Mid engine RWD Alfa Romeo 156

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FERRARIST
Posts: 18
Joined: August 15th, 2011, 4:11 pm
Location: Bulgaria
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Mid engine RWD Alfa Romeo 156

Post by FERRARIST » May 2nd, 2013, 11:11 am

Here is the story of my project. Importing many Alfa 156’s from UK to BG for spares, born in my mind was the idea to build a trackday car only. In the beginning I only need one LHD chassis – had 2.0TS engine, suspension and all parts I need to build one. My goal was to had a car as light as possible – cutting every bit of metal that can not harm chassis structure, all glass(excluding windshield) changed with plastic, interior removed and so on.
It was fun to drive, but awful weight distribution – 75% front, 25% rear……
Things got worst when 2.0TS was changed with 2.5V6 – no Quaife or Q2 – laptimes improved little bit, but overall car was painful to drive. Front tires worn and give way very fast, and after one scary but luckily incident at annual Alfisti.Gr- Serres racetrack event last year, I decided – NO MORE FWD car on track.
Few friends of mine advice : ”Why don’t you just buy some proper BMW E36 and pedal to the metal”. yes, and what’s will happen if everyone get “some BMW” – it will be boring…..
Did some research if there is any 156’s rwd conversion, and unfortunately it seems that I should be the first. It’s good to be the first, but now I can give a small fortune if I was able to follow someone’s route and did not make so many mistakes doing this project.
I started april 2012, and car’s first test was 4 months later at our one and only so called “track” in our country, and being so rough and bumpy it was perfect for my first “stress test” of the suspension and rear engine supports…….
Actually I was very happy no matter that there was lot of mistakes with components location, but with the fact that nothing broke or fail during all tests, 5 days of track use, 3 of days at full speed.
Below you may see few picture of my project, and please have in mind that:
- I work on my car alone, have access to all tools I need, service area, lifter, but I did it 90% alone. That’s why sometimes I choose easiest way to do some things, instead of right way of safer way.
- I’m not a welder, and depend entirely on our service welder, and no matter that he is the best I ever see, sometimes I had to wait days before he can do my parts.
- Many people that viewed my car said that that was worst roll cage they ever see. That’s NOT a roll cage, that’s only chassis-engine supporting “construction” and I don’t considering it as cage. So please have in mind that it’s not a “cage”…….
- All details you may see pictured will be, or already being changed, so you may not see the final shape of it – as I said, things changed very frequently, and pictures just represent stages of the project.

That’s how things started 3 years ago. Fitting part by part.
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Important for me was to use similar or same frame and subframe for engine and rear suspension – frame from Alfa 155 – same engine mount dimension, but mcpherson strut as I preferred. Same 156’s subframe.
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A lot of cutting job…
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Before finally welded frame and subframe must be perfectly centered – car’s chassis as well. It takes me 2 days and million times getting my self in and out of the car centering things.
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Last moments of the engine in front……
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Engine out…..
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Engine in again…..
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If now I must do that again, I’ll use a lot less supporting elements, no matter heavy engine at back, chassis twist now is lot lot less…..

Simple and primitive way to find front-rear weight balance. When fully track ready balance seems to be 47% front, 53% back +- 2-3%......
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Gearshifts because rear engine and timesaving reasons was in reverse order – 1st gear in place of 6th,second in place of 5th, and so on. It was less hassle of me to link 2 sets of gear linkages instead of expensive and fashion solutions. I learn to drive RHD cars for a day, now it takes me 5-6 laps, and no problems since….
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Oil cooler moved back, getting fresh air into the rear was a challenge.
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Additional subframe-to-chassis supports.
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“When engine fitted, 80% of the job is done” i was thinking before started. Had no idea that real hassle just begins.
Front suspension is good for road, but awful for track setup, and is ++mn heavy, lot of unsprung mass. In this case front upright must be shortened because when car lowered excessively, upper wishbone may fail when hard bump hitted.
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I'm using Lancia Lybra front wishbones now for my rear - it adds extra camber and gives bit wider track for the rear.
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Having in mind that 4 of my 6 wishbone arms and 2 uprights was cutted and welded, it was little bit scary when driven for first time.
This year Alfisti.Gr organized same event, and because Serres was kind of real race track, for me it was great opportunity to see what this creation was capable of. After 3 days of driving, there was 2 good news, and there was 1 bad news. Good news was that I did best overall laptime of the event among almost 60 Alfa’s, and my expectations for lot of potential was better than expected…..bad news was that being on fast track I realized how many mistakes I did with suspension setup, cooling rad, and so on. And because I was 400km from home, I can only take a notes and learn some lessons for next time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozcGHSsViqE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ErGozsG1x4

Maybe my bigger mistake – have big alloy rad, containing almost 3liters more coolant than OE rad, and at first I fitted it where originally sits. Absolutely no cooling problems. But I don’t like how 2 long pipes goes under the car up to the rad in front. And it means that I carry additional 4 liters…..and weight……with that rad position coolant system contains almost 18liters coolant.
That’s why I decided to move it backwards just in front of the rear bumper. Had huge air scoop at my roof, directing air via tube just in front of the rad. Huge fan as well……Serres track by standard is not too fast track,(you may see the videos) but the car overheats every second lap I started. And that’s what ruin my days – running 235/61/17 dunlop slicks, mid-march time, was unable to reach proper tire temp for serious driving. One lap in full speed, and 2-3 laps to cool down the car. I was mad, but can’t do any changes 400km from home.
Suspension setup also was totally wrong, springs was too stiff, both anti-roll bars must be at opposite side of the car, toe angle was wrong, not enough caster, and so on…..
But I was happy overall because no matter what, it was REAL fun to drive, Quaife did a lot difference, and for me driving go-karts for many years, understeer was real pain to handle…..
Now 3.0 engine bought, stripped for rebuild, and when ready, entire front suspension will be throwed somewhere between Mars and Venus, new double unequal A-shaped wishbones will be made…..i must be able to adjust camber, caster and toe as much as I need.

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Will01
Posts: 583
Joined: November 26th, 2012, 3:50 pm
Location: Dumfries, Scotland
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Re: Mid engine RWD Alfa Romeo 156

Post by Will01 » May 2nd, 2013, 11:58 am

Definitely looks like a fun on-going project, keep up the work. SInce owning a 156 my self i have given thought about utilising Alfa 75 drive train in the 156 because making it rwd would be so much fun. However this is a mad idea which i very much like.
Its only when you try these projects that you start to learn so much about yourself and the project itself.
Keep it going i love the Alfa V6's.
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