Magazines:  Real Estate Shopping: Adult Costumes  |  Kids Costumes  |  Car Books  |  Guitars |  Electronics
This Issue Archived Articles Blog About Us Contact Us

FWD Fiends

A pair of owner-modified front-wheel-drives to shake up the establishment!

Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar

Click on pics to view larger images

At a glance...

  • A pair of owner-modified front-wheels-drives
  • 4G63-powered Mitsubishi Lancer coupe
  • CA18DET-powered Nissan EXA
  • Feet-on-the-ground mods
Email a friend     Print article

In a world that’s gone mad with AWD turbo machines and brutish rear-drives, the humble front-wheel-drive has become a punching bag. We’ve heard the put-downs a thousand times – “you can’t get the power down, you can’t drift and you can’t pull a decent donut,” people say...

Well, keep telling yourself that when one of these front-drive machines blows your doors off!

Xtreme EXA

Check out this relatively stock looking Nissan N13 EXA - chances are you’d never pick it punches out around 190kW...

Nick Heuschele of Queensland previously owned an older Nissan N12 EXA fitted a high-flow exhaust, intercooler and upgrade turbo. It was nothing sophisticated by today’s standards but the sub-1000kg weight of the EXA contributed to its speedy performance.

Click for larger image

After growing tired of the N12, Nick updated to a 1991 N13 EXA. The car he purchased was a bit of a roughie, but a bargain nonetheless. Oh, and we should point out that Nick already had an interchangeable 1.8 litre DOHC turbo (CA18DET) half-cut on its way from Japan!

The engine that arrived on the wharf turned out to be from a Japanese-market Nissan U12 Bluebird SSS 4WD. This worked out well because the Bluebird’s CA18DET is mounted transversely like the engine in the EXA – a longitudinally mounted engine from a S13 Silvia/180SX would’ve made the conversion much more difficult. As it turns out, the conversion was a relatively straightforward exercise that Nick completed with the help of a friend. The biggest problem was splicing the Bluebird SSS wiring and computer into the EXA.

Click for larger image

Fitted to Nick’s EXA, the twin-cam turbo engine breathes through a 3 inch exhaust, K&N pod air filter and Hybrid-type 600 x 300 x 75mm air-to-air intercooler. The custom mandrel-bent intercooler plumbing is wrapped in insulation to keep under-bonnet heat pick-up to a minimum. A high-flowed Garrett T25G (ala SR20DET) was an easy bolt-on upgrade that provides considerable mid to top-end grunt. Boost pressure is set to around 15 psi using a simple bleed and the standard Bluebird SSS computer remains in service.

The transverse CA18DET was mated to the original EXA 5-speed gearbox without hassle and Nick used the Bluebird SSS clutch. Reaching out from the EXA gearbox are stock N13 driveshafts, which have so far proven problem-free. Nick says they’re pretty beefy shafts.

Click for larger image

At nearly fifteen years of age, the original EXA suspension felt pretty tired so Nick upgraded to set of lowered King springs teamed with Monroe dampers. With the exception of EBC pads, the brakes are standard ‘91 EXA fare. Nick points out that 1991 Nissan EXAs were upgraded to disc brakes at the rear – earlier models used drums.

Cosmetically, Nicks EXA is neat and useable rather than over the top.

“When I bought the car it was completely stock - a bit rough and covered in stickers,” says Nick.

Click for larger image

These days you won’t find many stickers and we’re told that a re-spray is on the cards. The only visual mods are 17 inch ROH alloys wearing 205/40 tyres and a polished canon rear muffler. The front bumper has recently been modified as well.

One of the biggest attractions of the N13 EXA is its removable roof. Nick regularly enjoys cruising with the roof stowed in the boot listening to his newly installed DVD head unit. Ahh, life is sweet... And when he’s not driving, Nick watches television on an Alpine 8 inch screen.

He might as well enjoy the time spent waiting between battles with AWD turbos and rear-drives!

Lively Lancer

Click for larger image

Nicolai X owns this 1995 Mitsubishi Lancer coupe that packs Evo-like power under the bonnet.

What originally started as a 1.5 litre base Lancer coupe (complete with steel wheels and hub caps!) has been transformed into a low 13 second butt-whipping machine.

Nicolai hauled out the original 1.5 litre clunker at home and installed one of Mitsubishi’s most formidable performance motors - the 2.0 litre DOHC 4G63 turbo. He bought a second-hand Japanese-spec 4G63 ‘Cyclone’ motor and fitted it in his coupe using custom fabricated mounts and cross-member, a hydraulic clutch conversion and plenty of fiddling around.

