Building an SLC: The Journey Begins

I’m building a car. Yup, I’m building a real road-worthy car. Real size, real motor, real registration, real everything, except that you can’t walk into a showroom and buy one for yourself. It’s an actual car you have to put together. And this isn’t my first rodeo. As some of you know, I’ve previously built a Cobra replica (a Factory Five “Type 65 Roadster”), which I sold when I went to B-School. That was a really fun project and I learned a ton about cars. It had  Ford 428 with a Tremec TKO, Halibrand knock-off rims (i.e. you have to use a mallet, not a wrench to get them off) and was painted a pearl red.

What I’m building this time is something original and very modern called a SuperLite Coupe, “SLC” for short. It’s made by a company called Race Car Replicas (RCR), which is best known for their Ford GT-40 replicas. To the right is a pic of what it looks like. It’s very customizable and accepts a wide variety of drivetrains, ranging from the various Chevy LS engines to Lexus, Audi, even a Mazda rotary being built locally in San Francisco. I’m doing something almost as odd as a rotary by going with a late model Porsche engine (more on that in a later post), but I should be getting around 400 HP naturally aspirated with a moderate setup of the ECU. That’s plenty in a car that weighs short of 2300 lbs.

The rest of the options broadly break down as follows:

  • Everything you need to be street legal, such as hand brake, DOT lights, windshield wiper, etc.
  • White exterior, matte black rims (hoping to use car wrap to get a design onto the car at some later point)
  • No spoiler, like the red car in the picture. The car has enough downforce for a street and track day car.
  • ISIS electronics, likely a Motec (or similar) custom ECU.
  • Interior – you tell me… likely some continuation of the white exterior with dark Alcantara.
In terms of what comes with the kit and what do I have to build, the breakdown is that everything necessary to get the engine and transmission mounted to a car which can be transported and pushed down the street (a.k.a “roller”) will be done at the factory. In my case, that’s an important distinction, because my engine/transmission combo hasn’t been used before and  so the car needs to be configured to accept it at the factory. An LS engine would have been easier, but why do something expected and easy? Beyond drivetrain fitment, the rest I do myself and that is everything from brakes, cooling system, fuel system, throttle, gear shift to electronics, full interior and windows. And that’s just the top of mind list. There’s a lot more, but it shouldn’t involve a ton of fabrication or welding.

So why build a car? Excellent question, simple answer: it’s fun! Even without the car delivered for another 12+ weeks, there are already lots of things to get smart about, choices to make, drivetrain to secure, machining of add-on parts, planning of various build stages, etc. For example, I spent a lot of time researching gear ratios for transmissions and started to understand why certain cars are geared in a certain way. More to come later, but it was very interesting research that really taught me something. I’ll post about some of that very soon. More to come here:

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