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chris15's PT GT (56k? Take a nap.)

 
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Old 24 Aug 2015, 09:23 pm
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Arrow chris15's PT GT (56k? Take a nap.)

Hey guys,

Don't post here much anymore, but figured I'd start one of these up just to log/document what I've done to the car (more so for my own knowledge than anything else, but if my info/research can help people, even better!).

I bought my 2003 PT GT (Dream Cruiser) in October of 2013 with around 142k on the clock. I found the car on Craigslist in Wildwood, FL after scouring Ebay, Craigslist and basically every other used car website for a PT GT with the G288 (5-speed manual) transmission in the southeastern US. I showed up to look at the car and discovered that it was owned by a family in which the wife used to commute on a daily basis with two young daughters. The car was in decent shape, but needed some TLC. It had the notorious TOB chatter that disappeared when the clutch was depressed and the AC was a little temperamental. I paid for the car and drove it home that day.

The next weekend, I parked the GT next to the silver (turbo and MTX-swapped) 2001 PT that I have a separate build thread for and began taking care of routine maintenance and swapping parts. Initially, the plan was to use the GT as the daily driver and keep the silver PT as the project car. I immediately changed the engine oil, trans fluid, performed a coolant flush, swapped the thermostat, PCV, spark plugs and wires. I swapped my Tokico HP shocks and struts with Goldline Super Slammer lowering springs, my 18" ADR wheels and tires, and my Sony headunit into the GT, leaving the car looking like this:











After the routine maintenance was taken care of, I began making future plans for the car. I knew I'd need to do the clutch on the car shortly, so, I began gathering parts and researching. I was told that the dual-mass flywheel could be resurfaced versus spending $400 for a new one, so I purchased a Rockauto clutch kit (less flywheel) that included a pressure plate, OEM-style clutch disc, and the release bearing/slave cylinder. In January 2014, I replaced the clutch, had NAPA resurface the flywheel and replaced a leaking oil pressure switch.

In February 2014, the car received quite a bit of attention. It turns out that when I installed the clutch, I found out that the clutch master cylinder was leaking slightly.. enough to cause a slight residue on the carpet inside the car. I replaced the clutch master cylinder, upper and lower dogbone mounts from BWoody (powdercoated orange), accessory belt tensioner, valve cover gasket and Booger shifter bushings. Around this time, I started collecting parts for the project car (at this point, the silver PT). I had purchased a Walbro 255 pump with install kit, an Aeromotive 1:1 fuel pressure regulator, and FID 1200cc injectors (as I had planned to run E85 100% of the time and eventually go with a big turbo kit).









In April 2014, I discovered that the original center (4th) engine mount had developed a tear and needed to be replaced. This was found after I noticed the car began vibrating pretty excessively. The mount was actually sitting on the frame of the car. I purchased an OEM replacement rubber engine mount and replaced that along with an ACDelco timing kit-- water pump, tensioner, idler pulley and timing belt and decided to replace the crank and cam seals as the crank seal was leaking oil into the belt cover which was visibly dripping from the bottom. Shortly thereafter, I was traveling to visit my parents and my power steering pump seized up completely, throwing the accessory belt. I was nowhere near my tools and had no place to work on the car, so I had a local shop install a new belt and power steering pump.

In May 2014, I found someone locally selling a Diablosport Predator and picked it up. In the parking lot around the corner from the guy's house, I installed the included 93 performance tune and drove home. I was instantly impressed with the results from a couple of minutes with a handheld. Prior to that, with the silver PT, I was working with a rising-rate fuel pressure regulator that used a needle valve to bump up the fuel pressure to 'force' it in while the injectors were open. The car wasn't ever aware there was any positive pressure via the use of a Missing Link (check valve) installed between the intake manifold and the MAP sensor. All of the fuel being added was done via the regulator. In order to properly tune the car, I also grabbed a pair of 3bar sensors for the MAP and TIP.

This is what the car looked like at the time (notice the shorty antenna!):



In June 2014, I had decided that the silver PT would take up entirely too much time/money to get to the level I wanted it to be at, so I began to salvage parts from it to use on the GT. I swapped the full catless 3" exhaust from the silver PT, AEM wideband, Glowshift boost gauge and oil pressure gauge, installed a block-off plate for the OEM bypass valve and used the stock intercooler hoses (spliced) to install an adapter pipe with my NGR Type-S BOV. Tuning iterations continued to increase the performance of the car.

