Nick Chrimes - 1990 Supercharged

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Part 1

My name is Nick Chrimes and I'm a Brit that emigrated to California in 1980. I've always loved motorsports. My heroes were the likes of Stirling Moss, Jackie Stewart, Jim Clark, Jack Brabham and Graham Hill. I once saw Sir Jack having to pit in the middle of a saloon race at Brands Hatch and come out dead last, only to pass everyone again and win the race.

I used to do all my own work, including engine rebuilds. My early hardware never amounted to much except possibly for an MGA I had in the early 70s. I rewired the whole car, making my own looms, and dropped an 1800 cc MGB engine in it. When I arrived virtually penniless in the States, all I could afford was a 7 year old Audi 100 (it was either that or a Pinto). I hated the lack of control I felt with an automatic. Then, once the proceeds from a house I sold in England finally came through, I stepped up to a Triumph TR8. That, too was short lived as I had to sell it to help with the down payment on my first house in 1982.

Then I had a stellar year in software sales in 1990. I finally had the cash to buy a decent car. But what? I was determined once and for all to get a stick shift, but being 6' 3 1/2" and needing four doors for taking clients to lunch I didn't have much choice. A BMW was out of the price range as I only wanted to spend $15-20K on a very low mileage car. I scoured the mags, the Road & Track Road Test Digest being my bible. One of the parameters I used was dollars per HP, and what stood out was the Acura Legend and the SHO. The faster Infiniti Q45 was a close third, but was outside my price range. The SHO had slightly better performance figures than the Legend, was better equipped inside, and my head didn't hit the roof like in the Legend, so the SHO it was. In December 1990 I finally found a "factory exec" (read demo) white '90 with 8,000 miles on the clock in Santa Cruz, my home town at the time. They wanted $16,750 for it, and would not accept my offer of $15,500 until February of 1991 when I bought it through a car dealer friend of mine.

In the early years of ownership, the car remained bone stock. I went through my share of rotors, but the first clutch lasted 117K miles. The crankshaft sensor got replaced at 82K. The OEM Goodyear Eagles were replaced with VISAs after 22K. The two sets I bought each lasted 35K miles. Then I switched to Dunlop D60 A2s, and they lasted anywhere from 36K to 43K. I reveled in its road holding, speed and comfort (I was driving 35K miles a year at the time).

Fast forward to February of 1997. The car now had 173K miles on it, and was definitely past its prime. The rings were worn (blue smoke out the back) and I started to think about a replacement. By then, of course, the SHO was no longer sold with a stick shift. Then one day a realtor came up to me in a car park and we had a conversation that was to change my automotive life forever. He commented on the 225/50/R15 tires I had. "Do you know about the SHO Shop and SHO Registry?" says he. "No" says I, so he faxed me some info. So one day when I was in LA on business I visited the SHO Shop and had a long talk with Vadim. I got an idea of the cost of doing various things to it, and filed the info in the back of my mind.

In the meantime, I looked at the Road & Track Road Test Digest again, and was not very impressed by the hardware available in my price range (again, $15-20K for a low mileage model). I was too tall to fit into Japanese and too poor to fit into German. So a plan started formulating in my mind. When the head gasket finally went in May '97, I swung into action. I persuaded my wife that I needed a new car. We had recently purchased a Sable wagon for her and had spent $15K on it, so that was where the bar sat. I then told her about my choices which included spending roughly that amount on having Vadim wave his magic wand.

She agreed, and at 178K miles off it went to Vadim's to have the engine bored out to 3.4 liters with wet liners (10.6:1 compression ratio vs. stock 9.8:1), Stage 1 cams, EH intake runners, 80 mm MAF, LPM, Underdrive pulley, SHO Shop Y pipe, Hi Flo cats, Edelbrock mufflers, 2400 lb. clutch, Rod Shifter conversion kit, the Baer front brakes with cross drilled rotors and PBR pads, Konis and SHO Shop springs, strut tower braces, 19mm front anti sway bar instead of the stock 24mm, and Vadim's 17" X 8" Big Dogs by Limited Alloy with 234/45/17 BF Goodrich Comp T/As.

"Won't take long" Vadim said, so I happily rented a car and waited for his phone call. Four months later and $2,000 in rental costs poorer I finally got the car back. I immediately noticed that the front of the car was hitting the road when going over dips, so much so that a front indicator cover fell off. The springs had lowered the front of the car by 2 1/4". I got a bum set of springs: the supplier was having personnel problems at the time.

