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SL-Tuning's Kaji Kaishi 
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Joined: Tue Jan 15, 2008 7:58 pm
Posts: 6
Location: Rivonia, Johannesburg
Starting out as a 1300 ugly duckling, sporting the latest trendy 13" steel wheels and exhaust no bigger than 2cm in diameter, who would have even attempted to build a project car on this unlikely platform?

The owner of this car, Me :), owner of upgraded the base model with an aftermarket Wildcat exhaust and Smiths racing 15" alloys. While this did improve the ride substantially and sounded great, it just wasn't enough.

After investigating all possible performance upgrades to the 1300 block - one thing was apparent. Spending money on the original motor would yield very little bang for buck.

This is when, back in 2004, East London, a little town off the east coast gave birth to a screamer! Sean's vision was to transform this unusual candidate to the performance community into a quick little hot hatch. The motor of choice was easy, keeping things Japanese with no hybrid swaps (which personally is JUST WRONG!) decided on the FE-DOHC 2.0 16v powerplant.

There is much myth about this motor, many people believe it to be unbreakable, whilst many others quote ridiculous baseline power figures - purely misled. The truth of the matter is that this motor is one of the strongest 2.0 16v's from that era but surpassed by the SR20DET even without the turbo.

The FE-DOHC pushes out 109kW's and around 200Nm on the flywheel. Factory red line is 7000rpm with a fuel cut-off of 7300rpm.

We sourced the motor locally from an old EGI, it was in great condition, gold valve cover didn't have a scratch and the general hang on parts were all in good condition. Draining the oil showed no residue and we were happy not to open her up.

Time came to locate a matching gearbox, two choices existed. Either to source one out of a Mazda 626 or the original EGI. The 626 had longer ratios allowing a maximum speed of just over 245Km/h. The object of this build was not top end, nor would be advisable in a chassis such as the base 323. An EGI box was sourced from a local refurbishment outlet as it's shorter ratios allowed for quicker acceleration, topping out at around 205Km/h.

The choice for ECU, Gotech MFi, was agreed upon with in consultation with the tuner. It is pointless giving a tuner your choice of ECU if he is unable to carry out the work on it.

Gotech ECU

It controls everything you need from fuelling across 32 loadsites, 500rpm incriments, offline tuning, ignition mapping for each loadsite, VTEC engagement / VICS / NOS and just about anything you'd like to trigger at a given RPM, Launch control, Direct coil fire, in-car fuel fine tuning and more. Really a great unit for R2,100.00!

A 57mm wildcat exhaust system coupled with a custom wildcat header was the perfect choice in extracting exhaust gasses and maximising torque. A twin split F1-X tailpiece was purchased to finish off the product. The end result was an awesome sounding machine! We had to add a 3rd pass through silencer to lower db's - this thing sounded like a track car!

This build took over 3 months, as parts were scarce. The day finally came to put the vehicle on the dyno for tuning. We started her up on a startup map, idle was smooth, sound was amazing. This all changed very quickly - a bolt came loose inside the motor, shot through the bottom. Oil was everywhere and I was devastated. We had to source another motor and begin all over again...

Sourcing the motor direct from JAPAN and importing through ABL Imports, the high compression gold top FE arrived on our shores. Although not in the greatest of condition externally, the internals were as new with a total usage of only 30,000km's by the previous owner. Japanese emmissions testing is very strict, fines very high - forcing buyers to upgrade there vehicles more often. This creates the perfect second hand Japanese motor market for the benefit of countries such as ourselves.

The motor was sourced from an automatic and did not have all parts intact. A new OEM flywheel and clutch setup had to be purchased before it could be mated to the engine. Japanese imports are known to ship in without OEM ECU's and other hang-on parts. This time we opened her up to make sure nothing was wrong!

Time had moved on and it was now 5 months in the workshop, during this time after market parts were purchased and installed. First up was an autometer tachometer as the original 1300 did not have a rev counter. Next saw a set of bucket seats purchased from Formula Design Johannesburg.

During day
At night

A set of uprated brake discs, PowerBrake Die Hard Series II and EBC greenstuff pads where imported from the UK by Clive, Power Brakes rep here in SA. 4 sets made it into the country, one of which was mine :)

While the mechanics were setting up my car and installing the aftermarket parts I got around to removing my dash and instrument cluster.

One word of advice to anyone doing this - if you ever have the hope of a car that doesn't have rattles - DO NOT remove the dash. I've had it out 3 times and can't get the rattles to stop.

Visiting a local scrap yard, a instrument cluster from a goverment owned 323 sedan was located. The car had rolled and the guage cluster was still 100%. What was even better is it matched the approximate milage the import motor had and instead of the old orange writing, everything was in brilliant white. I ripped the thing apart when I got home and began detailing the needles in red.

