Don't let the boxiness fool you - underneath is a highly technological sea of negative investment. Aaron wouldn't tell you about it in a casual conversation if you asked him for specifics. No, he would tell you that the car has a 'Ford transmission,' 'fuel injection,' and 'a Ford 9".' I say he paid the money for the go-fast goodies; he should be using buzzwords like "Lentech AOD," "FAST EFI," "Strange Ford 9,"" and such.
Many might say, "Why would you put all that money into that old, heavy car?" But these people also drive 1998 Toyota Tercels and worry about resale value when it's time to trade in for the new Priuses. Consequently, these folks can go to hell.
Hey, the Caprice embodies No Excuse racing - sure, Aaron could be experiencing the acceleration force of a 10 second car by putting this drivetrain into a light Nova, or Aaron could blame the fact that he "ONLY" runs 12's on the other fact that his car weighs over 4000 lbs. No Excuses! A truly different and exciting car has emerged from all this, no matter what some dumbass GN kid might claim. Aaron has gone 12.05 through the exhaust on sticky Mickeys, and 12.50 on the street BFG Drag Radials. Further chassis dialing should get those BFG's hooking like Heidi Fleiss.
Did I mention the Pushbumpers and spotlight? Wicked! Imagine having a 500 HP car with two big steel uprights when Soccer mom Jane cuts you off after pulling out of McDonalds and is going 15 under the limit. Or, how about the jackass behind you with his brights on? The spotlight uses a bulb 4 times more powerful than the Sun to direct an extremely intense beam of light directly backward and into Dr. Jackass's eyes. Fear not, though, fair citizen, the Caprice's powers are only used for good (burnouts in front of Dempsey's house, burnouts in front of asshole GN drivers' houses, etc.).
Think of the look on the face of Larry the Corporate CEO Dipshit's face when this thing annihilates his silly storebought Viper! "But I thought this was the fastest car ever!" Go eat some cookies and take a nap, Larry; the Caprice doesn't play very nicely with kid toys. Don't feel bad though, I'm sure your Viper handles much better. Or does it? The Caprice came with an already beefed Cop chassis - Aaron couldn't leave well enough alone and added much heavier duty sway bars and Bilstein shocks. A skidpad test would certainly be interesting (and eye opening).
I forgot to add the best part: it's really really quiet! Sure, when you mash the pedal, the Dynomaxes act practically as straight-pipes, but all you hear is the faint "whump-whumpata-whump-whumpata" of a cam when you're next to it at a stoplight.
Want to build one for yourself? Check out these pages:
Current Motor (#5)
R.I.P. Old Motors (#2 and #3)
R.I.P. Motor #4
After a $5000 combination of a forged rotating assembly, head work, and upgrading to all the shiny-expensive solid roller cam parts, the Caprice goes ... slower? That's right folks, I run consistant 12.65's @ 106! Nice! With a loose lash setting the car was cutting low 1.7 60' times and running a best of 12.353 @ 108.7 with 100 extra lbs over my old hydraulic roller combo (by way of working A/C!), which ran a best of 12.355 @ 109.21. With the recommended tighter lash, the car slowed down in all areas. I shift at 6800, but due to my 3.7 rear gear I am crossing the traps at 5200. Hmm. "Just put a 4.88 in there and be happy!" I am sure you are thinking. This is a problem due to two reasons: 1.) I am already at 3200 rpm cruising on the highway in overdrive, and this is a street car afterall, and 2.) Tony Mixon would scalp me.
A call to Shaun Tiede told me that there were some quality control problems during an interim period where he was having his cams ground by Lunati when his shop was moving (which is when my cam was ground). He said send it back, he would cam doctor it, and either way send me a smaller cam that may be more to my liking. Shaun is definitely a stand-up guy.
The Shaunthony's crew took a trip to Streator IL to both bug Pat Daly, as well as to partake in their city-wide car show and cruise, which is every Labor day weekend. After seeing a lot of nice cars, the conversation on the ride home was as follows:
Aaron - "That's it, I am going to put a 4.10 gear in this thing and run 11's. Also, Pat Daly should drive his car."
Shaun - "Stop throwing good money after bad, swap out the pistons and run a turbo. Also, Pat Daly should drive his car."
Anthony - "We'll build it for you. Also, Pat Daly should drive his car."
Aaron - (...thinking of the possibilities, as well as how Pat Daly should drive his car...)
