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Last Indian

FWD ground pounder - Last Indian

7 posts in this topic

The Last American Indian

A little back history to explain The Last Indian’s progression.
I’m not that guy that does car shows. So I just do cars for me! To please me! For the pleasure of seeing an idea live! But in 1984 a Swedish magazine, (Start & Speed) was here in Cleveland and was told of my custom 1969 Z/28 by a friend of a friend. They approached me for a cover piece so I allowed it. Most of the car was custom designed and handmade, including the full frame with an OEM type suspension front and rear, not coil overs in the back like you often see with full frame conversions, but it was so much more than that! For a myriad of reasons I sold it and a “74” Z/28 that was custom as well in 2004 after 35 and 30 years of ownership! 
I had bought a brand new 2000 Pontiac Grand Prix as a daily driver, so after selling the Camaros I decided to take the GP for a summer only car and for a FWD it wasn’t bad. It wasn’t good mind you, but I loved the updated Coke bottle shape and styling. So I thought I was done modifying & customizing cars I was just going to drive it. I had done a lot with cars at multiply levels, maybe it was time to refocus on something new, not sure what, maybe bird watching? Well the boredom lasted a year! So I embarked on a new path, a path that I didn’t know would became that of The Last American Indian! With the Grand Prix being the last American designed & built Pontiac and the end of Pontiac as a car company occurring just a few short years later!  
 I had always owned RWD cars until the GP, but I found myself realizing all I had ever seen anyone do with a FWD, was either cosmetic things or on the engineering side, power or drifting. Yet no true performance handling, no true blend of drivetrain performance, handling and style! Especially not in an American car and not in the vein of the old muscle car era ground pounders and most assuredly not performance handling. I remember when the first gen Camaro was called the poor man’s Porsche and that was what inspired me to make mine better than a Porsche. Why not a similar mind set with FWD I thought? Drifting isn’t powering thru a corner and it certainly isn’t handling, so l thought, try something different!   
So here we go, The 3800 is normally aspirated, but there have been upgrades on the motor and its peripheries,(heads have been shaved .020, intake ports opened up, exhaust valves opened up, 1.9 Yella Terra roller rockers). Throttle body machined out to 72mm with a Ultem insulator plate. The stock exhaust on the left bank is not adequate for it’s duties so a ZZP Power Log replaced it on the left bank, but the crossover and right exhaust manifold are large enough to handle their respective duties. The down pipe was replaced by a Random Technology 3” high flow cat, this cat doubles the CFM output of the stock cat. The cat back system was kept, as believe it or not will work better than any of the aftermarket ones. The OEM cat was really the only restriction issue.  Next Suspension! 

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First, I needed to look at current perimeters, (SSF) static stability factor (1.4), weight distribution(65/35), CG(58”), RC(67”), wheel base(110.5), track width ft.(61.7) rr.(61.1) & suspension geometry. These numbers are not very good for a car that you want to handle, they're pretty normal for FWD though.
After modifications, (SSF)(1.68), weight distribution (54/46), CG(46”), RC(51”), wheelbase(same), track width ft.(64.5”), rr.(64.5”) & suspension geometry completely modified.
So without getting to technical & lengthy, it goes like this. To effectively increase handling you must lower the CG the RC & the weight distribution if that applies, and it did here. So the  first thing you would always prefer is to lighten the car where needed, but when you can’t you move the weight around and where necessary you add some, thus was the case here. Than you look to increase the track widths & last modify the suspension components to take advantage of those changes.
300lbs. was added to the Indian and all but 15lbs. of it was below wheel centerline. The equivalent of 80lbs was removed from the front nose area and relocated to the rear of the car, again below wheel centerline. 30 lbs was added to the rear impact bar. Part of the weight redistribution was the relocation of the battery to the trunk spare tire well. Additionally the entire frame structure and dead spaces (lower firewall & rear cavity structure, control arm area) were filled with structural urethane foam, contributing 22 lbs of the 300. The rear suspension carrier was reenforced to reduce flex in hard cornering, extra large lateral bars & trailing arms were installed. Redesigned upper rear strut mounts. Redesigned front lower A-arms to reduce torque steer and increase power transfer to the ground. Front struts components redesigned for increased corner stability & power transfer through better spring function. Heavy duty police package springs front & rear were installed. Upper strut bearings replaced with industrial grade pieces, better responsiveness and smoother wheel control & stability. Both front and rear sway bars and their end links were replaced. The front bar was replaced with a solid 34mm bar with larger diameter, shorter and stiffer end links. While the rear bar was replaced with a 22mm diameter bar and a redesigned set of end links as well. Both sets of end links make a significant improvement over the OEM units as they make the bars do what they were designed to do, prevent body roll and keep the wheels planted on the ground.

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Rims, Rubber & Brakes & the rest! Wheels increased from 16”X6.5” to 18”X8” & tires went from 225/60r16 to 245/45r18. Brakes were modified & the brake fluid was changed to Valvoline Syn Power DOT5 fluid. Plus all the custom made hardware & gingerbread which is to much to name. 

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P1170190.bmpP1170190.bmpP1170190.bmpP1170190.bmpFinal details of the Indian. It might not be apparent, but there isn’t much of the Indian that hasn’t been modified, improved or upgraded. This includes converting most all body bolts (not suspension) to American standard threads and using 316 stainless steel bolts or screws. Custom sill plates & pedals, front splitter, HID lighting, brake pedal ratios as increased. Door panels were isolated via felt inlays to reduce noise. So for what it's worth here are some additional pics of that detail work.

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Is the exhaust gold plated or is that just the lighting?

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Truly a guy with many talents.  Impressive, barely begins to cover it.  Glad you joined FP.

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Thank you Steve

Jim, the exhaust is not plated gold. There are amber leds affixed to the impact bumper reflecting down making it appear that way. I see you like Camaros. When I get a chance I'll post up a build I did on my wife's 74 Z/28 27 years ago.

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