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Re: An All-Trac Legacy

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 1:20 am
by jwgt41
I would love to accommodate your request for a sound clip but unfortunately I don’t have one. My car is going through what I’d call an “extensive” overhaul and has been off the road for awhile. It currently sits without a motor, transmission or interior. It is, by all accounts, a rolling chassis.

I never did get the front or center diffs for the car. They became unavailable as soon as I started looking but ultimately, they really weren’t necessary unless off-road was the destination.

I must send a special message to pero and express how completely enviable I am of your Dodge Caravan! I bet it really gets the soccer moms going!! :D

The exhaust went on very easily, with the exception of the crossmember at the very back of the engine bay. This is the one that connects the lower control arms to the chassis. TTE didn’t use this heavy support, opting for a lighter alternative similar to a Cusco brace. There was a section of this layered steel support that needed modified. After marking and cutting, I pounded the section flat and rewelded. That aside, everything else went well! Each piece went together flawlessly, fitting exactly as engineered. The tabs on each pipe were unique because they weren’t large enough to accommodate bolts, so I had to get creative. Imagine a small round piece of steel fashioned in the shape of an “A” and welded on the pipe. A quick application of safety wire would suffice until a proper solution could be found. Or so I thought. The safety wire held for about 5 minutes. And then an epiphany……coil springs for fence doors. And sure as hell I can’t tell you how that popped in my head, but it worked! Lowes had some stainless jobs and they’re still on the car to this day. Once she was all together, I was eager to fire it up. With a slight belch of black smoke, she fired and let out an enormous roar! Because a cold engine cycles through what’s called “open loop”, it idled about 1500 rpm until the O2 sensors warmed up. Most assuredly, it woke all the little critters up.

First impression….fantastic, until I fed the accelerator. With a gentle roll on the gas, I would accelerate with little turbo lag. But it quickly hit overboost and the ECU ended the fun, putting it in “Limp Home” mode and checking the engine light. I turned the key off and restarted, which allowed everything to reset. But the problem was I had no time to fix it and had to drive the car home (50 miles from work) without going into overboost. The All-Trac factory boost settings are around 8 psi if memory serves, so getting to that point happens fast. But it was such a disappointment not to be able to enjoy my exhaust. Still, it was loud. And at this point, I had already stripped much of the interior and sound dampening out. So my already loud car was magnified, and resonated throughout the cabin giving little wonder why I’m going deaf. I did some research and found that a simple resistor soldered into the circuit of the ECU would fix the problem. Tracked it down, popped it in and the fun was on! The car had much less lag and, paired with the Turbonetics hybrid CT 26, worked very well! I was never a fan of a variable boost controller because with my luck, I would get overzealous that one time and pop the engine. Instead, I placed a small plastic vacuum connector inline with the wastegate so that it would open around 11.5 psi. And still very much in the safe zone.

Fraser and I have known each other since 1998, and I’m regaled by his stories! He was on the front lines during development of the GT-4, and I was eager to pick his brain. After racking up countless phone bills to the UK and talking with his lovely (former) wife and sister-in-law, both of whom worked with him, I was elated when he was in England at the time of my visit. One of his tales was when the new bodystyle GT-4 (ST185) came out. The ST165 chassis was well sorted and winning rallies when Toyota changed the car. This presented an entirely new set of challenges. I remember him telling me the design was “all wrong”. As mentioned, the GT-4 creates a LOT of under hood heat, becoming one of its largest downfalls. And anyone that has ever popped the hood can attest that not an ounce of engine bay was spared. The first mistake was in putting an air-to-air intercooler smack on top of the engine. By nature, heat rises and saturates the intercooler, causing it to rob power. Plus, there was nowhere for that air to go, meaning the scoop acted more as an air brake. The ST165 had an air/water cooler, making this development a huge step in the wrong direction. He was part of the crew that developed what would become the Carlos Sainz and RC cars. They developed another air/water chiller, redesigned the hood and changed the bumper to promote proper air flow. He said it was his idea to create a hole in the hood above the timing cover. Once all these modifications were made, they had to convince Toyota to produce enough cars to meet homologation requirements, which they did. At the time, I believe 5,000 examples had to be produced before the car could officially race which is why those cars are only available in limited numbers. The idea behind this is that the FIA wanted rally cars to emulate what a customer could buy for the street. And I really liked that! It enhances the romance of the car. If it’s tough enough to race off road, it’s tough enough for me! Though there are very little similarities between the two, the core of the car is still there.

