2004 Thornhill Showdown

Malcolm has organized our first ever major car event, and its set for this year, May 22 2004. Here is the link.
In preperation for this event Ive done a few things to the car :

New Springs...

After my first burnout, I noticed that my tire trackers were skipping, which means axle-hop. Turns out the ones I had were the original weak factory 318 springs. So I ordered a new set of XHD leaf springs designed to fit in Hemis.
The old ones were 4 leaf L and R. The new L is 5 leafs and the new R is 7 leafs!

New Headers...

Finally had it with the leaky headers. Ive fucked with them for too long and its time to do it right.
Well before embarking on this perilous journey AGAIN I needed to figure out what to get first. TTi although a superior header, is a bit too expensive. And also its guarenteed to fit, only if your hardware meets their specs. Anyways, i dont feel like footing a $2K bill right now, and also it might take a while if I have to order parts, so I narrowed the options down to these :

..which are the Hedmen, Hooker, Dynomax, and MP headers in TBLR order.
Now, since I dont know what i have, the closest match is a Hedmen header. So since mine doesnt fit, what will a new one do? Anyway, so I asked Darin to take a couple pictures of his Hookers to see how his fit is. After all, its the same part number for me too, so here they are :

So Hooker seems to fit well, but after looking at prices, the MP headers are the cheapest. And since theres no real guarentee anything will fit anyway, I went for price...

These are the Mp headers, and upon closer inspection, they'r actually rebadged Hedmens. As can be seen in the pictures they are almost identical to the ones I have, except for a 2" longer collector length.
Anyhow, when installing, I was glad to see they fit like a charm!

..of course your not doing serious car work without bloody knuckles!

Upon closer inspection of the old headers it was clear where the leak was. I believe that I have some '70s version of the Hedman headers. Notice the holes do not have a dimple beside them, like the new ones. So when they were over-torqued, they bowed, which caused more leakage. They must have been damn tight, to bend a 1/4" steel flange.

The paint that was shipped with the headers was pretty thin and crappy, so I sanded them off and re-shot them with VHT. Canadian tire sells it now for 1/2 the price of Perf. Improvements, note to self.

Anyhow, once I actually completely installed these cocksuckers, I saw that the left ones were not clearing my mini-starter, so I had to iteratively bang and refit them till they cleared. And once they were on good and torqued down, they would not mate with my existing exhaust. Heres a picture of what the problem is :

Recurve the advance...

With my old timing light I saw that my advance curve was way too fast, so I got a new fancy timing light and a new spring kit.

I baught this great book that explains how the advance works on these old distributors.

He suggests the following curve for good performance.

After all was recurved, I made this nice cozy box for the light, from padding I got down in shipping.

New wheels...

Why not!?
I used to think American Racing wheels were the cheap knock-offs for good wheels, but I think they've come a long way. The AR website has a very cool feature which lets you put their rims on your car. Its totally amazing and lets you avoid getting a set that turns out looks like shit! And their more expensive competition like Weld or CentreLine has no such feature because "we're the best". They boast that they use a higher grade aluminum, but when you compare pri ce and customer service, who cares. Here is a good US wheel jobber for some price ideas http://www.superbuytires.com
Heres a few designs which I think look good on the car :

15" AR-23

A Chevelle with AR-23 wheels

Diamond Lock ][

Burst Polished

The infamous V10-Charger. His wheels look similar to the burst.

20" Royale with cheese
Bling Bling!

Casino Chrome

AR Touring

The essential muscle car rim, Centerline - Convo Pro-Street

Here are 2 pictures which describe my existing rims and spacing :

I wanna have at least an inch between the tire and the car on every side, and yet maximize the width. So Ill take the smallest spacing from either side, subtract an inch, double it and thats the max tire size.
Turns out to be 275.2mm. Assuming of course, the rim I choose has zero offset. I could have alternatively had an offset, but use a different calculation.
Anyhow, the closest tire out there in the wild which approaches this spec is and still has the same wall height would be a 275-50-R15. And here are a few companies who make one :
BF-Goodrich Radial T/A Nitto NT-555R Extreme Drag Radials

Alternator Hookup

Here is a few tidbits on alternators and their correct hookup :


Got mom to sew in some vinyl patches for the cracked rear seats. They turned out nice! Almost factory looking....

After much debate, I decided not to get an aluminum rad, but instead put in an accurate temperature guage. This is a $10 unit from crappy which does the job. Turns out I was within reasonable spec. When Im on the highway, she heats up good, but not too bad.