Way way back in post 59 (They said it couldn’t be done …) I was ecstatic that one of the local tint and windshield repair places was able to apply tint to the inside of my side windows. A LOT of people said it couldn’t be done; that the tint would fail because polycarbonate will off-gas if exposed to UV. Since my car has been garage kept all its life and it doesn’t spend much time parked outside, I was able to keep the off-gassing relatively low. From time to time a small bubble would form and I would pop it using a sharp razor blade, the holes were too small to be noticeable. Unfortunately time caught up with me and eventually the bubbling got bad enough I couldn’t take it any longer – my OCD forced me to pull the film from my side windows because it was just nasty to look at. I was really, really bummed about this because the side windows are so curved they act like a lens, focusing the sun directly onto the side of my head while driving. Not pleasant.
Luckily I had heard about a run of pre-tinted side windows that would be produced by the original vendor to RCR and I was able to get in on the group-buy. Unfortunately these were a one-time run and I don’t think these will be produced again. They’re now sitting in my basement, waiting for me to find time to apply some frit and install them. They’ve been there for about a year now, I’ll get to them eventually …
These are some fairly popular questions I’ve gotten –
Q: What color is it now?!
I’ve been on a fairly regular schedule of changing up the color of the car about once a year. Since I dipped the car safety cone orange I haven’t been compelled to scratch that itch to change things up again. The orange continues to turn heads and I continue to be taken aback by just how cool the car looks in this livery. So – it’s still orange. In the 2 years since I’ve dipped the car I’ve washed it a handful of times. My weekend routine is usually to get up well before most others – say 5am, jump into the car, then head out to the local canyons for a morning drive before the campers and hikers come in for their day. When I get home, it’s park the car and head back into the house before Stephanie and Ellie wake up. Rinse and repeat, weekend after weekend, while the weather allows. It’s an understatement to say I’ve been negligent in how I’ve treated the car – but that’s the awesome thing about having a car that’s plastidipped as opposed to one that has a $10k+ paint job – I just don’t care. The dip is amazingly resilient to rocks and whatever damage does occur is super minor, not enough to cause my OCD to flare up. A quick wipe-down with some dip cleaner and a rag is usually sufficient to get the car looking and feeling slick again. A wash if I’m taking it out to a car show or if it’s gotten particularly bad.
Q: Any upgrades?
Fans. The radiator fans included with my kit were *ok* for most use cases but there have been a few instances where looking at my coolant temps got me worried. The first instance was a parade/cruise I participated in while we were back in San Diego. It was basically a few miles at stop & go speeds and my stock fans weren’t up to snuff. I would occasionally wait for the car in front of me to move a decent ways ahead so I could get a quick short blast and get some airflow through the radiators. By the end of the parade I was relieved to finally get enough speed going that I could bring engine temps back down to reasonable levels.
The second instance occurred shortly after I made the move to Colorado. The air up here is definitely thinner and air temps can tick up into the triple digits. This made for a dicey moment when I had the car out at relatively low speeds and couldn’t get my temps down without driving faster than I wanted. I put the car away for the day rather than fight an overheating engine.
In most cases the stock fans are OK but you really need to keep the car moving to keep engine temps at an acceptable level. If you’re stuck in traffic there’s a good chance you’re going to have issues – especially if you’re in an area with high ambient temperatures.
I ordered a pair of Spal 11″ puller fans, PN 30102800, and a pair of wiring pigtails PN FR-PT-HO. Luckily these were almost a direct drop-in replacement for the fans I had originally installed. A small bit of work to accommodate the different attachment points and wiring and I was ready to close the car back up. WOW, what a difference! These fans MOVE a tremendous amount of air and I no longer fear getting stuck in traffic. I would rate this a must-have upgrade for any SLC regardless of climate or intended use – the stock fans just barely cut it, and an overheated engine isn’t something you want to think about – ever.
Q: How’s the maintenance been?
