We once again went with Speed Inc. for the parts installs and tuning. Dan Marks had all the parts installed in several hours and then turned the car over to Jim Moran. When tuning, veteran tuners like Jim will edit a myriad of parameters, a partial list of which includes shift points, torque converter lock/release commands, shift speed, and torque management. First addressing general drivability, Jim fired up HP Tuners and dug into the PCM, for example moving up the cruising RPM where the torque converter would lock up, which is better with a looser converter. Full throttle tuning involved logging some spirited driving over at his favorite test spot, reviewing the data, and then making any necessary changes in order to fine tune the shift points, air/fuel ratios, timing advance and a number of other parameters. For example, Jim had raised the shift points when the car still had a stock converter, but those shift points no longer worked, in fact, he typically has to go the other way and lower them.
We tested the new combo on the drive home and were somewhat surprised that we didn’t get pulled over. Despite the fact that we always strive to follow the rules of the road, we had to fight the urge to hit it at every light to “test” the new parts. Even with our spirited driving, the transmission temperature never got over 185F; ADM transmission cooler kit is a clear winner. These cars stock can see transmission temperatures over 200F, even 220F, but that’s no good with a looser aftermarket converter.
As is typical for us, we made a beeline for the drag strip the same week. Traction was an issue, which we attributed to the track having an off night. Nope, we had the same problem the next time we went out. Being stubborn, we had to try one more night, trying to get the car to hook up. It was time to step up again.
The decision was made to get a set of either Nitto NT05R or Mickey Thompson ET Street drag radials. While both tires have a tread wear rating of zero, we decided it was worth getting a set because frankly life is too short and we wanted our traction back. A local friend heard about us being in the market and offered to sell us his used set of 18x9.5 ZR1 replica wheels which happened to be shod with some used Nitto 305/ 45R18 NT05 drag radials. We bolted right up and we only had to tie back the emergency brake cables which would have rubbed the inner barrel of the wheels.
We also installed an RX catch can, ADM cold air scoop and a Rotofab washer bottle in our quest to go quicker. While the catch can does not make the car faster, it does filter out any engine oil that might otherwise go through the factory PCV system and into the intake manifold, which can lead to detonation and reduced performance. The scoop is designed to increase performance by directing more airflow to the air intake. The custom washer bottle from Rotofab enabled us to remove the factory unit which partially obstructs the air pathway in the lower grille area.
We made a few test hits and it was obvious that the tires were going to help a lot. It was fortuitous that we had picked up a copy of HP Tuners because we ran into another snag, the car was hitting the rev limiter on the 1 to 2 shift. We logged some passes, emailed them to Jim, and he sent back a revised tune. We had to lower the 1 -2 shift by 4 MPH, which we had actually raised last year.
Despite all of the rain we’ve been experiencing this year we finally managed to make some decent passes at Great Lakes Dragaway. Playing with burnout techniques and tire pressures netted us a firstname.lastname@example.org and a 60 foot time of 1.66 even with some tire spin. Correcting the time for DA, we see that the car could run email@example.com MPH in better air. So we’ll go on record and say that improvement from adding the Circle D 3200 stall converter, suspension parts, and stickier Nitto NT05R drag radials was worth at least 3 tenths but we predict that the ET will drop as air temperatures drop in the fall. We’ll keep getting after it this year as our goal is 11.99 as the car sits. As always, we’ll keep you posted.