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Lantra Ball of Fun

Driving a 1.8 litre Hyundai Lantra is normally pretty ho-hum - but not when it parades a full Talon body kit and puts out 148kW at the wheels!

Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar

Click on pics to view larger images

This article was first published in August 2001. And now used Lantras are very cheap indeed!

You can just imagine the amount of fun that Peter Murdaca has behind the wheel of his 1998 Hyundai Lantra. Blitzing HSV Commodores and un-aware WRX drivers at consecutive sets of traffic lights must be hugely entertaining. Hugely entertaining! We were about to tell you that Peter's killer Hyundai is like no other, but - to be honest - it is.

It's massively upgraded by the second Lantra turbo kit that's been fitted by Sydney's Silverwater Auto.

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Peter had bought his new 1.8 litre Lantra sedan in '98 to keep as a stocker, but - being a self confessed fast car addict - he just couldn't keep his hands off of it. Things weren't helped by the fact that a local car mag had supercharged a Daewoo Lanos - and that was giving Peter big ideas! After having noted Silverwater Auto's involvement in the magazine's Lanos project car, Peter wandered down there and investigated the possibility of doing something similar to his Lantra. A displacement supercharger was what Peter had plans for. It just so happened, however, that Mr Peter Alexander - the main man of Silverwater Auto - had already started on a Lantra project: his wife's 2.0 litre station wagon! Peter (the one with the red sedan, that is) decided to hold off doing anything until he could check out how good the turbo kit was gonna be.

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In the mean time, however, his chilli red car scored a Hi-Tech 2-inch stainless steel exhaust system. Indeed, a better exhaust would be a good idea no matter if the car was turbo or supercharged. Externally, the curvy little Korean had been endowed with a Talon body kit - comprising side skirts, front and rear bumper extensions and a rear spoiler. BSA Racing 15-inch 5-spokes with 195/50 Dunlops were slipped on (to replace the ugly factory 14-inchers) and Pedders 30mm lowered springs let the body hug the bitumen a little better. Not a bad street-wise look you could say.

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The seemingly endless wait for Silverwater Auto to complete their development Lantra turbo kit sure turned out to be worth it. It didn't take much of a ride in their wagon to realise that the turbo kit could produce some serious mumbo. However, Peter had to bear in mind that Silverwater's wagon was powered by the larger 2.0 litre version of his 1.8 litre DOHC, 16-valve four; but - offsetting this - they'd retained the hugely restrictive standard exhaust system.

A decision was finally made; the turbocharger kit it was.

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Silverwater Auto installed all of the same primary components that had gone into their station wagon. This includes a custom cast exhaust manifold (HPC'd on Peter's request) and a roller bearing T28 turbo - together with the associated water and oil feed/drain plumbing. The intake path commences with a K&N pod air filter, later passing through a custom front-mount tube-and-fin air-to-air intercooler. This 'cooler is fabricated for Silverwater Auto by Queensland's PWR. Other gear included in the kit is a custom turbo dump pipe (again HPC'd for Peter), silicone hoses, an elaborate oil breather system and a re-circulating Ralliart blow-off valve. Interestingly, a set of four high-flow Bosch injectors is operated by OE re-mapped Siemens management system running a 2 Bar MAP sensor.

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The only area where Peter's sedan varies from the Silverwater wagon is its intercooler piping and exhaust. Peter's car uses a combination of 2 and 2½-inch stainless mandrel-bent piping between the filter and turbo, the turbo and intercooler and the intercooler and engine. (The wagon runs moulded black hoses.) Initially, the car also made-do with the carried over 2-inch Hi-Tech exhaust system. This was flowed easily enough to generate around 127kW at the wheels on 7 psi boost (running Shell Optimax). However, a recent upgrade to a 3-inch stainless system with a high-flow cat and a big rear muffler has allowed Peter to lift the boost to 13 psi and find a highly impressive 148kW at the wheels on a Dyno Dynamics dyno. And, yes, that's about the same at-the-wheels power as - say - a Tickford-enhanced Ford 5.0 litre V8!

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Now you can understand how much fun Peter can have tootling around and then pouncing in his killer Hyundai!

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The modern-styled interior of the Lantra is not too bad, so all Peter's had to in this area is install a Momo Club 3 steering wheel and knob (with red insets to match the body). Sound wise, the car retains the standard CD system. Oh, yes, plus Momo drilled pedals and a colour-coded red gauge surround has also gone on since our photo shoot. There is no boost gauge to give the game away (though the polished front-mount intercooler and the 3-inch exhaust tip don't help).

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Since taking new delivery of this car in December '98, Peter has now driven just over 32,000 kilometres in her. Four to five thousand of those kilometres have been with turbocharged power - and there haven't been any problems whatsoever. Having so much power, however, it's only fair that the original clutch is now very much towards the end of its useable life. Peter plans on upgrading that department soon, along with - maybe - some Koni shocks and drilled discs with hi-po pads.

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For us, it's refreshing to hear from an feature car owner who's so totally rapt in their highly modified ride: it's so rare to hear a story of no regrets. Having invested somewhere around $8000 in the high-power turbo conversion that's delivered perfect reliability, Peter's focussed on getting his kicks from egging on street battles.

By the sounds of things, his "under dog" doesn't get embarrassed very often!


Silverwater Automotive Services
02 9748 1300

Driving the Kit

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AutoSpeed were lucky enough to be loaned the Silverwater Auto development turbo Lantra Sportswagon for a day of hooning. So was it boring pedalling around in a Hyundai wagon? Nope, in fact the Sportswagon was one of the most fun cars we've driven this year - a sleeper of monumental proportions that performed faultlessly.

Using a very careful development process that retains the standard compression and uses re-mapped and very sophisticated (try individual knock-sensing on each cylinder!) factory management, the intercooled beast was an enormously impressive package. It pulled like a train, the transition onto boost being mild but persuasive - helped no doubt by the cast, short-runner exhaust manifold. Despite doing everything that we could to make the car detonate or otherwise misbehave, it simply refused to. In fact, in pretty well every respect, it drove like a factory-developed package.

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Well, maybe not, actually.

Not too many OE factories would release a car with this much FWD punch onto the streets. It's a lotta money to spend on a Lantra, but you end up with a lotta car as well...

Julian Edgar

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