So here we are now. The current plan is a quick piston swap and balance to a set of 8.8:1 compression JE's, and a Shaunthony's turbo kit featuring a Borg Warner S400 76mm turbo at the center of the dance floor. Projected power is just over 800hp with 15 pounds of intercooled boost. The best part is I should cross the traps at 6400-6500 with the 3.7 gear, which should be right where I need to be with a smaller turbo cam. Look for mid 10's in the 125mph range, which I feel is sharp. Double bonus is that I will be actually taking advantage of the Lentech and the 9" rear for once. During my previous runs they have been having conversations revolving parliament while sipping tea.
So, if anyone asks, we are turbocharging the car so I can keep my current gear. Got it?
Caprice caught on tape! Note column shifting on the in-car!
Caprice 1 (9.6M)
Caprice 2 (13.4M)
Caprice 3 (12.9M)
Almost a year of no updates... having a toy car sucks. All told though this year was a good one for the Caprice. I now have insurance that will actually pay more than $600 if the thing is totalled and Motor #5 is now installed and operational. While we were at it we also fixed the PCV oil problem, some miscellaneous little annoyances, and put the A/C back in. I think this is the best build yet. With the help of Anthony, Scott, and JR I have the new motor 95% tuned and driving like a champ. I see no reason why my mom couldn't drive this car to get groceries, then click off a mid 12 on her way home with no problems.
Pics of Motor #4 dissasembled: Carnage
Pics of Motor #5 during assembly: New Motor
On 11/12/05 we went to the track and made a grand total of 3 runs. I love how "test and tune" day at Union Grove is actually "Motorcyclists and Pro Tree cars can run as much as they want while 200 other people can wait" day. The runs were dissapointing with a best of 12.50 something at 108 and change.
The next day, we went to Byron Dragway and had a much better day. I made 25 passes, with tuning in between each, and arrived at a tune that I am very happy with. Not to mention I got to hang out with the owner (who is absolutely hilarious), and I wasn't harassed by tech because my driveshaft safety loop is not in the correct spot. My best run was 12.353 @ 108.49 mph. It was my best time at Byron, but about a half mph slower than I was running with the last motor. Something is not right. A quick call to Shaun Tiede told me I had set my lash way too loose for his "tight lash" cam (smacks head). I set it backwards, at 0.014" cold rather than hot. The current plan is to re-set the lash down to 0.008" cold, double check the cam position (although I am positive Mr. Clements has it dead-the-hell on) and make it back to the track before it snows. Hopefully the tighter lash will pick the car up on the top end, which while the engine has no problem revving to 7000, it doesn't pull as hard as I would have expected. The thing is a bear down low though. Another suggestion from Pat Daly is to reposition my air inlet to a different area of the car to take more advantage of natural induction while I go down the track. He thinks the current position is in a dead zone for airflow. That will probably have to be a winter project however.
Aaron: "Let's play a game: it's called 'Which is the Tiede cam?' Ready? Go!"
(Have you figured it out yet? Answers later!)
Its never as easy as adding a solid roller and springs. I ordered Comp Cams Endure-X roller lifters, 7/16" studs, 10 degree locks and retainers, 1.550" comp springs, Manley Pro Flo valves, and a comp poly distributor gear. The new valves are because the Edelbrock Etec heads come with "medium duty" valves and Edelbrock techs wouldn't warranty them with such aggressive springs. The studs and retainers are better insurance for the 7000 rpm capability of the new cam. The crank ended up being damaged, it is showing .012 on the thrust surface, which is out of spec. The cam and rods are fine and will see eBay duty as soon as new timeslips are had. New plans call for a balanced Scat rotating assembly consisting of forged H-beam rods, forged 4340 383 crank, and forged SRP pistons with moly rings. Mitch at Engintecs is also going to go over my ports while Anthony gives my valves a Shaunthony/No Excuses special flow job. Stay tuned for a winter of swapping engines and preparing the Caprice for ACTUAL DRIVING! Yes, this should be the last motor for at least a few years.
I have pretty much decided that you can never just "freshen up" an engine. I knew the rings were a problem and I was tired of putting a quart of oil in the motor every 500 miles. Not to mention the power I was losing by burning and oil and gas mixture. Last I checked the motor wasn't a two stroke...
I took the engine to Mr Clements at Engintecs for new bearings and rings, and to make a long story short, I have a cashed block, holed piston, and pitted roller lifters. The cam appears to be fine and I doubt the crank and rods are hurt. So where does this leave me? Throw a new set of roller lifters and pistons in a new block and run with it? No, it is never that simple.
