Image Image Image Image Image




Cooling system, plumbing completed..

Kevin did an awesome job on the plumbing for the cooling system.  The system will be disassembled shortly for powder coating.



Preview of the wheels..

By chance I ran across some decent wheels.  I was looking for some steel rollers to get the car moving as my first choice of wheels had a 3 month lead time for delivery.  We needed something temporary to get the fitment right.  The wheels are the “Bullit” style from a Ford Mustang (oh the blasphemy!) but they have grown on me and the offset is damn near perfect for the Mendeola suspension.   I got the complete set off eBay for 1/7th of the price of the RE30s I was looking at. Dimensions are 17×8 with an offset of around 42mm.  We’re going to roll the rear fenders a bit and maybe the front.

Here’s a mockup of the final car with the Bullit wheels.

Here is the car with wheels like set in place (not fully fitted just yet).

Ford Mustang Bullit wheels (rear) on the Bullit Ghia.

Ford Mustang Bullit wheels (rear) on the “Bullit” Ghia.

Ford Mustang Bullit wheels.  17x8s all the way around.

Ford Mustang Bullit wheels. 17x8s all the way around.



Body, engine and radiator fitment.

Great updates today!  Kevin did a preliminary mock fitting of the body on the chassis with the radiator and motor.  It’s starting to look like a real car.



Engine, transaxle and radiator mounted!

It’s starting to look serious!!  Exhaust build/fitment work up next.



Rear radiator frame

We have some updates on the radiator placement.  Seems to be a bit of interest in this.  The idea here is to have air flow from under the transaxle, up to the frame shown here, through the radiators and out the rear deck lid.  We have a ways to go in terms of the scoops, etc.  Not sure if this could be pulled off in a bug?

Check the photos below to see where we’re headed:



More roll cage photos..

Roll Cage (driver's side)

Roll Cage (driver’s side)

Karmann Ghia Roll Cage (bar view)

Karmann Ghia Roll Cage (bar view)

Karmann Ghia Roll Cage (bar view)

Karmann Ghia Roll Cage (bar view)

Karmann Ghia Roll Cage (bar view 1) Karmann Ghia Roll Cage (interior view - 1)

Karmann Ghia Roll Cage (driver's side)

Karmann Ghia Roll Cage (driver’s side)

Photo updates for the roll cage build.



Build update: roll cage and other items

Good progress on the roll cage was made this week.  In the photos you’ll see some welded bracing placed at strategic points on the body.   The interior shots are of the custom bends and cross barred section in the rear.   Kevin said there’s going to be about 50 feet of steel tubing used when it’s all said and done.  And we’re going to power coat the whole monstrosity in the same red as will be found in the suspension components.

Other photos are more cosmetic – the black mamba shifter is shown (we’ve had it a while) and the rear Wilwood calipers with e-brake setup are in as well.    We’re getting there!




Brakes on chassis

Brakes taking shape on the Mendeola chassis.






Handles like its on rails (funny)..

Well, Kevin did say it will handle extremely well..but this is ridiculous! lol..

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!




Cooling system design

While in San Diego, Kevin and I discussed our cooling system options. Most folks doing Subaru conversions are mounting the radiators upfront in the spare tire well. Kevin wanted to do something different and after sketching out the concept on paper, I thought it was pretty cool.

Originally I was thinking that we’d place the radiator upfront just like everyone else, but it’s a tight fit and the air flow may have been problematic. It was explained to me that getting air to the radiator was the first half of the problem. Getting air out was the second half. I had visions of doing a custom reverse funnel type shroud that you find in the front noses of water cooled 911s where an intake shroud funnels air to two of three radiators. I wasn’t sure if lowlight Ghia nostrils would provide the surface area needed which would have led to making a third open or scoop down low near the horn boot opening. Being a lowlight, I didn’t want to mess up the front nose in any way. Plus, I was thinking that we could benefit from the extra weight over the front wheels.

But it was not to be.

