By on May 2, 2014

lebaron

Hey! Remember that great idea that Audi and BMW and Ford and Hyundai and Kia had about getting you to buy a turbocharged four-cylinder in a relatively expensive car instead of a V-6? Lee Iacocca had it first. But he never had it like this.

For just a little less than five grand, an experienced Mopar mechanic can take delivery of a 300 horsepower ’87 Town&Country wagon. The 300 horsepower comes courtesy of an SRT-4 swap. While some percentage of you will, at this point, throw up your hands and mutter something about a Turbo III being able to easily put out that kind of power, the SRT-4 swap makes sense because it’s simply less fragile and easier to source from junkyards.

The Town&Country wagon is, rather amazingly to the modern mind, well under 3000 pounds. Say 2800 with the swap. That means that its power-to-weight ratio is pretty much exactly what you get with a new Chevrolet SS or BMW 550i. Road noise, center-stack telematics function, and offset-crash safety will likely lag behind the modern competition, however.

The 2.4L SRT-4 engine was, in many ways, the all-time hero of modern turbocharged fours. My ex-wife’s SRT-4 with the Stage 2 kit would walk away from my Porsche 993 on flat ground and with the dial-a-boost turned down you could get 35mpg on the freeway. None of the current crop of boosted quads match it, save perhaps for the pin-pulled grenade you can buy in a CLA45. The “world engine” found in the Caliber SRT-4 sucked and blew by contrast.

Wouldn’t it be great to have the option of a 300-horsepower turbo four in the Charger? Sure it would. But you still won’t be able to get a wagon, and you definitely can’t have fake wood trim. If you want that, you’d better make the call before someone else does.

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137 Comments on “If Only They’d Built It Back Then...”


  • avatar
    sproc

    “…likely lag behind the modern competition…” seriously?!?

    Bartender, I’ll have whatever the man in the brown Chrysler is drinking.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “Remember that great idea that Audi and BMW and Ford and Hyundai and Kia had about getting you to buy a turbocharged four-cylinder in a relatively expensive car instead of a V-6″

    This was *never* a good idea, Chrysler did it because they did not have a V6 of their own at the time and the K/L cars could not accept the 318 for obvious reasons. I’m pretty sure Volvo and Saab did it too for more financial and less than altruistic reasons too. When I see mainstream stuff today all “turbo’d” I think of 80s Chrysler and equate them to it.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Now I want a Dodge Aries with a 318. Well, I don’t actually want to own it though. I just want it to exist.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        M-bodys were littered with 318 V8s and are pretty light by our measures if you get a low optioned Diplomat or Gran Fury.

        I had a chance to snag one at a district vehicle auction a few years back but its “non-running” condition frightened me away. The winning bid on it was under $200. The SOB got it running and sold it for $900. I wouldn’t have wanted to flip it, I just would have wanted to get my hands dirty and enjoy it.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          My grandfather had an M-body Fifth Avenue. I remember acres of red velour and wire wheels.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Oh mine too! An 86 Fifth Ave, red/red velour with red landau. He bought it around 2000 at an auction, 13k miles. It smelled so velvety in there. I always did like riding in the back and playing with the heavy, solid metal and woodette door pulls.

            I learned to drive a little bit in that car, and man was the steering sloppy.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            It literally looked like this, minus tints.

            https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5008/5250029233_8aac20ca5a_n.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Ah, the memories. Its unfair to my daughter that she won’t get to ride in luxo-crap cars like I did. My parents had Renaults and various goofy Chrysler products to make things even more ridiculous. We had a Dodge Spirit ES then a Dodge Spirit R/T.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            But the M-body wasn’t so bad, was it? Down on power, yes. But well-built and comfortable for driving.

            Everything in that car was damn solid.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The M-bodies were sweet. I like them better than the K-car replacements. I think my parent’s cars were worse. Betweem the two of them they owned a Gremlin, Saab Sonnet, LeCar, Renault Alliance, Dodge Spirit, and Corvair before they bought various minivans in the 90s. We always had a Ford/Dodge pickup too. My sister, who is 8 years younger than me, knows nothing of the vinyl/cloth seats in the back of a Renault LeCar.

            I guess me owning a C-Max and MKT continues the family history of purchasing weird-ass cars.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “But the M-body wasn’t so bad, was it? Down on power, yes. But well-built and comfortable for driving.”

            Not only was M-body solid -for what it was- it was very profitable for Chrysler. How many mainstream cars are really profitable anymore?

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            Surely, you mean wire wheel hubcaps.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Me too for S&G.

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      I would love to have a Dodge Diplomat so badly. If a genie came out of my bottle of Mountain Dew and granted me any car in perfect restored condition, it would be a Diplomat (Fury’s and NY’s are fine too).

      Unfortunately, there are almost none around here. Like today’s Vics and yesterday’s Caprices, or whoever the era’s winning cop car/taxi is, they are ubiquitous for 10-15 years, then are junked when they outlive their usefulness.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Dippys were a common sight in my formative years. Trouble was they were all used up ten to twelve years in during the late 90s.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Used up is a nice way of saying they were all beat to $hit.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Yup. The other part of it was those cars, like most autos, were designed for a limited timespan. I would say in the case of M-body, ten years. They could be made to last much longer, esp in the right conditions or climate. But by and large, ten years/100-120K. I don’t think Panthers were much different than, or B-bodies, although the strictly 80s Bs seemed to be cockroaches. 90s Panthers and Bs seemed to have more of a lifespan, as did the early LHs.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          I still think the A38 police Diplomat is one of the meanest looking sedans ever, particularly with these interesting steel wheels they had and fat blackwall tires.

