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Project Polar Express

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Project Polar Express

Postby PrecisionBoost » Mon Sep 10, 2007 4:35 am

Well, I decided to make this a new post because I wanted to start this project off fresh as I intent to make some real progress this fall/winter.

As many of you know I have had a number of projects on the go but none have been anywhere close to "finished"

My original plan was to upgrade my red turbo Passport Optima GSi after completely cutting off the front end and replacing it with the front end from a donor car.

Unfortunatly the frame was slightly twisted and despite my best efforts I worry that it's incapable of taking the stress associated with a high horsepower engine.

As such I traded Tom (GsiTurbo) one of my two Lanos in exchange for his daily driver ( base model Pontiac Lemans ) because I know his chassis has never been in an accident.


As of today the project started, I logged two hours today and completely stripped the car from the back to the front of the dash.

The dashboard will hopefully be gone by next weekend and after that the stock 1.6L SOHC and transmission will be removed.

I will be posting more data but I managed to strip out 83Kg ( 183 lbs ) today by removing all the rear panels, carpet, center console, spare tire, seats (front and rear) and seatbelts.

I have a detailed listing of the weight of individual groups of items so that everyone can see just how much weight can be trimmed off a vehicle.


Given the car is white I have dubbed it the "Polar Express" since I live in Northern Canada and it seemed appropriate ( should see snow in 4 to 6 weeks :cry: )

I will be posting images as I go along in the build up, and this time around a good portion of the work on the car will be farmed out to local shops since I have very little time to work on the project by myself.

Although I enjoy doing everything myself I've simply come to the realization that I'm not 18 anymore and I have a family and business to take care of.


So sit back and enjoy, as this should be a wild ride if things go as planned.
1994 Opel Calibra 4X4 turbo ( C20LET 2.0L 16V Turbo )
2002 Daewoo Lanos
2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Raliart --- SOLD! :)
1989 Passport Optima GSi (Astra MK2 ) --- SOLD! :(
1990 Passport Optima GSi (Astra MK2 ) ---SCRAP! :(
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Postby Efrain A. » Mon Sep 10, 2007 2:37 pm

cool, so a 2.0 DOHC then?
'88 Pontiac Lemans GTE - 2.0 16v XE - fully programable ECU, Custom made intake manifold and other bits.
146.6WHP/135lb.ft - 14.81@94mph
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Postby PrecisionBoost » Mon Sep 10, 2007 6:59 pm

Nope... it will recieve an upgraded C20GET 2.0L 8V turbo to start... the red Passport Optima GSi will most likely become a donor for many of the parts going into the white chassis.

Now.... onto the weight savings....

5.75 Kg ( 12.7 lbs ) --> rear plastic panels
8.30 Kg ( 18.3 lbs ) --> interior carpet
12.25 Kg ( 27.0 lbs) --> Spare tire
9.5 Kg ( 20.9 lbs ) --> Center consol, various trim, seat belts
3 Kg ( 6.6lbs ) --> Jack and lug nut wrench
15.5 Kg ( 34.2 lbs ) --> Driver Seat
15.5 Kg ( 34.2 lbs ) --> Passenger Seat
15Kg ( 33.1 lbs ) --> Rear Seat
1994 Opel Calibra 4X4 turbo ( C20LET 2.0L 16V Turbo )
2002 Daewoo Lanos
2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Raliart --- SOLD! :)
1989 Passport Optima GSi (Astra MK2 ) --- SOLD! :(
1990 Passport Optima GSi (Astra MK2 ) ---SCRAP! :(
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Postby PrecisionBoost » Wed Sep 12, 2007 12:47 am

Today I logged another 20 minutes and I managed to reduce the weight as follows:

5 Kg ( 11.0 lbs ) --> glove box, front speakers, sun shades
1994 Opel Calibra 4X4 turbo ( C20LET 2.0L 16V Turbo )
2002 Daewoo Lanos
2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Raliart --- SOLD! :)
1989 Passport Optima GSi (Astra MK2 ) --- SOLD! :(
1990 Passport Optima GSi (Astra MK2 ) ---SCRAP! :(
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Postby jidasas » Wed Sep 12, 2007 12:08 pm

Wow, There's a lot of weight in those plastic pieces...I never thought it would be more than five pounds or so...for the trim pieces.

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Postby Rodd1s » Wed Sep 12, 2007 7:51 pm

how about taking the whole dash out and having the gauges mounted to the chassis like in race cars?

just a thought...
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Postby PrecisionBoost » Thu Sep 13, 2007 2:39 am

The car will be completely gutted by the time I'm done..... then I will document the weight of the items I put back.

The factory dash will definitly be gone.... I will most likely be installing a small computer monitor as my primary gauges and I hope to do the dash in lightweight fibreglass.

Hopefully there will be a full roll cage in store for the car sometime soon.... once it's stripped I will have the car sandblasted and primed... then it will be off to get the roll cage.
1994 Opel Calibra 4X4 turbo ( C20LET 2.0L 16V Turbo )
2002 Daewoo Lanos
2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Raliart --- SOLD! :)
1989 Passport Optima GSi (Astra MK2 ) --- SOLD! :(
1990 Passport Optima GSi (Astra MK2 ) ---SCRAP! :(
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Postby Efrain A. » Thu Sep 13, 2007 5:45 am

Chris, may i ask what will you use the car for? i mean Drag, rally????
'88 Pontiac Lemans GTE - 2.0 16v XE - fully programable ECU, Custom made intake manifold and other bits.
146.6WHP/135lb.ft - 14.81@94mph
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Postby PrecisionBoost » Fri Sep 14, 2007 6:17 pm

Well.... for now it's primarily for Drag Racing.

