How To Make A Granny Sleeper Missile

Farm Truck

Farm Truck

Gargling Gas has always been obsessed with the sleeper carThere’s nothing more satisfying than driving a seemingly run-of-the-mill car, knowing you have serious power underneath your right foot.

Farm Truck’ from Street Outlaws is sometimes referred to as a ‘Sleeper’, but is it really? If I saw that beat old truck roll up with its tuned engine throbbing and its fat rear wheels, I’d know something was up, especially if they bet me money to race.

So what is the perfect wolf in sheep’s clothing?

I’ve written a whole host of sleeper-related articles, and this sleeper car link is a great example of them, as they are all A: Wagon/Estates, and B: Powerful and unassuming.

Granny With Power

Granny With Power

This led me to thinking about what other cars would make unsuspecting sleeper cars – after all, Gargling Gas’ sister site, Sleeper Cars, features many types of sleeper.

Nothing quite says ‘granny’ than the late 80s Nissan Bluebird. After a little research and luck (Nissan actually attached a turbo to this thing and called it the ZX Turbo), I discovered it would be quite easy to create a 0-60-mph in 6.5-secs granny missile.

That sounds rather optimistic, but considering the 1.8-L ZX Turbo possessed 140-bhp and the car itself weighed in at around 1200-KGs, what’s achievable with a little tweaking is pretty plausible. I tried comparing it with something a little younger and came across the Saxo VTS. I owned one of these fantastic pocket rockets, and it was quick. From its 1.6-L 120-bhp engine, it could hit 60-mph in a little over 7 seconds. It weighed in at just over a ton, but considering the Bluebird has the extra 20-bhp and a turbo, the 6.5 second figure could be achieved.

So basically, you want to take this:

Nissan Bluebird Turbo

Nissan Bluebird Turbo

Play around with this:

Nissan Bluebird Simple Engine Mods

Nissan Bluebird Simple Engine Mods

This is where a cold air intake comes in. Depending on budget, you could go further and fit a slightly bigger exhaust for better flow, but ensure it is well hidden so as to avoid being sprung as a sleeper.

You want to contain all the mods underneath, hidden and out of sight. The owner of this particular Bluebird installed a manual boost controller, and I’ve heard over 250-bhp can be hit, although for the size and weight, around 160-bhp is plenty to have fun with.

After all is done, remove all the ZX and Turbo badges or decals. Remove any sporty trim and try and replace with standard boring trim. You could even sell the alloys and fit standard wheels with dull trims.

Hopefully you’ll end up with something like this:

Boring But Fast Granny Mobile

Boring But Fast Granny Mobile

Probably one of the dullest looking cars on the road, but with a few sly touches here and there, capable of embarrassing cars way out of its league.

Let the fun and fury commence…

JDM Dream Concept From Nissan

JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) fans and petrolheads into retro styling will trip over their tongues when they see the latest concept from Nissan and tuner gods NISMO. As soon as I spotted this I felt a pang of dread as I realised this was a concept and, although a similar model may hit the market in the next few years, it wouldn’t be exactly the same as the above… I want that one! I want I want I want!

Nissan are using the proportions and straight stance of a simple three-box shaped car design in their IDx Nismo, aiming to meet the needs of the younger generation. I love the idea and the fact all the latest technology is housed in a body reminiscent of the 70s Nissan Bluebird (Datsun 190B) or an early GT-R.

There is a similar model that wears its sensible trousers, but that isn’t worth talking about. It’s this sporty IDx Nismo that looks like something that’s just crashed out from from a gamer’s TV screen. Just check out those side mufflers! With a direct injection 1.6-L turbocharged engine and a six-speed CVT box, this little car should boast some satisfactory figures. And because Nismo have tinkered with it, it’s going to handle well on those gorgeous 225/40 19-inch rims.

One feature that stands out the most is the reverse-slanted nose seen on some muscle cars – it gives the IDx Nismo an aggressive and fast look. Those ultra cool side mufflers offer a pleasing exhaust note. The car also features modern touches such as front/rear and right/left aerodynamic spoilers and lightweight 225/40 19-inch tyres.

Overall I think this car will more than appeal to the younger generation; I reckon owners of the old school variety will also like a big slice of this car. JDM enthusiasts will revel in the upgrades and the potential for custom mods and body wraps. A turbo-charged 1.6-L engine should produce around 180-200-bhp, and combined with its light weight and compact size, it should attract the likes of the tuners.

