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PT Cruiser WRC?

 
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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 30 May 2008, 10:57 pm
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: Marquette, MI
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Default PT Cruiser WRC?

The idea: Turn my bone-stock '05 Cruiser (2.4L N/A) into something a little more... "off-road friendly?"

The thought process: My girlfriend purchased an '04 Jeep Liberty recently, and while she's been a little apprehensive about putting it through it's paces on the backroads and logging trails in Marquette County, I've had absolutely no qualms about flogging the hell out of this particular KJ. In doing so, I've discovered you can have about as much fun off road than on, and for that reason I've taken my '93 Z28 off of daily driver duty almost completely. No, that's a lie. Four and a quarter bucks a gallon is why it's out of commission, but that's beside the point.

Anyhow, that's planted my hindparts behind the wheel of the better-on-gas Cruiser lately, and after a couple more woods runs in the Jeep, I got to thinking, "Why should this particular Chrysler product have all the fun?" (over a half-century of off-road heritage in the Jeep name notwithstanding). Hell, if Peugot, Subaru, and Ford can all take their puny sedans and turn them into WRC monsters, what's stopping me from turning this humble grocery-getter into something that would make Colin McRae soil himself? Yes, yes, millions of dollars in factory-backed R&D, but just follow along with me for a second, here.

Now, a few hours poking around the interwebs has yielded nothing on the subject. Well, nothing useful, anyway. I mean, there's this abomination, and the other close result was simply a toy, but for the most part, guys are looking more to lower their Cruisers than raise them (except for one enterprising fellow).

The question: I'm going to need some creative ways to tackle this project. Parts are going to have to be modified, fabricated, or used in a manner other than directed to get this to jive with something Ma Mopar never really intended to handle anything more strenuous than a gravel road. Anyone have any ideas? I'm particularly fond of the Liberty Renegade light bar, but not so fond of the half-a-grand sticker price (and the fact it won't fit, anyway). The grippiest tires I've seen so far are heavy-duty winter meats, and I assume those would work. I guess my biggest concern is the lack of adequate ground clearance. I can always remove the rear seats to take some weight off the rear springs, but that won't really keep me from leaving my engine's guts all over some rock that's dared to stick a mere four inches out of the ground, you know? Let me rephrase that: how can I get the nose of the Cruiser a little higher?

Any other issues I should be thinking about when taking this thing off the beaten path? I'm not looking to get into hardcore Jeep rock-crawling territory here; maybe more of a rally-inspired vehicle than can hold it's own through a lug nut-height mud puddle.

Oh, yeah, almost forgot... New member, first post, nice to meet you all. I came here because this seems to be the most knowledgeable Cruiser forum on the net.

...or at least, the most interesting.
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 30 May 2008, 11:28 pm
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Join Date: Apr 2008
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Default Re: PT Cruiser WRC?

First question is "How much do you want to spend?"

Off the top of my head, I'd say your cheapest option for an offroad cruiser is the tallest tires that would fit. I looked, on a tire size calculator, I think it was at Tirerack, and from memory I think you can go 2" over stock diameter (providing a MASSIVE 1" lift) with no issues except for speedo calibration. You could probably push that diameter increase but I'd suspect you'd start to place significantly extra strain on parts not designed to take it. This'd get the front and rear up in the air, without affecting front end geometry, and having to worry about extensive work to the rear axel assembly.

Second cheapest is probably some longer springs for the front (which will affect front end angles including drive shafts) and re-working the rear axel to drop the wheel hubs themselves.

Or you might want to find an old 4x4 jeep and drop the PT body on it, with appropriate modifications. Or perhaps a wrecked RAV4 or CRV and rip the 4x4 bits, and front and rear linkages off it and make 'em fit on the cruiser.

Or, if you want to start spending REAL money.....

My thoughts, anyway.
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Old 03 Jun 2008, 03:06 am
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Default Re: PT Cruiser WRC?

You mean like this ???


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  #4 (permalink)  
Old 03 Jun 2008, 06:31 pm
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Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Gardenton, MB, Canada
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Default Re: PT Cruiser WRC?

What are you trying to do exactly? Are you looking at keeping it 2WD and just raising it or are you going 4WD or AWD?

Also what are you planning on doing with it? Actual off roading or just running gravel roads and dirt trails at speed?

