Table of Contents

Howdy!  If you’ve been a long-time reader of this blog, thanks for coming along with me as I constructed my Superlite Coupe.  For new readers, welcome!  I hope you find my site entertaining and informative.

This site was largely written in chronological order.  That makes it difficult to find information – for instance if you wanted to find out my process for aligning the car and the specs I used, it would be difficult to do so based just on the blog titles I’ve used (as clever as I might think I was in coming up with those!).  What follows will be a list of various topics, and links to the blog posts which contain information pertinent to that topic.  There will be repeated links to posts as there were some posts in which I covered multiple areas of the car – this is not meant to be a “read thru” guide to this site.  Look for the topic of interest then hit up the links that follow.

In the beginning

Introductions, reasons for selecting the SLC, options list, and initial impressions of the project.

Firsts

YouTube videos

SB100

The journey to becoming road legal.  California’s Senate Bill 100 makes getting a component car registered and on the road a snap.

Useful tools

There were a few key tools that I used over and over during this build.  Probably the most important tool during this build was having a high quality cordless drill.  I have the 18-volt Makita LXT hammer drill and impact driver set – these two drills did about 99.9% of all the holes I made during this entire project.  There were a few holes which necessitated a short right-angle adapter or pneumatic drill to complete, but otherwise these were my go-to hole-makers.  Funny enough, former SLC builder Eric (of Gearhead Daily fame), did a youtube review of these very tools.  Do yourself a favor and get the 3 or 4Ah batteries!  Drill bits were somewhat disposable but the all-in-one drill/tap bits made by Greenlee (DTAP) were also life-savers.  It was a pretty rare occasion when I needed to do the 2-step drill and tap operation.

The next critical tool that really got me through was my QuickJack lift system.  I have the BL-5000SXT system.  For the early part of this build I had my SLC sitting on the QuickJack for over a year.  Once I really got moving on the build and the suspension was hung, I found myself raising and lowering the car countless times.  Doing this with a standard hydraulic jack and jackstands is a disaster in waiting – do yourself a favor and get some type of lift – for me, the QuickJack was the best solution for my needs.

QuickJack discussion, initial receipt, and setup – 6. It’s alive!

Other useful tools – 14. It’s all about the stance

This part is less critical to the build of the SLC but I purchased a Bendpak HD-9 so I could park 3 cars in my 2 car garage.  I had originally intended to get their HD-9ST which is a narrower version of their HD-9.  I was talked out of doing so and boy am I glad I went with the standard width HD-9!  The SLC is such a wide car that parking it on the HD-9ST is like playing operation with your wheels – get it off by just an inch and you’ll be looking for your nearest rim repair expert.  A 4-post lift isn’t very useful for this type of a build because much of the build happens with the suspension OFF the car and a 4-post requires the wheels to be mounted.  You can purchase an optional jacking system which would allow you to do wheels-off work, but the QuickJack is the far superior tool while the SLC is under construction.

23. BendPak HD-9: some assembly required

Suspension

There has been a lot of debate surrounding what the “correct” tire size is for the SLC.  I have heard from some builders who have had fitment issues when running the factory recommended sizes.  Unknowingly, I had diverged from the factory spec by running slightly undersize tires due to tire availability.  Turns out I may have avoided setup issues by doing so.  The following links cover this topic, and anything else having to do with modification or setup of the suspension.  Post 14 contains detailed information about initial chassis setup and measurements including wheelbase and track information.

Hydraulic front lift system – 15. Just keep kicking the ball!

Brakes

My generation of the SLC kit came with Brembo fixed calipers sourced from the 2010-2015 Camaro SS (among other models).  I disassembled and powder coated my calipers using a DIY kit purchased from Eastwood.  I also installed the E-stopp electric parking brake kit – don’t do it.  This system provides up to 600 lbs of pulling force on the parking brake cables – and it’s not sufficient to hold the SLC from rolling!

Fuel system

The factory has an all-inclusive fuel system for builders making up to 650hp.  It’s a good setup if you’re not looking to re-invent the wheel.  I built my system using the same/similar components as the factory’s but wanted a different layout, necessitating a different combination of fittings.  However, I’m basically running a system identical to what’s offered by RCR.