          Like so.

          http://www.moparstyle.com/forums/showthread.php?20849-My-1989-Dodge-Diplomat-A38-AHB-Factory-Police-Package

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            http://dippy.org/

            Not as active as you might want but lots of info, apparently its not that hard to drop a Magnum 318 and overdrive trans into an M-body along with the locking diff equipped rear from a Grand Cherokee.

            That would be freaking sweet…

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I once met a man in the 00s timeframe who planned to drop in a 360 into a Dippy. I’m not sure if that ever happened but I was certainly impressed with the idea at the time. Folks doing engine swaps for performance are no different than people overclocking or hacking electronics, we all want to push the envelope.

          • 0 avatar
            Compaq Deskpro

            Thanks for the M-body porn.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I happened accross a clean mid-80′s Diplomat for sale locally a little while ago that I seriously thought about buying. It had a disassembled 318 and came with the makeshift turbo kit that did in said 318. The body and interior were really clean and I happen to have a 360/built 904 combo lying around the shop, so it could have been really cool.

        Unfortunately due to space limitations and other projects already under way, I had to pass on it.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Such a shame, I hear the 360 is tits in an M-body.

          Follow up question: Does the Chrysler M-body have a place on your list when you are wholesales cars for people on the side?

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            They rarely come up for sale and no one really asks. But when they do pop up, they always sell dirt cheap. The M-body enthusiast camp is pretty small and they just aren’t practical for anyone else anymore.

            The last ‘normal’ person I knew who drove one was a friend of my then girlfriend. She was young and the car was a handed down 5th Ave with a slant six. Her and my girlfriend were driving home one day when a lady in a Jimmy ran a stop sign and T-boned the 5th ave, totalling it. I scavenged some parts off it for my then bracket racer, an ’81 Mirada, then it went to the crusher.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            That’s too bad, on both accounts. I suppose though the cars are getting to be at the 25 year mark, not necessarily practical for most people (esp when you could prob have a 12-15yo “modern” Panther for similar money if you like traditional RWD sedans).

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          I had an ’86 Diplomat as my primary car from ’09 to late ’12.

          It was a perfectly adequate car, but I never really got that attached to it. I’m happier with the Electra I replaced it with and overall I probably would have preferred a “box” full-size from GM or Ford or a New Yorker/LHS.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      “When I see mainstream stuff today all “turbo’d” I think of 80s Chrysler and equate them to it.”

      This^^ I had one of those ’80s Chrysler turbos, hit the gas and (wait for it) That’s it, just wait for it. I’d be hard pressed to ever go the turbo route again because until this day every time I hear “turbo” the word “lag” is always close by

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I never feel that about the 3.5EB. Turbo lag is non-existent.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          I was thinking more about 4cyl.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Fair enough. Its not as bad now as it was on those turbo Lebarons though. I never really noticed turbo lag on my GTI or Focus ST.

          • 0 avatar
            Timothy

            Even with 4cly. I have max torque at 2500rpm. There is no lag to speak of. It’s so damn good that I am shifting at around 2200 in normal every day driving. Remarkable.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            The number of cylinders are irrelevant.

            About the only modern turbo engine with any appreciable turbo lag is the 1.4l under the hood of my Abarth. But that is due to it only being a 1.4 and needing to build *18* pounds of boost to makes it’s 160hp. 2.0L and up with the more typical mild turbocharging of 10lbs and it just feels like a bigger motor. If anything, much stronger than most bigger motors since modern turbos start pumping up the torque curve right off idle.

            As I have said before, despite the 3.0l inline 6 in my BMW being one of the sweetest motors ever made, the 2.0T in my previous Saab 9-3 walked all over it in day-to-day drivability. So much more torque at so many fewer rpms. Drive it like a race car driver and the BMW is brilliant, drive it like a normal human and give me a turbo 4 any day.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            The Pentastar V6 with the 8-speed sure have potential as I held a Charger V6 with my base model Saab 9-5. But more power than Jack’s V6 Accord.

            http://www.chargerforumz.com/showthread.php?t=117361

            Today’s V6 just don’t have the torque over the operating range as say my ?erano 2.0T that before Trifecta makes 90% of it torque between 1,700-5,500 rpms. ECU/TCU tunes for the old Saabs or newer GM Ecotec is around $300. My 2004 9-5 Arc is stage 4 and when you hit the sport button and the throttle aggressively from a stoplight it is traction control city!

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Correction: The LHU 2.0T doesn’t wake up until around 2500 rpm. At 1700 its yawning and asking for 5 more minutes.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Two smaller turbos rather than a big single really makes lag a non-issue. Some engines even use sequential turbos for the same reason. A small turbo feeding a bigger turbo to make boosts everywhere.

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        Except the 80′s were three decades ago, what technological aspect of your life that was also present in the 80′s isn’t vastly superior in every measureable way? And why on earth wouldn’t you then make the logical hop to realize that today’s turbocharged engines offer performance with no, or virtually no, noticeable turbo lag?

        • 0 avatar
          srogers

          Even back 89 my Dodge Colt had no lag. Lag is part of the compromise made in turbo/breathing design.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “Even back 89 my Dodge Colt had no lag. Lag is part of the compromise made in turbo/breathing design.”