2WD would be the easiest. You could just put spacers under the coils, that's what the Patriot guys are doing. That's good for about an inch. Or you could see what you can scrounge up at the boneyard. My old Dynasty has about 6" of gc, and about 8-9" under the front bumper.

If you go AWD then I would think about maybe trying to find a hit Patriot, Compass, or Caliber AWD. I would personally try to find one with a 5 spd, but that's just because I hate that cvt. You would still be stuck with IFS and IRS which means that you'll have a heck of a time getting anymore height of it than what it was originally made with. Independent suspension doesn't do too well with offroading. About the only area it has ever worked well is with ATV's and with the original Hummer.

The route that I would try to do is find a drivetrain out of a new Wrangler. You would have actual solid axles and an actual T-case. The 3.8L V6 just may be short enough to get into the engine bay without lengthening the front end. I would run it on the Jeep frame and size it to fit. If you are planning on spending a bit of coin or if you have the right connections you could have yourself a very nice trail rig.

I would love a 4x4 PT and I have thought about it. But I think for now I will live with my atv and fix one of my old beaters, and make my PT my weekend warrior. If I ever do up a 4x4 I'm toying with the idea of doing up a Suzuki Samurai with a turbocharged Hayabusa engine!

Ben
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2007 Suzuki King Quad 700 4x4 for when the road gets bumpy.

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Old 06 Jun 2008, 12:54 pm
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Default Re: PT Cruiser WRC?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cleverklutz View Post
Are you looking at keeping it 2WD and just raising it or are you going 4WD or AWD?
More than likely 2WD and just raising it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cleverklutz View Post
Also what are you planning on doing with it? Actual off roading or just running gravel roads and dirt trails at speed?
Gravel roads and dirt trails at speed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cleverklutz View Post
You could just put spacers under the coils, that's what the Patriot guys are doing.
Hmm... sounds like a viable option. How similar are the front geometries of Cruisers to the Patriots? Any Jeep parts I could utilize here?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cleverklutz View Post
The 3.8L V6 just may be short enough to get into the engine bay without lengthening the front end.
Now, an engine swap is something I'd never seriously considered, but since you mentioned it, which DCX motors could theoretically be shoehorned into a Cruiser's engine bay (forgive the newbie question, I probably should have done a search on this as well)? Granted, anything bigger than a 2.4L would increase front weight and slash ground clearance, but perhaps some stiffer springs would be in order?

Thanks for the feedback, Ben!
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  #6 (permalink)  
Old 16 Jun 2008, 12:35 pm
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: Marquette, MI
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Default Re: PT Cruiser WRC?

Took the Cruiser camping last night, mostly because with the rear seats removed (to save weight; I've been trying to hypermile in the Cruiser lately) you can haul a helluva lot of gear. Anyway, the campsite's about five miles down a not-crazy-but-still-pretty-rough logging road, and it was a good opportunity to put it to the test (in stock form, sort of as a baseline). Lots of bumps and mud puddles, but it didn't do too badly:



It's actually muddier than it looks, but maybe I'm just biased. Anyhow, front ground clearance was as big an issue as I anticipated, as the shallow approach angle meant I was grounding the air dam and front fascia on every bump.


Note the half-air dam.


Close up of the damage.

Also, apparently there's some sort of plastic skid plate under the engine, because I tore it most of the way off on a bump. A plastic skid plate. Really, Chrysler? Damn...

So yeah, the Cruiser is going to need some front-end work in the future. Perhaps get a new fascia for off-roading and cut off every bit of plastic below the bumper cover? Also, with no steel plating between the bottom of the engine/trans and the road, rocks are a big danger. Ideas?
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  #7 (permalink)  
Old 16 Jun 2008, 02:31 pm
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Join Date: Sep 2007
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Default Re: PT Cruiser WRC?

Well if you want to build a WRC PT, raising it is not what you want. You will note that the rally cars all keep their stock ride height. what you want is a really strong suspension setup and about 300 HP. Then you need wider tires and robust rims, and to finish it all of, a skid pan on the entire underside of the car. That will stop any damage from happening to the running gear and undercarriage. I am a big rally fan If you do get new body parts, go for ABS plastic, they take more of a beating.
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