SPECS
Horsepower
200 HP
Torque
210 LB-FT
Curb Weight
2800 LB
Drivetrain
FR
Engine Size
2.3 L
Transmission Type
T5
MPG (City/Highway)
18/23 MPG
VEHICLE STORY

Bought the car from college student needing to sell quick in 2014 winter.  Very clean body with some bonus work and go-fast parts. However, after thoroughly inspecting the car the following spring, the engine was shot.  Had some work done but not a lot of care in doing so.   I've pretty much been rebuilding/upgrading/repairing/rebuilding the car part by part since then, to hopefully compete in an SCCA solo season. Most Progress and write ups can be found on the forum:: http://forum.merkurclub.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=37&t=32487&p=291935&hilit=Project&sid=1060d6632a8c80c4ced2bde2f0836e8c#p291935

Discuss this build

[]Travis DiTulio

122.4k views

Got engine and trans in the car before New Years Eve. Engine mounts dont quite line up, which was to be expected. Wont fix until I get Cosworth driveshaft in and positioned.
Properly depowered steering rack, all bushings have been replaced in the system.
Painted engine bay with epoxy primer, didnt urethane seal. Tried heating shop to help curing, and didnt want to waste anymore paint without knowing proper adhesion.
Redid brake line to front passenger caliper. Rather then run along the firewall, rerouted directly down and across cross member, under the oil pan. Simplifies the look of the engine bay.

[]Travis DiTulio

121k views

After prepping the barn/garage to somewhat hold heat in winter, got the engine bay painted with two-part epoxy primer. Got bellhousing on, with mechanical shift linkage clean,painted, and greased. Looking to convert to manual steering, and reroute the front passenger brake line to go under the engine, rather then have it hang off the firewall. Got custom engine mounts made and painted in freetime, turned out amazing. Hope to get the engine in before New Years Eve.
There is justs soo much to do, let alone decisions on rust repair alone.

[]Travis DiTulio

115.9k views

In June, passenger side floor is mostly done. Started prepping driver side for panels.
Didnt get much done in July, only have time to work on personal projects on the weekends. Very easy to loose that time when people start calling in favors, another project comes up, and now its August =P
Got driver side floor half welded in two weekends ago, probably wont finish till end of August due to all the events I am attending are late August / early September.
Just hoping to get this done before snow hits now.

[]Travis DiTulio

110k+ views

Big Merkur meet happened past weekend, so stuff is popping up that would otherwise be near impossible to find.

Bought a full set of Koni Sports. They stopped making these for are cars a few years back, so finding a new set for under $600 was an awesome deal I had to jump on.

[]Travis DiTulio

107.6k views

Just got the call, engine is done =D
Still doing rust repair, got floor pans on both rockers done, now hoping to address the front parts =(

[]Travis DiTulio

104.2k views

Crower rods finally came in a couple weeks ago =D
Was hoping to have the car done by end of April, be lucky to have it done by July at this rate. Need to make mounts for it still.
Started removing rust, got some sheet steel and replacement rockers. Cut out spare tire floor, as well as cut a fuel pump access door for the tank.
So nice to have warm weather for once.

[]Travis DiTulio

103.1k views

Still have yet to make any progress on car. Been waiting on Crower to get me the rods I ordered, little over 3 months ago.
Will have to start taking time off from work, just to have time to get the local supplies I need, like argon.

[]Travis DiTulio

100.8k views! Wow, hopefully get this running for some car/track meets come April.

The Michigan weather is getting ridiculous, going on 2 months now of high winds, rain with dropping temps, and/or snowy whiteout conditions. For some reason, I live in the only county that doesnt salt/dirt the roads this year =S

The only thing that gives me a genuine grin is swinging by the engine shop =D
Ordered BMW piston oil squirters to be put in, as well as upgrade the oil pump.

[]Travis DiTulio

95k+ views, thanks for your curiosity.

Bought a 2wd Cosworth prop shaft from England, much beefier than the stock XR, it has serviceable u-joints, looks to be a direct bolt-on for T5 swap.

Dropped fuel tank to upgrade the pump, but lost motivation since I noticed how much rust repair is needed on the car. Need to get sheet metal first, rewire fuse box for 220v welding, and still too cold in an unheated barn.

Few other dilemmas have come to mind, I dont know what SCCA solo class this build will be in now =S
Just going to stick with my own plans for now, then sweat classing it afterwards.

On the lookout for 4x108 15x7"+ wheels, mostly 70s/80s mustang vintage stuff. Like the 4 lug, and want to see if I can snap them off eventually =P

[]Travis DiTulio

The plan is to max out T3 turbo boost for a year [~300-350whp], while piecing together next big upgrades. T56 6-speed, supra diff, 2wd Cosworth halfshafts, EFR turbo, shoot for 450-500whp.