            If it had no lag why was there a lag compromise?

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          Go drive a Regal and a Lacrosse or a C250 and C300 back-to-back and then tell me that turbo lag is gone.

          • 0 avatar
            319583076

            I don’t understand what you’re claiming with the vehicles that you’ve referenced. I didn’t say it was gone, I said it was either not noticeable or very nearly so. Things like vehicle weight, ECU tune, transmission, and so forth can make two vehicles with the same engine respond under acceleration very differently – not necessarily due to turbo lag.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            The B4 Passat turbo had killer lag.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “Nearly imperceptible” sounds like a very subjective way to put things.

            Turbo lag is better than the 80s, but there are still plenty of cars for sale right now where it is plenty perceptible.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            I’ll agree with you ajla, the Verano is really easy to catch flat footed.

            I find myself keeping it a gear lower than feels natural, so I can get moving without waiting.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I was a kid so I can’t relate much to it as much as you could. The only bits of 80s tech I have had an exposure too were the cars and in the 90s the computer leftovers. TRS-80 FTW (obviously computers have somewhat improved). Cars as a whole have improved since then, but I think they peaked in 2000-2005.

          In short, “mainstream” turbo is the wave of the 80s to me. Tuner cars are the only exception, IMO.

          • 0 avatar
            319583076

            I don’t have a reply button for ajla: the only post in which the phrase “nearly imperceptible” appears is yours. And I agree, that is a very subjective way to say it, although it’s also your term. Strange. I’ll concede this, in the year 2014 you can go buy a new car with a turbocharged engine and experience “turbo lag”, or some approximation thereof. My guess is that the laggiest 2014 turbo blows the doors off any non-exotic machine produced in the 80′s. And…there are many turbocharged engines available in 2014 (even 4-cylinders) that exhibit little or no turbo lag. A significant improvement over the majority of turbocharged engines in the 80′s that exhibited some turbo lag, especially larger, performance turbos.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I think it is a perception thing. You notice the lag because once the boost comes on you have lots and lots of power, so you notice that pause more. Naturally aspirated engines have “rev lag” – you aren’t getting more power until the revs build. Turbos will give you more power at the same rpm. I can see why this disconnection would feel strange to someone who has not driven very many turbos. In both cases it is masked by modern zillion-spd automatics, and exaggerated by manuals. If I am trundling along at 40mph in 6th gear in my manual transmission BMW, I can step on it and pretty much nothing happens for a long, long, time. If I did the same in my 2.0T Saab, nothing would happen for about 2 seconds then the thing would move right out. The BMW makes it’s max torque over a wide range due to the magic of Valvtronic, but the turbo made a much larger amount of torque over an even wider range of rpm.

            And then on the turbo you can get one of Norm’s wonder tunes for $500 and go like a bat out of Hell. :-)

            Ultimately turbos DO require a different driving style to get the best out of them, both for performance and fuel economy. Driven correctly, the fuel economy benefits are very real.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            If you’re going to settle for forced induction, at least get a mechanically supercharged engine. The difference in power quality between an Audi 3.0T(belt driven supercharger with typical German naming idiocy) and a BMW 35i(turbocharged 3 liter with typical German naming idiocy) is mammoth.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            The 35i is more efficient than the 3.0T supercharger:

            “…engine(Audi 3.0T) note described as “moaning” and “raspy” to something more mellifluous…”

            “…the motor doesn’t really feel like a turbo — it suffers from zero lag, and any turbo whine is well-muted. All you notice is smooth power. Speed comes easily to the 535i: It delivered the quickest 0-to-60 time and tied the Lexus’ quarter-mile elapsed time…”

            http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/sedans/1002_luxury_sport_sedan_comparison/?fullsite=true

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Volvo went turbo because they could never get a decent V6 for their cars, Saab could barely even get an engine for their cars at all.

      Funny thing is the Chrysler 2.2 was never meant to be turbo’d, moreso supercharged, but turbos were “the thing” at that time.

      I only admire M-Bodies for being the only sister cars ever to differentiate one another by the Chryslers having their fronts flipped around.

      When I see modern platforming stuff I think of 80′s Chrysler, have fun in your Audi TT! Oh, it shares DNA with that high schoolers Beetle!

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        “Funny thing is the Chrysler 2.2 was never meant to be turbo’d, moreso supercharged, but turbos were “the thing” at that time.”

        Perhaps, but the 2.2L was a rugged engine; much like the slant six. It had thick enough cylinder walls that it was later bored out further to produce the 2.5L used in the 1990s Spirit/Acclaim and others.

        So it was up to being turboed. I remember a Mopar publication at the time that showed a test 2.2L that had twin turbos, and they were claiming 1,000 HP out of it. No word though on how long it would have lasted in the real world.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          About a week

        • 0 avatar
          319583076

          The connecting rods, crankshaft, and pistons are more delicate than the block. I think in most cases you would be constrained by failure there prior to any sort of block failure.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          Fitting as the 2.2 was designed by the same man who made the slant six, Willem Weertman.
          His engines weren’t the quickest but they were reliable for their time.

          As tough as 2.2s are, turbos typically kill the headgaskets before anything else. I don’t blame the design as much as bean counters for not using better quality stuff on the performance 2.2s.

          • 0 avatar
            Pig_Iron

            @Ryoku75

            Thank you for pointing that out. I didn’t know Willem Weertman worked on so many engines over such a long span.