I love this concept and really hope we see something like this from other big brands in the future.

Turbo Vs Super

With the green eco people interfering with the car industry concerning c02 emissions over the past decade or so, manufacturers have been dabbling with technology taken from the world of F1. Chief among them being the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System), variants seen on today’s hybrid cars. I wrote a whole article on KERS for Motor Ward if you need more information on the subject.

Turbochargers are also making a comeback for the 2014 F1 season, meaning the engine displacement shrinks from the 2.4L V8 to a 1.6L V6 – to highlight the influence Ferrari have over the F1 governing body, F1 initially wanted 1.6L 4-cylinders to be used but Ferrari complained and they ended up being V6.

Turbo technology has been used by manufacturers for years, cars like the Sierra Cosworth, Ford RS 2000 and Subaru Impreza prime examples covering three decades. However, turbocharged cars of past were considered as either boyracerish, yobbish (one of my parents’ words) or cars that attracted joy riders. My dad bought me an MGB GT for a first car but wouldn’t entertain an Escort XR3i. I crashed the MG on my first legal day on the road…

So with all this talk of turbocharging cars, boosting power whilst shrinking displacement, how many of you know exactly how they work, and the difference between turbo power and a supercharger?

Click the pic to find out…

Honda Go All Turbo

At the sporty end of the Honda spectrum the Japanese makers have always prided themselves on their high-revving naturally aspirated Vtec engines; however, the new Civic Type R is to receive a turbo that will send 276-bhp to the front wheels.

That’s a lot, and my first thoughts were, “Can this be done, just like that?” Did Honda say, “I know, whack a turbo on  it and throw a load of extra power to the front wheels?” After all, sending massive bhp to the front wheels isn’t always a good thing – look at the under-steering Focus RS and Vectra VXR.

But then I’m no technician and don’t qualify to even comprehend such technical wizardry. I still wanted to know what they had to change to allow for not just the extra grunt, but how the grunt is applied. I own a turbo, and a turbo isn’t just extra power; when it kicks in it’s sudden and like that moment you catch a wave when paddling back to shore on a bodyboard. Suspension is obviously the main consideration, and delving a little deeper, I discovered why they decided to turbocharge an already good car.

Apparently, this quest for more power is a response to all Honda’s competitors now beating them in bhp figures. Not only that, they are being left behind in the hot FWD hatchback market. To counter this, Honda are testing this all-new Civic in Germany for ride and handling to have a crack at the Nurgburgring FWD lap record – this currently stands at 8 minutes and was set by the Renaultsport Megane 265.

To keep in touch, a naturally aspirated engine just won’t cut it, especially if displacement is to be kept below the 2.5-L range and out of the 3.0-L V6 territory. The Civic is a small hatchback, so appeals to a specific demographic – chucking a thirstier and bigger engine in it just wouldn’t do.

Honda say it’s lost the high-pitched note that comes with the high-revving old twin-cam V-TEC engine, but now offers a deeper and throatier rumble – that’s a plus in my book.

I’m quite looking forward to seeing and hearing one on the roads. I think the combination of Honda’s high-revving engine combined with a turbo is definitely going to challenge the Megane 265’s record.



A Tiny Car With A Sting: Daihatsu YRV 1.3 Turbo

I seem to have a bee in my bonnet with these little pocket rockets lately, and this yellow and black striped turbo is the reason why. I guess you could call this little Daihatsu a sleeper as it would put up a fair fight against cars twice its size – you’d need to remove the TURBO 130 decal though, perhaps opt for the silver version.

Whenever I decide on writing an article I try and get to the bones as to why I have chosen a particular topic, and if it’ll be a little different or interesting compared to all the usual supercar stuff out there. Why would I feature this little Japanese mechanical bumble bee after previously writing about a Nissan Micra? I mean, why?

After a few minutes I came to the conclusion it wasn’t the aesthetics of these little boxes that did it for me; neither were the practicality or economic running costs (this is coming from a teen who thought a 1983 2.3-L turbo Mustang was a sensible ride… during the late 90s in the UK).

No, what it boils down to is the technology of these tiny engines. The Japanese just know how to shrink things and make them work – they always have done. They’ve been turbocharging small cars for decades and it’s taken a while to catch on stateside, but with all these eco people ranting and raving about the planet, manufactures are now developing ways to maintain bhp figures whilst making it more economical to run.