July 2014 - I wound up with a leaking radiator, so I replaced it. I also decided to take care of a few minor and cosmetic modifications. I wound up with a random misfire that would pop up on the highway. I wound up swapping both the ignition coil and plug wires at the same time-- a Granatelli ignition coil and MSD plug wires. The misfire went away immediately. From a cosmetic standpoint, a buddy of mine turned me onto VHT Wrinkle paint and I decided to remove the intake manifold, valve cover and some other stuff to coat with this stuff. Using a heat gun, I accelerated the process a bit and (in my opinion) it came out pretty great.

Before:









September 2014 - Wound up with an intermittent overheating issue. As a precaution, I installed a Stant 180* thermostat, checked for leaks, and flushed the cooling system. Discovered during this process that on occasion, the radiator fans would not turn on. Threw a probe on the fan connector and discovered that when the car would get up to temperature, the PCM would not call for the fan to come on. I reset the PCM, disconnected, cleaned and reconnected all of the PCM connectors and the connector for the radiator fans and retested. Fans came on without an issue and the problem hasn't come back since. I also grew tired of PCM-controlled boost as the car wouldn't hold more than 11-12psi past 4,000 RPMs. I swapped in the Greddy Profec B Spec II electronic boost controller I had in the silver PT and that remedied the problem.
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2003 GT (6262, the works)
2001 PT MTX-Swapped/Turbo


Last edited by chris15; 24 Aug 2015 at 09:29 pm.
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Old 24 Aug 2015, 09:24 pm
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Default Re: chris15's PT GT (56k? Take a nap.)

October 2014 - At this point, I also installed the Walbro 255, the FID 1200cc/min injectors, switched to E85, performed a balance shaft delete and began noticing abnormal vibrations again. In addition, I noticed that it was growing increasingly more difficult to shift the car into gear at times.. almost as if I was locked out or the clutch was partially engaged, though my foot was to the floor. Bled the system multiple times, installed and adjusted Ragetek pivot arm with no luck. I then dropped the transmission and discovered that the dual mass flywheel was almost completely seized (the flywheel is actually two separate pieces that apparently are supposed to be able to spin SOMEWHAT separately.. in my case, the flywheel was locked up completely, causing the drivability issues I mentioned before. Not many choices for a clutch out there and all of them re-used the dual mass flywheel at a price tag of $400 plus the clutch kit. I found a company called Phoenix Friction (beware.. keep reading) that offered a conversion kit for the PT Cruiser-- instead of using the dual-mass flywheel, the kit comes with a solid (or single mass) flywheel that follows similar dimensions/spacing as the dual-mass flywheel, a 6-puck ceramic disc rated to 450ft/lbs, and a performance pressure plate. I ensured prior to purchase that the kit came with a warranty, etc. No issues there. I also installed a solid DCR center mount with a poly bushing in it as the other engine mount I replaced had begun to tear.








I also picked up a turbo setup from a local SRT-4 friend and installed this as well (it was a busy month). It's a TD05 20G kit made by LCR. It's essentially an Evo 9 20G turbo with a modified stock turbo manifold-- TD05 hotside welded to it, extreme porting (I'll revisit this part later), elbow modification, and external wastegate. It came with the turbo, manifold, a CXRacing 38mm wastegate, all oil and coolant lines, and a CTI 2.5" hotside charge pipe. All of this went in without any issues and the car was a blast to drive on the street. For comparison's sake, the friend who had the kit on his SRT-4 made 353whp/396wtq at 20psi on 93-octane pump gas.





I also installed new black housing headlights with HIDs, new fog lamp housings with HIDs, painted my wheels, emblems, door spears and door handles black, installed new brake pads and drilled/slotted rotors all around, and used a G2 caliper paint kit to coat the brake calipers in orange. I also replaced the lower control arm bushings with a Prothane kit, replaced the ball joints, installed poly sway bar bushings and end links.











