the Pursuit of Speed:
Becoming a Viper Killer
Ok, so I'm not there yet. I'll admit that right out. A stock Dodge Viper will run low 13's at 5000ft. The Mongoose only ran low 15's stock at 5000ft, meaning I've got to clip at least two seconds from my E/T in order to beat the vipers.
At the same time, a viper costs well over $50,000 to buy, even used, and has a huge 8.0L V10 engine. My car cost $1000, and has a tiny 2.2L I4 Turbo engine. Even if I were to spend $10,000 making the Mongoose faster than a viper, I'd still be spending a whole lot less than I would have on a viper. More importantly, though, evidence suggests that a mere $3000 investment will put me well ahead of a stock viper.
Credit where Credit is Due
Front-Drive Turbo Mopars have a huge following. At the head of the pack are people such as , , and . These guys are the source of all my knowledge. Their respective websites will tell you everything you need to know to make your Dodge Front-Drive Turbo car go very, very fast.
In addition to providing information, Dempsey and I have worked together on his and on the Mongoose. None of what I have or will do with the 'Goose would have been possible without his help. Thanks Dempsey!
The Good Stuff
Ok, here's what you are here for. How did I do what I've done, and how do I plan to do what I will do?
Step 1: Buy a Dodge Daytona Shelby
I got mine for $1000 from a junkyard. To get one that's actually drive-able, you'll probably pay around $1500. You specifically want a Daytona with the Turbo II engine under the hood, preferably one that runs. You don't have to buy a daytona, either. Chrysler made dozens of different cars with the T II in it, and even more with the Turbo I. The Turbo II is the better option, but if you can't find one, there's no reason a Turbo I won't work as well.
The first thing to do is get the car in top shape, mechanically. For me, this meant a new ignition setup (from coil to plugs), new brakes, and a fresh suspension, as well as new tires. I also had to cut out and replace some of the floorboard on the drivers side, which had rusted out (I didn't want my feet breaking through the floor when I hit the gas!)
Step 2: The Exhaust
The first thing I did once I had the car running was to upgrade my exhaust. Partially, this was a necessary step because the current one was plugged up (apparently, a former owner had destroyed the catalytic converter). I went with a 3" exhaust, and put a Dynomax UltraFlo bullet muffer and a Products For Power cat, both of which maximize exhaust flow. Back-pressure was now a thing of the past. Suddenly, my turbo was spooling up faster, and I was getting more power. Yay!
Step 3: Lightening the Load
The one thing about the Shelby Daytona I didn't like was all the extra stuff thrown in. The car had more gadgets and gizmos than Kit! From the A/C to the rear carpet, everything non-essential went out the window (or through the rear trunk hatch). I replaced the stock boost gauge with a 30lb gauge, and put two fuel gauges in. One was a with 10 lights for tuning, and one was a with 4 lights, which I mounted beside my boost gauge for in-race reference.
Pulling the A/C was a serious weight-reducer, but it also removed the A/C condenser from in front of my radiator and intercooler. I could do this because my race car was not my daily driver. I also cared more about performance than, say, um...comfort. Performance driving is HOT! the inside of the car gets uncomfortably warm during a race on a hot summer day.
Step 4: Preventing Cutout
In order to protect your engine, the car's computer will cut out the engine when it goes over 13lbs of boost (this is only in the Daytona Shelby/Shelby Z; other cars will cut out at lower boost). This 'overboost cut-out' protects the uninformed driver from pumping too much air into the engine and causing it to go lean (not enough fuel). Having your engine cut out in the middle of a race is not fun. I used and stuck a grainger valve bleed in. With my current fuel set-up, I can only run about 15lbs of boost before going lean, so I stuck another grainger valve in my boost control the boost level. Dempsey talks about how to do this .
WARNING! if you install a cut-out bypass and boost control, you should ALWAYS keep an eye on your air/fuel mixture. Not having enough fuel is a sure recipie for disaster!
This is the end of what I've already done
Read on for what's in the works for the Mongoose!
Step 5: What a COOL Turbo!
The next step is to prepare to run higher boost levels. First, I recomend replacing your stock airbox. This will require running a new hose between your turbo and the 'cooler, and then replacing the airbox with a K&N cone. Place the cone as far forward in the vehicle as possible in order to get the coolest air available. For the Turbo I, adding an intercooler is essential here. I already have a 'cooler in my Turbo II, but in order to keep my turbo from harm, I'm installing a larger one. Specifically, I obtained a Cummins Diesel 'cooler, which I will install following the advice from . The original airbox was configured to bleed pressure from the turbo. With that going out the window, I'm also installing a blow-off valve. The valve of choice is a 1st generation valve from an Eagle Tallon, which is the only part I'm waiting on to perform this phase of work.
Step 6: More fuel, please
Once the turbo is ready for the added work, it's time to add fuel. More fuel means more boost, and more boost means more power. The fuel set up requires a new fuel pump, new injectors, and a new regulator. The cost will be about $1000 for the whole set up, but it should allow me to go up over 20lbs boost, and put me into the bottom of the 13 second realm at the local track. That, at least, is what I'm hoping for!