It also consumed a quart of oil in the first 300 miles. At the time, I put it down to the engine running in, as a second quart lasted 600 miles. But the car never did get good oil consumption. We were also never able to get rid of part throttle knocking (10.6:1 was just too high for the motor). I tried Octane 204 for a while. Initially that worked but eventually the pinging came back as the fuel injectors became clogged. But the performance was awesome (we finally topped it out at 249 HP/231 ft. lbs. at the wheels). 0-60 was estimated at 5.9 seconds, and the quarter mile in 14.2 seconds at 99.3 mph. I actually achieved 160 mph sustained with a burst to 162 at 6200 rpm. The speed was calculated from the tach reading which had been calibrated on Vadim's dyno.

During that summer, I started investigating what I could do with the car when I finally got it back. I initially looked at Autocross, but rejected it as too much hanging around doing nothing, and elected for Open Tracks instead. So I duly joined NASA, and had my first experience at Laguna Seca in September '97. Again the wife had to be persuaded: "Honey, I'm talking about a track event at the most once every two to three months. It won't cost any more than what you spend on your nails in that time!"

I never realized that track events could be so addictive. I was immediately hooked. I replaced the SHO Shop springs with Eibachs, added the SHO Shop rear crossdrilled brakes, got a police grill and started using Redline Water Wetter to overcome overheating on the track, and ran Laguna again in November, this time with Green Flag Driving Association. Then the 35mm butterfly valves got replaced with 40mm, a Hi Revs Dual Diaphragm 3500 lb. clutch was installed as the old clutch shattered on the dyno, the PBR pads which had lasted 10K miles including the two track sessions got swopped for Performance Friction PF90s (plus PF Heavy Duty for the street), and it was off to Buttonwillow with Green Flag in February '98. The front crossdrilled rotors became completely plugged with brake dust and finally cracked all the way through, so were replaced with plain Baer rotors. The DOT 3 brake fluid boiled again, so it was replaced with Motul 600.

Next was Momo Corse pedal covers to aid heel-and-toe, PIAA 1000 85 watt driving lights embedded in the police grill (a huge improvement for mountain driving but I could still do with a pencil beam for fast straights), a K&N Air/Fuel Ratio gauge switchable between O2 sensors and an Autometer Z series Oil Temp. gauge in an A pillar pod, a detachable Mallory shift light with a 4,000 rpm pill (so that I know when to shift DOWN to keep the secondaries open), a set of stock slicers with BF Goodrich R1s for track use, an 8 lb. Flywheel instead of the stock 21 lbs., and in June '98 I was back at Laguna Seca with Green Flag.

Well, my ongoing lousy oil consumption suddenly got a lot worse as the engine finally gave up the ghost. My 3.4 was number 7 of a total of 9 ever built. The wet liners on the later engines had not been tempered properly and the pistons had worn a huge groove at the top of a couple of cylinders, allowing oil to blow by. I got 20K miles out of the engine.

Part 2

So in July it was back to Vadim's. This time, knowing that I would not see the car for months, I decided to buy a second car rather than waste thousands on a rental. So I bought, you guessed it, a SHO, this one a white '91 with moonroof and CD player, stock except for Tokicos and Eibachs.

I would have been happy with fixing up the ‘90 with the same or slightly more power. My choices were the 3.2 with or without a blower, or a stroked 3.6 which was too radical for my taste and would preclude adding a blower at a later stage. I couldn't bear the thought of getting the car back with less power than before, so I opted for the 3.2 with a Vortech 6 psi supercharger with 36 lb. fuel injectors, 255 lph fuel pump and the battery relocated to the trunk in a Moroso battery box. The UD pulleys were replaced by a stock pulley. If you supercharge a SHO, the UD pulleys don't provide enough harmonic dampening and you will shear the crank. The Quaife limited slip differential was getting rave reviews, so that was added as well. I finally got the car back on February 20, 1999, 6 months after Vadim got the car.