[]Travis DiTulio

93k views

Coldest days this winter, -7 deg F, and I am finally working on my car =P
My performance part bin has been growing, some I have yet to add here.
Having too much difficulty trying to find a driveshaft shop to do work on my two-piece. It is sad, that I am more informed on staked joint replacement then a shop that should. Out of convenience and simplicity, will probably go one-piece. Was really hoping to stick with the "what it should have had" type of build. Was going so far as to buy a 2wd Cosworth one from Europe.
Pulled floor board sponges, to inspect for body repair. Definitely an out of state car, seeing as the only serious rust damage was along the corners of the pans pinch welds and epoxy corners.
Hopefully start hearing of some motor progress soon.

[]Travis DiTulio

~91.5k views

Got my motor on the stand a week ago. Head came off today to find #4 piston is broke =( Might get forged rods while I am addressing this. Also considering doing a half cement block. People that have been tuning these for decades, say the bearng wear visibly improves. Might as well build see if I can build for 400whp+. Only good thing is head initially looks to be undamaged.
Pulled T9, since motor was out it, tons easier with cherry picker. Good thing too, guibo was broke. Will be deleting for T5, worked on the 2wd Cosworth.

Settled on EFR turbo, to get to 300-350whp, with room to get 400-500whp. Will be holding off till I get engine, trans swap, PIMP, and 2wd Cosworth intercooler setup.

[]Travis DiTulio

~89.9k views

Got the car into barn, and the hood off last week. Going to start getting storage shelves ready to start stripping engine bay.
Been talking to lima engine experts over phone calls, what an eye opener. Really cuts through the garbage you find online.
Nice to actually have the cash to buy the parts for once.
Trying to find a twin scroll turbo that will work for my plans, as well as a custom header design. Most every book on turbo manifolds dont have the math of the NA performance books.

[]Travis DiTulio

86.5k views

Havent touched the car since I parked it. With only a day, or two at the most, of free time I am trying to get my garage ready for winter, so I can work on it over the cold days ahead.

Someone in the Merkur group was selling a T5 job, that was modified to bolt into are cars, but not with my desired gearset. Guy is working with me to use my parts to build, in my opinion, the perfect XR T5. All ratios will stay about the same, except a taller 5th gear. The T9 runs out at 130mph, the T5 will have a theoretical 160mph, as well as the added benefits of higher torque rating and increased gas mileage.

Been working on new front suspension concept, during breaks at work. After about 4 pages of analysis math, it looks promising. The macpherson setup only gets 0.75 deg of camber per inch, at best. The new design can be around 2-3 deg per inch, will know more once I figure out what setup minimized bump steer the most.

[]Travis DiTulio

83.1k views

Tuesday the knock got too bad for my comfort, ended up being an hour from home going to work.
All I know is #3 cylinder spark plug covered in dry oil, and hard starting, yet good compression, 100psi across the engine. Most likely the oil ring is broke.

Car is done till I get it fixed. "While I am here" performance parts will be added over winter.

[]Travis DiTulio

Still a tapping in the valvetrain, its less but dont want to risk it. I had a clean set of lifters I prepped from storage, but I didnt mark them to tell them from the old batch. Ordered a new set to eliminate them as a culprit.

[]Travis DiTulio

75.1k views, amazing.

Drove a '14 Miata to work for 2 days. I am reminded of the vintage verses modern superbike review. Everything is refined, modern acts like a light switch, either have all the grip and/or performance or none at all on the limit. Vintage gets to the limit and it tells you you are coming up on that limit, like a light dimmer switch.
I must get my car back on the road, it is my personal limb to put the road to work.

[]Travis DiTulio

Almost 70k, thanks for the views.

Car threw another curve ball leaving work Thursday, sounded like a rattling valve. Drove it home doing 50mph max, on a 70 mile drive. Find out Friday, it was a cracked spark plug and a few dead lifters. Dont know how both, or either, happened but this is how you repair old school technology, run it till it is apparent.

This is what I mean by "I know enough to get into trouble". I was ready to pull the head on a bad compression tester and jumping to conclusions. I dont know everything, but I dare to learn from it.

[]Travis DiTulio

Protective surface on cam is completely worn off, most likely due to oil loss under boost issue. Was up till 3am forging shims to get system back in spec. Got the rear cylinder to 0.030" gapped, needs to be 0.040-0.050". Will most likely strip back down to get that hundredth gap, before driving it to work Monday. Will run for now, but will need a replacement roller and followers to get repaired.

[]Travis DiTulio

In uncharted knowledge, talked to Bo on condition as well as the tech group. Just needs a repolish and a new set of followers. Bullet dodged.

[]Travis DiTulio

Thought I did a good enough job to at least get to Saturday, valvetrain let go again a few miles from my exit. Limped it home, parking it till I have another look, and the hopeful fix-it parts arrive in the mail =(

[]Travis DiTulio

68.5k views

Plenum bolts backed off and killed a gasket, leaving me stranded an hour from home and 7 hours till work. Thin cardboard cutout made a good fix, till I got my 3 gaskets laying around at home =P

[]Travis DiTulio

65k views, thanks for the interest.

Few people noticed my heat shield, its a coffee can. They laugh, but when temps drop 20+ degrees in the engine bay they are the fools.
People chuckle when I say my goal is to have the best handling Ford Sierra in this hemisphere. They have no idea how determined I am.