            I think this wagon would be a scream to drive, and I applaud this fellow for making such an interesting project. I hope he gets his money’s worth.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    “My ex-wife’s SRT-4 with the Stage 2 kit would walk away from my Porsche 993 on flat ground and with the dial-a-boost turned down you could get 35mpg on the freeway.”

    You’ll still get walked by a Trifecta Tuned Encore.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I love this honestly.

    Tiny car, pretentiously broughamy, silly amounts of horsepower, and in this iteration, NOT what the original customer would have been looking for.

    Almost like the idea I had to take a GT Cruiser, strip the badges, add the stupid fake wood, continental kit, baby moon hubcaps, crank up the boost. Why? Because it is silly and wrong. Because kids in ricers will never expect it. Because you’d still likely get respect at a Mopar show once you cracked the hood.

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      Couldn’t you buy a factory PT Cruiser GT convertible, with factory phony wood, 2.4 turbo, and a manual? Chrysler already did most of the work.

      And yes, I do smile when I see these crazy things out and about. There is one household up the street with 2 of them.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        http://www.ptwoody.com/pt_all_products.html

        Was wood available from the factory? There were almost as many Special Edition PT Crusiers as Special Edition Mustangs.

        If I won the PowerBall I’d have the tackiest driveway on the planet.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          The PrincipalDan Car Museum. Excellent.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Oh dear, my mother has one of these, 2001 tricked out PT Cruiser. One of the first ones made, custom paint job, chrome kit total pimp. It’s like brand new 38K miles on it, she loves it

        • 0 avatar
          matador

          I’d go to see that museum! Anyone who loves a REAL New Yorker or Diplomat can’t be bad in my book.

          For the ultimate in Brougham-Era customization, though, I’d rather have this: http://www.2040cars.com/_content/cars/images/66/190066/002.jpg

          But, as a Roadmaster with the woodgrain. That might be tackier than your PT!

  • avatar

    The evolution of the hot-rodder. A car guy in the 1950s would have pulled a Caddy engine out of a wreck for its engine.This new age swap would have made sense to the 50s car guys because of the power to weight ratio. This K car wagon is the ultimate sleeper.Nice.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      I have loads of respect for those intrepid 50s guys who put Oldsmobile engines, Buick Nailheads, and early Hemis into Model As and Deuces, because nowadays it seems like the solution to everything is SBC.

      • 0 avatar
        matador

        Bingo! For the love of everything manly, quit doing Chevy 350 swaps! Everyone does them! Do a GMC inline 6, Nailhead Buick, MEL Engine, Anything other than a SBC- They’re too boring.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Probably get a Buick 215 out of the numerous junkyard RRs/LRs. 3800 can be made a RWD but I’m not 100% clear how difficult it is. I’m not sure how many are left, but I’d like to see RWD Caddy 4100 swaps to real motors, don’t even care which ones.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            The 3800 came as RWD in the previous Camaro and Firebird. So if you really wanted to be “wrong” you could make a 3800 and 5 speed manual RWD luxury car.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          350 swaps are passe. LS swaps are where it’s at now. The formula is no different than what the original hot rodders did, take cheap and available power and swap it into something light. Just back then, one manufacturer’s engine didn’t necessarily stand head and shoulders above the rest for cheap power and ease of swappability.

          Besides, someone who SBC or LS swaps a car isn’t doing it to impress wanna-bes at a car shows with how they managed to rube-goldberg in some obscure bullsh1t and still have a slow car. They did it so they can easily enjoy their car and go fast.

          Don’t get me wrong, I like weird swaps, but I’ll never get down on anyone for LS or SBC swapping if it keeps more older or cars that originally came with sh1t-heap engines on the road.

  • avatar
    raph

    “The Town&Country wagon is, rather amazingly to the modern mind, well under 3000 pounds. Say 2800 with the swap.”

    Not surprising when vehicles like the fox body Fairmont wagon was fairly light as well.

    I’ll tell you what I found surprising was the mid nineties ZR-1 had a curb weight of nearly 3700 pounds (3680 IIRC) which is about 200 pounds heavier than I would have imagined at the most.

  • avatar
    jhefner

    While I loved my 84 Reliant wagon when I had it, I also remember having to constantly tighten the exposed trim screws all the time because the trim rattled so bad; have the car twisted by a bigger motor, and it would be worst.

    And even my ’95 Taurus makes it look and feel so cheap now. Yes, the K Cars could sit six across; but the doors were paper thin. God help you if you got t-boned in one of them; no collision beams or side airbags of course; nor passenger air bag or restraints for the rear seats. All of this and more contribute to the pounds in today’s cars.

    So this would be fun until you hit something. Then you would quickly find out why today’s cars are so heavy. But this would be continuation of what Chrysler was about back then: cheap speed — Turbo for the masses!!!!

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      “So this would be fun until you hit something.”

      That pretty much sums up car ownership.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        My father has given me very little direct advice but when I turned 16 and passed my test he handed me the keys and said: “If you have to hit something, steer for something cheap.”

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          I have had two fairly serious accidents in my life. Both were caused by women in K-car wagons pulling out of side roads directly in front of me without looking first. K-cars are like hitting a pillow, even at 60mph. I recommend them as a target. And they are CHEAP.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        It used to be, you had to hit something HARD. You could pound out the damage or let it go and keep driving it. Now your insurance company totals fender-benders, especially if those fancy headlights are involved, and bumper damage repair usually starts at $2600.