Kevin’s idea was to build a rear mounted cooling system just above the transaxle and forward of the motor. The idea is to scoop air up from the bottom of the chassis, direct that to the radiator and then flow it out the back over the motor, similar to a standard air-cooled VW.

To pull this off, the parcel area behind the rear seat would need to be sacrificed temporarily while Kevin worked out the framework for the radiator and air flow. Here’s what the car looks like with that parcel cut out:


Once the radiator and system are fitted, a new firewall will be constructed to isolate the radiator and engine compartment from the interior.



Transaxle with body on.

Today we have before and after pictures of where the transaxle fits.

This first picture is of the 1958 body, chassis and stock transaxle:


This second picture is with the 1958 body on the new Mendeola chassis and Subaru transaxle:


And finally, close ups of the new setup:





Preliminary engine work.

The heart of the beast is starting to take shape.



Tire/wheel sizing tool.

The whole tire/wheel sizing thing got to be real complicated for this build.  At this point we’re looking at a set of 18 inch wheels and needed to do some preliminary sizing work.    So, after an hour or so tinkering around in Excel we came up with the attached tire/wheel sizing calculator tool.   You can put in a target size at the top and then try to “solve” for your tire/wheel combination.   So we’ve got the rough dimension work out of the way but we’re still going to need to determine our optimal offsets and such.

We’ve uploaded the tool so that others can use it for testing.   Here’s a screenshot of what it looks like (click the graphic to download):

Tire-sizing-sheet Tire/wheel sizing calculator (Excel).

This could help some other build projects out there.  If you find it useful, let us know and we’ll link to your project!



San Diego Visit..

Dropped by Mendeola in San Diego, took a few pics.



Transaxle fitted in chassis.

The SubaruGears transaxle mounted and shifting!  Kevin is an artist!



Transaxle is being fitted.

Transaxle made it across the Pacific. Mendeola is doing chassis fitment this week and said they have it shifting. We should have pictures in a few days.



I got a feeling..

..that when this car is done, my conversations about it will go something like this (from the Fast and Furious):

Brian: So what’s your best time?

Dom: I’ve never driven her…

Brian: Why not?

Dom: She scares the shit out of me.

I’ve been reading some of the air cooled related forums and such, and people have  mentioned how fast and scary some 150HP Ghias are (traditional air cooled motors and the 4-cylinder Subarus).  Given the design goals for this project, I think this may be a car that’s too scary to drive.   Seriously.



Transaxle built!

SubaruGears has shipped the transaxle.  Should clear customs and arrive stateside in about a week.

Some pics of the transaxle build:

the hybrid gearing 5-speed



Build update..

Lots of updates today:


  1. Motor.John at Outfront Motorsports is working on the motor.  He performed a preliminary cylinder leak down test on all cylinders and the motor came in at 2%!  A leak down test measures the amount of air needed maintain pressure within a static cylinder.  Good readings come in around 5-8%.  Seems like this engine hasn’t reached its break-in period.  This is all very, very good news.  John and I decided to go with the new AEM ECU (which supports the Subaru AVCS) but it’s still in beta and he will be prepping the motor to run with an existing harness setup. We’re not doing any cosmetics at this time.
  2. Brakes. The race disc brake kit has been ordered from Airkewld. Pete tells me that they should ship in about a week and half. 4-piston wilwood calipers up front and 2-pistons in the rear.  The rotor bolt pattern is 5 x 114.3 (see wheels below). The only problem I foresee with these is that they don’t have a mechanism for the e-brake setup. The e-brake will be required for state inspections here in Virginia.
  3. Transaxle.  SubaruGears said that the transaxle should be complete by Monday and he’ll ship sometime next week, so we should have it in 2.5 weeks at the latest.
  4. Wheels.  I have found two wheel types that I like. Both are 17×7 with with 5×114.3 bolt pattern. Finding 17″x7, 5×130 wheels that I liked was nearly impossible (everything that I loved was only 18×8.5) so based on Airkewld’s advice they will ship the rotors with the more popular 5×114.3 pattern.  I remember the old school Momo five spokes back in the day.

Now – which do you like better? Some quick and dirty mockups with Photoshop: