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A Trans Am feels peckish
January 25, 2013 5:25 PM   Subscribe

If you were a hungry 1971 Pontiac, what would you eat? How about a Hemi 'Cuda for breakfast, a Daytona Cobra for lunch, and Kremer 935 K3 for dinner. (Part II)

Roger Bolliger's Trans Am has an all-aluminum version of the original Pontiac engine made by Butler Performance. Some video from outside the car at the Reitnau Bergrennen Hillclimb. More in-car vids from Hockenheim.
posted by 445supermag (48 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Would someone explain how the Trans Am overtook the Porsche? Did the Porsche misshift?
posted by herrdoktor at 5:37 PM on January 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


Yeah, it was looking to me, very non-expert, mind, that the Trans Am was a fair bit quicker through the corners, but the 935 had much better acceleration on the straights, so they ended up being closely enough matched that whoever was in front would tend to stay in front.

It looked like, when he did finally pass, that the K3 had messed up somehow. There was a big spout of flame out of the tailpipe, and it didn't accelerate like normal, so the Trans Am was able to get in front. Shame we couldn't see the 935's cam; it would have been interesting to see how close it stayed. Were they actually closely matched, or was the 935 just holding the Trans Am back?

Love the sound of that engine, though I would be terrified to get anywhere near a car like that. High performance cars do not belong in the hands of low performance drivers.
posted by Malor at 5:47 PM on January 25, 2013


oh my god, those straight cut gears sound so delicious

i want to have them in my street car
posted by ninjew at 5:49 PM on January 25, 2013


Yeah, missed shift, that's the big flame coming out at the end. The Porsche was pulling him easily on the straights.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 5:49 PM on January 25, 2013


the Trans Am was a fair bit quicker through the corners, but the 935 had much better acceleration on the straights,

Yeah, that's how it looked to me, too (also thoroughly inexpert), which seems surprising on the face of it--wouldn't you think a Porsche would be better through the corners than a TransAM (even a thoroughly reconstructed one like this?). Perhaps the Porsche driver just wasn't as skilled?
posted by yoink at 5:52 PM on January 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Explains the "rockcrusher" part of the ( probable ) Muncie M22 gearbox nickname.
posted by buzzman at 5:58 PM on January 25, 2013


yoink: “Yeah, that's how it looked to me, too (also thoroughly inexpert), which seems surprising on the face of it--wouldn't you think a Porsche would be better through the corners than a TransAM (even a thoroughly reconstructed one like this?). Perhaps the Porsche driver just wasn't as skilled?”

This is just a random guess by a layman (who admittedly was once a proud owner of a 914) but I have a feeling that if you pump enough torque into a machine basic cornering ability stops mattering quite as much, particularly if the Porsche driver slips up and leaves a hole as she or he seems to have done here.
posted by koeselitz at 5:59 PM on January 25, 2013


yoink: I think the Trans Am probably had a lot more low-end grunt/torque to pull it out of the turns faster, but didn't have the same get-up-and-go in the straights.
posted by herrdoktor at 6:01 PM on January 25, 2013


Looks like it was this Porsche. (Apple used to sponsor a racing team. Go figure it wouldn't be a NASCAR team.)
posted by ardgedee at 6:01 PM on January 25, 2013


wouldn't you think a Porsche would be better through the corners than a TransAM

Wikipedia says that the 935s were consistently the fastest cars on the straights in the Le Mans.
posted by 445supermag at 6:02 PM on January 25, 2013


I agree it would have been interesting to see out the rear of the Trans Am. I'd bet you'd have been able to read the lettering on the hood of the Porsche for most of the rest of the footage.
posted by ardgedee at 6:03 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd say it's possible that 'Cuda was a Hemi, given that it vanished into the background on a road course. Big block E-bodies only did one thing well, and it had nothing to do with turning left, right, or braking.

Love the sound of that dog box crashing from gear to gear, though. Glorious noises.
posted by rhythim at 6:03 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just learned why I never want to get behind the wheel of a race car. What a truly terrifying experience.
posted by Chuffy at 6:04 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


As long as we're here...

