26 July 2020

With Midlana builders starting to complete their car’s bodywork, it reminds me that I need to update my blog. Background: This whole odyssey regarding the rear panel started after I damaged it and never got around to really fixing it. Instead, the area was used to add a diffuser and and to both extend the exhaust and add a muffler. So the area was being used, but nothing was done to improve the car’s look from the rear.

After a lot of thinking, the diffuser is being removed. Why? While they can work well—on a proper car—it looks odd and out of place on Midlana. Its value at anything less than track speeds is questionable (other than getting street ‘cred, hah). Its effectiveness isn’t helped by the fairly high 4″ ground clearance. (That said, the pictures of the removed diffuser do show the expected and desired flow, so it was doing something. One disappointment was that driving down a street with leaves on it, they never did jump off the street into the air.

Removing the diffuser shortens the car by about two feet, valuable garage space that I wanted back. I still like the original solid panel the best aesthetically, but I’m going with wire mesh to aid engine compartment ventilation. If you’ve ever dealt with woven wire, it’s much like cloth, where the edges can fray and fall out during cutting and installation. Having the wires welded makes the panel much easier to deal with. The one down side is that welded-wire mesh isn’t available in many sizes, with the largest wire being 0.03″, (0.7mm). I’d rather it be thicker for stiffness and looks, but oh well.

Also in the same area is the exhaust and muffler. The child in me misses the turbo whistle sound, so the muffler is coming off, reverting back to using only the turbo as the muffler (as the Dodge SRT-4 does, so I read). This cleans up the engine compartment, moves the pieces out of the way, gets rid of about 4 feet of heat-radiating tubing, and about 15 pounds from the worst location possible, aft of rear axle center line.

Lastly, I’ve been meaning to back off on spring rate. As it is now, it’s right on the edge of being too harsh for the street, So the rear springs were reduced from 600 lb/in to 400 lb/in, and the fronts reduced from 300 lb/in to 250. You may notice they aren’t being reduced by the same percentage. The front is being reduced less to ensure that any oversteer tendency is held in check, and because I didn’t have any 200 lb/in springs! The original reason for going stiffer was to make ensure that the rear suspension never bottomed out, but I don’t think that it did. Yeah, maybe I’m getting soft in my old age, or just being more realistic about what the car is and isn’t.

Back to the screen material for a second, which is stainless and currently unpainted. I haven’t decided whether to leave it as-is or paint it black. I think a solid panel looks better, and painting it black may make it sort of disappear, causing the car to again look like its back end is open. We’ll see.