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      “So this would be fun until you hit something. Then you would quickly find out why today’s cars are so heavy.” Except that the overwhelming majority of drivers don’t hit anything, ever. Let alone anything that could be life-altering or life-ending. But why would we want to be rational about risk? Let’s just continue to make cars heavier and heavier and more expensive and fool ourselves into believing that it’s a meaningful pursuit.

      And…more mass decelerated by an immovable object – like a large tree or concrete barrier – is a higher energy collision than the equivalent situation with a smaller mass. When you consider the size of tractor-trailers and other heavy service vehicles on the road, it doesn’t really matter how heavy your car, cuv, pickup truck is…a collision with one of those will ruin your day.

      There really aren’t good, rational reasons for wanting heavier passenger vehicles. But there are some very persuasive marketing (i.e. -fear) campaigns and business cases for heavier passenger vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        “And…more mass decelerated by an immovable object – like a large tree or concrete barrier – is a higher energy collision than the equivalent situation with a smaller mass. When you consider the size of tractor-trailers and other heavy service vehicles on the road, it doesn’t really matter how heavy your car, cuv, pickup truck is…a collision with one of those will ruin your day.”

        A friend of ours had a head-on last week with a semi in her brand new Toyota Venza. When we got the news she was in the hospital, we feared the worst. But she was out of the hospital the next day; very sore but with only some hand injuries.

        Her Venza was totaled, of course, but the passenger compartment was intact. That is the first thing today’s cars give you — crumple zones front and rear. Now, it doesn’t matter how heavy your car is; you have the same chance of walking away from a wreck just like a NASCAR or Indy driver and their lighter and faster race cars do for the same reason — crumple zones. Now that they are testing for offset impacts; expect the crumple zones to be even better, and your chances of walking away from an accident even better.

        Then there is the second collision inside the car. That is where the soft dashboard, and all those airbags come into play along with the seat belts. Once again, these features work regardless of the size of the car; the most important thing is that the passenger compartment stays intact, and does not crumple around you. And, as our friend found out, that is what today’s cars do for you, even when hitting a semi or fixed object.

        Then, my daughter, her son, and my two sons were stopped at red light in her Accura TL when they were rear ended by a truck. The truck hit her not once, but three times; hitting her and pushing her forward, then hitting her again and again. The crock pot in her trunk had a massive dent in it and the kids have sprained necks; but they were otherwise fine.

        If you want to jump in a AC Cobra and take your chances; I have no problem with that. But those two recent accidents make me think about those things; and how I would not want to put my family in that situation.

        • 0 avatar
          319583076

          I understand energy-absorbing features of modern cars. They are a legitimate improvement over older cars without.

          Passenger vehicles should not be compared to race cars when discussing survivability and risk. The operational envelopes as well as the engineering constraints are significantly different. Although the levels of safety may be similar, I admit I don’t know. I suspect racing is much, much safer than driving, however.

          The first collision, second collision is usually a simplification. Depending on the physics of the accident, the vehicle(s) may be considered to have multiple collisions just as the occupants inside will experience multiple collisions.

          New cars are safer than old cars, but not necessarily because they are heavier. That’s the only point I’m trying to make. We agree with each other for the most part.

          • 0 avatar
            jhefner

            We also agree on the heavier part as well. But my point (which I know you agree with) is that part of what you get in that extra poundage is additional safety; and it is a good thing.

            The cars of the 1980s-1990s are my favorites; but with each passing day I appreciate more and more what today’s cars have to offer. I mentioned before that if I had my first car again, a 1974 Plymouth Fury II; it would sit in my garage because it was so hard to drive and drank gas. If I had my ’84 Reliant wagon or this wagon, I would love it and drive it lots; but I certainly wouldn’t feel safe taking the family out in it.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Hear ya on newer vehicle safety. Don’t know how fast the Venza and semi were going, but a guy at church lost his life in a head-on with a coal truck at ~60mph in a 2001 Grand Cherokee just before last Christmas.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      I doubt the seatbelts and airbags weigh that much. Its the FEA-designed crash structure that adds a little weight while adding lots of protection.

      I’ll take the improved structure, even without the 40lbs of airbags, or whatever.

      Disclaimer: My last couple of job involved supporting computational scientists doing finite element analyses of structural deformations (and computational fluid dynamics). While a fool with FEA is still a fool, a good engineer with FEA is a better engineer who can build things lighter and stronger and safer and faster than it would be otherwise (though potentially heavier than a less safe design). I’m reluctant to own vehicles made before these methods took hold in the car industry. The 1995 Dodge Neon was an early example, and I haven’t seen much made after about 2004+ that doesn’t seem to have been influenced by this kind of engineering.

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        I’m a structural engineer. Mass (i.e.-weight) doesn’t make you safer. In some cases, design can. What you’ve said about FEA is generally true, but the caveat is: All models are wrong, some models are useful. Lighter, stronger, faster are amenable to measurement. Safety, on the other hand, much less so. For the most part because the forces generated in an automobile accident are highly uncertain in both magnitude and direction – the combinations are infinite. Reducing those infinite combinations to a small set of cases amenable to mathematical description, computer modeling, manufacturing techniques, in compliance with budgets and schedules necessarily means that the structure is designed for what we believe are the most likely and the constrained worst-case scenarios.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          Computational models are a fantasy until they’re validated. That means going out to crash some cars in the lab.

