Sunday, June 29, 2014


I was recently invited by the rad team at Speedhunters to share the progress on the Kuda. It was a lot of fun to put the little article together, and cool to sum up the build to this point in as short a way as possible. Check it out:

Dream It. Build It. The Kiwi Kuda

Massive thanks to Speedhunters for allowing me to share the project on what is, in my opinion, the best damn car site on the internet! 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Shakedown 'Cuda

I'd rented a glidetrack slider for another project I'm working on, so I had a go at recording some shots of the car before I had to return the slider. This little video was the result. Good fun!

Music by Ornithologist.

"A stormtrooper and a Darth Vader" -Christian Pearce.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Tear apart timelapse

From a functional car to a stripped shell in a day and a half.

Was quite a bit of work!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

photos and thoughts

Some more photos from the dyno day photoshoot. It looks amazing, it still all feels a little bit unreal! I'm so used to seeing the thing as an assemblage of separate parts that the reality of the whole car has taken time to sink in. And the fact that it's as much fun to drive as it is makes the whole deal crazier.

This stuff is long time dreams come true! ha ha. I love machinery and this is some sweet machinery to me!

The car is now back to being an assemblage of parts in the garage. Literally! From a functional car to a stripped shell in a day and a half. I'll post a timelapse video soon!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Dyno day photoshoot

Right next door to Speedtech Motorsport was this rad stack of shipping containers, an ideal backdrop for a photo session. I really wanted some shots in an industrial setting and the heavy-duty but colourful containers were perfect. I took a whole bunch of photos but I think this one is my favourite. The car just looks so right to me! I'll post some more soon, they turned out great!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Dyno day

Before I pull the car apart to finish the body I wanted to put it on the dyno to get a baseline of how the motor is running. When driving around it felt a little down on the power I was hoping for, and it went flat after 4500rpm, about 1000rpm sooner than it should with its hydraulic flat tappet cam. So I borrowed a workmates sweet wagon (cheers Max!), rented a trailer, and towed the cuda out to see the rad dudes at Speedtech Motorsport.

It got bolted up to the Dynapack hub dyno...

and put through its paces a few times. Sure enough the power curve fell off at 4500rpm, but it pulled real hard up to that point, so it turns out I'm just greedy! It put out 444lbft to the rear wheels at 4100rpm, so well over 500lbft at the motor and should do similar hp once I find out what's causing the power to drop off 1000rpm too soon.

I unbolted the temporary mufflers and removed the little air filter hoping they might be causing the power drop, but no luck. The motor did put out 30 more hp to the rear wheels without those little 2.25" mufflers though! And holy shit it was loud in the dyno room with open headers! Diagnosing the power drop issue will have to wait till the car is going again in the future, but at least it's good to know it's running great till 4500rpm. That's straight outa the box too, with conservative ignition timing and no carb tuning. So it should be an animal once fully dialed in!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The new diff I built has new gears in it and you have to be gentle on them for a few hundred miles. But I had the old diff just lying around, so.....

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Just over a year

Just over a year between these two photos. This image really reminds me of the thoughts and feelings I had when the car was in that minimal state. I can happily say that the rebuilt machine has lived up to expectations! So pumped to get it finished and registered for public roads!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

fresh photoshoot

A fun little impromptu photoshoot this evening. It was the first time for me to step back and see the car with the recently painted panels (I had thrown a quick coat of paint on to tidy them up for some photos), along with the rear spoiler mockup and fender gills. The car looked great!

On the right side I painted the fender and door black to go with the black E-coated quarter panel and roof. I think I might paint the car like this once I've done the seams and high build primer work, I love the two sides and their two different feels.

The car is awesome fun to drive, plenty of power and feels like it has very predictable and positive handling. The steering is fast and the car is easy to throw around. It's only going to get better as things get more dialed in too. I can't wait to take it to a track and really lean on it!

