I have always wanted to build a car, but before now never badly enough to actually get started. The starting point for this build was a 1989 Isuzu Pickup. It is unconventional but circumstantial. The truck was mine, thought of well, and since I’d always wanted to build a car I held onto the Isuzu when I bought a new truck. The Isuzu engine is a 2.6l in-line four, single over-head cam and fuel injected, and is connected to a five-speed manual gearbox. The rear axle is fitted with disc brakes. The Isuzu was stripped of almost all but the fuel tank, starting me off on a single-donor build.
The Isuzu was originally to be the starting point for a Speedway Motors 32 Ford ‘Loboy’ roadster, but the expense of the necessary hot rod bits (tall radiator, straight front axle, etc., etc.) kept the project in limbo. A friend introduced me to the LOCOST 7, through his interest in building a Birkin. By moving to a LOCOST platform I could use more of my suspension bits, and possibly even my radiator (a radiator suitable for the 32 Loboy was one of the killer costs for the hot rod project). The switch was rational, but I admit that I think a LOCOST is nowhere near as attractive as a 32 Ford Loboy.
Building a frame would have made this project genuinely low cost but ‘forever-delayed’ and so I bought a nearly complete non-standard frame from COLD: +4 wide and +1 deep frame with some ‘Aussie mods.’ The extra depth was desirable to accommodate the tall Isuzu engine, and the width the wide Isuzu gearbox and bell housing. The near-complete frame also recognized that the automobile engineer used by Nova Scotia for approvals of one-offs and hot rods was reputed to frown upon chassis welding done by unlicensed hobby welders (or maybe just bad welding – my own dealings with him have always been quite positive). The frame was sent without suspension brackets, in view of my non-standard suspension. The rear end of the frame turned out to be built for a deDion rear end and the front end is reminiscent of the Collins design. (Summer 2008: not a good time to be shipping things with fuel surcharges driving shipping costs from BC to Nova Scotia to around $750!)
Before I made much assembly progress (well, before any progress really) my ‘Birkin friend’ discovered that his JDM Nissan S-15 SR20DE Autech engine and six speed gearbox wouldn’t fit in his Birkin, so my single donor strategy became diluted by a Nissan engine/gearbox. There are two advantages and one disadvantage: a 60,000km Nissan vs. a 195,000km Isuzu and about 4 inches less height for the Nissan, against the need to Megasquirt the Nissan, since it came without an ECU. I would have had to have made a new, lower intake manifold for the Isuzu had I stayed with that engine, but would have had a completely plug and play electrical system, assuming that 20-year old electronics would still work.
Specification• ‘+4 wide, +1 deep’ LOCOST 7 chassis from COLD (This is actually a third-party build, completed by COLD)
o Roll bar from Kinetic Vehicles after COLD forgot to ship mine with the frame, and then went quiet
• 94 ¼ in. wheelbase
• 1989 Isuzu pickup donor
o 2.6l 4 cyl., fuel-injected engine, 120 HP (together with donor wiring loom), subsequently replaced (2010) by a JDM SR20DE Autech engine from a Nissan Sylvia
o 5 speed manual gearbox with Isuzu/6 speed with SR20DE
o Live rear axle on (leaf-spring donor to be converted to three-link coil-over suspension with WOBLink)
4.11:1 ratio open differential. An after market LSD is available, but I have not been able to find a numerically lower ring-gear set.
o 4 wheel disc brakes (on Isuzu uprights and rear axle)
o Steering wheel/column (possibly to be replaced by tilting column)
• Special order manual steering rack, tbd (originally to be Maval Gear, MII-based, but as of Dec 2010, likely to be MGB rack)
• After-market pedal box and master cylinders (w/o power assist), probably Wilwood hanging pedals with balance bar, unless Isuzu hanging pedal box found to be suitable
• 205R65x15 V-rated Continentals on 15x7 aluminum rims. The tire size was driven by the desire to maintain the Isuzu rolling radius before the engine switch (I wanted to reuse the Isuzu instrument cluster and mechanical speedometer). Sixteen inch rims in the same style, which would have allowed 60 profile tires, weighed 22 lbs vs. 17lbs for the 15 inch rims – still not light, but not offensive – but they are little lighter than the original 14 x 5 1/5 inch steel wheels which weighed 19 lbs. The principal challenge of the Isuzu pickup donor was its 6 x 5 ½ inch bolt circle hubs. Wheel selection was not great. I actually tried to get Minilites, because there was a Mitsubishi SUV with 16 inch wheels with the same bolt circle on Minilite’s web site, but the company was apparently disinterested in the business. As a fallback, I also considered some Isuzu SUV wheels but the California-based car breaker refused to ship to Canada, even by UPS. I had no interest in used, salt-pitted aluminum wheels from local breakers. I ended up with Chinese wheels from TireRack (also available from Summit Racing as ‘T50/51’) with +1/4inch offset. I bought the new wheels and tires in Spring 2008, before delivery of the frame, to reduce assumptions during suspension and chassis set-up. I could have waited a lot longer! Indeed, had I waited and bought something with lower rolling radius my suspension geometry design would have been easier. [Edit: Dec 2010: Due to issues noted elsewhere in log replaced tires with 205/50R15 Dunlop Direzas, and will resell the Continentals]
File comment: My Isuzu donor, my Soling, ‘Piaf’, and my 22 x 30 ft. boat barn
cum workshop which is now shared in winter by ‘Piaf’ and
my Locost 7 build (photo 2001, the year before my new truck) [I don't know why it happens, but my new computer & software seems to be stretching all my photos horizontally - the Isuzu was never that long and low, and the barn should be taller. Bill Gates strikes again.]
Piaf_trailer_barn.JPG [ 33.61 KiB | Viewed 6816 times ]
Isuzu Pickup/SR20DE, +401 COLD frame
Build Log: viewtopic.php?f=35&t=11601
Last edited by Warren Nethercote on Mon Dec 27, 2010 8:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.