At this point, the goal of all of this was to have the car ready for an annual meet that's held in Old Town, Florida (just outside of Orlando) called the SRT-4 Showdown. Here's a few pictures the car wound up in:








November 2014 - In the middle of November, I took the car to the track and ran it on street tires, 20psi on E85. I basically spun the entire way down the track and couldn't launch the car for shit. I then picked up and installed an N2MB Boost Box with the intent of limiting boost in 1st and 2nd gear, and also an N2MB WOT Box to cut down on lag between shifts and to allow for programmable launch control/2 step to build boost off the line to get out of the hole faster. In addition to this, I also bought a set of M&H slicks and threw them on a set of PT steelies. The night I finished the installation, I was on my way home (around 3AM) and the car would not shift. I depressed the clutch pedal, it went to the floor immediately and the car began to smoke. I was able to coast off to a side road and had the car towed. Dropped the transmission and discovered that the slave had disintegrated:







I sent these pictures along with a long description of the problem to Phoenix Friction and never heard back from anyone, despite bumping the email a few times. I purchased a Mopar slave cylinder and also replaced the defective Ragetek pivot arm with a new DCR unit and the car drove like new.


January 2015 - I was on my way to work one morning, boosted to merge with traffic and after that, I was unable to build any positive manifold pressure. I assumed that I had blown a coupler or something similar, however, I noted that it was odd that I couldn't hear the turbo spool AT ALL. I was worried that it was blown. That night, I was able to watch the compressor wheel while the car was idling and saw 0 movement, however with the car off, I was able to spin the wheel by hand with no play/odd noises. I assumed that maybe I had somehow destroyed the hotside of the turbo. I pulled things in order of ease of removal-- wastegate was first. Despite being loose, it didn't appear to be an issue.. Pulled the turbo.. hotside was intact, and looked as good as when I originally installed it. Pulled the manifold and discovered this:





The manifold had developed a hole that wound up routing exhaust gases directly to the O2 pipe, bypassing the turbo completely. This was purely a result of there being too much material removed when the manifold was ported. I sent it off to a guy in Orlando to have the manifold repaired. After a few weeks, it came back as good as new.

I then came across a set of SRT-4 seats out of a wrecked car and scooped them up to install in the PT. After spending quite a lot of time modifying the brackets and massaging the base of the seat, I was able to get them to fit.

Excuse the mess-- I hadn't cleaned them up yet:



February/March 2015 - Pretty quiet, just a lot of maintenance on the car. Nothing too special. Here's an updated pic of what the car looked like at this stage:

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2003 GT (6262, the works)
2001 PT MTX-Swapped/Turbo

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Old 24 Aug 2015, 09:24 pm
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Default Re: chris15's PT GT (56k? Take a nap.)

April/May 2015 - I started planning the next phase of the car. This included a Maddog 50% STS with rod brake with an altered shift rod. With the SRT-4 seats in the car, I felt like the geometry was slightly off-- I had to sit a little further 'back' otherwise my knees would rest against the steering column cover, but this required me to 'reach' to shift into 5th, so I had Chuck bend the shift rod slightly back and towards the driver and also got it 1" taller. The result was phenomenal (technically installed in June):



Custom shift knob from Speed Dawg:




I also began collecting parts to revamp the fuel system to be fully E85 compatible (after reading/seeing horror stories) which includes: -6AN PTFE braided fuel line, Fuelab 1:1 regulator in black (with a matching gauge), Fuelab 6-micron fiberglass element filter (E85 compatible), all fittings and a Walbro 450 fuel pump. I also picked up the correct fittings and adapters to convert almost every vacuum line on the car to push lock fittings with polyethylene lines.







I also decided to, after many years of contemplating and taking measurements, roll the dice on an off-the-shelf intercooler that's sold for the FC RX7 (made by CXRacing). It seemed, from the dimensions, like it'd be a solid fit (pictured later).

May 2015 - I wound up getting sick and tired of breaking axles (presumably due to the geometry of the CV joints as a result of being extremely low on the Goldline springs, spirited driving, and putting 350+wtq to the ground) so I scored a deal on a set of Mopar S2 coilovers, of which I could only use the front:



June 2015 - As I said before, I installed the shifter in June. I also wound up with a leak in the coolant line to the turbo, so I replaced that as well.