**I had some recurring issues with my HP fuel pump, a Bosch 044.  It turned out I’d been purchasing knock-off pumps and they were dying prematurely.  I created a video on YouTube (see links above) comparing a fake pump to the real thing.  I also redesigned my fuel system to mitigate against other potential failure modes not addressed by purchasing a legitimate Bosch pump.  I experienced a LOT of issues using a FiTech integrated surge tank/HP pump and am currently using a Radium Engineering surge tank coupled with a legit Bosch 044 pump.  YouTube link – Going THERMONUCLEAR

Engine cooling

Something I’ve had to get used to is that these LS motors like to run hot!  I have my coolant temp alarms set at 240 and 250; 240 is when I start monitoring more closely and 250 is when I start debating whether I want to shut things down.  To help with engine cooling I modified the radiator exit (see section in bodywork below), increased the side vent (see section in bodywork below), and fabricated a duct for the oil cooler.

HVAC system

As supplied, the Vintage Air AC system needs some modification to fit into the “standard” location just above and forward of the passenger’s knees.  I also performed a fair bit of modification to the dash, eliminating the molded defroster vents and converting to a single round vent located at the top of the dash.  The supplied AC compressor brackets were OK, but reports of thrown belts led me to install a Dirty Dingo compressor mount.  My personal results and those from another builder confirm the Dirty Dingo unit is superior due to the added belt tensioner.

One of my first, and major, teething issue was chasing down leaks in my AC system.  It turns out I didn’t crimp my lines down hard enough and I was leaking at virtually every connection.  I pulled apart my entire AC system and re-crimped each fitting.  That and 2 failed trinary switches later, and my AC system is performing nominally (knock on wood).

Powertrain

I elected to go with probably the most popular engine and trans combination used on SLCs – GM LS3 engine paired with the Graziano V8 transaxle.  Some minor modifications were needed to make the engine more bulletproof for the SLC.  In its original configuration, I believe the Graziano transaxle is geared too short for a street driven SLC.  I find myself almost speed shifting into 3rd; in fact, skip shifting second and going from 1st to 3rd would probably make driving in traffic a little less hectic.  Optional drop gears are available from HCF Parts (operated by John Burer, a former SLC owner).  I would highly recommend updating your trans to a taller gearset before moving forward with the installation.  Now that I have my (stock) trans installed it’s going to be an extreme pain in the rear to remove my trans and have the gears updated – and it’s on the edge of being annoyingly geared too short that my laziness compels me to leave it as is until I’m forced to do a serious overhaul on the car.  My preference would have been to drop the bucks to get the trans modified before installation but my time constraints didn’t allow for me to do this.  If you’re running an LS based motor and the Graziano transaxle, do it, you’ll be happier that you did!

Electrical

One of my must-have design choices was to get the battery out of the nose of the car so I could fabricate a discharge duct for the radiator.  This duct would need all the space it could get so moving the battery was a must.  One of the other unique items on this car is I removed the included Infinity Box electrical system and made my own (actually, my father-in-law made it) from scratch.  This was a lot more tedious than using the Infinity System, but the Infinity System just had too many compromises and not enough going for it to keep.  The latest kit from Superlite has eliminated the Infinity System for a less complicated/expensive wiring harness.

I had originally configured my kit with the Koso dash unit but I didn’t like how the unit looked.  Instead, I opted to go with the Aim MXS Strada digital dash system.  The Strada is a slightly stripped down version of Aim’s MXS data logging system; go MXS if you want to record lots of data for fine tuning a race car, go Strada if it’s going to primarily be a street car.  The Aim MXS unit is at the inflection point for the cost/benefit curve.  The next higher up units are significantly more expensive with only a little more capability.  There are some compromises with the MXS Strada which need to be kept in mind before going down that rabbit hole.  **This bears repeating in several places on this blog.  If you are running an aftermarket display which pulls data from the CAN bus, you will very likely need to power down/disconnect the display when attempting to read/write to the OBD2 diagnostic port (such as when tuning).

Bodywork/Modifications

The body as-received was actually in really good condition – at least as far as I could tell.  Parting lines weren’t egregious and symmetry/straightness was fantastic.  I did have areas of delamination and air pockets but that’s to be expected with a body that’s made using blown chopped fiberglass.  My understanding is the SLC body is one of the best in the business.  That said, I still spent a considerable amount of my construction time focused on fiberglass work.  To be fair, I didn’t know a thing about fiberglass and apart from a few small test pieces, the majority of my learning was done while working on the car itself.  Confidence or ignorance?  Maybe a little bit of both 😉

Race tail/tail lights – modifications such as race tail scoop, window/louver install, and taillight modifications

Headlights/fog lights

Front splitter – I spec’d the street splitter with optional tunnels.  The tunnels need to be bonded into place and clearancing between the front tires and splitter is required to turn the wheels lock-to-lock without rubbing, especially if running the optional lift kit.