When heading out of Banbury, I took a small asphalt road to the north that quickly became a beige pebble road, barely wide enough for my Nissan Micra. I was naturally apprehensive driving on the opposite side of the car, but even more so when I met a truck coming the opposite way. Picture something about the size of a dump truck, but a third longer and you’ll get an idea of the size. I nearly ran off the road. The journey through the countryside was idyllic and almost beyond words. The day was beautiful, a rarity in England and we traversed along the ridge of several hills, affording long-reaching views of the countryside. We approached a small village, adorned with a tall brick vine-covered wall on the left side. And yet another lorry. As we slowly entered the village, I noticed the rooftops of all the houses were not shingle or slate or even tile. They were thatch. Simply bundles of sticks carefully placed in layers to keep the elements out. The idea that this was what sticks in my mind borders ridiculous, I know, but it was so new and unique that at that point, I actually felt like I was in England. The village was very small, with a solitary pub on the right and a boys school on the left. All the children were in uniform, playing soccer in the gardens out front, with the occasional ball rolling into the road. This wasn’t a 25-mph school zone. You crept along the village as if entering a driveway. We waited for the kids to cross before advancing, though not without remark of how many “points” we’d score for the ones we hit! On the outskirts of the village was the small airfield I’d drawn a picture in my head of for the past two years. Not to exaggerate the situation, we all form images in our head of places or people. It’s inevitable. I just wanted to see if it matched what I envisioned, and it had. A very serene setting! I approached and saw a BEAUTIFUL white GT-4 in the drive, parked next to the office/hangar building. As I approached the door, I wondered what Fraser would look like. I’ve built up in my head almost a pillar of motorsport greatness, and the man I was about to meet would leave an indelible impression!

Re: An All-Trac Legacy

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:37 pm
by pero

I must send a special message to pero and express how completely enviable I am of your Dodge Caravan! I bet it really gets the soccer moms going!! :D

Ha, I hear ya! Don't hate on me for my pimp ride. :)
There is one soccer mom it gets going and I've been happily married to her for almost 12 years!

Still lovin the legacy tale, been swamped with work and haven't checked in for a few weeks, so I was excited when I logged in today and saw you added another installment. Riveting story, almost sounds like fiction.

Re: An All-Trac Legacy

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 1:35 am
by jwgt41
Indeed, although you'll agree all the more reason to share it. I would scarcely believe it if I were someone else.

My entry into the hangar was greeted by a low-slung sportscar, something I hadn’t yet seen before. As the tall figure descended down the stairs, I took a moment to observe my surroundings, noticing intricate parts laid out in organized fashion on workbenches and toolboxes that littered the building. Most of these parts bore some resemblance to others I’d seen on production cars, but with a robustness found on the most elite of machines and undoubtedly, the price to match. Fraser greeted me warmly, exuding a mutual respect borne for one another over the past few years. After we exchanged pleasantries and I introduced my girlfriend, I asked “What is that?” pointing to the mystery car. He said it’s a Lister, another “piece of British shit” his customers sent him to work on. Lister has made some wonderful cars over the years, but this one bore little to its predecessors bearing the same badge. We ascended the same staircase to arrive at his office, a modest work area laden with cool little parts and trinkets. It’s evident by the desk and chair that the intent for this space was simply for “office work”. But as any self-respecting tinkerer can attest, the best workshop is where you feel most comfortable. Once thing I noticed right off was the abundance of Mitsubishi parts. In my surprise, I never really thought of him working on other manufacturers, though it does stand to reason.

