There is a reason we use one year as a significant measurement of time. A great many things can happen over the course of a single rotation around our sun. Journeys are began and completed. We as individuals grow older and wiser. Taylor Swift blows through dozens of relationships and corresponding hit singles.
A year can be used as an assessment of progress. For Ira Schacter and his S65-powered ’33 hot rod project, progress was certainly evident. In fact, it has been over a year since the idea first made the leap from dream to reality – a reality that included some trials and obstacles that Ira could not have possibly predicted at its onset. Despite this, Ira is having the time of his life.
Impeding on his progress somewhat, was the first law of do-it-yourself fabrication, which states: “For every modification completed, there is one of equal or greater labor required.” For example, Ira discovered that the factory placement of the alternator would not fit inside the narrow confines of the Factory Five chassis. He remedied this by milling his own brackets, and mounting it above the passenger-side valve cover. This resulted in belt interference by the OEM oil filter. After a brief flirtation with an aftermarket dry-sump system, Ira fabricated his own remote oil filter set up. This resulted in contact between the new oil lines and the belt for the water pump, necessitating a one-off balanced spacer. Each problem lead to another, which lead to two more, and so on – just like Taylor Swift’s dating decisions.
Ira was also confronted with other issues outside of the garage. Because the M3 motor was equipped with a secondary air system, the DMV in Albany, NY. required that the completed project also include one in order to be registered on public roads. Unfortunately, the Cosworth SQ6M ECU that was the brains of the operation was not designed for a secondary air system – and more than that, no one had ever even tried to get one to work.
Undeterred, Ira’s tuning partners at KMS discovered that a VW secondary air pump ran the identical body as the M3’s; but was loaded with more compatible electronics, and was capable of being reflashed by KMS to occupy a channel on the SQ6M. This of course meant that something else had to be pushed off, so the oil cooler fan now runs on a standalone thermostatic circuit.
Additionally, Ira’s home state required that home-built cars have bumpers in order to be registered. Unfortunately, the manufacturer of Ira’s preferred design for the rear had been discontinued. Ira also spent weeks thinking and dreaming of how to tackle the bumpers. Ultimately, with a set of motorcycle tubing ends, he set about bending them himself. Johnny Law had been appeased.
Of course, these were relatively easy and painless fixes, accomplished without a significant loss of time. The same could not be said about Ira’s intercooler, radiator, and grille predicament.
Acting on our own Karl Hugh’s advice, Ira knew that keeping the notoriously hot S65 cool would require a radiator with at least 400 square inches of area. However, to fit the aesthetic Ira had in mind, it would need to be mounted behind the intercooler, and both would need to be mounted within the confines the iconic, although narrow, 1933 grille. Finding a viable fit on the market proved impossible. Both of the most essential pieces of the build would have to be created from scratch. Luckily, Ira was working with two of the best in the business – Active Autowerke, and C&R Racing. Carefully carrying the front grille as a piece of carry-on luggage (explaining to the TSA that it was a priceless piece of art), Ira flew down to meet with Karl in person, who then fabricated a custom high-performance unit that would support the 700+ supercharged horses that would call the V-8 home. We then shipped it out to Indianapolis for C&R to come up with a matching radiator. Never ones to disappoint, the C&R team were able to manufacture an example in the exact shape and size of the classic grille, while still providing sufficient cooling capacity. For the final step, Ira and Tyler Pappas (the young up-and-coming BMW Dealer tech who had also committed himself to the project) spent a weekend fabricating custom mounts and a frame extension for the “cooling module” – complete with hot rod-inspired spiderwebs! The entire process took more than ten months, but the end result was nothing short of perfection.
It was a bit before Thanksgiving that Ira finally caught a glimpse of a faint light at the end of the tunnel; he received word from KMS that his digital dash and ECM were being shipped out to him, something Ira was very thankful for, indeed. Reinvigorated by the first real sign of life for the project – a working digital dash – Ira forged ahead toward a newly tangible goal: the car’s first start.
Over the next month, Ira worked feverishly on finishing the exhaust, including a custom crossover section…that is, until the fever caught up to him.
On a cold December weekend in New York, Ira finally met an obstacle he couldn’t overcome with any combination of wits or workshop tools: a bad bout of pneumonia. However, when most of us would rather curl up and patiently await death, Ira was as determined as ever not to lose time. Laid up in bed with a 7 position switch he had secured from a wrecked Porsche Carrera and a multimeter, Ira successfully deciphered the hundreds of permutations and combinations needed to power the hot rod’s lights and hazard signals. Meanwhile, Michael Reinhart – an accountant with a particular gift for welding stainless steel – worked with Ira to transform a set of Active Autowerke test pipes, racing cats, and racing mufflers into a highly tailored fit for the Factory Five chassis.
No more than 2 weeks later, Ira was back at it. He put in more than 24 straight hours into buttoning up the fuel system plumbing and mounting the transmission cooler and final section of his true dual exhaust, which now exited just prior to the rear wheels.
Finally, it was time to turn his attention to what would become the flagship jewel in the crown of badassery that had defined this project from the very beginning. The piping that lead from the outlet of the supercharger to the inlet of the intercooler would be on uninhibited display once the car was complete, and Ira refused to compromise on how essential the design of the piece was to its overall aesthetic. Well aware of Karl’s warnings about cooling the motor, its performance would also have to be up to par. Fortunately, the final product is as beautiful as it is functional; Ira and Mike the accountant spent an afternoon mocking up mandrel-bent 2.5 and 3-inch piping into an appropriate charge pipe for the Active Autowerke Stage 2 Supercharger system which both fit the hot rod, and allowed for plenty of clearance on either side to account for suspension and engine flex.
With much of the major fabrication work complete, Ira was able to switch to his mechanic hat, beginning to tighten and torque down the engine from bottom to top. He installed the necessary gaskets and Bosch “Big Green” injectors supplied by Active Autowerke, and began working on the wiring harness, coaxing the digital dash to play nice with the fuel pressure regulator, lines, and aforementioned secondary air pump.
As 2015 dawned, Ira was making steady progress toward that elusive first start. After discovering that his fuel rails were destroyed by the shop he had entrusted them to, he fired up his Bridgeport milling machine and set to work customizing a pair of raw extrusions from Aeromotive.
By the time Martin Luther King Jr. weekend arrived, Ira was ready. At 4:30 in the morning, Ira staked his spot inside the garage and set up a TeamViewer meeting with his accomplices over at KMS, who remotely controlled the requisite software loaded into his laptop, which was connected to the SQ6M by Ethernet cable. The moment they had all been waiting for was finally upon them. Ira prompted the ignition, crossing his fingers that it would fire to life.
After a quick diagnosis from KMS, it was discovered that the ECU was reading a full-throttle position when it should have been zero. Ira discovered that the unmarked blade had been installed backwards – a quick fix. The team settled in to try again.
More troubleshooting. After a quick check for any potential witnesses, Ira murdered his old multimeter in cold blood. A quick 8 AM trip to NAPA resulted in a newer, more cooperative unit. The new unit proved there was insufficient voltage being delivered to the injectors and coils. After installing a temporary jump line, it was time for the third attempt.
It turned out that the Cosworth ECU shuts down power to the coils during crank in the event that voltage drops below 11. The BMW donor’s battery was only pushing 10.8. With a jump from his trusty daily driver, Ira and the boys from KMS were suddenly confronted with this:
It was real! It was alive! It was…
…far from complete. However, Ira had crossed a threshold – one that he had been dreaming of for 15 months. Now all that was left, was to make it look pretty. Perhaps a certain young Cover Girl has some free time with which to offer her input.