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Shaftski's 95 SC2 daily driver build

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  • Shaftski's 95 SC2 daily driver build

    My goal is to create a fun daily driver, that does not require much maintenance. Get HP up a little, lighten things up a bit, improve handling, that sort of thing.

    Why am I doing this to a 13 year old Saturn? About 2 years ago, I got in an accident and my GF's Corolla got wrecked. Was the only running family car at the time. Friend of a friend was selling a 5spd green 95 SC2 for $1500 with only 105K original miles. Went over the car, was in unbelievable mechanical shape for it's age, so it was a done deal. Brought it to two mechanics I trust, and they were amazed at how good the car was. One of them offered me $2K for the car on the spot, LOL.

    Then we got her a 2005 Corolla S off of her uncle for a sweetheart deal. The saturn then became mine. Drove it stock for a year, changed oil and did other reg maintenance, then the problems started. High oil consumption, low gas mileage, piss poor power, refused to start off and on. Then it stopped starting all together once the engine was warm. I was putting way more miles on this car than any of the previous owners had, so some problems were to be expected.

    So I started to do online research, read this site extensively as well as a few others, found out a majority of my problems were ECTS related. So I swapped it out and just about all of my problems disappeared. While doing this, I just spent a bunch of time going over the whole car, and decided it would actually make a nice tuning platform. Now it was time to get to work.

    Project has the following requirements:

    - Good gas mileage
    - Enough power to blast by the dimwits who insist on doing 55 in the left lane during rush hour
    - Comfortable for longer duration driving
    - Ergonomic. Everything within easy reach of the driver seat.
    - Suspension needs to be able to handle sudden turns/lane changes at high speed and keep car stable (see dimwits above)
    - Unpredictable drivers around me will require better stopping power (grrrr....damn dimwits)
    - Not expensive. Set cap on spending towards new items at $2500-$3000
    - High quality sound system that emphasizes sound quality over dB levels
    - Puts a smile on my face every time I sit in and turn the key

  • #2
    Re: Shaftski's 95 SC2 daily driver build

    Crap that blew up this year and needed to be replaced:

    - ECTS. Solved most of my engine problems
    - Struts. Almost completely blown, they were the factory originals. Replaced with Gabriel Ultras all the way around
    - Strut mounts. When replacing front struts, nuts were so seized to bolts securing strut mount to chassis, that the bolts snapped. Mounts were factory originals anyway, replaced w/ KYB mounts all around.
    - Rear brake shoes. Almost completely worn out when we got the car, fronts were done just before we bought it.
    - Electrical grounds. Stock ones were wimpy gauge and falling to pieces. Replaced everything w/ 4 gauge, and added to more ground wires (one more to chassis, one more to engine block)
    - Alternator (after ground wire repair). Just up and died one day on way into work. Replaced w/ a 105 amp
    - Battery (after ground wire repair). Just up and died on me one day about two weeks ago. Replaced with one w/ more CCA
    - Tires. Had crappy no-name generics all around that offered near zero grip. Replaced with Goodrich traction T/A's all the way around. Went with Goodrich because I need year-round all-weather predictable performance.


    • #3
      Re: Shaftski's 95 SC2 daily driver build

      Now time for performance upgrades that have been done so far:

      - Cold air intake. Modified version of a Civic intake I got at a local store. Cone filter is located in driver's side fender.
      - Bored TB. Took a dremel to the TB, only opened it up a tiny amount so far. Don't know how much performance it added, but it sure as hell sounds meaner. Plan is to go wider or replace w/ a Geo storm TB.
      - Breather filter. No particular reason, just looks nice
      - Springs. Went with Sprint 2.0. Seem to co-operate well with the Gabriels. Way stiffer than what was there, but not unbearable. I trimmed the bump stops, but may need to remove some more material. Roads around here suck ass, and I've bottomed out a few times.
      - Full exhaust. I put a pacesetter cat-back on, and in the process, discovered that the cat's days were numbered. Replaced cat with magaflow w/ welded on downpipe. Makes a nice unique sound, completely unlike all the fart cans you see on the roads around here. People see the 4" tip at a stop light, think you are a ricer, then they hear the sound, then stare in a confused manner, LOL. Muffler is huge, and not the most free-flowing, but it meets my needs just fine. Cheap and works well.
      - Motor mounts. Just replaced the TAM and tranny mounts w/ stock replacements. Did the polyurethane fill trick on some dogbones and replaced those. Did not want to go w/ ultra rigid mounts, don't want to feel like I am riding a washing machine. Little more rumble than before, but hardly unbearable
      - Replaced tranny fluid w/ Mobile 1 synthetic. Shifts way smoother now.
      - Been running Mobil 1 synthetic oil for past year instead of dino.
      - Cut shifter. Cut down shifter a ton, and replaced shift knob. Mostly for looks.
      - Bypassed AC compressor until I can remove whole AC system. Compressor is dead, not worth it to replace IMO. It's bypassed until the whole thing comes out.
      - OBX silver underdrive pulley. Has made the biggest difference so far in how car behaves. Took me by surprise just pulling out of the driveway after the swap. Way less pedal pressure to get moving now.
      - SAFC. I don't need tons of RPM points so a good 'ol SAFC I is just fine for now
      - Gauges. Added voltage (keep eye on on stereo system), oil pressure, and oil temperature. With all the oil the car was burning at one point, I like to keep an eye on it.


      • #4
        Re: Shaftski's 95 SC2 daily driver build

        And now the stereo system. Lots of this equipment was in my old Jetta.

        - Alpine CDA-9886 head unit (started out w/ CDA-7977 in the car, but the CD transport broke and I wanted MP3 capability).
        - Alpine PXA-H510 Digital Signal Processor. Gives me Dolby Digital decoding, time correction network, 4V pre-outs, 4 band eq per channel, and optical inputs. Unit is a few years old, but still sounds great, and works just fine over AiNet w/ newer HU's. Was going to get the Imprint system when I got the new HU, but I may actually be taking a step down in terms of flexibility if I do that. Comes with a hard wired remote control that I mounted on the dash.
        - Alpine CHA-S624 changer. Got this when the model was first introduced a few years ago. A decent quality DAC w/ optical output and AiNet control.
        - Audiocontrol 3XS electronic crossover. 3-way 24dB electronic crossover with 3 level controls, one for each output. Nice thing about this unit is the non-fading subwoofer output. It always delivers consistently proportional subwoofer to front stage power balance. Even at lower volume levels, you can still hear the sub. Also can be used as a mild line driver. Was running without it for a few months, then decided to put it in for the hell of it. Has not left since, sound quality difference is night and day. I bypass all crossover/level adjustments all throughout the chain and do all that on the 3XS. Product is discontinued, think all they make is the 2XS now, just a 2-way.
        - 6.5" Boston Acoustics SX60 components. Just put in a few weeks ago, they are just starting to break in nicely now. Were annoyingly harsh at first, but have mellowed some now that they've had to do some work. Included crossovers really need another attenuation step for the tweets though, only goes down to -4 dB, really needs a -6 dB setting. Important thing is not to aim these right at you or your passenger. Aim for in front of you and they sound amazing. Wasn't a fan of these at first, but now I'm just loving the midbass out of these. Run x-over @ 72Hz for that channel, and drivers seem fine so far with going that low. May adjust down to 60Hz and see how they react.
        - JL Audio 10W6 subwoofer in a sealed box. Got the 10W6 for free a few years ago (by-product of a friend's dubious insurance claim tactics....) and never saw any reason to upgrade it. Good power handling, good sound quality, does not weigh a ton, and handles a lot of different material well.
        - JL Audio 300/4 amp. Powers my front components for now, giving each set of comps 75W. Good amp that has served me well for many years, gives pretty decent sound quality. Going to use the remaining two channels for either stereo rear channel, or mono center channel.
        - JL Audio 250/1 amp. Powers my 10W6 sub. I could go higher power, but to be honest, I don't really need it. I can hear the sub just fine through the mix.

