car, so I spent 30 minutes with the left-hand and right-hand tin snips and re-trimmed the front edges of of both front wheel arches. It was so simple - don't ask me why I didn't do this A FREAGIN YEAR AGO, but whatever - its done, and they finally look right. A little semi-flat rattle can paint and it was good to go.

    Now it was about 11 am and time to remove the old vinyl from the car. The E30 sat outside for much of the last year, so that stuff was ON there. We let it sit in the hot sun for an hour and started peeling, then rotated the car and did the other side. That left a LOT of heavy adhesive residue behind which we spent 3 hours removing with Goof Off and shop towels. Yuck! We left the "" windshield banner, rear license plate decal, and Texas flag roof decal on from the old theme, but everything else came off.

    The worst of the adhesive was from the old $2010 GRM number boards - if you store your Challenge car outside get these off quickly or you will regret it later (or store the car inside and show your GRM pride!). I rattle canned a few areas black where the old black primer was worked a little too hard with Goof Off and came off. Then we washed the car thoroughly and brought it inside the new Vorshlag shop to dry (this was the first time the E30 was at the new shop). By now its 2 pm and time to order some pizza.

    Before the car was even inside Costas had started cutting the scraps of colored vinyl into various thickness strips. He just laid them on the hood to get an idea and we thought aloud - "Hey, this might actually work?" It was pretty easy to lay out the pattern of colors with this many eyes, and the stripes started going on quickly. Costas, Big Paul, McCall, Amy and I started laying them down, with Costas' expert vinyl guidance overseeing every step. I was put on "radius" duty where I freehand-cut the leading curves and trailing points, plus trimmed back each panel gap crossover. We worked like a machine for about 7 straight hours on the vinyl stripes...

    Eventually McCall had to head home in his other black E30, as did Big Paul (who came and went twice that day, between his own project work), so Amy, Costas and I stayed until 11 pm and got the sides and hood done.

    The three of us then came back Tuesday night after work and finished the trunk in about an hour and a half. The "not in budget" 18x11 CCW wheels were swapped on for the tow out to Gainesville, and also to snap some uber-cool pics! (look for this pic with the CCWs in our next GRM ad, as well as on our NASA log book cover in my next post)

    Rolling the car outside while our new 2-spot lift was installed Wednesday morning at the shop I snapped these iPhone pics below - wow, the colors really popped! OK, I'm feeling better about this rainbow look more and more...

    Wednesday morning we plotter cut the number boards to match the actual BMW LeMans entry's side number boards, with a similar font for the numbers, similar sizes on the white and orange side boards, and similar theme on the wording. The BMW had "24 Houres de Le Mans" at the top of the number boards so we used the same font and got GRM to send us their art file for the "GRM flag logo" and made ours say "$2011 GRM Challenge" (nice idea, Matt!), but written in French like the actual LeMans car.

    When we slapped on the first orange "side board" decal on, Jason and I knew immediately that the vinyl was too thin - we could see the colored stripes through the orange. So we had to double up on the white and orange side boards decals, which was quite fun seeing that I was laying these down over several abrupt body line bends and side rub strip channels. With the red and black lettering on the upper white boxes, this made for 4 layers of vinyl to lay down - and we were rushing it, as we were quickly running out of time to load the car and leave. It was a small miracle that I didn't tear or wrinkle anything badly, but we laid it down wet and got it all to line up extremely well. We figured it could all dry on the tow to Florida.

    Then we laid down the "TTU" classing boxes (which is the class we ran the car for the March NASA event), which was also a difficult, 3 layer lay down over body lines. We spent a good 2 hours installing the side number boards, but man, they looked GOOD and totally completed our exterior art car homage. Last came Costas' idea of some "ghost Vorshlag graphics" inside one stripe on each corner. This subtle color difference was one of those things that sneaks up on you - one of the concours judges mentioned he really liked it.

    Scrap Art Car -> Scrap-E30

    So that's the story of our "Scrap Art Car" theme - since we made almost all of the graphics from hand-cut scraps of vinyl we got for free. With the scrapyard motor, scrapyard trans, scrap metal yard trunk floor, and scrap yard diff/brakes/more, the obvious new name for the car was "Scrap-E30", and little Scrappy was looking good when we put it on the trailer. We didn't know how people would take it - would they think it was the lead float in the pride parade, or would they "get" the art car theme were were going for? We texted pics to a few close friends and they all LOVED it, so we crossed our fingers and stopped the graphics (we wanted to make another number board for the hood but ran out of time - and patience).

    The car was loaded in the trailer with the decals still wet, along with lots of tools, some spares and various "trip junk". Costas and Amy both brought enough food to feed an army, so we had to massive coolers in there as well. Costas, Amy and I left from our shop in Plano, TX, at 7:30 pm Wednesday night, en route to Gainesville, FL - just 1060 miles away. 17 non-stop hours of uneventful towing later we pulled up at our hotel, about 6 hours early for the Thursday night welcome party. To kill time, Costas drove to some manufacturer's shop about 30 miles away and freagin flew a kit plane with an LS1! He's crazy like that - always finds some cool detour to go do involving cars, planes or guns. Amy and I crashed out at the hotel and slept, waiting for GRM Challenge registration to open.

    OK, I'll stop there and cover the $2011 GRM event details in another post (or posts) later this week. Write-up, video, and about a thousand pics to follow.

    Much more coming up...
    Last edited by Fair!; 10-11-2011, 08:28 PM.

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