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Reatta Racing

Racing a Reatta in 24 Hours of Lemons

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Hi, I am new to the forum, although I have been reading it since I bought my 89 Reatta this summer. I purchased a pretty rough example that was probably only a stop or two away from the junk yard and instead of working to fix everything that was wrong with it I decided to form a team to race the car in the 24 hours of Lemons series.

 

24 Hours of Lemons

Here is a link with info about the racing series: https://24hoursoflemons.com/wtf/

Basically it is a series for endurance racing inexpensive cars on road course race tracks. Most races are about 15 hours spread over 2 days using 4 or 5 drivers per car. One of my teammates and I raced in the series this year on a different team, so we have some experience with the series. 

 

Point of this Thread

I plan to provide a build thread for turning a Reatta into a race car. I will add pictures, update on the progress we make, and probably ask some questions and try and get some feedback on the various projects that we are working on.

 

Attached are some pictures shortly after I bought the car.

Reatta1.jpg

Reatta2.jpg

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In the above picture of the Lemon Cars,  not sure what to think,  I own two of them,  a Reatta and a Corvair.   Lets not take this Lemon thing too far.

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After driving the Reatta around for a while there was a significant knocking noise coming from the drivers side front strut tower. We decided we should take apart the front suspension of the car and go over everything and replace some of the parts including new wheel bearings, struts, and the strut mount that had likely failed. Tearing everything apart went pretty well for such an old car. The drivers side strut mount had failed as well as one of the struts but otherwise everything was in good shape. We cleaned up all the parts, rattle can painted them in stupid colors and put everything back together. When we were putting everything back together we also upgraded the front brakes using the aluminum Camaro calipers and Aurora rotors. Brake parts are budget exempt in Lemons as they are safety gear. The new brakes look really good.

suspension1.jpg

suspension2.jpg

brakes.jpg

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Barney, Lemons does a few car shows, including one in Detroit. We brought the Reatta because it was in pretty rough shape, but there is a Corvair club that always shows up with a lot of cars to laugh about the "Unsafe at Any Speed" stuff. They all had beautiful cars.

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Ronnie, we are based in Michigan so the two closest tracks that Lemons regularly races at are Gingerman Raceway in South Haven, MI and Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, IL (just south of Chicago). We will probably mainly hit races there, but may travel to some other tracks if we get ambitious. 

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The Reatta seems like an odd choice for any kind of race car. It is slow, heavy and FWD..  Maybe you will have fun with it.  Kenny Burnstein did but he spent well over $500. :)  BTW, Welcome to the forum.

 

mryA5BFnp9LXpnGicsGzK6w.jpg

 

 

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I  have been a passenger in a C7 Corvette at Gingerman.  It is a fun course and scared the crap out of me.  I vote that you run straight pipes straight up out of the hood!

Be safe and shoot a video for us??

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4 hours ago, Reatta Racing said:

Point of this Thread

I plan to provide a build thread for turning a Reatta into a race car. I will add pictures, update on the progress we make, and probably ask some questions and try and get some feedback on the various projects that we are working on.

 

I hope you keep us posted. It might be an interesting project. Most of us here have modified out Reattas a little but you might top anything the rest of us have done.

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14 hours ago, Ronnie said:

The Reatta seems like an odd choice for any kind of race car. It is slow, heavy and FWD..  Maybe you will have fun with it.  Kenny Burnstein did but he spent well over $500. :)  BTW, Welcome to the forum.

 

 

Yeah, it's definitely a bit of an odd choice. To my knowledge only one other Reatta has run in Lemons. The decision to race it gets into what the racing series is trying to be about (usually called 'the spirit of Lemons') and the idea that it is more fun to figure out how to make a slow car go fast than make a fast car go fast. Also, there are 3 classes based on how fast a car is; the Reatta will race in the slowest one.

 

And we will try and keep this updated with the work we are doing and how it turns out as we test the car at track days and then race the car. I'm sure we will figure out a go-pro setup and post some videos.

 

And Ronnie, to your final point, I agree we will be modifying the car in quite a bit different ways than most of you guys have. Hopefully by posting what we are doing there will be some useful takeaways for non race cars. One area that immediately comes to mind is suspension/lowering work; we will need a low and stiff suspension so we will have to figure out how to lower the front of the car. We have been doing some research, checking part dimensions on rock auto, and lots of walking around junkyards looking at front suspensions and think we have some ideas, but we need to do some testing.