By now, the Quaife had seen track time on other folks' cars, and was overheating. So I added a transmission cooler consisting of a Tilton 17-522 pump, B&M 11" x 3" cooler mounted in front of the A/C condenser and a Wix 58964 transmission filter. The oil gets sucked out of the drain plug I installed, through the filter to the pump which is installed where the MAF can normally sits, on to the cooler and back via the transmission fill plug. A relay, fuse and on/off switch are part of the set up. This setup keeps the oil at a nice 180 degrees on the track (when I remember to switch it on, that is!!)

Of course, all that sophisticated machinery was going to need keeping an eye on, so I then added four more Autometer Z series gauges: Vacuum/Boost, Fuel Pressure, Oil Pressure and Transmission Temperature. The trans temp. replaced the oil temp. in the A pillar pod which now sits on top of the dash with the other three gauges in individual gauge pods. I also installed subframe connectors and modified the windshield washer bottle so that it fits in the driver's side fender.

So, what about performance? 405 HP @ 7300 RPM, 301 ft. lbs. torque @ 6400 RPM. Flywheel numbers I calculate to be 477 HP/334 ft. lbs. 0-60 estimate 4.6 seconds, 1/4 mile actual 14.4 at 110 mph. With practice this should come down to the mid thirteens. I can't floor it in first at all, but second is OK as long as I'm accelerating in a straight line. I only appreciated how the car throws you back into the seat under acceleration when I was a passenger.

Next up is adding a roll bar and harnesses, and doing something about the cooling. The car is running hot on the track, so I have already fashioned a scoop out of a couple of SHO spoilers and roof flashing. I'm going to look at moving the radiator rearwards to improve the gap between the A/C condenser and the radiator. If that doesn't work, it will be time to study alternatives such as an oil cooler or larger radiator. Will it ever stop?

Nick Chrimes.

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Modifications

Engine

  • Bored out to 3200 cc, balanced/blueprinted, 9:1 compression
  • Extruded Honed Intake Runners
  • 40mm Butterfly Valves
  • Stage 1 cams
  • 36 lbs/hr. fuel injectors
  • Manley exhaust valves
  • JE lightweight pistons
  • 6# Vortech V-1 Supercharger
  • GReddy Blow Off Valve
  • K N Air Filters
  • 80mm MAF
  • Walbro 255 LPH Fuel pump
  • Lifetime Performance Module/custom chip
  • Powder Coated Dark Blue/Light Grey

Exhaust

  • Hi-Flow cats
  • 2 1/2" Y pipe
  • Edelbrock Mufflers

Transmission

  • 8 lb. Aluminum Flywheel
  • Hi Revs Dual Diaphragm Race clutch, 9 3/4", 3500lbs pressure plate
  • SVT Rod Shifter Conversion Kit
  • Quaife Limited Slip Differential
  • Transmission Cooler

Brakes

  • Front
    • 12 1/2" Baer, twin pistons
    • Performance Friction pads (HD Street, PFC 90 Track)
  • Rear
    • SHO Shop rotors, cross-drilled
    • Carbon metallic pads

Suspension

  • Lowered 1" front, 1/2" rear
  • Eibach Progressive Springs
  • Koni Adjustable Inserts
  • Strut Tower braces front and rear
  • Subframe connectors
  • Anti Sway bars: 19mm front (stock 24mm), stock rear (26mm)

Wheels/Tires

  • Street
    • 17" X 8" 5-star by Limited
    • Dunlop SP8000 235/45/ZR17
  • Track:
    • 16" X 6" 1991 SHO "Slicers"
    • BF Goodrich R1 225/50/R16

Auxiliary Equipment

  • Removable Autometer Shift Light: 4,200 rpm pill (track), 7,400 rpm pill (drags)
  • Police Grill
  • PIAA 1000 Driving Lights
  • Momo Corse Pedal Covers
  • Battery in Moroso Battery Box in trunk with cutoff switch
  • Air Scoop

Gauges

  • Autometer Z Series except where noted
  • K&N Air/Fuel Ratio, switchable between O2 Sensors
  • Transmission Temperature
  • Vacuum/Boost
  • Fuel Pressure
  • Oil Pressure
  • Oil Temperature

Future Plans

  • Definite
    • Rickety Roll Bar
    • Simpson Harnesses
    • Kumho V700 225/50/ZR16 Tires to replace the R1s
  • Probable
    • Corbeau Forza Racing Seats
  • Possible
    • Adjustable Rear Control Arms
    • Coil Over Springs

Pictures

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