          But, our sales pitch included engineers from heavy equipment companies who claimed that they could get the design right with the first or second prototype – instead of the years long build/test/repeat cycles they’d used previously. That can save a ton of money, while making a better design.

          But, yeah, the models definitely have limitations and are useless without an experienced engineer using them in the cases where they work best, and they can’t be believed without smashing some structures to ensure that the model reflects reality.

          • 0 avatar
            319583076

            “Engineering is the art of modeling materials we do not wholly understand, into shapes we cannot precisely analyze, so as to withstand forces we cannot properly assess, in such a way that the public has no reason to suspect the extent of our ignorance.” Dr. A. R. Dykes

            I haven’t found a better definition of my profession and the scariest members are those who scoff at any or all parts of this definition. I pause to think about this from time to time, including everytime I board an airplane, but I know that it’s safer than driving. And despite the fact that what we know is orders of magnitude less than what we don’t know, we have certainly achieved many impressive things.

          • 0 avatar
            05lgt

            @319 I hate that everyone eats the airline marketers metric. Safer per mile traveled. Who experiences risk that way? Risk per hour makes more sense to me. Based on a per mile metric travel to the moon via Apollo was pretty damn safe. It’s a garbage metric.

        • 0 avatar
          CapVandal

          I don’t disagree with anything you have said. Although I think you that haven’t adequately emphasized the aggregate improvements in real world auto safety. regardless of design compromises.

          We could build houses that would withstand fire and wind catastrophes, but it is much more cost efficient to build to reasonably high standards and insure against the economic impact of failure. And, yes — some people are going to die, but a huge number of people will have housing that wouldn’t under ‘no fail’ design.

          The auto industry, auto safety organizations, and auto insurers have a huge amount of data regarding auto fatalities. And there was a lot of ‘low hanging fruit’ that was well known and understood to address in auto design.

          And the closer we get to optimal, the harder it gets to model the remaining ‘gaps’. But in my opinion, design for auto safety is hugely successful.

          The only premature/accidental deaths in my extended family were due to fatal auto accidents. And none of them would have died in contemporary automobiles.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      …..God help you if you got t-boned in one of them; no collision beams…

      Who told you that? Mine most certainly had them

  • avatar
    319583076

    “…the pin-pulled grenade you can buy in a CLA45.” Wonderful!

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    Lovin’ the 300 HP T&C woody wagon.

    Dam :)

    Always hated the way those SRT-4′s sounded though. Like a rip snortin’ four banger with a bad case of diarrhea.

    I’d rather be forced to listen to a straining air-cooled VW engine pushing an old Beetle then have to listen to those God awful fart pipes on those modded SRT-4′s.

    Hell, they sound worse than the kid driving around my neck of the woods with his early CTS-V equipped with glass packs.

    Blech.

  • avatar

    That’s the kind of thing that gives me a woody.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    There is a subset of the B&B here who must do Google searches on TTAC for the word “turbo,” and then the zero in on those posts and regale the rest of us with tales of how their experiences, real or imagined, with turbocharging 30 years ago have queered them on that technology forever.

    You guys all drive body-on-frame cars with roll-up windows, carburetors and cassette players in them too?

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Sorry my 46 year old Mustang is unit-body and the entertainment is 8 track.

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      Thank you. I guess supercharger got to keep it’s name, but turbosupercharger got shortened to turbolag…at least in the imaginations of some people.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        In my mind, it was questionable reliability.

        A girl I dated let me floor her turbo LeBaron GTS a couple times, and it was lag, as advertised. (She thanked me years later for advising her to allow the car to idle for a minute to cool the turbo down after a longer drive, though IIRC, the car still rusted to oblivion later.)

        I still prefer a V6 over a turbo-four, especially if it has a multi-speed transmission and possibly variable-displacement for nice highway MPGs.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Ok, I resemble that remark, but if it’s all so different now how come “turbolag” is still an issue in some cars that’s talked about on autoblogs and owner forums?

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        Because there is no free lunch, anywhere. Modern hot hatches run small turbos that produce boost almost instantly, accelerate well, and have little turbo lag. They run out of breath before redline because, in part, the turbo is small. BMW puts a small and a large turbo on their I6, little lag due to the small turbo, wide power band all the way up tp redline thanks to the larger turbo. But, there is more mechanical and electrical complexity and the more complex system is statistically less reliable. And it’s expensive, as it should be. “Eco” type turbos satisfy marketing, sales, and perhaps some regulatory function, but they may be hobbled by tuning, design, or a number of other factors. What I hear you saying is essentially this, “remember how you could buy a shitty car in the 80′s? That’s why I won’t buy one now.” There are indeed shitty cars available in 2014, perhaps on par with some of the characteristics of shitty cars of the 80′s. the difference being that in the 80′s they were everywhere, in 2014, you have to be clueless or determined to find them.

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          @319583076

          My 1.4T will exactly match pace with a V8 almost fours times it’s displacment. The Encore with a Trifecta Tune has no problem holding off a heavier V8 Silverado from 20-100 mph with the big truck hits it’s top speed limiter at the century mark. The two car accelerate at the same rate aside from transmission delays on each car, the Encore’s 6-speed shifting at least one extra time.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Liez2me; one word, Toyota!

