Far be it that anybody who talks about the performance of their car to stretch the truth about how well it does "If only they had a track to test it on." Well now, kiddies, it's time to put up or shut up, as the KIT CAR Challenge is now in session.
Developed over some serious bench racing a few months ago by the guys who bring you Street Rodder magazine every month, the idea for testing the performance aspect of our wonderful rides has grown into a serious endeavor. The concept of "I wonder what my car would do in the quarter-mile" can now be answered, as The KIT CAR Challenge pits the cold, hard numbers of on-track testing against other vehicles, including other kit cars as well as some late model production vehicles (so you know what you're up against at that traffic light).
We're currently using a portion of the California Speedway in Fontana, California, as a location to do most of our testing, but over time we hope to expand the KIT CAR Challenge to the East Coast, too. Andrew Schear, the Feature Editor at Super Chevy magazine is, besides being one of the better automotive photographers around, is also a bit of a hot shoe, and has taken on the responsibility of running the testing program for several of the magazines produced by the same division of Primedia (this magazine's parent company) that publishes KIT CAR. This gives us another constant to work with, allowing the individual vehicle to be the only variable in the equation.
In trying to even out the playing field, all of the numbers generated during the testing are corrected to the same criteria: every acceleration pass has a "Standard Day" correction, which is 60 degrees Fahrenheit with zero-percent humidity and at 29.92 inches of mercury. The correction is done via the algorithms of the Computech Systems program that manufactures our testing equipment (explained on the previous pages).
This month, the KIT CAR Challenge put two vehicles, a T-bucket and a 550 Porsche replicar, through their paces. The first test was with our chassis dyno, measuring the horsepower generated at the rear wheel from each vehicle. From there, we took the pair over to get them weighed, and then also figured the front and rear weight bias.
Next, we drove the world-famous Los Angeles freeways out to our test track and hit the quartermile. Our test driver, Andrew Schear, climbed into each of the cars and performed the first set of straight line time tests (60-foot, 0 to 30 mph, 0 to 60 mph, 0 to 100 mph, 50 to 80 mph, quarter- and eighth-mile, plus 60 to 0 brakin times).
We then moved over to the skidpad course, running three times counterclockwise on the inside of the circle and three times clockwise on the outside (to get an average g-force rating) and then, finally, through the slalom course. Having driven all sorts of vehicles and being the main test driver for our magazine group, Schear had some comments about both vehicles.
On the Porsche, he says "Jumping into the 550 instantly shocks the nerves back to the historic road racing era. Those cars were light and quick to respond, and the 550 replica was no different. Although noticeably more powerful than the original, the replica was nimble on the controls and felt like an extension of the driver's inputs. Our only wish would have been a more aggressive set of tires and Willow Springs Raceway at our fingertips."
When it came to the T-bucket, Andrew reveals "As we blasted down the 1320, raw power an strength were the adjectives of the moment. How else can one explain low 12s on a street radial? A rollbar and a set of serious slicks were the only elements keeping us from more aggressive testing, or should we say the high 11s. On the slalom, the '23 exhibited predictable movements and less-than-expected body roll. The excess of power-on-tap allows the driver to steer with the accelerator at will. Our proposal: autocross--not that we would, but the thought crossed our minds."
On the dyno, the T-bucket was a consistent runner, and it came back with 241.25 hp at the rear wheel with 270.62 ft-lbs of torque. Not bad for a 302 Ford motor! (See more on this car on page 32 of this issue). The Porsche's numbers were 124.77 hp at the wheels with 130.64 ft-lbs of torque. (You can check his motor stats in his car feature on page 37).
As it goes, our testing is only a guide for readers to get stats they would normally only be able to get as secondhand information (on the back porch with a couple of beers comes to mind). Schear also tested a new Corvette and Camaro for comparisons, and those numbers are here, too.
The information contained herein is not rocket surgery, but they're pretty good stats to work from. When it came to weighing the cars and getting their front and rear bias, the numbers are pretty close to the driving conditions, but with Pearson and his tool box out of his 1,660-pound car, the weight was really around 1,410 pounds. But it was tested with a 165-pound driver.