July/August 2015 - Here we are. So, I began to work on a variety of things. In addition to all of the fuel system parts, vacuum lines and fittings, and intercooler, I also found someone selling a custom sheet metal intake manifold on an SRT-4 Facebook group that was actually fabricated for a PT Cruiser. I snagged it, but the seller misrepresented the item to me. One of the ears on the manifold flange was broken off entirely, and whoever fabricated it basically welded the canister to the intake runners but never went through and cleaned up the ports. I wound up taking it to my friend who works at a machine shop and here are a few shots of the before/after:

Before:



After:






I'm currently still in the process of installing this. Clearance to the radiator fans is pretty tight, and the flange for the throttle body was rotated for some reason. The IAC actually interferes with the upper radiator hose, so I've purchased a throttle body spacer (NOT FOR PERFORMANCE PURPOSES) to move the throttle body out a bit so it'll clear. In doing so, this will actually put the throttle body (after a 90* silicone coupler) almost perfectly in line with the inlet of the intercooler. Additionally, the passenger's side of the manifold is about 1/4" off from bolting up without an issue. Unfortunately, it's contacting the thermostat housing, so I need to remove some material to get it to fit. That's a work in progress and I'll post pictures when I'm finished.



Also, I've been sitting on a ton of assorted wiring (RCA cables, speaker wire, 0, 2, 4, 8, 12 gauge wire, etc) and I've always wanted to remove the battery from under the hood of the car. I picked up a Summit battery box, mounted it in the hatch area, and ran my 0-gauge through the firewall and body panels to an Optima Yellow-top battery. In addition to all of this, I decided it was time to upgrade from my hodgepodge of car audio amps and whatnot so I picked up a set (my 3rd) of Polk db6501 component speakers for the front, Polk db571 speakers for the rear, MB Quart amplifiers (one monoblock and one 4-channel), and a ported enclosure for my 12" Alpine Type-R.





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Old 24 Aug 2015, 09:25 pm
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Default Re: chris15's PT GT (56k? Take a nap.)

I've also been working on the intercooler I mentioned before. I tore the car down to find out that I had missed the mark by 2" on each side of the end tanks. I was too narrow, causing the end tanks to exit on the radiator. My machine shop friend put me in contact with a buddy of his who helped me by modifying the intercooler to add 2" of material to the end tanks. This worked PERFECTLY and came out better than I could've imagined. It mounted to the car very easily, and I was even able to re-use the stock intercooler mounting brackets. The car will be getting a custom crash bar, and I've attached a picture with the bumper on the car to show that it could, in theory, fit on the car exactly as is, without any indicating that there's a big-assed front mount intercooler under there:

Unmodified end tanks, to start:


In the process of modifying, and the end result:







Stock, for comparison:



New, modified end tanks, for comparison:







Once the car is back up and all these modifications are finished, I'll be planning to take the car back down and finish up the new fuel system. I'll keep you guys posted. Thanks for reading.
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Old 25 Aug 2015, 05:55 am
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Default Re: chris15's PT GT (56k? Take a nap.)

I Like this Project! I didn't realize you had done this much to your Cruiser! Congrats on an awesome Ride!! :-)
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Old 25 Aug 2015, 08:40 am
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Default Re: chris15's PT GT (56k? Take a nap.)

Thanks a lot for the reply! I used to post on forums pretty frequently, but I've sorta been doing my own thing lately. I got a little tired of reading forum posts in 2015 to the tune of "Hey, has anyone ever changed their spark plugs in their car? By the way, it's a 2001 PT Cruiser", and then 10 pages of useless dialogue to follow on what the "best" spark plug is for the vehicle. It gets a little old rehashing the same old stuff time after time.
dougs and Handy_Cruiser like this.
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Old 25 Aug 2015, 09:55 am
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Default Re: chris15's PT GT (56k? Take a nap.)

That's one serious PT, with a of impressive work done to it.
I really enjoyed the read. Thanks!
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Old 25 Aug 2015, 10:07 am
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Default Re: chris15's PT GT (56k? Take a nap.)

Fantastic!
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'03 GT Blue/ autostick.. 160,000KM ( That's 100,000miles for y'all South of the border ) All the options, the heated leather is a must up here in Canada, Love the solid heavy duty feel and obvious Torque.. The Turbo is strong, fast and reliable.. People that don't understand the love of a PT, probably don't deserve to.
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Old 25 Aug 2015, 10:08 am
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Default Re: chris15's PT GT (56k? Take a nap.)

Thanks everyone!
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Old 25 Aug 2015, 10:49 pm
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Thumbs up Re: chris15's PT GT (56k? Take a nap.)

Awesome work!!!
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