        The new cars with automatic transmission have very soft response at throttle tip-in from a stop and low speeds most from Toyota’s sudden acceleration problems.

        Once rolling the response is much better. But the transmission plays a big roll today also. Today’s auto trans programming is geared toward upshifting for fuel economy not for sport.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          How about I just get a V6 until such time that they stop making them and I’m forced to get a turbo 4. Maybe by then they’ll have the nonexistent lag figured out to the point I won’t have to work around the nonexistent lag that doesn’t exist

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Shut up and take my money!

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    That reminds me of this guy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwdHzbsg74g

    I read about him years ago. Guy in the early 2000s had a turbo second-gen Caravan, complete with “wood” paneling, and left everything else looking stock. He’d drive down to the drag races with his family, remove the rear seats, and run 12s. According to his website (which seems to be over ten years out of date), the engine was factory stock, just with upgraded turbo hardware.

    http://www.turbovan.net/van.html

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      That van is sweet. There is another guy that put the Ford ecoboost 2.0T into a beat up Fox Body Mustang. I think he is the autoblog editor.

    • 0 avatar
      CapVandal

      The beauty of minivans is that they are invisible to cops. Relatively speaking. Even if they see one speeding, the assumption is that it is just a harried housewife/mom.

      Not that it always works, but a tan minivan will pick up a lot less tickets than a red, obviously high performance model.

      • 0 avatar
        JuniperBug

        I don’t know. I’ve heard of people complaining about being singled out due to performance vehicles, but I’ve been let off the hook a few times both in the lowered Miata, which for a time had a fairly loud exhaust, and the sport bikes. On the latter I was once doing about 40 MPH over the limit, zipping through rush-hour traffic. The officer who followed me off the expressway and pulled me over, listed all my infractions, lectured me for a few minutes, then asked, “What should I do about this?” I said it was up to him, he shook my hand and told me to have a nice day. I’ve also done 85+ through a 60 zone while police were actively radaring (I had just bought the bike in my avatar and didn’t realize that the speedometer read way low) and somehow was spared then, too. Then there was the time I took the Miata out of storage before registering it for the street (I was going to register it for the following month, but took it for a little shakedown run as I’d just replaced the suspension and done work on the brakes). Got to the main road and a license-plate-reading-camera nailed me when a patrol car passed me going the other way. Instead of a $600 fine and impounded car, I got a $48 ticket for failure to use turn signal. The officer spent close to 10 minutes looking for the cheapest ticket he could find to give me.

        The worst ticket I ever got was for doing 90 on an empty well-lit road in a grey Cutlass Supreme when I was 17, resulting in a suspended license. Had the officer written the speed literally 1 MPH lower, I wouldn’t have gotten a suspension.

        It’s strictly anecdotal, but for me the flashy sporty vehicles are the safer ones.

        • 0 avatar
          Pinzgauer

          I was driving my School Bus Yellow Boss 302 on I280 in NJ a few weeks back. Passed a cop waiting on the side of road, I was doing about 70.

          A few miles later I was cruising at 75 in the left lane, and I see the cop come up behind me fast. I signal and move over, he passes and then I see the lights flip on and he pulls over the Accord in front of me. I’m surprised he didn’t nail me instead, maybe he was a Ford guy or something.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            The Accord driver had it coming! Actually, it sounds like the police were spreading the tickets around via radio. One sees an infraction but he’s got his quota, so he passes it on to a cop downstream who pulls over the miscreant. The ticketing officer is supposed to have seen what that Accord driver did earlier, but, well, ticket quota, and how would the Accord driver know?

  • avatar
    mankyman

    My 16 year old self would not have lasted long with this sweet woodie. As it was I barely survived my ’84 Aries. It had the vaunted HEMI.
    In less than a year I managed to get into two wrecks, trashed the front tires, put a lot of nasty stains in the back seat, ruined the alignment, wrecked two batteries doing science experiments, etc.

    There’s a reason my son is getting a heavy, slow POS for his first car.
    When you rev the engine in neutral and then shift to drive, that’s still called a neutral drop, right?!

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    I love it when people build these scrap-grade pseudo-Evos.

    Some cars inspire the word “Refined.” Others evoke “Well-built.”

    For this one, my money’s on “WHOAAAAA…SHIT!!!”

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    I would probably trade my xB for this.
    Seriously.
    Next step would be a respray to metallic pea.

    Why is the hardpipe off though? Does it not run? Why can’t he fore-go a trip to the bathroom, and put it back on?

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Having an SRT powered Aries wagon is like the lesser of two evils, do I take a comical cheaply made wagon or do I take my teachers Neon?

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Off topic but holy s*it I just saw an MKFlex stretch limo on TV. Did you guys know about these? Could these be all turbo’d up ya think?

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      At Detroit Tigers opening day, I talked to a driver of an MKFlex limo. His had the 3.5EB, or so he said. The 3.5EB only comes with AWD, and I don’t know why there would be an AWD limo. They are the craziest looking things on the road. The first one I saw was about three years ago when Ford or a coachbuilder was doing some testing around Dearborn.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I can’t even imagine the engineering complexity of an AWD stretch limousine. FWD at least gives you less overall drivetrain footprint and no diff bump in the floor. Transverse AWD in a stretch limousine seems like tempting fate in terms of reliability or mileage.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I’m guessing its the 3.7 and FWD.

          edit: I googled the MKT limo and it appears there are AWD versions. wtf.

