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The SoulMark - A DelSol based Kelmark??

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  • The SoulMark - A DelSol based Kelmark??

    So I've had a project planned for sometime now, and I need a good kick in the pants to make myself get at it. So perhaps if I post my ideas here and people start giving me ideas, that'll get me in to it.


    The Ferrari Dino has always been one of my favorite cars. While I do love the look of the Kelmark, there are a few things I'd like to change if I could. Namely, I would like thinner A-pillars, and in general, a door with a smaller window frame. I'd like more of a curved windscreen. Perhaps more creature comforts (ps, ac, pw, etc). With all that in mind, I wanted to explore the idea of mounting a Kelmark on to another donor, by grafting the front and rear clips to the cockpit of another more modern vehicle.



    The first and most obvious choice to me was an 2g MR2. The proportions are the same, the engine is in the right place, it has some good performance figures and a good supply of aftermarket parts (for needed lowering, etc).


    The major obstacle I see in this project is overcoming the height in the front of the car, caused by the fact that the MR2 (as any newer car) will have struts. My plan to fix this is with 2 ideas. For starters, lowering the car as much as possible. Because the stock fenders (wings) will be removed and the track will likely need to be widened with spacers, tire clearance issues are minimized somewhat. This may create handling issues, which I know will need to be addressed, but this car is not intended to be raced , it will be more for daily duty. Secondly, I'd like to put taller tires on (less low-profile), closer to what came on the Dino. This should help fill the wheel wells, giving the appearance that the hoodline sits lower in relation to the top of the tires. The taller tires will also offset the lowered suspension, and reduce the risk of scraping on speed bumps. In the end, the ride height remains the same, yet the engine (and strut tops) drop in relation to the top of the tires.



    There was a couple small things I didn't like about the 2g MR2. The B-pillar slants the wrong way. It leans forward, and with the lines of the car, I think it's better if it leans back. Secondly, I'd want door-mounted mirrors like the original had, and removing the stock MR2 mirrors leaves a blank panel in front of the windows where the MR2 mirrors normally sit.

    Someone in the UK already makes a Dino kit for the MR2, and although it looks good, I wasn't 100% sold on it.


    So then I thought about the 3g MR2 (the spyder). I've seen some Dino replicas turned convertible, and think it looks good, but I prefer the look of the original hardtop and targa lines. Although I think a convertible donor could be a good platform for a targa. I'd install the rear clip WITH the rear window, and use pieces of the convertible frame to make a targa roof which would then be covered in fiberglass. However, the side windows on a spyder are very rounded at the top, and getting new glass made and modifying a top to match seems like a task that would result in leaks that would never go away. This would be ok for a show car, but not for a daily. The idea is to have a cockpit which is as intact as possible, to make the car as practical as the donor it was based on. I had a 69 Mustang daily driver with leaky windows (they glued in windows for 1969 models) and it was one of the most annoying things on that car - it never seemed to ever seal right. The idea of changing the windows on a donor car is bringing back those memories.


    Then I thought about the TR7. The cockpit is the right shape, but I feel it sits too far back in the car. The space in front of the doors is too long, the space behind, too short.


    Then I saw a photo of the Honda Del Sol. Right proportions in terms of the cockpit placement, the b-pillar slants back considerably, it has a targa top (!), AC,PS,PW are available, the proportions are right - in fact the wheelbase is nearly identical. It was available in a VTEC trim which puts out 160hp stock (close to the 176hp of the original). I was sold.

    Now, you may be thinking, "but the del Sol is front engined!". We'll just like the guys over at Extreme realized that with many modern cars, the engine sits low enough, that with the proper wheel modifications (mentioned above), you can hide a front engine under the hoodlines of a car body which normally has no engine under it.


    Furthermore, with any newer car, it will have front struts, and that will likely be your limiting height factor for a front hood, not necessarily the engine which sits between those struts.



    My plan is to mate the front and rear clips from the Kelmark to the Del Sol, modify the interior to look more vintage, and create custom door skins to tie the front and back together. I would like to make side scoops like the original, something not present on the Kelmark.


    So I picked up a Kelmark for $700, and have since sold $800+ in random parts off the interior, doors and glass.


    I picked up a 93 Del Sol Si for $1200 and because I've been such a slacker and not starting my project, I've been daily driving this thing around and it is FUN to drive. It pulls hard to 7000 rpm, starts nice, has all the comforts and costs me $18/mo to insure. It's full of rust, but that's fine.


    I've also picked up a ton of cool 1970's interior parts to look the part, including a set of gauges from a Saab Sonnett. I bought a second set of del Sol gauges and will work on putting the stepper motors from the del sol cluster in the Saab gauges and driving them off the harness - with the exception of the speedo which is mechanical, so I will need to decode the signals to drive a motor for that one. Then a lot of dash mods to make it all look cohesive.


    I found a genuine set of 5-lug Dino Cromodora's on Craigslist (score!) as well as some XKE front chrome bumpers and some Opel Manta tail lights.


    So what I've got is a big pile of parts, and very little work started really. I've done test fits of the clips on the car, and it looks like all my calculations have been correct. I do believe it will all fit, and with proper spacers and tire sizes, the wheels should fill the wells.


    I need to figure out a plan of how to attach the front and rear clips to the del sol body. By my calculations, it's big enough to go over the rear without cutting sheet metal. But how do I attach it? I've found some resins designed to bond 'glass to steel, but I cant visualize the points of attaching, and how I'd get in there. I'm counting on being able to figure that out with a few more dry fit sessions.


    As far as the door skins, I planned to cover the door in foam and trim it away until it's the right shape, then cover with fiberglass. Perhaps there is a better way??


    As for the front clip, I have a plan to make a new hood, but I'll save that for a later post at a later time.

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