We conversed as if we were old friends, catching up from the previous weekend. Fraser talked about his storied career and showed me photos of his time at TTE. The first, nearly 20 turbocharger impeller housings on a workbench, shiny and new and waiting for machining. The second showed a Celica Group B engine on the dyno, headers glowing to near melting point. He proudly thumbed through a fantastic collection of photos illustrating his former life as he narrated. I never did find out why he left, but it was evident he was very happy with what he was doing now. He works on all measure of performance cars, including various Mitsubishi projects. His good name was widely known through certain channels, and those in the know….came to him. I think we’ve all run into those people that want to impress upon you how much they know and won’t rest until they dominate the conversation. For lack of a better word, “Know-It-Alls”. And then there are those people with a quiet reserve, playing it very cool while fully aware of their own arsenal of knowledge that is presented at just the right time. That’s Fraser. And there wasn’t a question you couldn’t ask. He knew his stuff, and it just wasn’t Toyota anymore.

After an hour of conversation, we realized it was time to start back to London. It was at this moment I realized I had not adequately prepared for the return trip. I was without proper directions and it would be dark for most of the drive. A truly “OH SHIT!” moment. So we thought it best to grab dinner before hitting the road. The sun was setting on the hills, and it was time to depart. With sincerest thanks, I said goodbye to Fraser and started back towards town. On Fraser’s recommendation, the village pub would be the place to stop. We learned the hard way that unlike most restaurants in the states, those in the UK typically close from 1pm to 5pm, save for McDonalds. And “Free Refills” are non-existent. The pub was opening their doors as we arrived, and they looked someone surprised that we were in so early. But they greeted us politely enough. Perhaps the oddest thing happened in the pub in that they had a menu on a chalk board close by our table, with daily offerings to choose from. This was the first time I would have duck, my girlfriend getting lamb. As soon as we placed our order, the waitress erased the dishes from the menu. Then another customer selected one of the two remaining dishes on the chalk board and it was also erased. So either they had a very limited amount of freezer space or they were clearing out dishes from the night before. Needless to say, the meal was delicious, though the experience was a bit odd.

Fraser has built quite a prosperous business in motorsports, filling a specific role and pioneering work not found anywhere else in the world. He is often called upon at the behest of his customers to travel to points all over the globe. A frequent stop, Dubai, is home to several customers owning massive car collections. With my Ferrari affiliation, we were sharing our joint love of the F40, though his experiences far surpassed mine. After some custom modifications to one in Dubai, he and his client took the F40 out at night in the desert without headlights, as they were removed for weight saving. The car was equipped with a sequential dogbox and they were grabbing gears as they sped down a darkness-clad desert highway. He estimates they called it quits at 180mph.

Because of his frequent travel schedule, I was very fortunate that Fraser was in town at the time of my visit. A short time prior, he was in Africa for the Paris-Dakar rally, supporting Jean-Louis Schlesser and his famous Schlesser buggies. One day, I received a call from Fraser as he was on location, asking if I had any connections with Chrysler. I said it wouldn’t take much, but asked what he was after. He needed two cam position sensors as quickly as possible for a Dodge Viper, but wasn’t able to locate any in Europe because of the scarcity of the car. I made a few phone calls and was able to secure two sensors the following morning, though they would be on special shipment from the distribution center for a premium shipping charge. On a return call, I told Fraser I could get them though there would be a shipping charge to get them here that quickly. No matter. He then asked me to overnight air mail them as soon as I got them, which I did for an ungodly amount of money. I was more than curious what they were for, politely asking what the hurry was. He was working with Team Oreca in preparation for the 24 Hours of LeMans and needed them for their Vipers, one of which would win the famous endurance race that year.