 

For the rear spring, I saw the threads about using the Birchmount lowering spring. Is this what everyone who has lowered the rear did? Has anyone had any luck with taking the spring to a local (to them) shop and having a spring made for less than Birchmount? Does anyone have a Birchmount spring they are not using that they want to sell?

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I don't remember anyone successfully lowering the rear of a Reatta. There has been lots of talk but so far no real progress. I have suggested making a drop spindles instead of changing the springs. If I were in your shoes I would consider a much smaller rim diameter and a lot more width so you could use wider, shorter tires. It would have the benefit of lowering the center of gravity plus it would have the same effect as lowering the differential gear ratio to give you more acceleration.  Yes, it would look a little weird but so did the rice burners when they started doing it for the same reasons. You know what they say about building race cars - form follows function!

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As someone who used to move FWD cars fairly rapidly, I can tell you that the choice of front tires is EXTREMELY critical. You must get whatever is the current state of the art in high pressure, low slip angle, directional performance tires. I gather there has been significant evolution since the days when I could still get it on. They will be considerably more expensive than most other tires. In the end, though, I think you will get more performance for your modification buck in the right tires than anything else. If you have never pushed a FWD car to the point of flinging the rear end out, you must provoke and learn that on the track. Even a stocker, with the proper tires up front, is capable of this feat. You probably know, but it is worth emphasizing, that you must use absolutely all the power you have in cornering situations. Keep the go pedal pushed up against the firewall and just aim the thing. There is no subtlety, no modulation comparable to the thrill of pushing a sophisticated over steering RWD Italian rig hard, opposite lock, steering with the throttle in a perfectly controlled drift. FWD You just mustn't choke. Full throttle.

 

 This type of racing you are getting into reminds me of the good old days of SCCA events on abandoned airports 60 years ago. I bought a couple SCCA C-class modified XK120 Jags when I was a kid. These days, my slow 1920s cars are about all I can handle. 

 

I will be very interested in learning what you choose for your front tires.    -    Cadillac Carl 

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On 11/2/2018 at 10:55 AM, Ronnie said:

I don't remember anyone successfully lowering the rear of a Reatta. There has been lots of talk but so far no real progress. I have suggested making a drop spindles instead of changing the springs. If I were in your shoes I would consider a much smaller rim diameter and a lot more width so you could use wider, shorter tires. It would have the benefit of lowering the center of gravity plus it would have the same effect as lowering the differential gear ratio to give you more acceleration.  Yes, it would look a little weird but so did the rice burners when they started doing it for the same reasons. You know what they say about building race cars - form follows function!

 

Ronnie, we are planning on running 16" rims to accommodate the bigger front brakes. We will be running a smaller overall tire dimension though (by 1.1"). We picked up 2 sets of Cadillac Allante rims, and they look pretty good with the car.

 

On 11/4/2018 at 2:40 AM, C Carl said:

As someone who used to move FWD cars fairly rapidly, I can tell you that the choice of front tires is EXTREMELY critical. You must get whatever is the current state of the art in high pressure, low slip angle, directional performance tires. I gather there has been significant evolution since the days when I could still get it on. They will be considerably more expensive than most other tires. In the end, though, I think you will get more performance for your modification buck in the right tires than anything else. If you have never pushed a FWD car to the point of flinging the rear end out, you must provoke and learn that on the track. Even a stocker, with the proper tires up front, is capable of this feat. You probably know, but it is worth emphasizing, that you must use absolutely all the power you have in cornering situations. Keep the go pedal pushed up against the firewall and just aim the thing. There is no subtlety, no modulation comparable to the thrill of pushing a sophisticated over steering RWD Italian rig hard, opposite lock, steering with the throttle in a perfectly controlled drift. FWD You just mustn't choke. Full throttle.

 

 This type of racing you are getting into reminds me of the good old days of SCCA events on abandoned airports 60 years ago. I bought a couple SCCA C-class modified XK120 Jags when I was a kid. These days, my slow 1920s cars are about all I can handle. 