[spoilerit'saZakspeedCapriTurboplayingmeanwithsome935K3s]
posted by Chutzler at 6:05 PM on January 25, 2013


Dibs on Chuffy's seat.
posted by Chutzler at 6:05 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


WTF VW Beetle in Pt II ?
posted by buzzman at 6:07 PM on January 25, 2013


There was no eating in this video. All there was were some cars driving around. They didn't seem to go anywhere in particular. Where is the car eating the other cars?
posted by darksasami at 6:13 PM on January 25, 2013 [10 favorites]


From ardgedee's link, it sounds like those Porsche's tended to melt pistons. But, considering that both cars make 700-800 hp, the Porsche does it with half the cubic inches and is therefore going to be on the edge. Those aluminum block Pontiacs have been run at 2,100 ft-lb torque and 2,800 hp on the dyno, so 700 hp could be considered a de-tuned version for reliability.
posted by 445supermag at 6:13 PM on January 25, 2013


I'm guessing that was not actually a Hemi 'Cuda, but rather an AAR 'Cuda or a replica of one. The AAR (named after Dan Gurney's All-American Racers team) was a road racing version with a hot small-block.
posted by zombiedance at 6:18 PM on January 25, 2013


Is it easier for an inexperienced racer to take corners in an FR or RR configuration automobile?
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:18 PM on January 25, 2013


Is it easier for an inexperienced racer to take corners in an FR or RR configuration automobile?

Front engine, rear drive. There's a reason that Porsches are not widely copied by other performance car manufacturers. You can brake later in the corner with a rear engine, rear drive but you have to pretty cautious rolling on the throttle to accelerate out of the turn because it unweights your front tires so much more than with front engine. Unweighted front tires equal no steering, and driving off the track backwards. Even Porsche is getting away from that set-up, witness both the Boxster and Cayman are mid-engine.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 6:32 PM on January 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


There was no eating in this video.

"That's quite an invention we have here. See how we put this chicken on that pole?"
posted by zippy at 6:35 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I totally beat that other car after it unexpectedly exploded halfway through the race."
posted by DU at 6:40 PM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Having flashbacks to my Chump Car experience last fall, 110 in the straits at Road America in a Focus was fun/scary. Can't imagine what it would be like to deal with that beast.
posted by empty vessel at 6:40 PM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I came here to say what Purposeful Grimace said. Cars with the engine behind the rear axle will try to kill you every chance they get. That doesn't mean they'r not a blast to drive or effective in a racing setting. But seriously, the terms 'oversteer' and 'understeer' are not adequate to describe what happens if you turn your back on an air-cooled 911 for a split second.
posted by The World Famous at 6:51 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


1) The only thing stock in that Trans Am appears to be the rear view mirror.
2) One one of those cars appears to be sponsored by Apple from 1984.
posted by chairface at 6:57 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


You can brake later in the corner with a rear engine, rear drive but you have to pretty cautious rolling on the throttle to accelerate out of the turn because it unweights your front tires so much more than with front engine.

No, you brake deeper into the corner in a front or mid engined car. Especially a mid engined car. The rear engine cars are very rear-happy on turn in, so the car needs to be balanced (ie not still braking) on turn in.

but you have to pretty cautious rolling on the throttle to accelerate out of the turn because it unweights your front tires so much more than with front engine.

Current set-up is to slightly favour oversteer with the chassis balance so you actually mash the throttle into a drift (past the understeer into power oversteer) to avoid that. You can make a GT3 cup car (996 or 997, say) pretty neutral on turn in as long as you slow it down enough and then (within reason) mash the throttle on entry to get over that nasty understeer moment into nice drifty oversteer.

We have a couple of GT3 Cup cars (one 996 and one 997). I've only seen data/video and first hand experience of the 997 but the regular driver confirms it is the same. The 996 I drove at a Track day and it was surprisingly neutral if you respected the entry speed and the more aggressive with the exit attack you were, the nicer it got. Great fun, but it did leave you rather open and exposed in the braking zones to other cars to pass you.

There's a reason that Porsches are not widely copied by other performance car manufacturers.

Yes. Because it is inherently wrong and dumb and imbalanced and a stupid place to put the engine. But Porsche said "Well fuck you all, we'll make it work anyway". And after roughly 20 years of development they pretty much started to and its become pretty effective for what it is. But it is still the least desirable option out of Front engine, mid engine or rear engine.
posted by Brockles at 7:03 PM on January 25, 2013 [10 favorites]


Is it easier for an inexperienced racer to take corners in an FR or RR configuration automobile?

