How to make a unique car
All car enthusiasts want their car to be unique. Whether it be a set of one-off wheels, the only engine conversion of its type, a custom paint colour or kit, we all want our car to be something individual. But how do you do that your project is a popular late-model car you see many other variants of?
You look overseas! Every car manufacturer has, at some point, sold a version of their production cars not available in a particular market. Australia missed out on plenty of special edition high-performance Japanese and European machinery, while America never scored the full hot-sauce Euro-spec machinery and Japan missed a lot of the spiciest American muscle.
The answer is, you do what MCM has done!
In recent history Marty and Moog have undertaken some epic builds to create special cars you just don't see on Sydney roads. The latest one is, of course, Moog's Volkswagen Up GTI project which you can see HERE (Ep 1) and HERE (Ep 2) but Marty also knocked out his amazing STi-swapped Levorg (before adding forged turbo EZ30 six-cylinder power to make it a real one-off).
Both of these builds required sourcing complete cars so the lads had almost every part they needed to build a model never sold in Australia - or sold at all in the case of the manual transmission STi Levorg!
Many car manufacturers build cars using what is referred to as "platform engineering". This means different models will share some underpinnings and, while it means your idea might not go together like the Lego Levorg, it does make building one-off cars much easier than having to cut and graft whole subframes in like Marty had to do with his beloved Mira build.
Saving this huge amount of fabrication is a massive saving of time, money and stress. If you can bolt the suspension, chassis members and drivetrain from a factory spicy model into your car it means you can rely on factory suspension geometry, driveline angles and more! As someone who has had to work all that stuff out (and hates math), it isn't fun, kids.
Still, the upside to tackling this huge amount of work is a one-off all-wheel-drive turbo Mira which wasn't legal to import when Marty began this project. It also makes the project a lot ore memorable for undertaking such a big job with friends.
Look how happy Mechanical Stig looks! (he loves MIG welding)
If you think that much fab work is for other people and want to undertake a factory phantom build like the Levorg then the first step you'll need to do is fire up the Googles. A lot of research, and a chunk of luck, is key to knocking out a clean, drivetrain swap from a sister car, as there are traps everywhere.
Marty and Moog discovered this during the 2ZZ-GE Corolla engine swap the lads undertook with Yaris Hilton.
While it looked on paper like they would be able to simply bolt the Corolla's far-spicier 141kW 1.8-litre DOHC 2ZZ where the factory 62kW 1.3-litre dunger lived that wasn't quite accurate. Thankfully the lads were able to have a look online at other 2ZZ-swapped Yarises to work out what combination of custom and factory parts they needed to mix and match to create this spicy budget Yaris.
This was still worth going through as Yaris Hilton was a hoot to drive with the "big-block" 2ZZ swap, and could have been a great alternative to VTEC-swapped Hondas builds which make Moog so itchy.
So, while clean GT-R Skylines and manual Chasers command big dollars, why not take some of those parts to build a neat 4-door, all-wheel-drive RB26-powered R33 "GT-R sedan", or turbocharge and manual-swap an NA 2J-powered IS300? Take a BA-BF Falcon wagon and swap all the XR6 Turbo bits, or grab a wrecked M3 and shoehorn all the saucy pieces into a 3-Series wagon?
You're unlikely to see another at your local car meet!