Little glitches in the testing equipment and a tired driver by the end of the day all affected the numbers in one way or another, but you'll get the general idea. As we get more an more testing done, we'll get better at it, and we'll summarize all our findings in a chart, which we'll publish every issue.
The first car to be tested...
The first car to be tested in the KIT CAR Challenge is Bill Kestener's T-bucket (see page 32 for more on how that car was put together). In our Tech Center, Barry White (controls in hand) watches as Chris Brown makes multiple runs on the wheel dyno.
The next car up was the Vintage...
The next car up was the Vintage Spyder 550 replicar owned by Ken Pearson (see the story on page 37 for the engine and suspension specs).
After driving to our test...
After driving to our test track, Ken's car was turned over to our test driver, who made some straight line runs, including 60-to-0 brake tests (shown here). With disc brakes up front and drum rear, the 550 stopped from 60 mph in 183.9 feet, though Ken feels it can do better than that with additional testing.
Bill Kestener stands outside...
Bill Kestener stands outside his T-bucket while our test driver gets comfy with the three pedals in Bill's T. Quarter-mile times were outstanding for a car with street radials: 12.01 at 144.69 mph!
Brian Brennan (seated) records...
Brian Brennan (seated) records the times of Pearson's Porsche as it runs the skidpad course. An average of .85 g's was achieved, though the 550 doesn't even run antiroll bars!
Though having a fairly wide...
Though having a fairly wide track, the T-bucket's relatively high center of gravity prevented the bucket from getting down the 420-foot slalom course faster than 38.2 mph (the slowest car in the slalom tested so far, though it's the quickest on the quarter).
Our test driver really pushed...
Our test driver really pushed Pearson's 550 through the slalom, getting a little loose at the final cone. At 41.8 mph, the 550 was faster through the cones than a new Z/28 Camaro.
The best "pass" for the T-bucket...
The best "pass" for the T-bucket was 241.25 hp (at the rear wheel) wheel 270.62 ft-lbs of torque. For a 1,925-pound car, that's impressive!
The little car, weighing in...
The little car, weighing in at only 1,410 pounds without the driver, pulled 124.77 horses at the rear wheel with a little more than 130 ft-lbs of torque.
|550 PORSCHE |
|60 ft. ||2.06 |
|0-30 mph ||1.99 |
|0-60 mph ||5.49 |
|0-100 mph ||N/A |
|50-80 mph ||5.26 |
|1/4-mile ||13.91 @ 98.50 |
|1/8-mile ||8.87 @ 79.86 |
|60-0 mph ||183.9 ft. |
|200 ft. skidpad ||.85 g's |
|420 ft. slalom ||41.8 mph |
|Total car weight ||1,660 lbs |
|Front weight ||790 lbs 47.59% |
|Rear weight ||880 lbs 53.01% |
|'23 T-BUCKET |
|60 ft. ||1.91 |
|0-30 mph ||1.52 |
|0-60 mph ||3.75 |
|0-100 mph ||9.24 |
|50-80 mph ||3.08 |
|1/4-mile ||12.01 @ 114.69 |
|1/8-mile ||7.74 @ 94.65 |
|60-0 mph ||179.9 ft. |
|200 ft. skidpad ||.74 g's |
|420 ft. slalom ||38.2 mph |
|Total car weight ||1935 lbs |
|Front weight ||790 lbs 40.83% |
|Rear weight ||1145 lbs 59.17% |
|LT-1 C4 CORVETTE six-speed |
|60 ft. ||2.15 |
|0-30 mph ||2.04 |
|0-60 mph ||5.22 |
|0-100 mph ||N/A |
|50-80 mph ||N/A |
|1/4-mile ||13.51 @ 106.91 |
|1/8-mile ||N/A |
|60-0 mph ||126 ft |
|200 ft. skidpad ||.86 g's |
|420 ft. slalom ||45.3 mph |
|'02 Z28 CAMARO |
|60 ft. ||2.36 |
|0-30 mph ||2.32 |
|0-60 mph ||5.52 |
|0-100 mph ||N/A |
|50-80 mph ||N/A |
|1/4-mile ||13.80 @ 106.65 |
|1/8-mile ||N/A |
|60-0 mph ||132 ft. |
|200 ft. skidpad ||.80 g's |
|420 ft. slalom ||40.90 mph |