Front engined, rear drive cars are generally easiest. The smaller the engine, the easier, too. A big fat engine and a rear drive can be a handful, whereas a relatively benignly powered RWD is the kiddie for learning in.
posted by Brockles at 7:07 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


the absolute hardest part of competitive wheel to wheel racing is to be looking out for traffic while simultaneously not giving a damn about what they're doing in front of or behind you. if you forget they're back there, you will turn in on them at the apex. if you stare in your mirrors, they'll intimidate you and you'll screw up. if you pay too much attention to the traffic in front of you, you will follow their lines which will not be your line and you'll at best have shit lap times. there is a mental place you have to find, where you know everything going on around and can react without thinking about the reaction itself.

it is terrifying and exhilarating like nothing else
posted by ninjew at 7:14 PM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


As an illustration of how scary a rear-engine car can be, even when driven well and not ending up in the weeds, here's the Porsche / RUF Yellowbird being driven around the Nurburgring by someone completely insane. Watch how he's sawing away at the wheel even when going in a straight line.

And just for fun, here's a Pagani Zonda R running that same lap but much faster.

But I'm going to get out of the way and let Brockles pass me, because his comments in racing threads are the best thing ever.
posted by The World Famous at 7:16 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


wouldn't you think a Porsche would be better through the corners than a TransAM

I watched that video a couple of times and the Porsche driver seems to be making a hash of it. The TransAm driver, by contrast (apart from some terrible habits with feeding the wheel and moving his hands) is much smoother, more consistent on the throttle and generally better. If you watch the side of the front wheels of the Porsche and the angle of the car itself you see lots of entry to mid-corner corrections as the TransAm gets closer - the Porsche makes one or two little mistakes, the TransAm gets closer and then the driving in teh lead car goes to crap as he over-drives to try and get away.

Classic case of 'driving to his mirrors'. His car was (it seems) faster, but he didn't focus on his driving but tried to react to the car behind him. Drivers assume that 'closer means I have to go faster', which is dumb as that is invariably slower. You have to do the same thing you were doing, but more accurately, which is very difficult to do under pressure.

The Porsche definitely either missed a shift or dropped the engine, which is why the TransAm finally got it, but it was the faster car - particularly out of the corners - up until that point. The way it pulled from so close to apex means, to me, it was cornering below its grip threshold and the guy wasn't good enough to corner faster and was relying on the superior exit punch it has to save his arse and the position.
posted by Brockles at 7:24 PM on January 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


The Porsche was totally eating the TrashAm's lunch until he made an unforced error. This was more a case of the 935 driver losing the race, rather than anyone winning it.

I'd say it's possible that 'Cuda was a Hemi, given that it vanished into the background on a road course. Big block E-bodies only did one thing well, and it had nothing to do with turning left, right, or braking.

It was probably a 440 Cuda or a 426 replica, since nobody would be stupid enough to race a real, original Hemi Cuda and risk crashing a million dollar machine. Yes really, a numbers-matching Hemi Cuda should go for at least $750k.