 

I will be very interested in learning what you choose for your front tires.    -    Cadillac Carl 

 

Carl, we are limited by the racing series to run 190 treadwear tires, SCCA just changed some of their tire ratings to 200 from 140 or something, so there are lots of tires available with a 200 treadwear rating. On the car we previously raced we ran Falken Azenis RT615 K+ tires, and they worked pretty well. Definitely agreed that you get a lot of performance out of running a good tire. The endurance racing part adds a bit of a wrinkle to it, in that you are trying to balance performance, life, and total cost. We expect to pretty much wear out a set of tires at each race, with that being one of the biggest operating costs of the car.

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So I still have a bit of backlog of stuff we have done to the car, so hopefully this post will help get the thread caught up to real time. We also dropped the rear subframe out of the car and took the whole rear suspension apart. We replaced struts, strut mounts and  bushings. We also cleaned up all the metal parts we were reusing

 

image.thumb.png.c1ac840b78a5b8114910194e7029992a.png

 

We found some significant rust on the rear subframe near where the rear spring mounts. We ground out the rusty metal on the worst side, and welded in new metal. We also welded in a steel patch on both sides. I don't have pictures of the patch, but the rust seems to be due to the design of the subframe, and the layers of steel overlapping. It's probably an area worth checking on most cars. We painted the subframe with rust encapsulating paint.

 

We also stripped the interior out of the car. We saved all the dash stuff because we are planning on re-installing a bunch of it. p4hH1yRqxFACDyeP3tn2lEWQ7NMKPpXB2OMbfLF4-pGIE9rK3Esc_HgSzOj51QDuoyOobtFXl8YkE9GHg3tHVp65l6J5j0cpX_EM9MPo39jOEPFCVk0rvUris7-5E7EpPzGUdu9aK4DNyiS3O5VVfVpcO4RC9NK-zvXrBEMjPA2IShvNmgFc1FIei8sASQa63AOZ5yKE_9cUZ2SNVkPlmSBirIFSleOVGDT67teJf-c31xfPaNvrqXFnnCvbtD3mZtr0lTloqlU190MCI-8m7y5DhkzMrNpits7K0urrfeRaPuoKBVaN-RSavyoOgDl0AM_O4mKINaxx34AclDLbv6Ldp40HDdtHIdergkwDv0vJ6kIgbaSbaet_1togmGl6bndC6H5knxQCqm1taXsrydWYU1uPMUNnslXuq2EjlHHrx_U6kUWgAKaUPm0lJmvesN8_4T7Cvr8D4z06GXLkB-jJv9iQkDlkqJ4_ILp_t65hKss3A78RdIMHwgfdFEiaanOQDXrTUHa8AgnnraMX5xaGCzSkRGOZP7VWu_Hu1HB8ayjeyA1a2cAmkd2yAKHL65LLDULySjUb0YZiYeB_LgKby5jMzKFxmveD0mmaDTFl9aVp_U_FaGNjwfb88IVk0y8WKgs7eqHtQKpWXB-DNAJi=w1326-h994-no

 

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ofsA9J4VqW3qli8HtgXpV7bGLjsRVEzN4HElr2oEhCw1-ywcFduu9akqhUUu2HElJ8ZWKxLAJnhJL3lY4DO2jjASUGYptjyKLEGJjWNZBGY_upo1RWb68prf2aC0Ysi2cCC4HrOnN0rXejOvuaEFvg9bdGqGKC-0NKrfiCYvolvGbjR-sxqxCpFKiI9VDDQxIfuTM1d5LbIk2E2XIhOkmiyojci7hEHTFTR4N_INbZu94eHj1yb9DoWWhSkwlpA_6pSAfRmAYY3NXS7sLTzZd0WnnJ4JwqEr4ya5ViOwkm1Aa1YwnDjQmpeMzY4fR4ZKLHR3glP9s6Qd2wIICXMpIi3D_vh7t7hYVy7U-YvXkTD4rWad-3x5Bc_hXRvnlJrV4U08JXuwM7Tw7PYPnFXbLHV-O3LdEL23UUMLe6z0YVw7BEbzLXM5U79OSoF8MtTqv2Xei3nbq20H2reu1kcOH1ZxZsl_YoVbXcoh3x-w1n-BLp-DA05yzOWuUtjT3t9AQkgJ91uxRZJUpV6qPY2Z_iCtFvaOONDqLoaQN7o1nRQAjMLIeXZRotLGxnH3ATDeViDJyoQq_oUTpw7Z2ll5f5PG1RmV36D8QYLQ5MEiKMKb5otkWtdvZyp17wnobBddjrciTIHJb8mD1vD4l9ik98CxuE4pIemT1teSbvnKHjwa=w1326-h994-no

 

I know it looks like a mess currently, and as Reatta fans that might not be the best sight, but I promise we will have it looking better.