Relatively trouble-free! I have a small leak from one of my AC hoses (going into the condenser) which requires me to top the system off with a bottle of R-134a about once or twice a year. Unfortunately to get enough access to the offending hose it would require me to pull a fair amount of the system apart so I’ve decided to just top it off when pressures get too low for the AC to work well. Fortunately the leak is very slow.
About once or twice a year I’ll pull the oil catch can and empty it – there’s never an excessive amount in there but I’m REALLY glad to have installed this. It’s a relatively easy and inexpensive mod to avoid coking up your intake.
Oil changes are easy – I get the car up on the QuickJack and it’s a few minutes to drain and replace the oil and filter. I do have to remember to cycle the Accusump to dump whatever oil is in there to get as much out as I can. I don’t pull my oil cooler and drain the oil lines, I never let the oil go long enough that it gets too contaminated anyway. My odometer is showing about 6500 miles at this point and I’m on the third oil change – I’m not going to go the extra mile to get 100% of my used oil out, call me lazy.
Suspension lubrication is important – I use Molykote D-321, available from McMaster. It’s a dry film lubricant that’s applied via an aerosol spray. You can be pretty liberal with it and it’s easy to clean if you get overspray (if you care). I like that it stays dry and doesn’t tend to grab little bits of dirt (which in turn may get into the bearing). Good enough for rocket engines, good enough for my car!
Otherwise, that’s really it. I don’t put a ton of miles on the car but I do take it out for a weekly fun drive when weather permits. Knock on wood, it seems I may have killed all the gremlins and teething pains for this home-built car!
Q: What else is new?
About a year ago the local Cars & Coffee folks (@CoCarsAndCoffee) reached out and interviewed me for a segment on their show. Here’s a link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PiminXv8XdM
We had a great time getting some fun shots in while talking cars. Many thanks to the super cool crew for taking the time to chat with me and learn more about the SLC. Special thanks to @303perspective, @4blades_digital, @snipesfpv, and @jevandass for the photos and video work!
Here are some of my favorite photos from that shoot:
As we drove around taking rollers I suddenly saw the red light on my dash flash and warn me that my fuel was running low. I didn’t think too much of it at the time – I figured there were a few gallons left and it would be enough to get through the little bit of shooting we had left. Yeah, it wasn’t. As we moved to a quieter location to film the interview portion wouldn’t you know it – the engine started to sputter and shut down as we were still making our way through the canyon roads! Luckily I had enough momentum to pull into the next turn-off and there just happened to be a parking lot, a perfect spot to shoot an interview! 😉
The team were kind enough to go back into town to grab a few gallons of fuel while we continued shooting.
I guess that’s a good segue into the next part –
Q: What are my long-term thoughts on the SLC?
Let’s start by saying the factory fuel level sensor SUCKS. I performed the original calibration by monitoring the sensor signal while I filled the tank 1 gallon at a time. That gave me the output vs fuel level relationship which I then programmed into my AIM dash unit. I’m unsure if there’s a temperature thing or something else at play, but the transfer function I created isn’t really accurate – the lowest the gauge will read is about 2.0 gallons (that’s about how much you get into the tank before fuel touches the bottom of the sensor). At the maximum, I was able to get about 19 gallons of fuel in before I stopped taking measurements (I didn’t want to overfill the tank/load up the fill tube). However, the tank can physically store about 20 gallons. I’m unsure why, but when the tank is about 3/4 full the fuel level shows it is full. I may have messed up my lookup table but I don’t think so. So now, I can’t tell if my tank is actually full or closer to 3/4 full as the sensor doesn’t start to “move” until I get closer to half a tank. Once I’m in that region of the tank the level changes at a rate about what you would expect – till you get close to empty. Recall the sensor stops registering at about 2 gallons so when you get down to those levels you don’t know if you’ve got 0, 1, or 2 gallons left. but that doesn’t really matter because of this next part –
The factory fuel tank has no internal baffling – so while you’re driving, all that fuel is able to move back and forth, left and right depending on what the car is doing. There is an internally designed function in the sensor which dampens out the signal change to avoid having it go crazy as the fuel is moving all around in your tank – regardless, it doesn’t work very well at all, particularly if you’re running low on fuel. As fuel level starts to approach the lower third of the tank the sloshing is particularly bad and the fuel level can fluctuate fairly dramatically while driving on a twisty road (what other kind of road would you be driving on?). During my last run through the canyons I checked and my tank was showing full before I left the house. Halfway through my drive and I noticed the red indicator light flashing on my dash – uh oh, low fuel warning! It would only flicker on and off as the signal was changing fairly significantly due to all the elevation (pitch) changes the car was making on the drive but it was definitely way too early to be flashing a warning if I had indeed started the drive with a full tank. I decided to cut my drive short and turn around and head back into town – I’m glad I did!
