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The SoulMark - A DelSol based Kelmark??

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  • The SoulMark - A DelSol based Kelmark??

    Hello all,

    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 more in to it.


    The Ferrari Dino has always been one of my favorite cars. While I do love the look of the Kelmark (the kit from the 1970's based on the Dino), 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.





    JH Classics in the UK already makes a Dino kit for the MR2, and although it looks good, I wasn't 100% sold on it, mainly because of the pillar.





    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 with a straight top 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 keep the donor car's cockpit as intact as possible, to make the car as practical as the donor it was based on.


    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.



    (pardon the quickly done hacked up photoshop)

    Even though the del Sol is front engined, the guys over at Extreme proved 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 found 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've also chopped it in half and have 2 halves in the driveway.


    I picked up a 93 Del Sol Si for $1200 and because I've been such a slacker and not starting my project, I was daily driving this thing around for about a year and it is FUN to drive. It pulls hard to 7000 rpm, starts on the first turn every time, has all the comforts of a modern car and costs me $18/mo to insure. It's full of surface rust, but that's fine, most of that gets cut or covered anyway.


    I've also picked up a ton of cool 1970's interior parts from my local parts yard, 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. I bought some front bumpers from a 70 Camaro to use in the rear, but they are much too small. I am now trying to source some bumpers from a P1800 which I think should have the right dimensions for the rear.


    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've started taking apart the del Sol, but it pains me a little. I enjoyed driving it so much, I hate to get it to a state where I can't take it for a spin for a while.


    I need to figure out a plan of how to attach the front and rear clips to the del sol body.





    By my calculations, the rear clip is big enough to go over the rear without cutting sheet metal. But I'm not exactly sure how I'd 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 (the Kelmark did not require access to that area, but a front engine does), but I'll save that for a later post at a later time.









  • #2
    Interesting indeed. Just did a quick search and it looks as though the delsol is 158″ L x 67″ W while a 67 VW Beetle is 160.6"L x 60.6"w . that 7" width may no seem like a lot but it is. Also because the kelmark bolts up to the pan of the VW you are going to have to figure out how to not only ad inches to the width but also how to mount it.

    Personally it seems like a lot of work
    [url]www.fiberclassics.org[/url]
    [url]www.miatakitcar.com[/url]

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    • #3
      Wow. What a great idea!
      You seem to have been able to get the front to fit, even as slipondajimmy says, at first glance it appears too narrow.

      If it were me, I would look at some places on the main chassis of the del sol, that the kit comes in reasonable proximity to. Make some metal brackets that will bolt to the chassis and bond these back onto the grp of the kit.

      Looking at the big challenge of access, it might be worth thinking about making it so that the front is removable or even on a hinge set to allow you to tip the front forward.

      There used to be a bunch of flip front kits available (essentially heavy duty hinge kits - some with struts) for cars like Baja bugs and race cars. This might help with the front, and then you just need to work out the rear mounting.

      Keep us posted of your progress. This looks like a really cool idea.

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      • #4
        The width of an original VW is irrelevant - look at the pictures He posted , the kelmark panels are wide enough to slip entirely over the delsol body .

        You'll want to make the front and rear hinged , so you wouldn't necessarily be bonding them to the car- you'll just need to fabricate brackets and supports and hinges .

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        • #5
          It is very relevant . Of course they are wide enough because of the smaller width of the bug. So you see the pic he posted of the nose? Notice the left side at the windshield? That huge gap is their because he has the nose pushed all the way up against the fender so it is not lined up with the windshield pillar. So he is either going to need to take a big chunk out of the center of the body or make the car wider (big mounting points or whatever) From there you will need to figure out the doors and all that jazz.

          It is not an impossible task and it could be fun, but there is a lot going on here that will have to be addressed .

          Originally posted by cutlass442 View Post
          The width of an original VW is irrelevant - look at the pictures He posted , the kelmark panels are wide enough to slip entirely over the delsol body .

          You'll want to make the front and rear hinged , so you wouldn't necessarily be bonding them to the car- you'll just need to fabricate brackets and supports and hinges .
          [url]www.fiberclassics.org[/url]
          [url]www.miatakitcar.com[/url]

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          • #6
            Originally posted by slipondajimmy View Post
            that 7" width may no seem like a lot but it is. Also because the kelmark bolts up to the pan of the VW you are going to have to figure out how to not only ad inches to the width but also how to mount it.
            Yep - the "how to affix it to the body" is what I am working with now. I originally planned to use a high-strength epoxy resin, which is capable of bonding to both metal and fiberglass. The issue I have (for now) is that this resin does not cure in cold weather. As for the width, it's actually not as off as you'd think. I took some measurements and it seemed that 1.5" wheel spacers would work. If not, I cut the body down the center and narrow it.