Hemi Cudas and other Mopar 426 Hemi models were built for stock car racing and drag racing, not this sort of race. They had to sell enough street models to qualify the cars as stock. When I was in high school in the early 1970s, my best friend had a newly restored, factory original, numbers-matching 67 Hemi Coronet with a TorqueFlite automatic transmission. It was the fastest car in my town. I claimed the #2 spot with my Mustang GT but I was probably wrong, or more than likely I was just the second-craziest driver in my town, having outrun the local cops almost as many times as my friend. And he showed me it was possible to drive 130mph without your face melting, so I was emboldened enough to drive cross country in the Mustang at a sustained 135mph on the empty Kansas Turnpike.
But anyway, that Hemi Coronet was a damn legend in my town. It was restored by a local stock car racer that specialized in rebuilding Hemi Cudas, and my friend drove it to high school every day. It was bright Mopar Red, and if you didn't see the chrome 426 logo, or the racing rims, if you drove up to it at a stoplight, you'd think it was your grandma's car.. until you heard the engine rev up and make the ground shake, and then it would blow your doors off at the green light. My friend let me drive it once, we went out to a country road we called The Airstrip, because it has an absolutely straight and level run for about a mile, and then a perfect hill with a gentle ramp up and a sudden drop of where you could catch some air and get all 4 wheels off the ground for a moment, if you could hit about 100mph at just the right time. Whee. My friend told me to try to copy his Airstrip run technique, and see if I could get all 8 barrels of the Dual 4 Barrel Hurst carburetor to kick in. It would take a real lead foot to hit the gas pedal hard enough to get all 8 barrels. I tried several times, stomping as hard as I could, and I could only get 6 barrels. And even then, the acceleration would push you back into the seat HARD. So you just had to stomp on the gas even harder. I don't know how my friend could do it, but he was the owner and he could do it easily. But it that trick was dangerous around town, and burned up too much gas and rubber. The Coronet, like my Mustang GT, needed Premium gas, 104 octane or higher recommended in the owner's manual. Fill er up with Ethyl, loaded with deadly lead. But it was getting hard to find high octane, and with the oil crisis, the price went up to an unaffordable 40 cents per gallon! And the insurance was very costly for a high school kid with a muscle car. My friend stopped driving the car and put it up on blocks. He eventually sold it for $3500. About 2 days after he sold it, the buyer called him and asked for copies of all the engine and VIN numbers. The Coronet was stolen the first day the guy had it, he hadn't even taken the papers out of the glove compartment to get it registered yet. At that time, 426 Hemi engines were highly prized by funny car drag racers, making the engine alone worth more than the cars with 426 Hemis intact. So the inevitable result, about a week later, the car was found on its side, wrecked in a junkyard, with the engine missing. That car, intact and numbers matching, would be worth hundreds of thousands today.

Getting back to racing and that video though.. my Hemi owning friend told me that if you put the 3 big Mopar muscle cars in one drag race, you'd have something like a 360 Dart, a 440 Charger, and a 426 Cuda or Coronet, they'd get off the finish line in that order. The 440 would soon take the lead from the 360, then the 426 would overtake them both and nothing could ever catch it. The bigger engine and heavier cars would be slower off the line, but faster in the stretch. But these cars were highway cars. As I discovered when I owned a beat up 65 Cuda, these Mopars were notorious for having incredibly low steering ratios. IIRC a full rack of the steering wheel, from full left to full right was 7 complete turns. This made the car an absolute bitch to parallel park. But when you were on a long, straight interstate freeway at full speed, you could turn the wheel a rather large amount and you'd only move slight course corrections to keep in your lane. And that's what they were built to do. So they would be completely useless in a road race like in that video. That is exactly what they were NOT built to do. Neither was the TrashAm. But that car is sort of an example of what they said about the F-4 Phantom fighter jet: it was proof you could make a brick fly if you attached a large enough engine to it.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:25 PM on January 25, 2013 [12 favorites]


Yeah, missed shift, that's the big flame coming out at the end.

And that's why racing is as much about patience and consistency as it is about speed.
posted by davejay at 7:49 PM on January 25, 2013


the 935 had much better acceleration on the straights

That's an understatement.

Granted, the Trans Am pulled away from the 'Cuda like it was standing still toward the beginning there, but the Porsche pulled away from the Trans Am like it was driving backwards.

And yeah, the 'Cuda is a drag racer. This is the completely wrong kind of race for it.
posted by ShutterBun at 8:00 PM on January 25, 2013


Looked to me that the Pontiac missed a shift later and came out of a turn too hot if the Porsche had been on his tail then he would have waved bye bye as the Pontiac fishtailed trying to get some traction. This was amateur racing as far as I could tell.
posted by pdxpogo at 8:04 PM on January 25, 2013


Porsche driver gets it all wrong by mashing the throttle a little too hard too early in a turn, you can hear the engine note rise. Warning: bad word screamed right at the end.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 9:39 PM on January 25, 2013


I think my favorite racing video on youtube is this one of a guy in a Lotus Elise tearing through a crowd of other Lotus Elises at Bathurst.
posted by smcameron at 10:12 PM on January 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


Hey Brockles, I enjoy every comment you make--and generally learn something--when you comment in racing threads.
posted by maxwelton at 10:34 PM on January 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


As I don't know shit about cars, I would like to discuss the paint scheme. It's all wrong. A white car does not evoke badasery in my opinion. Black is an obvious choice, but I'd like to see it in charcoal grey and orange striping.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:16 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


something else to consider is that these two cars have dramatically different power delivery. where the TransAm with it's beefy V8 throws down massive torque lower in the rev range, the porsche driver really has a lot of work to do to keep the massive turbos spinning and escape the lag in the lower revs. there are definitely a few turns where he opens the throttle a bit too early (TransAm) and the rear end steps out. in the Porsche, though, he'd have to open it up as he's turning in and let the turbos catch up. that's why, once they're both exiting the turn, that 935 is pushing close to 21 pounds of boost and just walks away.

the 935 is making close to 800hp @ 8000rpm. from 3.0 liters. the TransAm displaces 8.1L. very very different power delivery.

here's a great video of a 935, both interior and exterior
posted by ninjew at 11:24 PM on January 25, 2013


As I don't know shit about cars, I would like to discuss the paint scheme.

