The Jaggernaut

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Erik the Awful

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My resuscitation of Roscoe's going to be taking a back seat for a while so I can focus on The Jaggernaut. I've mentioned this car before, so now I'll post pics and updates. My goal is to get it ready for the 24 Hours of Lemons race at Hallett Motor Racing Circuit in May.

I bought the car dirt cheap from a Coyote Ugly bartender back in 2010. She bought it because it was a beautiful car, and then realized she didn't have the mechanical talent nor money to fix its many flaws. I recruited some co-workers and we stripped it, caged it, and ran it in the 24 Hours of Lemons race at Mid-America Motorplex in Omaha.

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It was a disaster. A week before the race the PCV neck crumbled, and in a hurry, I put a plug in it. It was a thrash to get the car ready, and I forgot about the plug. We got on track and within two laps we blew the front cover gasket and were spewing oil. We tore down the front of the motor, slopped some RTV on it, and slapped it back together. We hit the track, and ten laps in it overheated. In our hurry to get back on track we didn't wait long enough for the thermostat to open and we didn't get the radiator fully bled. When it overheated it cooked the head gasket. We ran the entire race ten laps at a time. Drive ten laps, refill the radiator, get it back out on track. We had to carry a trash can back and forth across the paddock to get water to refill with. We won the "Most Heroic Fix" award.

My co-workers had fun, but that was their last race. I joined TARP Racing and we raced an MR2 while I had plans on getting The Jaggernaut back on track. I had a '69 Cadillac Calais with a 500 in my driveway and I also had the Caddy's original 472 in my garage. I knew the 472 was dorked, so I tore it down. One of the rubber end gaskets on the oil pan was missing and the previous owner had unsuccessfully replaced it with RTV. The core plugs were rusted through. It had overheated and the #8 top piston ring had cracked and scored the cylinder. I flushed the coolant passages and a quarter-sized chunk of rust washed out.

At the time NAPA sold a single cylinder re-ring kit for the big block Cadillac for $12, so I honed the #8 cylinder as much as I dared and replaced that set of rings. I bought a used Howards cam for $80 and threw it in. I had to cut down the valve guides to clear the cam, and I did it with an angle grinder. I gasket-matched the heads and ported the stock intake. I started to plan out installing the engine, and then discovered a swap kit already existed. I cheated and bought the swap kit and didn't regret the expenditure one bit. Jaguar used TH400s behind the V12 in the XJS, so the transmission wasn't a problem - I just had to swap it from the Cadillac tail to a short tail and get the Jaguar shaft rebuilt with a TH400 yoke.

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The major problem was the exhaust and oil pan. The swap kit recommended chopping up a rare factory rear-sump pan, which reduced it to a 5 quart capacity. Instead I chopped up a kinda-rare mid-sump pan and expanded it to a 7 quart capacity. The swap kit also recommended dimpling the firewall and using the stock exhaust manifolds. I'd scrapped all my cast iron manifolds years earlier and I had headers on my Calais. None of the three header designs I had on hand fit the chassis, so I ended up piecing together some home-built headers without the benefit of owning a tubing bender.

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Ugly, right? I robbed the 750 Edelbrock off the Calais to get the car running and it was so lean I had to go about 10 jet sizes larger. The tri-Y design really flows. I repainted the car and our team took it to the 24 Hours of Lemons race at Motorsports Ranch - Houston in 2017.

Again, the car was a disaster. Immediately after we pulled the car off the trailer we heard a knocking sound from the bottom end of the motor. Fortunately I'd pulled the 500 inch motor from the Calais for a spare. I thought the engine swap would take us about four hours, but everything had to be swapped from one motor to the other, and I was the only person with experience. Upon removing the oil pan, we spotted scratch marks where the crank was very lightly scraping it. The knocking had been the crank hitting the oil pan. Twelve hours after starting we had it running again.

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It was short-lived. The twin 11 gallon fuel tanks had been sitting with 7 year old gas. I'd drained and flushed them, but they were horribly gunked. Every drop of gas we put in them turned to gunk. We were constantly replacing the fuel filter and thumping the fuel pump to get it running again. When it did run it was overheating. We finally pulled the radiator out. I'd had it tested, and it held pressure beautifully. Small wonder, it was full of pecan shells. That was likely the actual cause of the overheating at The Jaggernaut's first race. The charging system also wasn't working. Sunday afternoon I was spent. I'd spent months preparing the car only for it to be an utter turd. I'd busted my butt all weekend long and had nothing to show for it.

Since then I've replaced the radiator with a Speedway Motors radiator. I had to cut a hole in the hood for the radiator cap to poke through. I ditched the twin fuel tank setup and installed a fuel cell. I have a small 55 amp alternator bolted in place. All the hacked Lucas wiring is getting ditched for a custom harness. Hopefully I can get it running for Hallett in May.
 

Erik the Awful

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Love it. Does that car have the IRS with the brakes inboard from the wheels?
Yes. Funny thing, when I bought it I found new rear rotors on clearance for $6 each.

(My uncle sometimes does those races with Liquid A$$ Racing.)
I've heard of them, but I can't remember what they race.

100 C is 212 F, not 280. Odd choice for an endurance racer, seems to me the fuel sipping fart cars would do better there. Why not a bigger fuel cell?
I said 180°, but apparently the mic only picked up the 100.

Fuel sipping cars are better. We looked around at cheap cars and found a Nissan Pulsar for $1000 and the Jag for $700. The Jag won out for being gloriously stylish and "cool" where Pulsars were still being seen on the road. Knowing what I know now I'd absolutely go with the Pulsar, especially having been a Nissan tech.

The fuel cell was sitting on my shelf, unused.
 

Erik the Awful

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Absolutely not. It's a freaking turd that has never failed to fail. The motor's a brute, though. Monstrous amounts of torque and highway gears. It sounds like it's loafing, but other cars struggle to pass you on the straights.

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Supercharged111

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Absolutely not. It's a freaking turd that has never failed to fail. The motor's a brute, though. Monstrous amounts of torque and highway gears. It sounds like it's loafing, but other cars struggle to pass you on the straights.

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Meanwhile they're probably fuming behind you on the turns. The beauty of everyone being in class.
 
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