Ford have their EcoBoost technology, managing to squeeze out 99-bhp from it’s 3-cylinder 1.0-L unit, whilst Chevrolet have a 1.4-L turbocharged unit producing 138-bhp. Even the Italians have made an effort, Alfa Romeo now offering a 1.4-L turbocharged engine producing a whopping 176-bhp.

Whilst this is no WRX or EVO, the little Daihatsu can hit 60-mph in 8 seconds, that’s quicker than a 2004 Alfa Romeo GTV, a Jaguar XF Sedan and a Mercedes-Benz C220 CDI Sport.

For the sleeper enthusiast it serves as a great platform for either tweaking what’s already available or fixing a slightly bigger turbo and trying to reach the 7 second territory of the bigger hot hatches.

That’s it for tiny Japanese cars for a while… I hope.

The Ultimate Ultimate Sleeper

It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of the Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing sleeper cars, and I’ve even written a short piece on how to create a sleeper car; however, after discovering this little gem, I realised I’d previously thrown the term ‘ultimate sleeper’ around a little too freely. As soon as I saw this neat little automotive package, I wanted and needed the ultimate piece of 80s lunacy in my life.

It’s the Nissan March SuperTurbo, a 930cc supercharged and turbocharged mini rocket. Over here in the UK you’ll recognise it as the Micra – same car just in Japan and Australia it was tagged as the March. There were other such sleeper cars made during this era, but none symbolised the granny run-around quite like the Micra – in fact, even today, if you spot a modern Micra (especially a gold one) you are almost guaranteed to find a silver top behind the wheel.

Why don’t manufactures make these quirky mad little pocket rockets anymore? I don’t mean the ubiquitous hot hatches we now see competing for highest BHP every time a new version of their fastest model is released – I’m talking about instead of increasing engine displacement, just supercharging AND turbocharging its tiny 930cc engine and creating a granny shopping cart capable of 60-mph in around 7.5 seconds – for its time, it could beat a Porsche 944 S to 60-mph and even out-drag it at the 1/4 mile.

I can imagine pulling up next to a Porsche in the 80s and looking across at its driver with his pinstripe shirt, red braces and house brick mobile phone. I’d rev and rattle the tiny 930cc engine of my Nissan Micra and inch forward. The yuppie would be so furious at my audacity he’d have to stop talking about stocks and shares and hang up his brick. After the lights had turned green and I’d just nosed ahead, I’d slow, indicate and casually turn off, leaving the yuppie so angry, he’d be scrambling for his Filofax to instruct his secretary, Sandra, to book him a massage session.

Despite being both super and turbo charged, it’s not a particularly complicated set-up.  At low-to-mid revs, the little four banger is boosted by a positive displacement blower, and then once nearing the higher revs (4500-rpm), a fairly large turbo kicks in to provide amazing top-end performance. This sounds a bit clunky but apparently the transition between both systems is very smooth thanks to a simple control system.

How Will F1 Fare With New 1.6L Turbo Units?


2013 will say farewell to the 2.4L V8 engines, and although displacement is down to a tiny 1.6L, KERS will still be a main component in power supply in 2014. The FIA initially wanted the replacement engine to be a four-cylinder unit, but Ferrari complained about the terrible noise they made, and being close to Bernie Ecclestone (CEO of F1) **nudge, nudge, wink wink ** it was eventually agreed the V6 would be the choice.


Pictured above is the first image released by Mercedes-Benz for the engine they’ll be using in 2014. Like the aforementioned BMW M12/13 engines, this small displacement unit will be turbocharged. That being said, the hp figures will be half of the crazy eighties era at around 750-hp. It’s reported the engines will be high-pitched, and due to the turbo spooling at 125,000-rpm, it will be very loud.  These engines also produce more torque, especially coming out of corners, so from a spectator view the sport should appear more exciting.

Throw in KERS with twice the previously regulated amount of power (80-hp for 6.7 secs upped to 161-hp for 33.3 secs) and you’ll be witnessing a true test and ability of modern science and technology.

The design and use of a completely different engine it a massive deal for an F1 team, from weight to placement, aerodynamics and a thousand other aspects. So it seems whoever is the most dominant in 2013, doesn’t necessarily guarantee success in 2014.

I’m looking forward to 2014 and can’t wait to hear the combined sound of all those turbo-powered beasts revving before the lights turn green.