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I didn't take a lot of pictures at our last work session, but we installed some custom bushings at the front of the rear subframe to the car connection. FTTILT5gf0NT4nD9dasB9ChWpZwUAs6RzyAZlP3CW83jFemFVeAMrYSuHSdJqUbVoRo27Exp9z_BVpEOwH3j5RLL5MWJd5QH5Xbs1T7Le1d7RcMYM471Cr7ct4vCus0qYnhAz82M3gJLJnyyqe-eE7S_4j-RYezrjuygj-IwY2GoGJ0lh_xRy5N-_8y5hVy8c06UbshIz91mpZworZznzvmi-1_7HRewnxV_NHySBweN-sttebHX2pu5gcn1aW2ufh8Xmlhk63GHyk0uaNUFR8gzyYLG5t7RgZHcWdh3YhMPf5z4psxOtTDVjHbISG2N_1ELB7WcpHdRFeg5N7v1jPQJb-AGkwjIw9cwZOOv6yQYcvkOfcxVYttIhIKtVslxQpJ1ZcqKRgzyrBzv5Ce4Pn70rASmD4onCzhYS3VDvNyC2lbB5TkjmgMboZtolJyECQ8FFXEBFTSkdsru2e2vxH9pPA1ftfOvZyUQN16kHxaQq13rle_lUzeB0kAsxW0HDiEgGerSBOAIkQHnZanBkzoeRjZti_oE_oszDInQZ6lQGKuex96rabqFM_wEl88Y9o-V-_S2R3Gc-xc0BducTcUj8jslnfzFbU3I8hxPVj6BXexsIW9PXU21pB-MaW2LCByDiZm-G7q0xLoSu5r32Daue7t6RBVnGUf3r4KLN-8d=w1326-h994-no

 

We also got the rest of the front and rear suspensions wrapped u, and set the car back down. It sat really high, but we didn't drive it or anything to help settle the suspension.

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We also stripped the wiring out of the doors, and a lot of the extra bits from the doors (and pulled them off the car for right now). We removed the TEVES system from the car, and will be replacing it with a more traditional brake booster out of a Riviera. If anyone wants to buy the TEVES let me know.

 

We also started on headlight repair for the car. After disassembling both lights we determined both lights had the two common failure modes (the disintegrated rollers and the loose bracket on the shaft). We made some new rollers and plan to fix the bracket with some JB Weld.

 

That pretty much catches up all the work done on the car. We also measured for a roll cage, and should be ordering that soon. Current things we are working on are how to lower the car reliably and fairly inexpensively, planning for installing the new brake booster and redoing the brake lines as necessary. decide on a race seat and get that ordered, and get everything ready for cage fabrication.

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10 minutes ago, Reatta Racing said:

We also dropped the rear subframe out of the car and took the whole rear suspension apart. We replaced struts, strut mounts and  bushings. We also cleaned up all the metal parts we were reusing

 

Did you figure out a way to lower the rear suspension?  Of the front?

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They were there earlier. I've notice problems with photos on other places on the forum too.

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15 hours ago, Ronnie said:

 

Did you figure out a way to lower the rear suspension?  Of the front?

 

We haven't attempted to lower either the front or the back yet, but we do have some ideas.

 

Potential ways to lower the back:

- Use a different rear spring. On the forum someone had talked about using a spring from Birchmount.

- Move the spring perches out farther along the rear suspension. You can only move them a bit before you get right next to where the lower control arm mounts. Probably need to add some additional support to the subframe to do this.

