Enhancements / Modifications -
|Jump to:||95/96 Front Facia||Tinted Tail Lights||Quaife Differential|
|Clear Turn Signal Lenses||Mickey Thompson Drag Slicks||True Short Throw Shifter|
|SC1 Rear Trunk Panel||Exhaust Systems||(more on next page)|
95/96 Front Facia
Replacing the 91-94 front facia with a 95/96 model will offer ducts that will be routed to help brake cooling, a larger opening for better airflow to the radiator, and a weight savings of a few lbs (the older fascia is a 2-piece, where this one is 1 piece).
Replacement isn't too difficult, but the honeycomb
material which supports the facia needs to be re-contoured slightly to allow it to fit. Picture
shown at the right is before painting.
Clear Turn Signal Lenses
Even though the turn signals on this car
will probably never see use again, the amber lenses were replaced with clear
lenses. These are available very cheaply on eBay, and you can also get
them from SPS. The clear lens
looks great with the car's black paint - much better than the amber one did.
When the front fascia was being replaced, it was the easiest time to handle
SC1 Rear Trunk Panel
I've always liked the look of the SC1 vertical trunk panel. It looks cleaner and smoother without the large reflectors on the edges like the SC and SC2 models have. I picked one up from my local Saturn retailer's parts department. After shaving the lock cylinder (trunk latch replaced with pins) and having it painted, it was installed. Along with the tinted tail lights (before and after pics can be seen below), it looks outstanding. And it also saves 3 lbs over the SC/SC2 version.
Picture shown at the right is before painting.
Custom Tinted Tail Lights
originally started on these years ago for my '94, but the process ended up
being so much work that they just sat on a shelf for a very long time. I
used a spray tint available from
Summit Racing called "VHT
Night Shades". Proper preparation of the plastic of the lens is
critical. It has to be cleaned with a wax remover, and I'd even suggest
roughing up the surface of the plastic first with very fine grit sandpaper.
Applying a heavy first coat of tint caused spider-web cracks and I had to
sand it all off and start over. Subsequent very thin coats worked best,
lightly wet sanding in between with 2000-grit paper.
One coat of tint doesn't change the appearance much, and it
required at least ten thin coats to get the uniform coverage and darkness I
was looking for. A final wet sanding followed by buffing with a polish gave
the finished product a very nice shine. In my opinion, the whole process
required way too much work to get the high-qualty result I was looking for.
It is much easier to buy plastic tail light blackouts for your car if
they're available. Using the spray does give more of a stealth look, and
would probably be the only option in many states were it is illegal to put
any sort of covering over your tail lights.
Mickey Thompson ET Drag Slicks
22" x 8" x 15" - MTT-3109
I picked these up from Summit Racing.
While many of MT's tires require that you run a tube, these did not. I
chose a size that was very close in diameter to stock tires, with the width
a bit wider than stock. They do fit fine on my
Konig Helium wheels which are 6.5" wide, but
just barely. Just looking at these tires tells you that they
mean business. After a few hard launches with these, I'd be amazed if
something doesn't break.
The amount of negative camber I have dialed into my front wheels for the
road course isn't going to be good for these tires. And unfortunately,
they won't be performing at their absolute best because of it either.
With no camber plates or other easy way to adjust the camber yet when going
from road course to dragstrip, it's something I'll just have to live with.
5/2004 - It takes some practice to find the sweet spot in the RPM range to launch with these tires. Too high and they spin uncontrollably - too low, and the car bogs off the line. It's been hard finding the in-between point. I've been using a pressure around 10 psi, although the guys at Different Racing (who have had great results with these tires on a Saturn) have suggested a pressure even lower than that. Regardless of the pressure, they have some seriously insane grip. And after a bit of experimenting, I can say that I haven't seen any differences in my times with or without a burnout before the run.
The 2004 SPC Rally put some serious use
and abuse on these tires. They're wearing quite a bit on the inside
edge due to the negative camber as I thought they would. But I suppose
that this wear pattern may have an unexpected advantage - it will increase
the contact patch and put more of the tire on the pavement!
Exhaust System (actually, a bunch of systems)
I had a few requirements in mind before putting together the '92's exhaust system: lighter than stock, not horribly loud, free-flowing without sacrificing too much low-end torque, and quickly removeable with basic tools.
Setup #1: Three inch Dynomax straight-thru race muffler with a turndown, mounted to the header with a band clamp. Car sounded very mean, but was unbelievably loud. Even on the track with a helmet on, it was tough to take. And because the loud exhaust exited under the car right between the driver and passenger seats, there was a lot of vibration in the passenger compartment which really messed up any in-car video that I shot.
Setup #2: Three inch baffled Spintech muffler (see the interesting design HERE) with a turndown, mounted to the header with a band clamp. Sound, loudness, and vibration were about the same as the setup above.
Setup #3 (4/2004): Three inch
Dynomax straight-thru race muffler mounted
to the header with a band clamp, acting as a resonator. A three-bolt flange
connects it to an 2.5" diameter intermediate pipe. This pipe runs back over
the rear crossmember, and connects to a flange mounted on a 2.5" diameter
Borla straight-thru stainless muffler mounted in the stock location. Exhaust
exits through its 3" resonated tip at the rear of the car. While not quite
as lightweight as the other two options, it still weighs in lighter than
stock. Plus, it's much quieter and sounds great - very much like the full
Borla cat-back exhaust that is on my '94. And it greatly reduced the
vibration inside the car which improved in-car video quality. This one looks
and sounds like a keeper.
Click on the thumbnails above for
7/2004 - The car was dyno'd at the Saturn Performance Club
Rally with the exhaust connected, and with an open header. The system
measured within a horse-and-a-half of the open header. I was happy to see
that the full exhaust flowed that freely.
"The Quaife Differential powers both drive wheels under nearly all conditions, instead of just one. With an ordinary open differential, standard on most cars, a lot of precious power is wasted during wheelspin under acceleration. This happens because the open differential shifts power to the wheel with less grip (along the path of least resistance). The Quaife, however, does just the opposite. It senses which wheel has the better grip, and biases the power to that wheel. It does this smoothly and constantly, and without ever completely removing power from the other wheel." - from the Quaife website.
I've run this diff for
several years in my '94 SC2, both on the street and on the track with great
results. Since my '94 has been
retired from track duties, the diff (along with a Centerforce Dual Friction
clutch) was moved to my '92 SC. Pictures of the initial installation process as well as my opinions
on the performance of the differential can be found in my projects
Larger pic HERE.
Over the years, shifter feel has greatly faded on my '94 most likely due to wear and slop in the nylon/plastic bushings. For the '92, I wanted the shifter to have a more precise feel. What I didn't want is to have to row through the gears with a lot more effort which happens when people shorten the length of the shaft way too much.
With that in mind, Chris97sc2 (a Saturn tech, website no longer available) modified a shifter, slightly shortening the shaft above the pivot point, lengthening the shaft below the pivot point, raising the pivot point with a plexi spacer block, lengthening one of the cable arms, and adding roller bearings. Since Chris no longer appears to be re-working shifters, check out XRC which looks to be offering the same sort of work.
The picture shown at
the left is after sandblasting and powdercoating.
Update: XRC (RIP) appears to no longer be in business.
Wow, this thing feels great. I had no idea there would be such a
dramatic difference. It feels very precise, but the downside is that
it is unforgiving. It is very easy to miss a shift when shifting as
fast as possible during a run at the dragstrip. But keep in mind that
it requires a bit more care than a stock shifter, and you'll be rewarded by
how well it feels and performs.