Wheel well re-contour – at full suspension droop I had an issue where the tires fouled, or came extremely close to fouling the bodywork.  This meant removing wheels in this condition would be near impossible without momentarily jacking the control arms to provide clearance.  Re-contouring the opening slightly created an additional ~0.5″ of clearance to facilitate wheel removal.  I also found my rear tire-to-fender gap to be quite unsightly so I spent a good amount of time massaging the rear contour to address this.

Radiator exit/duct – I believe the factory bodywork’s opening/discharge for the radiator is insufficient so I made it bigger and fabricated a duct to guide 100% of radiator airflow out the bodywork.  Thanks to HJones for the original how-to.

Windshield – I was terrified of cracking the windshield during installation.  The best fit I could get was about 1/4″ gap on the driver side and 1/8″ on the passenger side.  I had considered reworking the body to try and blend this in but it would have been a LOT of work to do so.  Instead, I filled any gaps with urethane.  The bodywork immediately around the windshield is painted black and it hides the fitment issues exceptionally well.

Wheel well liner – the tires kick up a bunch of dirt and I didn’t want my engine bay to get completely splattered!  The factory wheel well kit requires a fair amount of massaging to trim and mount.

Forward lower closeout (of spider) – filling in the gap between the fiberglass spider and aluminum chassis.  Thanks to AUzwiak for the inspiration.

Side intake vent – I enlarged the side intakes to increase airflow for side-mounted coolers.  Thanks to HJones for the original concept and how-to.

Front wheel vent – I filled in the rear (hidden) portion just aft of the front tires.  As-delivered, this area of the bodywork is open at the back.  I closed this off to prevent road debris intrusion and for a cleaner look.  Thanks to BPhillips for the inspiration.

Roof scoop – I purchased my roof scoop closeout from JMolleur.  It’s about as large a piece as can be fitted between the roll bars.

Doors – I modified the hinge/attachment method to increase door opening angle to ~90-deg.  There are a few gotchas regarding door handles and fitting.

Aerocatch latches – I went the non-traditional route and mounted my body latches in visible locations.  There’s a few gotchas involved when doing so, as I discovered.

Rear diffuser/rear wing – Some details about rear diffuser modification/mounting and rear wing angle follows.

Paint/Plastidip – I’ve been seeing this more on the most recently completed builds; folks are painting the hidden portions of the spider black in lieu of whatever color choice is selected for the body color.  I think this contrast of color helps to keep the bodywork more interesting.  It has a secondary effect of masking certain types of defects as well.  I painted these areas in gloss black then clear coated.  For now, I’m keeping my exterior in plastidip while the body seasons.  Who knows, I may continue to keep it in plastidip and never do a real paint job…

Interior/Ergonomics

To me, the touch points of a car are of critical importance.  These are the areas of the car you touch while getting into and out of the car, and while you’re driving.  So to me, it makes sense to put a lot of effort into selecting the right components which will enhance the driving experience.  To that end, I departed from the standard Superlite offering by making the following changes:

  • NGK quick release steering wheel adapter (factory unit is not indexed)
  • MOMO leather steering wheel (factory unit was of low quality, IMHO)
  • Tillet B5 seats (I wanted carbon seats and these are universally praised and are a sure-fit for the SLC)
  • Significant modification of the dash (relocated center binnacle for improved radio display, increased HVAC vent count)
  • Audi R8 gated shifter mechanism (Superlite now offers a similar gated shifter, too early for reviews or driving impressions as of this writing)
  • Heavy weighted shift knob from Raceseng

 

Dash modifications/shifter console

Tub/a-pillar covers – fitting, modifications, and installation

To incorporate the R8 gated shifter I cut the mechanism down to bring the shift knob to a more ergonomic height and I had to custom fabricate a shifter console.  A special shout out to JBurer and Alan U for pioneering the use of this shifter mechanism.  I think this is the most critical change for making the SLC a joy to drive.