Click for larger image

To avoid blowing standard Lancer gearboxes on a regular basis, Nicolai installed the turbo engine's 5-speed ‘box. However, because the engine came from an all-wheel-drive Galant VR4, Nicolai had the transfer case removed and gearbox modified to deliver drive to the front wheels. An Exedy heavy-duty clutch prevents slip and a short-shifter reduces time wasted between ratios.

While the gearbox is plenty strong, the front driveshafts are another story.

At present, Nicolai relies on a combination of Mazda, Mitsubishi and Rover driveshaft components to take torque to the front hubs. There have been a total of nine driveshaft failures, but Nicolai says raising the engine position slightly has improved shaft life. There have been no failures since re-mounting the engine.

Click for larger image

In standard guise, the J-spec VR4 4G63 uses a relatively small TD05 14G turbocharger and generates around 147kW. But it pushes out considerably more in Nicolai’s Lancer. This extra power comes thanks to a MicroTech LTX8 programmable computer, high-flowed turbocharger, full-length 3 inch exhaust (with a heat wrapped dump pipe), K&N pod filter, HKS adjustable cam gears and a TurboSmart Type 2 blow-off valve. With the standard J-spec VR4 intercooler chilling 18 psi worth of boosted induction air, the car outputs 172kW (230hp) at the tyres.

A far cry from the original carby engine with just 65kW at the flywheel...

Completing the mechanical makeover are slotted DBA front discs and a front suspension tower brace. Despite using standard springs and dampers, the car rides slightly lower than standard – this is due to the extra weight of the 2.0 litre engine and associated turbo system. The battery is relocated to the boot to aid weight distribution and create more useable under-bonnet space.

Click for larger image

The already attractive coupe body is spiced up using a Lancer Evo 3 kit, which required custom modification to the side skirts. The towering Evo 3 rear wing has also been left out of the picture. Those factory steel wheels and hub caps are a thing of the past with gold-painted BSA 17s and 205/40 tyres now filling the wheel arches.

Click for larger image

Inside, there are red/black OBX seats with a matching custom gear boot, AutoTecnica steering wheel and red painted trim pieces. You’ll also find a Blitz turbo timer, Hybrid electronic boost controller, drilled pedal covers, an aluminium gear knob, fire extinguisher and Speco gauges for boost pressure, rpm, oil pressure, oil and water temperature. A Kenwood CD/tuner head unit sends signals to Clarion 6 inch speakers at the front and Kenwood 7 x 10 rears.

With a decked-out interior, Evo body kit and heavier engine, it’s no surprise Nicolai’s Lancer coupe weighs around 1130kg – about 100kg more than stock. But these few extra kilos are no problem when you’re talking 350 percent more power than standard – it’s no wonder Nicolai has scooted down the quarter mile in 13.3 seconds.

Thirteen-three? That’s not hanging around!

At this point we should probably avoid scaring AWD turbo and hi-po RWD owners and leave out that Nicolai is considering set of forged pistons and even more boost.

Oops – too late!

Did you enjoy this article?

Please consider supporting AutoSpeed with a small contribution. More Info...

Share this Article: 

More of our most popular articles.
Wrapping-up our brilliant DIY electronic car modification series

DIY Tech Features - 10 March, 2009

How to Electronically Modify Your Car, Part 13

Less than 1 litre/100km fuel economy from this stunning concept vehicle

Special Features - 3 May, 2011

Volkswagen's Eco-Stunner

How to use files to smooth and shape

DIY Tech Features - 17 January, 2008

Using Hand Tools - Files

Looking at the worth of bio-fuels

Special Features - 17 April, 2008

Biofuels: Friend or Foe

Buying and using a lathe

DIY Tech Features - 29 November, 2007

Making Things, Part 8

DIY flow testing of the intake

Technical Features - 31 July, 2008

Free-Flowing a Miata MX5

Ten great home workshop ideas

DIY Tech Features - 16 May, 2008

Useful Ideas

A home-built jet-powered kid's scooter...

Feature Cars - 23 January, 2007

John's Jet Madness!

How to get the best out of a bench grinder

DIY Tech Features - 8 July, 2008

Using Bench Grinders

Not a flat six in sight...

Feature Cars - 3 March, 2009

The Electric Porsche

Copyright © 1996-2019 Web Publications Pty Limited. All Rights ReservedRSS|Privacy policy|Advertise
Consulting Services: Magento Experts|Technologies : Magento Extensions|ReadytoShip