OK – so aside from the crappy fuel level sender, what do I think about the CAR?
I love it! I’m still enjoying the hell out of the SLC. It’s become a bit of a routine for me to get up early on the weekends to go out for my drive but I still get that excitement the night before while I’m getting things ready for the morning. I still fall asleep looking forward to the drive. When I wake up and strap into the seat I can tell the adrenaline and endorphins are hitting my bloodstream and I kinda get the shakes as I’m crawling the car out of my neighborhood in an attempt to not upset my sleeping neighbors. It takes about 30 minutes for me to get into the foothills before things get more exciting drive-wise. By then, the adrenaline’s burned off and my heart rate’s back to a steady tempo. The blood flow I hear in my ears has subsided (because the car is damn loud and because the adrenaline’s gone) and I can focus instead on the road in front of me. Driving this car years later, and I still get that rush every time I get into the driver’s seat. That’s a pretty incredible thing!
The SLC is a raw, analog driving machine that let’s an everyday guy such as myself get a small taste of what it’s like to own and drive a supercar. It attracts attention like nothing else on the road or when it’s parked. I have to admit, I drive somewhat offensively in the SLC, like I did when I was riding motorcycles. It’s too often you get cars jockeying close so they can get photos of the car and it makes me nervous – no biggie, drop the throttle and you’re half a mile ahead in no time. Lane changes are precision movements among traffic. I try not to drive like a jerk but he car is most comfortable at triple digit speeds – and you’re there quicker than you would believe, it just accelerates so effortlessly.
So yeah – the driving experience is pretty awesome.
Is it practical? No, not really. I know of one crazy owner *cough* John B *cough* who was recorded picking up a pizza for family dinner night in his SLC. Dig around on Youtube enough and you’ll find the video. Yeah … I wouldn’t do that. The thought of having that pizza smell in my car is too much for my OCD. But yeah, I suppose you could do that if you were inclined. 90% of the usage case for my car has been driving to, driving through, and driving back from mountain roads. The other 10% is getting gas! 😉
Oh – I will say driving with noise-canceling headphones was a real game changer in the comfort department. When you’re out ripping around it’s fun to have all the noise and pops of the angry engine behind your head. But when you’re driving to work on the freeway, throwing those cans on around your ears and listening to the Top Gun soundtrack makes for a much more enjoyable commute.
I think I’ve covered most of my thoughts on the car in earlier posts or videos and they haven’t really changed much. I’ve been asked several times if I would sell my car and so far I’ve answered NO every time. I just love driving it too much and no one would be crazy enough to pay me the dollar amount I would want to sell it. So while I continue to get that adrenaline rush every time I go out for a drive, I think I’ll continue hanging onto my SLC. There just isn’t anything out there that gives me this kind of excitement – at least nothing that would be financially responsible for me to purchase.
In closing –
I’ve debated keeping this blog alive but every year my payment for this site auto-renews and I haven’t gotten around to canceling it. I think this site has served its original purpose – to document my experiences while building my SLC and to give other builders a resource to help with their own builds. I hope I’ve sparked an interest in other builders to document their own journey – certainly the detail and quality of documentation for current builds has increased considerably since I started this blog. I’m not sure how much longer these pages will be around – if you’ve stuck with me through to this, thanks very much! I hope you’ve enjoyed following along as much as I’ve enjoyed working on this project!