During one of our conversations in mid-1999, Fraser asked the question every rally fan would want to hear, and the one thing I would always regret. He said he could arrange a tour at TTE if I could get over to Germany, but it would need to happen before the end of the year. After that, they would be focused on Formula 1 and the placed would be locked up tight. With little money and no leave, there was no possible way to do it. I was always good at saving money and when I’d get enough, I’d buy the things I wanted. Fraser would even send me the parts that I wanted and just ask me to pay when I could, the generous fellow he is. But I simply wouldn’t be able to get it together fast enough and to this day, I still regret not finding a way.

Re: An All-Trac Legacy

PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 1:35 am
by jwgt41
Reviving an old thread here. Been a long time.

I have enjoyed my Alltrac for several years without incident, until a deer decided to pick a fight one night on my way home from work. I was traveling on a two-lane road at about 60 when it jumped out from the right side. It happened so quick that I barely had a chance to react, but long enough to hit the brakes and change the point of impact. I think it would have landed on the hood and windshield but instead, the left headlight bucket took the brunt. The marker lens and the hood was jacked up beyond repair but, surprisingly, the fender was untouched.

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A blessing in disguise, I instantly thought it would be the ideal time to do a CS conversion. I called Fraser and he had all of the OEM parts ordered and shipped over. The day I got them home, I opened the packages and set out each piece, inspecting for damage. Keep in mind this was well before any of this was common practice.

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Re: An All-Trac Legacy

PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 1:48 am
by jwgt41
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Re: An All-Trac Legacy

PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 1:51 am
by jwgt41
I was not at all happy with the work the body shop did. I am obsessively anal and made a list with 40 areas that they fouled up. I assumed they would be decent since we send the Ferrari's to them, but this wasn't the case. They overcharged me and turned out a mediocre product. Still, from a distance, the car looks decent enough.
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Re: An All-Trac Legacy

PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:34 am
by jwgt41
In 2001, I started making some major changes to the car. It would also be the year that I would last drive my Alltrac, before taking it off the road for a complete build. I had planned to fully disassemble the car and do updates, but did not expect it to take as long as it has.

Fraser contacted me early in the year, saying he had access to something I would be very interested in. He had access to a selection of uprated ST205 engines that were taken out of recce cars, and wanted to know if I was interested in one. The motors had less than 15,000 km and would have everything I would need to fit it to my car. I was eager for him to take my money! He arranged the purchase, crating and shipment over, and it arrived about a month later. It was costly, but the quality of the engine was worth it! This would be the basis for my build.

The unboxing:

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Re: An All-Trac Legacy

PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:37 am
by jwgt41
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Re: An All-Trac Legacy

PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:42 am
by jwgt41
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Re: An All-Trac Legacy

PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:45 am
by jwgt41
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Re: An All-Trac Legacy

PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:47 am
by jwgt41
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Re: An All-Trac Legacy

PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:51 am
by jwgt41
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Coolant pump and water radiator for air/water conversion

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TTE headgasket

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Re: An All-Trac Legacy

PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:58 am
by jwgt41
I picked up some race seats around the same time. The factory leather offers little in the way of bolstering for a big guy like me. It took some time to fabricate the seat rails, but it paid off.
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Re: An All-Trac Legacy

PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 10:13 pm
by jwgt41
In 2002, I took the car of the road permanently. I dropped the motor and trans, stripped the interior, and made the car a rolling shell. It's shameful to say that I have worked on it sparingly since that time. I should mention that I got married, bought a house and a whole different life began shortly after. The house was my focus, and updating the sad, sorry 1960's decor left little energy for anything on the car. Thankfully, it allowed me some time to buy the necessary parts. I have resurrected my project the last two years, and have worked steadily to bring it back from the dead.

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Re: An All-Trac Legacy

PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 10:31 pm
by underscore
So you've had a 15k km 205 engine waiting for you to install it since 2002?