        Improvements to car to improve sound quality:

        - Spray-on rubberized undercoating all over entire inside of trunk. Increased the mass slightly and sealed things up pretty well. Base layer for further treatment.
        - Previous owner had already Dynamatted the living hell out of the trunk deck, the damn thing must way 30 pounds. Removed about half of it. Kid used so much, trunk did not seal right and was leaking water like no tomorrow.
        - 1/2" thick carpet padding added all over entire surface of trunk interior. Cut road noise level down by at least 60%. Before treatment muffler was very loud at idle, now I can hear it but it blends into the music much easier. Probably going to add a 2nd layer, still too much noticeable noise on the highway.
        - Ripped out all wiring that previous owner did. They ran an 8-gauge power cable down drivers side, right alongside a ground cable. That's right folks, the idiot ran a 12 ft 8 ga ground lead! I wondered why there was a fire extinguisher in the trunk when I bought the car, and now I know why. Looks like he had an electrical fire at some point, about 6" of insulation was melted off near a point where the wire passed through some sheet metal. What a total dumbass.
        - Put in all new wiring. Ran 4 ga from battery to trunk, ground leads on all devices in trunk are less than 6". Everything resides in the wheel well, so I still have pretty much full use of the trunk if I need it.
        - Reinforced door panels. Sprayed w/ spray-on bedliner to give them strength. Then covered that with Dynamat extreme. Vibrations close to gone, but still hearing too much road noise. Going to replace thin ass useless felt panel in door w/ 1/2" thick carpet padding, that should do the trick. Much better midbass response now.
        - Front channel speaker enclosures. I have always made kick panels for my cars for best sound staging, but decided not to do that on the SC2, angles were too tricky to get decent sound. So I'm in the process of making fiberglass pods that fit over stock door mounting locations. Moves the speaker out of the door, into the passenger compartment, and angled upward and slightly towards the passengers. Tweeters mount right on top, so they are within 4" inches of center of midbass driver, angled on the same plane. With the time correction capability of the PXA-H510, I now have a nice wide, accurate soundstage, since I can adjust for the differences in speaker distances fairly easily. Vocals seem to come from dead center of dashboard, about 8-10" away from the front windshield, right where I want it.


        • #5
          Re: Shaftski's 95 SC2 daily driver build

          Performance upgrades planned but not completed:

          - Replace exhaust header with '92 header i have sitting in my basement
          - Assemble/install JAW wideband O2 kit sitting on my desk
          - Open up bore on TB some more, or replace w/ Geo Storm TB
          - Remove entire AC system to lighten car up some more

          Performance upgrade decisions to make still:

          - How much HP is my goal?
          - What is my target weight going to be?
          - To boost, or not to boost....


          • #6
            Re: Shaftski's 95 SC2 daily driver build

            Audio upgrades planned, but not implemented yet:

            - Bluetooth capability for sound system
            - Car PC build. Not only for GPS/MP3 jukebox, but datalogging and performance monitoring (I have embedded OS development experience, should be a fun project). Will include touchscreen monitor for control.
            - Add a kick-ass eq to signal path. Tweets are too harsh, so a bunch of frequencies in the tweet range need to be cut.
            - Finish up door panel speaker pods. They are formed in fiberglass at the moment, but need additional sanding/filling to smooth out and look pretty.
            - Get SPL metered, and analyze system using RTA, smooth out peaks and dips.
            - Re-carpet entire trunk in black
            - Install false floor with lexan window that shows off wheel well area. Amps/Electronics will be protected and out of the way, but still shown off.
            - Re-paint amp/electronics shells. Thinking all black. Maybe something w/ a Saturn logo.
            - New subwoofer enclosure. Using an old crappy JL powerwedge that came w/ a 10W0 at the moment. It's OK, but too small for the W6. New enclosure will probably be fiberglass.


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