            Originally posted by MunkyKing View Post
            Wow. What a great idea!
            You seem to have been able to get the front to fit, even as slipondajimmy says, at first glance it appears too narrow.

            If it were me, I would look at some places on the main chassis of the del sol, that the kit comes in reasonable proximity to. Make some metal brackets that will bolt to the chassis and bond these back onto the grp of the kit.

            Looking at the big challenge of access, it might be worth thinking about making it so that the front is removable or even on a hinge set to allow you to tip the front forward.
            Thanks!

            So originally I had planned on cutting out a hood from the Kelmark and using the leftover piece and hinging it. But the more I studied the 2 cars, I realized the hoodlines are nearly identical. So my plan is to cut a hood out of the Kelmark, lay that over the del Sol hood, trace it, then cut out the inverse of the hole. Then I'll be using a piece of the factory hood as the actual hood. This allows me to keep the factory washers, as well as a neat and tidy hood line at the top. It'll take some fiberglass and filler to get them exactly even, but it should work. I toyed with the idea of hinging the whole piece, but there were a few reasons I ruled that out, most notably difficulty with it lining up perfectly.

            Also, the curvature of the rear body requires some extensive cutting of the del Sol, such that hinging the rear panel won't work. I've found a way to keep the factory trunk and get the body over it.

            Originally posted by slipondajimmy View Post
            there is a lot going on here that will have to be addressed .
            There is indeed. I have some more updates that I'll post here in a minute. But yes, the more I look at this, the more I realize how many things need to be addressed. For instance, trying to relocate the gas filler posed a big challenge, but I think I've found a way around that.

            And Jimmy - nice to see you're keeping POHT going. I was sad to hear of Shannon's passing. He and I exchanged quite a few emails over the years, sharing a passion for VW kits and piercings. He was a great guy and the kit community is not the same without him.

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            • #7
              So I made some good progress today. I had hoped to not have to cut too much metal as part of this project. But the del sol trunk stuck out farther than I thought and the rear of the Kelmark slopes down considerably.

              This side-by-side photo shows what I mean.


              As I laid the rear clip over the del Sol, the back of the trunk was sticking out. So I needed to trim at least 5" or so. After looking again when I got finished for the night, I realize I may need to trim another couple inches.



              Once it's all trimmed up, it sits fairly nicely on there. I'd hoped to keep the Kelmark flying butresses and mate them to the ones on the del Sol, but it didn't fit right unless I trimmed them off, so I'll need to make custom ones.



              The view from the rear looks pretty good. I will certainly need wheel spacers, although the Cromodoras have a wider offset than the stock del Sol rims.



              By the way, the name of this project came from the guy I sold the Kelmark windshield to. I told him about the project and later he asked "How's the Soulmark?" Until that point, I was calling it the DinoSol, but SoulMark seemed more appropriate.

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              • #8
                Yeah Rick Shannon was a good dude. Told him I would keep the site going for as long as I was around.

                You are on the right track with the build. Just remember the more you cut the less it will resemble the kelmark lol
                [url]www.fiberclassics.org[/url]
                [url]www.miatakitcar.com[/url]

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                • #9
                  Will lowering the car , and using tall tires , be enough to close up that wheel gap?

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                  • #10
                    I think you will need a truck tire...lol.
                    [url]www.fiberclassics.org[/url]
                    [url]www.miatakitcar.com[/url]

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                    • #11
                      Better advice can be given if you tell us what you have at the ready such as what type of welder, what power tools ? A grinder, sawz all , etc ?and what skills and experience you have in car repair. ? Cutting a car apart is not anything close to putting it back together into a running operational vehicle. I'm Looking at your cutting of the trunk and think it was pointless, the del Sol trunk lid and quarters and actually all the Honda panels should be removed to mount the Kelmark body. Think UNBOLT now not CUTTING OFF. The Kelmark body will then sit lower on the honda chassis. One reply said to 'make brackets' to mount the body. Those 2 words, 'make brackets' can itself be a huge learning curve. Where do you Begin? The structure you build will need to be like a frame work to support the Kelmark body. You'll be best served by Welding these supports around the Honda chassis, again I don't know if you have a welder. Good planning will prevent you from doing things over 2 or 3 times. I am years into my Ferrari build and worked on cars for over 20 years and I still screw up. I planned out my back window frame for my 512tr build, but it didn't turn out like I had hoped and I'm making version two right now. Ask questions and look at the members answering, read their build threads to see what they're up or what they've built. Theres some talented people here ready to help. If you're told you are doing it wrong it's help being given and not to be taken otherwise. the goal is for you to build and finish a car you can drive and be proud to show. I'll be watching your thread and will ready to give help where I can . Vinny