          • 0 avatar
            raresleeper

            Those are the Hap-, Hap-, Happiest transfer cases and differentials alive!!!

            I presume the AWD model sits approximately 4+/-” higher than said FWD model, eh?

            I remember I saw a Sienna minivan and I thought “hmmm… it’s not every day you see a wheelchair accessible Sienna”.

            No, it was just an all-wheel drive Sienna (more ground clearance).

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’ve seen a few X-types up close, some how Ford’s voodoo can work. It just begs two questions, for how long and the requisite… why?

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            You can have one of your very own

            2013 MKT Limo AWD 1600 miles $79,800

            https://www.carsforsale.com/used_cars_for_sale/2013_lincoln_mkt_224449311

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Nice. I’d rather have a used Panther limo for 10K.

    • 0 avatar
      raresleeper

      I just saw one about a month ago, 28, at gas station next to my office.

      Yes, what bball said. They are crazy looking, for sure.

      My thoughts were more like: “Why…?”

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        They are nice on the inside and are comfortable. The strength of the MKT in general in everything but the exterior design. The driver I talked to said the MKT limo gets better gas mileage than the Navigators or Escalades. That is probably what Ford is pushing.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I initially thought “wtf” which is why I posted, and I have since moved on to “why”.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    On the T&C above, those wheels stand out to me.

    Yes, yes… those are the Chrysler/Dodge wheels that came off of ________. (?)

    I believe I’ve seen them on the GLHS, perhaps?

    In any event, those are the same wheels that when you actually scrub the brake dust off of them (which is a meticulous chore in and of itself), they actually look just the same as they did WITH the dust! Yaaaaay :)

    Ahh, what the hell… adds to the overall old unassuming wagon “motif”.

    Don’t even wash it. Or vacuum it. Leave it dirty and just pick off other cars, one by one.

    A ha ha ha haaaa! (evil laugh)

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I’m a total fan of turbo engines. They produce the enjoyment of acceleration and fast driving cheaper than a six or V8.

    I did read once that Ford was toying with a 2.3 turbo Eco Boost Mustang for the Euro market. I thought this would make the best ever Mustang.

    Reduced weight, better handling, etc. I do know in Australia we just do not buy a performance vehicle to beat some grandmother at the light driving a Focus. We buy for handling.

    There must be a balance between handling and power. If you just want power then this illustrates that you just can’t drive.

    I really want to see a 2.3 Eco Boost Mustang, I think it will sell even in the US.

    I’m half expecting the usual US V8 hicks to make some ridiculous comments.

    http://www.autoevolution.com/news/2015-ford-mustang-23-liter-ecoboost-engine-up-close-and-in-detail-76505.html

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      It must have ill-fitting square headlights and be called the SVO.

      Muscle cars have never about balance, they should always have a strong bias towards power over handling. A Mustang with a turbo 4 should have a fat turbo with plenty of lag and a noisy spooldown.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        All the press I’ve seen for the new ‘Stang says: Ecobost 4, V6, and V8 as your engine choices. 275 hp, 300+ hp, and 400 or so HP.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @Principal Dan
          The first link from this site talks about a Eco Boost 4 Mustang.

          The Ford Falcon is a large family sedan here in Australia. The one in this review is powered by a 2.0 litre Eco Boost, which is what the 2.3 is based on.

          http://www.carsguide.com.au/news-and-reviews/car-reviews-road-tests/2014_ford_falcon_review_g6e_ecoboost_81486_20140120

          Here is another Falcon Eco Boost article. The 2.0 apparently gets the large sedan up to 100kph in under 7 seconds. It’s FE couldn’t match what was on the sticker though.

          http://www.caradvice.com.au/207497/2013-ford-falcon-ecoboost-review/

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @Compaq Deskpro
        The 2.3 could be an alternative engine to take on the Fiat Ram Pentastar in the new aluminium F-150. 305hp and around 300ftlb of torque should move the new F-150 fast enough.

        Imagine a 2.3 F-150!

  • avatar
    wmba

    ” The 2.4L SRT-4 engine was, in many ways, the all-time hero of modern turbocharged fours.”

    I’m intrigued that you should say that, Jack, and on what basis you came to that conclusion. I remember at the time wondering what mechanical torture was going on with that 4 inch long stroke chuffer at over 7 grand. In NA form, it was an asthmatic little sneezer with a highly non-linear power band in the cloud cars – rental car favorites.

    The SRT-4 engine had only an 8.1 to 1 compression ratio – it was firmly of the old school of turbo design, so its major merit must be its ability to accept vast amounts of overboost without grenading. All these newer turbo engines seem strangled at high revs compared to the older ones. That’s supposed to be due to the small turbos not flowing enough air at high rpm. They do seem to have less turbo lag but the initial softness is still there. I’m so used to it, my brain and right foot compensate and I don’t notice.

    So, my question really boils down to: was the SRT4 engine really that great or was the Neon so light it just seemed like monster power?

    My nomination for best early turbo engine is the 4G63 in my Eagle Talon. It only won four WRC championships in a row instead of dominating club racing.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      My bias is towards the 2.5 boxer turbo from Subi. The top mount intercooler can’t make top power, but the lower pressurized volume keeps it responsive in transient demand situations. Life’s not always a drag race after all.

  • avatar
    Penguinlord

    Now if it only came in a convertible…

    http://www.flix66.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Planes-Trains-and-Automobiles-3.jpg


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