Monday, May 12, 2014


Preparing the car for a final photo shoot of it at this stage. Wish I could keep it stripped out like it has been, it's all you really need! Fun to drive and looks fantastic.

Mocking up a rear spoiler with some mild steel sheet. Easy to weld and modify. The final will be out of alloy and be welded and riveted together. Should look rad!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Shakedown II

Some photos from today. The car is going great, the new diff ratio is much nicer, the steering is fast and tight, the brakes have plenty of power, and the body feels rock solid. Feels fantastic!

The folks in the neighbourhood seem to really like the car. Lots of respect from old ladies and kids, and one guy even knew it was a cuda, which is pretty rare around here!

With everything working great, now I have to pull it all apart and put the body back on the rotisserie! Arrggghhhh. It's gonna be tough. Not before I take some proper photos though.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sway bars

Fitted the new Hotchkis sway bars. The front is a 1.25" hollow bar

and the rear is an adjustable type with 3 settings. Nice bits of gear!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Diff build

My shiny new freshly built diff! Follow along and I'll go through how I built it up.

You need a few specific tools to build a diff properly, some you can make yourself, some you have to buy. Here is one of the tools I made, a spanner for holding the pinion flange while installing and removing it (which you have to do a lot!). I made two different ends, for the two common Mopar universal joint sizes.

One of the most vital tools you need and want is an impact wrench. Beats the hell out of doing things with a socket! You'd be at it forever...   Here I'm installing the pinion gear in the housing, along with the pinion flange. I used a kit that allows you to shim the pinion gear to adjust the bearing preload, instead of the usual collapsible spacer (or crush sleeve as its known).

You use the appropriate shims to get the correct bearing preload, which is 20 inch pounds for new bearings. This little inch pound beam-type torque wrench is used to check the turning torque (it bends as you turn it around, allowing you to check the resistance on the little scale).

I pressed the carrier bearings onto the Auburn Sure-Grip limited slip differential and bolted on the new 3.55:1 ring gear.

Once your pinion bearing preload is set and you've estimated your pinion depth shim (by checking the shim that was on the old pinion gear in the case) and placed the appropriate shim under the bearing (I used a dummy bearing to set this up, where by I bought another identical bearing and ground out the inside diameter so that it slips on the pinion gear as opposed to having to be pressed on and off, which greatly speeds things up and prevents damage to the bearing and the shims), you can install the carrier and ring gear into the housing. The spanner shown is another tool I made. It's for adjusting the gear backlash and carrier bearing preload.

Gear backlash has to be between 0.006" and 0.010" and is checked with a dial indicator.

Once the backlash and carrier bearing preload is set you can check the pinion depth by testing the wear pattern on the ring gear with special non-drying ferric oxide paint. This photo shows my final pattern with 0.030" pinion depth shim and 0.008" back lash. Perfect!

And that's it! Here is the finished diff and some of the tools and bits and pieces that I used. I'm looking forward to seeing how the limited slip and 3.55:1 gears change the feel of the car, no more peg legged 2.76:1 geared diff! Huge thanks to Cass aka Dr Diff for his help and advice (and the new parts)!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Drums redux

As part of the second shakedown test-run I'm building up a new diff with 3.55:1 gears and rebuilding the rear drums. Here are the parts after a thorough wire wheeling. Years of abuse and road grime leave these parts caked with greasy dirty mess.

Freshly sand blasted, solvent washed, prepped, and painted and good as new! I drove the old pinion bearing races out of the diff center and new ones back in after the paint job.

Here are the parts of the drums before a soak in white vinegar or a sand blast, depending on the part.

And those same bits after being cleaned up and painted or restored.