- Lower the spot where the rear spring rests on the lower control arm. This would be some fabricating on the control arm to ensure everything is strong enough

- Raise where the the rear subframe attaches to the body. We think we could shorten the top of the square style rubber mount. and we could weld plates over the front attachment points and drill holes a little bit higher.

 

I think we might end up doing a few of these to get the car as low as we want it.

 

Potential ways to lower the front:

- Lowering springs. It seems people haven't had much luck with ordering aftermarket springs and that's probably more than we want to spend on this part of the project. We have some thoughts on how to modify some Buick Rendezvous springs to work

- Taller ball joint. We didn't see anyone that made one for this car, but are looking into how to make one.

- Modifying the anti-sway bar linkage to be shorter

- Modify how the front of the control arm (the rod part, I don't know what it is called) mounts to the subframe. The way it's currently setup it very much wants to angle the lower control arm down quite a bit. We are thinking maybe messing with the bushings would help.

 

I think we will probably have to do all of these to lower the front of the car as much as we want.

 

11 hours ago, 2seater said:

Am I the only one that cannot see the photos?

 

The photos were acting super weird when I was uploading them yesterday. All except the first one had their aspect ratio changed (they got squished side to side). I'll try and see if I can upload them again later today, and hopefully won't have the issues.

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We worked on the Reatta again this weekend, but I didn't do a great job of taking pictures. Some of the stuff we worked on:

- Finished fixing the front headlights, we made new plastic bushings and one of the lights had the arm with too much clearance, we put in a set screw and jb welded it all together

- Removed the windshield. Ours had a bunch of cracks, and it will be easier to weld in the roll cage with the windshield out. We worked on removing the rear window, too, but didn't get super far. We were using a harbor freight tool to do it, and sometimes you get what you pay for.

- Pulled the transmission off the spare L67 supercharged motor and started building a cradle for the engine for easier storage. That's definitely a thing we are going to have to work more on is getting this project organized and so it takes up less space in the garage where we store it

- we cut out the drivers seat rails, this will give us more vertical space to mount the seat, but we will have to add back some strength. You need 2" of clearance above the top of your helmeted head to the plane created by the roll cage, that makes you have to sit quite a bit lower in the car and/or leaned back more than normal

- removed a bunch of wiring, mainly around the door lock system, but we got some other stuff taken out as well

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I think this is a Lemons Reatta from a few years back:

 

charlie brown reatta.jpg

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I race lemons and I restore Reattas. 

 

These two are not the same hobby!

 

I prefer rear wheel drive and a manual for racing. My 1978 Fiat 131 will have a 1996 Mazda Miata Drivetrain !

 

My slice of of advice is I believe the Reatta transmission will be the weakest link. 

 

Don’t forget the new fire suppression system required for 2019 season!

 

Let me know if you have any questions on rules or reatta quirks.  

489C546E-1EA0-483E-ADF0-F1608E3DF165.jpeg

Edited by franc944 (see edit history)
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On 12/23/2018 at 12:13 AM, AZVET said:

I think this is a Lemons Reatta from a few years back:

 

charlie brown reatta.jpg

 

Yeah, that is the first (and we believe only) Reatta to race in Lemons. I think the story goes that it crashed into the snoopy vehicle (I think it was a van or a truck) run by the same team. It had a supercharged 3800 and a Getrag manual transmission if I remember correctly.

 

On 12/23/2018 at 2:33 PM, franc944 said:

I race lemons and I restore Reattas. 

 

These two are not the same hobby!

 

I prefer rear wheel drive and a manual for racing. My 1978 Fiat 131 will have a 1996 Mazda Miata Drivetrain !

 

My slice of of advice is I believe the Reatta transmission will be the weakest link. 

 

Don’t forget the new fire suppression system required for 2019 season!

 

Let me know if you have any questions on rules or reatta quirks.  

489C546E-1EA0-483E-ADF0-F1608E3DF165.jpeg

 

Yeah, RWD would definitely be preferred, but the uniqueness of the car trumped actually being good at racing for us. Long term plan for the car is to put in a manual transmission, but we are planning to race at least once with the stock transmission. Not really sure how that will go. We're planning to put a big cooler on it, though.

 

Your car is super cool, I don't know anything about old Fiats, though. But Miatta stuff usually does well in Lemons, so should work out.

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