I am very happy to report that my build has started. Well, more correctly I have aquired some key pieces for the build. As the thread title states. My build will use a Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe that I purchased locally for $800. The car is a 1987 model and it was chosen that year as Motor Trends 'Car of the Year'. The basis for the build will be a 2008 Callahan frame built by James Callahan in Louisville, Kentucky. The frame is a McSorley book frame with a few improvements thrown in. The rollbar plate is made from 2" material instead of 1". This piece is supported by round tubing rather than 1" square as many others have done. I'm very pleased with the frame and James did a great job on it. He saved me a great deal of time and effort and I'm happy that I contacted him.
My build isn't going to be finished a year down the road or anything that. I'd like to have it done tomorrow, so I can drive it but that's not going to happen either. Most likely it will take longer, much longer. I don't care how much time it takes. The finished product is what I'm after. I want a car that I will be proud of. It must be personal and it must be a keepsake. Something that I will pass on, rather than sell. The car will not have a budget either. Keeping the costs low will be important but I will not sacrifice the end result over a little money. I always have something else to sell to generate funds. I'm parting out 3 motorcycles right now to make money for this project. The big obstacle to getting started is my workspace. My garage is not finished and I really need to get that done first and get all my tools in one place. First things, first. The garage needs to be finished before much will be started on the car.
When I jumped into this I wasn't really sure which way to go. Many suggested a Miata donor but these are scarce in my neck of the woods. After spending some time here my thought process did a total 180 degree turn. The Lotus Seven has always been my favorite car of all time. A dream car to me. I had seen a few kits on the market but didn't really know that these cars were being built from scratch. I read a piece in the Mother Earth News about Jack McCornack's X-Prize car and called him with questions. Jack answered all my questions and spent way too much time on the phone with me. His website led me here and the rest is as they say, history! I had to have one of these cars. My wife and most of my friends think that I have completely lost it. Who builds their own car these days? My very first thought after reading about Jack's car was to go GREEN. BioDiesel or Electric power would be awesome and save me money at the pump. The downside to this is the higher cost of components and researching the technology needed. One thing I may consider is a conversion to Ethanol at a later date.
A few weeks ago, I got a phone call from one of the guys I work with. He's a dragracer and I'm a motorcycle guy. We always have different projects going on and he asked me what I was into. I told him about my new car frame and that I was looking for a donor car. He said he had just what I needed. Several months ago he picked up a 1987 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe in a trade and wanted to sell it. A few days later we went to look at the car and a deal was struck. For $800 I had a donor. At this time I need to give some thanks to a few guys. Jack at Kinetic for all the info and some parts that I recently ordered. Raceral for all the part numbers from his build. Imitation is the best form of flattery. My car will be very similar to his. Same front suspension, same wheels, and basically the same rear suspension. IndyJoe, for his information on the Turbo Coupe and all it's benefits over other cars that I was considering. A big thanks to A. Moore and his mad fab skills. If you can engineer and then fab your own front uprights then you can do just about anything. To Chet a fellow West Virginian, for the great site and inspiration from reading his build thread. And finally to everyone else here for knowledge and help to tackle a project of this magnitude. Building a car is hard work and a huge undertaking. You guys are all VERY helpful and forthright with your information and lessons learned. I wouldn't have been able to fab a proper build table without making the classic mistakes if it weren't for you guys doing it first and pointing out the not so obvious things to avoid. Things as simple as that help to ensure success for the next guy!
Here are a few other thoughts that I have on the car. I'd like this car to be a daily driver. This means it will need to have a top and a heater for foul weather. Honestly, I expect this car to be the last gasoline powered automobile that I own. This car doesn't need to be as light as possible. The 2.3L turbo engine will make great power but it's heavy. If it weighs in the 1700 to 2000lb range I'd be happy. I don't expect it to weigh that much but you never know. The car will use frontend parts from Speedway Motors which include: Moog screw-in ball joints, upper circletrack A-arms, Mustang II spindles and 11" vented brake rotors with GM calipers. After getting the upper ball joint mounts I noticed that these were not mirror image parts. They will be cut up and rewelded into mirror image parts to prevent differences in the left and right front suspensions. Most of the frontend parts have already been purchased. Below are a few pictures of what I have aquired so far. My 1987 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe donor, the Callahan frame, my build table, and the new 2007 Mustang wheels that I purchased off ebay.
Sorry for the long post!
Donor T-bird Turbo coupe being delivered
2.3L engine w/Holset HX35G turbocharger
Wow, that's a big turbo
2007 Ford Mustang LX 16" wheels
Mustang LX wheel up close