The new plan includes a Shaun Tiede solid roller (designed for more bottom end without a loss of top end power), 7/16" studs and roller rockers, more serious springs, and a set of forged Wiseco 11.33:1 pistons in a '69 high nickel block. 11's? Yes, thank you. (Was the Caprice really in paint jail since the last update? Geeeeze, remind me not to paint my car EVER. - ed.)
With winter approaching fast, I decided to make one last set of runs at the track. I removed the front sway bar, as well as the exhaust tips and resonators, leaving the exhaust to dump in front of the rear axle. I also removed a 1" carb spacer which was causing hood clearance issues. A side effect of the spacer removal was the removal of my PCV system, which is good because the intake manifold was saturated with oil, telling me that the PCV placement in the valve cover is not optimal. I took the car to the track, driving through the misty 40 degree air, hoping I could get in a run or two before it started to rain. Anthony Fury is constantly bugging me about running with street tires, so I made a run down the track in full street trim, netting a 12.50 @ 110mph on a 2.0 60 ft. Due to problems with keeping the laptop from launching around the car, I did not get any tuning done that day. I put on the slicks and took out the spare tire and made 7 more runs. My best runs were a 12.054 @ 111.13, 1.689 60 ft, and a 12.055 @ 111.12 with a 1.70x 60ft. I unbolted the exhaust to guarantee an 11 second timeslip, but just as I pulled into the burnout box it started to sprinkle and they shut the track down. The weight of the exhaust alone should have gotten me an 11, not to mention the added power, but I am not making any excuses. The plan is to re mount the PCV in a better location, as well as use my Shaunthony's engineered belt driven vacuum pump to help during high RPMs. I think this and some drier cold air will gain me the power to run an 11.
So how did I go from 12.70's to 12.00's? I changed my intake manifold from the Edelbrock 3505 injection setup to a custom 2917 Super Victor w/ 4bbl throttle body, retarded the camshaft 4*, fixed small problems here and there with oil in the intake manifold and vacuum leaks, and removed of the front sway bar and exhaust tips. Oh, and most importantly, I saw the most gains from trying different tuning combinations at the track and on the street. I am not sure how much more flow the removal of the exhaust tips gained me, or if any gains were simply because of less weight. I hope to put the car on a dyno with and without the exhaust to see if there are any definitive gains to be had.
One thing I must say is that this car scares the crap out of me. I don't understand how people with 8 and 9 second cars can stand them. With a little bit of sprinkling on the track I was sliding all over the place. I don't even want to think about what would happen in a faster car. With some more driving I think I can prepare myself for faster times... then it will be time to fully take advantage of the Lentech and 9"
So for now the Caprice is getting a paint job and body work-over, and as soon as the tracks open in spring, it is time to run an 11!
50 degree air, a nice sticky track, some additional tuning, and new spark plugs resulted in a 12.355 @ 109.21 mph at Byron dragway. I know there is some more power in this combo that needs to be tuned out, so I feel I can do even better... maybe even break into the 12.2's. I found an oil soaked intake manifold, courtesy of a badly placed PCV valve, so perhaps the cleaner combustion process will suprise me with even better times as well.
The intake paid off. I ran a best of 12.52 @ 107.81 mph at the track, which with a 4100 lb car equates to about 400 rwhp, exactly what I was looking for. The car ran cool and very smooth, but what impressed me most was the consistency. Check out these times:
12.534 @ 107.69
12.535 @ 107.66
12.532 @ 107.66
12.588 @ 107.66
12.521 @ 107.79
Not too shabby. My 60 foot time has a lot to be desired, as I am running a full tenth slower than last year. If I can get that down, perhaps with some pinion angle adjustments or different burnout technique (thanks Anthony!) I may be able to dip into the 12.4's - 12.3's. Then it is time to add some SSSSssss and get paid. I played around with some different tunings, but didn't pick anything up. I am anxious to get the car on the dyno so I can more easily see the results of my tuning efforts. I also spent a lot of time tuning part throttle for better gas mileage and driveability. The Caprice is finally getting there.
Update by Aaron:
Well boys and girls, it seems that the Lentech was healthy afterall. The techs at Lentech couldn't find any problems, but I had them rebuild it anyway under their no questions asked warranty. While the trans was gutted I had them put in a heavier duty input drum and a beefier output shaft (can you say 600 hp handling O/D capability?). I also had them up the line pressure and install a drain plug in the torque converter. After a 200 mile break in and a complete change to Amsoil Super Shift Type-F, the trans is ready to rock.