The local race track is working on a nice paved road course (I think it was 2.3 miles) and it was supposed to be finished this summer but I don't think it's open yet. :(

Once the road track opens up I will be racing it there.... which means the suspension will be redesigned.... I'm looking into conversion to an independant rear strut design but I don't know how that's going to work out yet.

Overall I want it to be a well rounded design.... if it was just for drag racing I'd be throwing in an automatic transmission ( upgraded TH125C would fit )

I'm actually very tempted to install an electric motor in the rear end to make it an AWD chassis.

Given the ability to create different power in the front and rear it would be possible to make a nice drift car.

I won't get into the design of the electric drive at this point because it's just one possible setup.... I've done a pile of research and it would take me a couple pages to talk about it.

I'm also tempted to turn it into a bi-engine design and throw a 1.6L turbo in the back end..... but again.... that's just an idea.... I would have to modify the chassis heavily to accomidate such a design.
1994 Opel Calibra 4X4 turbo ( C20LET 2.0L 16V Turbo )
2002 Daewoo Lanos
2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Raliart --- SOLD! :)
1989 Passport Optima GSi (Astra MK2 ) --- SOLD! :(
1990 Passport Optima GSi (Astra MK2 ) ---SCRAP! :(
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Postby PrecisionBoost » Sat Sep 15, 2007 2:31 am

Well.... I logged another 3.5 hours today.... the majority of that time was spent trying to get the stupid steering wheel off.

It's really dumb design... they don't have threaded bolt holes for the puller to go onto... they must have made it this way so the dealerships would be forced to buy some special puller just for this car.

Anyways... the holes are smooth and oval... I made some steel that slides into the oval and then rotates to lock but it kept slipping out.

Just as I was about to quit I said "screw it" and tapped the holes with a 7/16" tap..... made a mess... but in the end... I won... I got the stupid thing off.

Now...onto the interesting stuff....weight saved...

Instrument cluster and various trim --> 3.0Kg ( 6.6 lbs )
Sound deadening foam under feet and firewall --> 6.25 Kg ( 13.8 lbs ) surprized at this... thought it would be more
wipers, wiper motor, plastic molding --> 4 Kg ( 8.8 lbs )
dash --> 5.5 Kg ( 12.1 lbs )

The car still runs despite the fact that other than the heater core housing and wiring there is nothing between me and the firewall :)

Next I will drain the coolant and oil and start removing the engine, heating system and wiring.

So..... thus far I have removed 108.55 Kg ( 239 lbs ) from the interior (plus the wipers because I needed to get at bolts for the dash)

It's not as much as one would think since that's barely more than a chubby friend.

I'd imagine it's probably good enough to drop a second off the quarter mile time but I will be adding more than my current savings with the roll cage and race seats.
1994 Opel Calibra 4X4 turbo ( C20LET 2.0L 16V Turbo )
2002 Daewoo Lanos
2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Raliart --- SOLD! :)
1989 Passport Optima GSi (Astra MK2 ) --- SOLD! :(
1990 Passport Optima GSi (Astra MK2 ) ---SCRAP! :(
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Postby Rodd1s » Sat Sep 15, 2007 10:56 am

the twin engine idea (one in the front and one in the rear) is a good idea, and its been done quite a few times. a while ago I saw in a magazine 2 C20LET's squeezed into a Opel/Vauxhall Corsa. madness!

and then there's this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_zN0-tff70
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Claim to fame: built the first 1.3 8v turbo Lanos in the world..?
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Postby daewoomofo » Sat Sep 15, 2007 4:04 pm

they say that 100lbs=0.1 second in the quarter mile. it might not seem like much but everything helps.
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Postby PrecisionBoost » Sun Sep 16, 2007 5:02 am

That is just an approximation.... you actually have to consider the weight of the vehicle prior to reduction to get an accurate estimate.

So in a 3800lb car a reduction of 240lbs is just 6.3%

But on car like this that should weigh in around 2150 lbs stock (so it's lighter than the Lanos and Aveo) I've managed to remove 11.1% of it's body weight.

So lets just call it 10% ( which isn't necissarily accurate but it's just to make a point )

Now... if it's a 14 second car before the weight reduction it's easy to assume that you will recieve a reduction of 14seconds X 10% = 1.4 seconds.

So in theory if the car is 2150lb and running a 14 second 1/4 mile it should run a 12.6 second 1/4 mile once the weight is reduced to 1910 lbs.

Is this true.... no not really.... but I'm just trying to give you a general idea behind the physics.

In reality there is more to it than this but when push comes to shove it's all about the horsepower to weight ratio.

Reducing the weight by 10% will give you the same times as the same vehicle with 10% more power ( so can either drop the weight by 10% or increase power by 10% to get the same results)
1994 Opel Calibra 4X4 turbo ( C20LET 2.0L 16V Turbo )
2002 Daewoo Lanos
2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Raliart --- SOLD! :)
1989 Passport Optima GSi (Astra MK2 ) --- SOLD! :(
1990 Passport Optima GSi (Astra MK2 ) ---SCRAP! :(
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Postby daewoomofo » Sun Sep 16, 2007 2:47 pm

yeah that makes sence. i was just going on what ive always heard.
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Postby exist3nce » Mon Sep 17, 2007 1:08 pm

Looks like an interesting project coming up Chris.


Also thats a good way of looking at the weight savings vs quarter mile times debate.


I'll also be going further with my project soon........ money is starting to come in now from my new job :)
2004 Optra/Forenza/Lacetti - 214whp - Emanage Blue - CT12B - Professional P&P - Getrag F28 6spd - KW V3 Coilovers - FX35 Retrofit
2002 IS300 5MT - 520whp - AEM EMS - GT4088R - Built Motor 9.5CR - OEM SupraTT muffler - W58 - TRD LSD - LS430 Retrofit
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