Part VII: It Runs! The End, and What I Would Do Differently
Yep, after a month and a half of many late nights and extra hours, we fired the car up. And yes, it started on the first try, thank you very much.
O thank you, gods of car fortune
We had a light on the dash for some sort of ABS problem, and one for a disconnected airbag, but that was it. We now have a running, drivable car. Now there are only a few tiny little loose ends to tidy up. Like...Get the body work finished.
Paintless dent removal
Repaint the exterior of the car. Get tires mounted up onto the new wheels. Swap the new wheels on. Get the seats permanently installed. Install the race harnesses. Fabricate a harness bar. Fabricate a lower front chassis brace. Align the car. Install a fire extinguisher. Dyno-tune the car. Road test the car. Get the car inspected, and registered for road use. Sell/trade/dispose of the old shell, and all the take-off parts. Empty out the storage locker in the process. I'm sure I'm forgetting a few dozen more to-do items.
Now that it's nearly over, I can look back and give some overall thoughts on this project car. Here are a few things that come to mind right away:
- This project makes NO economic sense. The build happened about as fast as I can imagine anyone could do it, and it still took almost two months. And cost-wise, I'm sure we're WAY over $12,000. You can buy perfectly-good swapped GC cars for that. (Maybe they're not DCCD-equipped STi-implant cars. But still...) Move up a few more thousand, and you can just buy a gently-used 2004 STi. Once you've spent all the time and money on a swap, there's no way you're ever going to get any kind of return on your investment.
- The weight of the car is not as light as I had hoped. Part of the reason the GC cars were light was because they didn't have a whole lot of heavy stuff on them, like huge brakes and heavy-duty six-speed transmissions. Now ours has those.
- It's a pretty cool car, but I keep coming back to conclusion #1.
- I'm glad we reigned in our impulse to make it more and more complex and ambitious. It was hard enough to finish as it was. Dragging it on for more time and far more money would have greatly reduced the fun factor.
- I'm really proud of our whole shop for building the car. Forget logic and reason. We decided to do it, we developed a vision of what we wanted, and we did it. It was fun and interesting for all of us. And hey, it may not make complete sense, but I've seen far more money wasted on much less useful things. Perhaps most-importantly, it didn't bog down into a project that would never be finished, only to rot half-completed in the back corner of some garage. I've seen far too many of those cars. Those cars make Mach V Dan sad.
Mike Gerber, our master technician, said the swap wasn't as difficult as he expected. "Really, most of the parts just bolted right up. The only thing that really took us a long time was getting all the wiring right for things like the doors and lights. Other than that, it all just fits." Easy for him to say. For some of us, cutting and welding steering shafts isn't an everyday thing.
Speaking of Mach V staffers, I'd like to thank all the Mach V shop staff for the huge amount of work they've done on this project. Mike, Will, Evan, Tommy, Clinton, and unpaid intern Larry all put in extra hours for this car, and it wouldn't have happened without them. Thanks also to NASIOC member Acquacow, whose own swapped GC car was our literal go-to vehicle when we had questions.
Anyway, to answer my post title above, I don't know that I would have really done anything differently on this project. We all know a lot more about both cars than we did when we set out on this journey, and given our jobs that will serve us well. We still have a lot of work to get done, but the big stuff is behind us. We plan to have the car at our up-coming Mach V Track Day event. And assuming it survives track day (mostly kidding!), we'll have the car back in our showroom for display and storage, so if you want to peek under the hood, just come by the shop.
Front seats are from an '03 Lancer Evolution. Rears are '04 WRX seats.
Thanks for reading.