                      PS. Fill in your location in your profile, you may find a fellow member nearby willing to lend a hand.
                      Last edited by TRcrazy; 11-29-2015, 05:06 PM.
                      Remember, there is always next year.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by TRcrazy View Post
                        If you're told you are doing it wrong it's help being given and not to be taken otherwise. the goal is for you to build and finish a car you can drive and be proud to show. I'll be watching your thread and will ready to give help where I can. Theres some talented people here ready to help.
                        Thanks for that! I do plan to ask for help and heed the advice of people with much more experience than myself. I appreciate your offer.

                        Originally posted by TRcrazy View Post
                        Better advice can be given if you tell us what you have at the ready such as what type of welder, what power tools ? A grinder, sawz all , etc ?and what skills and experience you have in car repair. ?
                        I have a compressor and grinder, but it's not that powerful, so I have been using the sawzall to make my cuts. I have most common power tools, but no welder or welding experience, but planned to get one for this build. I know it's going to be needed to make the supports.

                        I've been working on cars for 27 years (geez, just had a heart attack as I typed those words! - Am I that old?) Previous car history has been restoring older muscle cars, and a couple of kits (Bradley, Sterling). I also did a lot of weird custom motorcycle builds while I lived in Thailand. FWIW, I also have always done 100% of my own maintenance of my daily drivers - things break, I learn how to diagnose, I learn how to fix, and I fix it. This project is going to involve a lot of new things for me, but I love the learning process. In past projects, cars and otherwise, I have always gravitated towards things which are new. I rehabbed an abandoned house a few years ago having never done any type of building work before. I learned from people who were willing to teach, and in the end all my work (plumbing, electrical, framing, etc) passed all code and was complemented by the inspector for being quality work.

                        Originally posted by TRcrazy View Post
                        Cutting a car apart is not anything close to putting it back together into a running operational vehicle. I'm Looking at your cutting of the trunk and think it was pointless, the del Sol trunk lid and quarters and actually all the Honda panels should be removed to mount the Kelmark body.
                        The del Sol quarters do not unbolt, they are a permanent part of the car. The trunk I could have unbolted, but I wanted to retain the original hinge system and the majority of the weatherstripping. The trunk was designed in such a way that the targa roof fits in it. But the rear contour of the trunk would not fit under the Kelmark lines. So I wanted to re-contour the rear of the trunk with fiberglass to allow the original hinge/latch to function and allow the roof to still fit in. Again, I am trying to retain as much of the del Sol as possible to keep the practicality of the donor car. That said, I do know there are some areas of the car that can not (should not) be cut. I had originally wanted the gas filler neck to go on the flying butress, but there is a structural part of the car I'd in the way which I can't cut, so I am going to have to mount it near the original del Sol location, which is going to kill the lines a bit, but there is no other way.

                        Thanks again for your advice. Look forward to diving in to your build thread when I have a chance. I'll update my profile too.

                        -Rick

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by cutlass442 View Post
                          Will lowering the car , and using tall tires , be enough to close up that wheel gap?
                          Yep - the rear wheel well is my biggest worry right now. The original Dino had very tall tires, but maybe not tall enough. I am wondering if I will have to make modifications to the Kelmark body get it even lower. The max drop I can safely do is 2". The upsized tires give me an extra 3.5" diameter, or 1.75" on top over stock wheels. That's not going to be enough, and I don't want to oversize the tires to the point where they look like truck tires, like Jimmy says.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by rickjames8 View Post
                            Yep - the rear wheel well is my biggest worry right now. The original Dino had very tall tires, but maybe not tall enough. I am wondering if I will have to make modifications to the Kelmark body get it even lower. The max drop I can safely do is 2". The upsized tires give me an extra 3.5" diameter, or 1.75" on top over stock wheels. That's not going to be enough, and I don't want to oversize the tires to the point where they look like truck tires, like Jimmy says.
                            whats the rear suspension look like? Springs you can cut? you ca also drop the wheelwell body by adding fiberglass to it. I have done that before on a custom front fender to cut down the wheel gap space.
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                            • #15
                              Good idea to make the wheel well smaller using fiberglass , then you don't have to lower the car or use tall tires

                              That's what this guy just did here

                              http://www.madmechanics.com/forum/sh...305#post217305

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