[]Travis DiTulio

Tried installing underdrive pulley, keyway needed filling to fit on crank. Lathed, 10% overdrive needs more lathing to work on stock alternator. Work was done to get it on SN95. The stock v-belts have too much slack to even do mock-up.

Wideband gauge was installed, but havent welded in sensor. Need to find resistance to dim LEDs.

[]Travis DiTulio

59.4k views

Anyone reading this, that is going to blue oval car show this Sunday, free drives. At least till I get my stage 3 clutch /T5 installed.

[]Travis DiTulio

58.6k views

Actually working a paying job now, so time is limited.
Worked on car till 1.30am addressing another turbo gasket and the common oil boost spilling due to lousy HVAC system. Didnt have the time to buy a Stinger setup so, got a 1/2" barb fitting and hose from hardware store, bored the Cuzco can to take it. Usedthe stock fitting to make another 5/8" hose inlet from the engine. Vented to atmo, since I couldnt find a fitting to hook upto turbo inlet elbow.
Took to Grattan this past weekend. Car drives amazingly neutral, but little bumpy exiting corners. So much so the tower black flagged me for excessive tire squeeling =P
Exhaust is killing my rear drivers inner tread. Boost and oil held =D
Had enough time to install my voltmeter
Wideband will be next =P

[]Travis DiTulio

45.7 Views

Busted my butt this weekend to get the rear suspension done. Subframe reinforcement, rear springs, solid bushings, and a paint job. Will be leaving the sway bar out, had very little stiffness and wont be needing one till better tires are on. All in time for work Monday evening. Just got the brakes working around 3.30am Monday, so havent really taken her for a real drive.

Camber went from 4.5 deg to around 0.2, with an inch more of spring travel. There was a sound like sand grinding up against the brakes under lift off, gone now. Must have been slop in the bushings. Driver rear needs a little more clearance with the exhaust pipe bend. Keeping the oil level good is still and issue, will cap off vacuum to catch can to see if check valve is leading issue.

[]Travis DiTulio

~37.4k views

Oil pressure gauge just paid for itself yesterday. Went to fix a small oil cooler gasket leak, went to drive it and noticed no oil pressure. Saved the motor.

[]Travis DiTulio

36k views, nice

Got car dyno tested at Euro Hanger, numbers were under 25 hp & tq of expected minimum. Will have to take to actual dyno to confirm.

[]Travis DiTulio

Passed 19k views, thank you.

Went on a rainy day yard hopping. Needed to find an SN95 V6 alternator for my underdrive pulley.
Started figuring out what class to build toward for autoX, CAM-T. Stock weight is minimum class requirement, so come weigh-in gas tank level will need to be figured.
Hoping to get rear bushings to freshen up suspension soon.

[]Travis DiTulio

Been brought to my attention that there is a lot of debate on this car, in CAM class, at the national level. Meets all requirements except the body being made in Germany. Will be collecting info to hopefully argue otherwise

[]Travis DiTulio

Just noticed this got 18k+ views =D

Car has been on the road for little over two weeks now. The chinese check valve blew out, and I was left with a familar oil soaked exhaust and peppered rear bumper. So with the exception of a few simple oil loss issues car is in excellent shape.
It is garage sale season and I snagged a microwave for $5, to find no 12VDC converter. Already got a spare fuel rail and fuel pump, so all I need is that converter and a fully portable fuel injector bench can be made.

[]Travis DiTulio

Inspected everything short of pulling the block, could not find a mechanical issue for a blown head gasket.
Upgraded to a graphite head gasket, in hopes it wont happen again. Might be trying to get her running in a week, but need to make a fuel injector bench before I get there.

[]Travis DiTulio

Car runs, finally got parking cable replaced. Needed to pull the driveshaft to remove the 30 year old pins.
Power steering leaks pretty bad, as well as other parts showing neglect and rust.
Couldn't find a microwave, but college semester is ending soon.

Side note, trying to find a boost graphic to experiment with. Basically looks like an equalizer for boost to rpm.

[]Travis DiTulio

With the constant hangups on the current CB550 build, hoping to get the cylinder head off and look at repairs. Feels rewarding to be able to see short term progress on something this winter.

[]Travis DiTulio

Went to LSPR 2017, couple of spectators and teams loved the car and wondered why it wasnt in the rally.

The rattle that developed was my head gasket failing, blew out completely a few weeks back. Good time to store for winter for repairs and hopeful upgrades.

[]Travis DiTulio

Tour went great, brake fade from last year is gone.
Believe the chinese check valve is failing, or getting some considerable piston blowby. Need to prep for T5 upgrade as well as suspension.
Hope to goto LSPR and help man the track.

[]Travis DiTulio

Hope to tour this coming weekend at Grattan Raceway VSCDA event. Hope test drive goes well today.

[]Travis DiTulio

Currently rewiring, and body welding front end while waiting on engine parts to put back together. Hoping to try for the 300hp limit on junkyard upgrading.

[]Travis DiTulio

I came to set lap times and build boost, and I'm all topped out on boost.

See whose at the top of the Wheelwell XR4Ti Leaderboard