These things are all traditions. For example, you shouldn't paint a Mopar green, and Fords should be blue.

BTW, I am mortified at an error I made.

>a 360 Dart, a 440 Charger, and a 426 Cuda..

Of course any Mopar fool would know that should be the legendary 340 Dart.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:31 PM on January 25, 2013


But I get the impression that there are very few traditional things incorporated into the configuration of these cars.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:20 AM on January 26, 2013


Yeesh, as always, listen to Brockles. Slow in, fast out is the Porsche way.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 12:32 AM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


But I get the impression that there are very few traditional things incorporated into the configuration of these cars.

The newest car in this video is thirty-three years old.
posted by Chutzler at 12:45 AM on January 26, 2013


Joe Biden approves this message
posted by C.A.S. at 3:14 AM on January 26, 2013


here's the Porsche / RUF Yellowbird being driven around the Nurburgring by someone completely insane

Jesus Christ that is terrifying. Especially when you watch the Pagini Zonda doing the same thing; you realize that the Porsche driver is barely in control, the whole time. He's putting almost all of his energy into just trying to keep the car from doing something completely wacky. By comparison, the Pagini Zonda driver is able to focus on more important matters like -- oh, I don't know -- driving a good line.

Joe Biden approves this message

Hell, yeah, he does.
posted by jpolchlopek at 8:43 AM on January 26, 2013


you realize that the Porsche driver is barely in control, the whole time. He's putting almost all of his energy into just trying to keep the car from doing something completely wacky.

Quite the opposite, actually. The Porsche driver is deliberately provoking oversteer and drifts at every occasion and is well within his limits pretty much the whole time. That is not a car at the limit of grip because of speed for the most part. Through the sweeping left right turns its a bit closer (notice the much faster wheel corrections) but all of the longer turns with the car so sideways is purely playing and trying to look spectacular. Not even slightly as dangerous as it perhaps looks.

The difference between the two is the Zonda is being driven to be fast (and being driven well), whereas the Porsche is being driven to be spectacular (although driven just as well).

Porsche driver gets it all wrong by mashing the throttle a little too hard too early in a turn, you can hear the engine note rise.

Ah, Lime Rock. He turns in WAY too early, which is the biggest problem, and also too fast (it looks like he was trying a bit too hard to catch the car in front). So he arrives at the apex off line (so less grip) and then hits the change in camber wrong which unsettles the car. The wheelspin that results (the rpm rise) from the throttle does the traditional "Now your Porsche will face the other way" wrist slap. He completely screwed that corner from beginning to end. Incidentally despite the description it looks like the instructor is in the passenger seat and the student is driving. It sounds like the instructions are coming from an open face helmet and the driver has a full face so if it was him talking he'd be all muffled and be yelling MUCH louder.

I think my favorite racing video on youtube is this one of a guy in a Lotus Elise tearing through a crowd of other Lotus Elises at Bathurst

Not seen that one before, that's some great driving. Im assuming the guy screwed up qualifying because he is WAY faster then his grid position suggests. Really good, aggressive driving although there is a lot of quality racing among the other guys as he works his way through. Good stuff.

I get the impression that there are very few traditional things incorporated into the configuration of these cars.

They are, from what I can gather of the series, cars that are very old and true to their era but come from a time when people were allowed to modify the absolute living crap out of race cars. So they are crazy modified cars, but for the most part the same as they were when they were raced 30-40 years ago. Cars are either more stock now or usually bespoke (although sometimes built to a similar external shape as stock, like GT1 cars etc).
posted by Brockles at 4:34 PM on January 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Joe Biden approves this message

Biden's more of a Corvette guy.
posted by Zonker at 4:58 AM on January 28, 2013


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