How else did I know the trans was not the problem? After the break in, I put the car on the dyno only to be dissapointed with the same 295rwhp. My buddy Ron made a few adjustments and after nine more runs we found a best of 310rwhp. Hmm. I had a set of brand new MSD 8.5mm wires in the trunk, so just for fun (and out of complete frustration) I threw them on. On the next run I was greeted with a roaring motor and a smile on Ron's face. 370 rwhp! I had picked up 50 hp and almost 100ft lbs of torque just by switching wires. My two year old Accels must had been causing a week spark in one of the cylinders. Now that we were back to square one, (as opposed to square -50), we weren't making any more power. Crane and Comp engineers both said I should have picked up at least 30hp with the bigger bump stick, but the dyno wasn't showing it. I pulled the exhaust and made a pull only to find the exact same Tq and HP numbers, along the exact same curve. Looks like a restriction to me. After some time spent pondering and about 50 phone calls, I decided it was the intake manifold. I am using a manifold and throttle body that was designed to help TBI trucks make 300hp, not quite enough for me.
Soooo, I am now in the process of converting a Super Victor for Vortec heads to MPFI and sticking a 1200cfm 4bbl throttle body on top. Maybe then I will see the power I should be making.
Update: Aaron spent more than "50 cent" and is now "In the Club!" Time to drink apple juice like it's your birfday! Here is the new intake setup Aaron has on the way to his doorstep:
Precision Turbo 37# Injectors: Delphi 37 ($333.20)
Source: Precision Turbo
Accufab 1215CFM TB: 4BTBOBK ($519.99)
Source: Accu-fab Racing
With Force-EFI Conversion: $1442.19
The Lentech is in Canada, awaiting a full inspection - see "Motor #3" for the story. At least the Caprice is clean, and we got to do some holeshots in the parking garage before the trans got pulled.
Aaron has upgraded from 1.625" pri headers to 1.75" pri headers and swapped in a specially ground Crane cam to fully take advantage of all the new flow. Aaron should have been using the 1.75" headers all along, since the Edelbrock E-tec instructions are to use 1.75" pri's. (Hello, McFly!) After the cam swap, with a way too advanced distributor, the old headers, and old short pushrods (limiting lift), the car was simply flying around. The car made 360 RWHP with the old setup and should find itself developing at least 400 RWHP with the new gear.
With the 383 throwing down 360 HP at the wheels and an even bigger boatload of torque, the Caprice had now turned a best of 12.72 on slicks and open headers. On this run, the car was popping and stuttering due to a lack of tuning on the new FAST setup. After this, the car received a bigger cam and larger headers. Both Crane Cam engineers AND common dyno software predicted 500 HP at the crank with these mods. On the street and at the dyno, the car was not running right. Although the BSFC was calculated at around 500 HP, the Caprice was only throwing down 300 HP to the rear wheels (60 less than before). On one run, it shot back up to 360 again, and then nothing but a string of 300 HP runs. Ron, the dyno operator, was also detecting all kinds of rearend ratios from the dyno. The conclusion was that the $4000 Lentech trans's stator had chowed on itself, and that it was not multiplying torque as it should have been.
As we go to press, the transmission is being worked on by the boys at Lentech. We should have an answer soon.....
The Caprice runs 13.4's @ 103 with the new etec heads and motor #3. Lots of time was spent between 9/00 and 11/01 going back and forth over tuning issues with Ed Wright
Motor #3 goes in.
The Caprice makes 320 RWHP and a boatload of torque on the dyno with it's first "built" motor. Unfortunately, the motor eventually suffered a couple of fates. The first one was that #4s wrist pin decided to start carving itself into the bore. Not good by any means. The second was that the crank, for a then-unknown reason, had a giant ridge worn into the thrust surface. It was hypothesized that the shoddily machined block, rods, and crank were the cause of this, and it was disregarded. The block was re-sleeved and cleaned out, and proceded to build #2. Build #2 remained the same and made the same amount of power, but the crank was still chewing itself. Out it came, and onto motor #3.
When I first started driving the car, the difference was unreal. Untuned it was only making 300hp at the wheels, but it was still enough power to make 70ft long strips and lose control around corners. Before the wrist pin started getting personal with the bore, the car was very reliable as well. I put 250 city miles on it in a day once and the car never once burped. The best power I ever made was 320hp at the wheels, but unfortunately I was never able to take it to the track. I estimate about a 13.5 @ 99 mph with the old combo. But alas, the transmission was trying to kill it (balooning converter wrecked the thrust surface) and the motor was suicidal so it had to come out.