The freshly rebuilt drums with new Firm Feel race shoes. The drums will only be temporary until I decide if I'm sticking with the 15" wheels or going to 18"s. But it was a good exercise to rebuild them, and don't they look great!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Shakedown II work

While the cuda is in a running state, and before I pull it apart and finish the body and paint, I decided it would be a good time to mockup and test the modified steering, braking, and suspension setups that weren't on the car for the initial shakedown. So I've been working lately on getting those things ready for another little shakedown run. This image isn't really showing any of that, instead it just shows a rough cardboard rear spoiler mockup, but it makes for a nice first image! The final spoiler will be made out of alloy with the little braces and bits riveted together. I really like the little led brake light and empty tail lights, looks rad!

This is the new hydroboost unit and its accompanying master cylinder. This unit uses power steering pressure to boost the brakes, as opposed to engine vacuum. These things are a hit on the pro touring scene and give you good power and better reliability apparently, and also let you run a big cam without worrying about lack of brake boosting at idle or low rpm. I am thinking of replacing the hydraulic lifter cam in the motor with a big solid cam...

As I'm running hydroboost and a steering quickener I thought it would be a good idea to have a power steering fluid cooler in the mix to make everything happier when it's being thrashed. I made this alloy bracket to mount the cooler in the engine bay.

Here's the cooler in place roughly where the battery used to go. It's plumbed into the return line from the steering box, with a Y junction just after it and before the reservoir tank, with the other inlet on the Y taking the return line from the hydroboost unit. The cooler will have fresh air ducted to it from a NACA duct in the hood.

This shot shows the whole setup, with the KRC pump, hydroboost unit, cooler, and braided stainless high pressure lines. I love the no-nonsense industrial/racecar look!

I've also added a Moroso air-oil separator into the PCV vacuum line to catch excess oily mess before it goes into the intake manifold.

And I've added this nice little alloy radiator overflow tank.

 All together I think the engine bay is looking fantastic. I love it!

The new Mcleod Racing clutch I've got has a different pressure plate finger ratio from stock, so I needed a pedal stop to limit the travel of the clutch pedal. The factory ratio is 6:1 and the new plate is 4.8:1 I believe, so it's a wicked short pedal throw.

The stop bolted in place. Feels nice and solid and you can really stomp on the pedal, without fear of bending the pressure plate fingers or damaging the Z bar clutch linkage. The 10mm nut I had previously welded onto the firewall for just such a purpose came in very handy for mounting the stop!

Here's one of the new 11.75" 'cop' rotors with 3" long Moroso wheel studs. I have Firm Feel race pads for the factory calipers and the rear drums and that along with the hydroboost, adjustable proportioning valve, line locker, and cooling ducting, are the extent of the brake modifications I'm doing at this stage on the car. I'm unsure as to whether I'm sticking with 15" wheels and tires or going to 18" so I don't want to go all out and stuff the baddest brakes I can into the 15" wheels only to have to replace it all if I go to 18"s. I want to keep the 15"s as they match the tough old school look I'm going for on the car, but they are heavy and won't handle as well as modern 18" setups, so if they end up being too much of a limiting factor then I'll go to 18". And then of course fit the biggest brakes I can inside them. So the setup above is just the bare minimum for now, and should give good performance on the street, while lacking a bit on the track.

I'm running the rear brakes for this second shakedown run, and have temporarily plumbed the line and the line locker inside the back seat area. There's an illuminated rocker switch controlling the line locker, which is just there for testing purposes and not for doing wicked mean skids honest!

I've also installed the modified column with the 1.5:1 Coleman Racing steering quickener grafted in. I can't wait to see how this feels! The Hotchkis E-Max has a similar setup and apparently has "magical steering", so it should feel pretty good! The factory steering is slow and way too over assisted with no road feel at all, and rack and pinion conversions have too many drawbacks, so a setup like the above gives heavier faster steering with more road feel. Just the ticket!

While I love the factory pistol grip Hurst shifter and will be running one with custom carved wooden grips in the finished car, I also have a soft spot for the classic Hurst white ball. So I bought one and made a quick custom handle for it, just for this shakedown run. Looks rad in the stripped black and gray interior!