Custom detailing on guages

We also got around to customising the gearshift, I wasn't happy with the height so we ripped it out, chopped a good 7-9cm off of it and did some custom fabricating and finishing. The result was a shortshift that felt and looked better than the original. Total cost? Nothing ;)

To finish off the look, the ride height was dropped 40mm all round using a locally manufactured spring kit with a set of 4 very rare HP Racing 17" alloys. The look was exactly what was invisioned!

The drop and HP racing 17" alloys

These alloys were an obvious choice to me

Time came to hit the dyno again and thankfully everything held together. The car was mapped on both the fuelling and ignition side. I wanted to run on normal 95Ron Unleaded so we were very conservative on timing. After many trips to the dyno and driving around while tuning, I was finally happy that the vehicle could be driven daily. There was much to improve but the basics were taken care of. On the last dyno tune we posted a first run power figure in the region of 91kW@5850rpm and 161Nm@4500rpm, after a bit of tuning managed to bump that up to a safe 97kW@6500rpm creating more usuable revving power and 163Nm@4500rpm - On the wheels!

I was very happy with the results ;)

Moving up to Johannesburg required a re-tune and some other niggly problems sorted out. The vehicle was taken to Gotech South Africa, based in Jet Park at the time. It was my birthday and they were happy to accommodate me for an evening of tuning. Things began at around 6pm, I sat with the owner Joe Katic while we chatted about my driving style and expectations from the tune. By this time I had found out more about the different cam characteristics from these motors aswell as the exact vehicle mine came out of. I had the highest rated stock cam available for it called the FE3N series, the tune needed to make use of this while considering my fuel economy.

A FACT! To make power you need to use more fuel, so we had a careful balance here.

Gotech carried out the tuning up on the Rand

Gotech found a whole host of electrical problems just waiting to happen as well as optimised my rotor phasing and electrics running to my VICS solinoid. For those that do not know, the FE-DOHC has a second set of runners that open up in the intake once you hit a certain point in the rpm range, mine was set to 5252rpm and experiments showed this to be the best location to maximise torque and power. VICS should not be confused with VTEC, which can be triggered the same way, VTEC is actual camshaft profile changes after a certain point, not just extra air.

We posted a respectable power figure of 85kW@6500rpm and 185Nm@4500rpm!

So how does it drive? Like a stock car :P The suspension is very hard and the car + bucket seats sit you very close to the ground. There is no power steering, there is no aircon - this is a tin being hurtled forwards by a great motor. It's a fun car to drive, it holds corners without any hint of losing control - acceleration is quick thanks to the short ratio's it's running. All in all a great project build with more direction to follow. A fully worked TURBO ;)


ENGINE: 1998cc, 4 cylindar,, DOHC, 16 Valve, 10.2:1 Compression, 86mmx86mm Bore/Stroke - Short intake - Gotech MFi ECU - Stock Injectors - Bosch in-line fuel pump, Bosch pickup pump - Oil Breather filter - Wildcat custom branch 4:2:1 - Wildcat mandrel bent 57mm freeflow exhaust - F1-X Twin split tailpiece.

TRANSMISSION: EGI Short Ratio 5 Speed box - OEM Clutch - OEM Flywheel

SUSPENSION: 40mm lowering springs all round - Gas Ryder shocks

BRAKES: Die Hard Series II front rotors - EBC Greenstuff brake pads - Stock Calipers - Stock rear drums

WHEELS & TIRES: Rare 17" HP Racing alloys - 215/45/17 Dunlop SP7000's

BODYWORK: Stock but needs a respray badly

INTERIOR: Formula Design bucket seats (Grey / Black) - TR Steering wheel - TR Shift knob - Customr Short Shifter - Colour coded guage housing and glovebox - Red needle detailing - Autometer tachometer with shift light - Level 4 alarm and immobilisor - Central locking system

PERFORMANCE: 85kW/185Nm at the wheels (JHB) - 215km/h - 0 to 100km/h in 7 seconds

SPECIAL THANKS: Fred (East London) for his outstanding work on the car and many hours troubleshooting with me. Louis and Joe Katic (Gotech Johannesburg) for accomodating me for the tune and extra work carried out on the night. ABL Imports (Johannesburg) for there great quality motors. Vaughn (Cape Town), Fredio (New Zealand), Dutch (Netherlands), EVO626 (USA) and any others i've forgotten to mention, for their advice with troubleshooting with this build.

The reason for this post is that I am looking at moving away from the Gotech system, as decent as it is, it does have its on and off days, random quirks. Since writing the above, I do all my own tuning and work on the car. I guess we all learn to stop taking our cars to garages.

Follow my FE-DOHC restore here: link

1998 Honda Prelude VTi-R (daily)
1995 Kaji Kaishi (weekends)
JDM Kulture
SLT HP Ground Kits
JDM Apparel available for men and women

Last edited by Fred on Tue Jan 15, 2008 11:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

fixed server config, AND fixed your broken tags ;-)

Tue Jan 15, 2008 8:31 pm
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