Sound and heat blockers

I have a lot of sound and heat blockers in my car – like, seriously, a lot!  The most I’ve seen when compared against other builds documented on the GT40s site anyway.  I have a particular sensitivity to noise and this was one of my greatest fears when constructing the SLC.  So to mitigate, I packed as much sound and heat isolation material that I could, given the design and layout of the car.  I used Second Skin Audio almost exclusively as I believe their products perform as claimed and they provide more technical data than other similar products.  I also used some U-Pol raptor bedliner along the underside of my fiberglass panels to help damp out any vibration noise.  Here’s a run-down of the Second Skin products I used and where:

Damplifier/Damplifier Pro – Similar to Dynamat, these are aluminum backed sheets of butyl rubber.  This product does very little to knock down the peak energy (noise) transmission into the cabin.  Its main purpose is to kill the noise as quickly as possible so it doesn’t resonate.

Here is a short video clip showing the SLC’s interior tub being pinged; one side has Damplifier applied to it, the other does not.  The screen shows that when each side gets knocked, total energy level measured is about the same between both sides – but they obviously sound very different.  Here’s an illustration of what sound damper can and cannot do – it will help dissipate energy but doesn’t do much to block peak energy.  You need something much heavier to absorb/kill the noise – something like Luxury Liner Pro.

Sound damper on the SLC tub – YouTube link

Luxury Liner Pro – This is used to absorb and de-energize sound energy before it can intrude into the cabin.  It’s a 2-part sheet (Mass Loaded Vinyl + Closed Cell foam) that’s permanently bonded together and heavy.

Heat Wave Pro – This is a lightweight sheet of jute (loose/shredded cotton denim) sandwiched between two sheets of reinforced foil fabric.  It is fire resistant and should be used to block heat and sound energy for interior compartments.  It’s easily shaped over irregular surfaces.

Thermal Block – This is your first line of defense for heat blocking.  Use this on exterior surfaces; the top layer is a thin aluminum sheet used to deflect radiant heat energy.  The second layer is porous fiberglass for insulation and the last layer is a thick adhesive used to attach directly to surfaces.  It’s fairly stiff and doesn’t form easily over sharp/tight features.  This is also flame resistant and can be used in the engine bay.

Mega’Zorbe – This is a sheet of open cell foam very similar to the Mr Clean Magic Erasers.  It has an adhesive backing and can be attached directly to any surface.  Use it to block sound energy from intruding into the passenger cabin.  I used a sheet of this between the ceiling panel and roof.  I believe Mega’Zorbe > HWP for heat isolation but HWP > Mega’Zorbe for sound isolation.  The roof gets HOT (especially if it’s painted black) so I prioritized heat blocker over sound blocker for the ceiling panel.

Towing & trailering

Due to the nature of this car, there’s not a really good place to locate a tow hook.  I opted for a removable hook that I would install if the situation became necessary.  Trailering the car is also a bit difficult due to the very low ground clearance and long front overhang.

Unfortunately I had the need to use my tow hook – and it worked!  Video evidence – YouTube link

Carbon fiber projects

I went on a bit of a tangent when I first started working with carbon fiber.  I may be just slightly obsessed with the stuff (I mean, who isn’t?).  Much of the work I’ve done so far has been to skin fiberglass parts with carbon fiber to create the look I was going for.

Infant mortality failures

A component car project is an assemblage of thousands of parts manufactured by countless different vendors from all over the world.  With such a collection there’s bound to be parts that will fail early.  This list doesn’t include things I broke because I was being silly or stupid.  Here’s what’s failed so far:

  1. Starter motor – failed after only a handful of starts
  2. HP fuel pump – failed after about 2 miles (and a bunch of starts)
  3. Ebay sourced video splicer – failed after about 20 miles
  4. Vintage air trinary switch – failed after about 100 miles
  5. Rear brake residual valve – failed after about 150 miles
  6. Aftermarket trinary switch – failed after about 50 miles (after replacement of the VA unit!)
  7. Alternator – failed after about 200 miles
  8. AIM MXS display no longer updating odometer – stuck at 322.6 miles This was fixed with an update to the latest version of Race Studio, upgrading the display to the latest firmware, and creating a new profile after software updates complete.
  9. HP fuel pump – failed after about 1000 miles; root cause is it’s a knock-off pump.
  10. FiTech integrated surge tank/HP pump – I couldn’t even get more than 20 miles out of this system, I blame poor quality control on 2 units failing on me.