Getting Closer – Little Monza

A nice bit of activity with the Monza project over the last couple of weeks. After finishing our winter break, it was time to dive back in and try to get some of our goals knocked out on this deal.

First off, we finally got the rear back in, rear brakes done – save for the hard lines and setup the rear suspension. That last item was quite a trial in itself as we went through the routine several times before getting it right. The last piece there is going to be setting the pinion angle but that will have to wait until we have the engine/transmission combo back in and can take a reading.


Along with the rear, we finished up the electrical stuff connecting the fuel pump to it’s relay and wiring the taillights. Only one taillight is required by the rules but I just prefer the car having both of them lit at night. We finished off the battery covers, painted the rear wheel tubs and rollcage, ran the fuel line to the front along with the 2/0 battery cable. We also ran our return line back to the pump and put our vent line to the back of the car in the tail panel.

Under the car, the wheel tubs got about 3-4 pounds of dirt scraped out of them and we cleaned up some of the other areas that needed a little bit of help. A coat of paint here and there made things look good. My next piece of work was doing the instrument panel and since we decided to use the S&W Racecars dashboard kit which has a separate gauge panel, it was a piece of cake. I first painted the panel a semi-gloss black, then mounted the gauges. Next, it was gluing a terminal strip to the back and then wiring each of the gauges as needed to the strip.

IMG_0841 IMG_0842With that piece accomplished I moved on to the wiring of the car. As you might imagine, wiring a racecar or any car for that matter can be rather frightening for most people. Here at Rutherford Motorsports, it’s a sideline that I have done for years and I have quite a few racecars and street machines running around with my wiring work in them. Give us a call or drop us an email if you have any need for getting your machine professionally wired.

IMG_0794For the Monza, I decided to keep things as simple as possible. Along with putting ground bolts on the chassis in 4 different locations, I made up an electrical panel from a 18″x6″ piece of steel. Mounted on this panel will be the MSD box, a 2-step, the starter solenoid and a terminal strip for making connections to the panel. There is also room left on the panel to add other components in the future, such as a timing device.

We had scored a rollbar mounted switch panel made by Painless Wiring last year on eBay – saved about 2/3’s of the cost of a new one and the only minor misgiving is that the panel was made for a street car with horn and turn signal switches. However that is not a problem as either of those circuits can be switched to a different type of toggle switch in the future and used for whatever purpose we wish. The panel also came with the wire bundle, some nylon ties, screws and a couple of relays.

Your basic circuits in a racecar are comprised of the ignition, starter, fuel pump, water pump, radiator fan and lighting. Additional circuits are needed for the neutral safety switch and linelock control. Then you can get into things such as timing changers, trans-brake and nitrous oxide just to mention a few. We are of course setting up with the basics that we need to operate and race the car, while leaving vacancies in the circuits to handle additional items in the future.

Next was getting the front brakes done. Well again, partially. The kit we went with is the Aerospace Industries one for the Vega/Monza spindles. There was some cutting that had to be done on the spindles which was easily handled with a sawsall. And there was a mounting bracket that needed to be tig-welded to the spindles and our good friend Kevin Houghtaling took care of that job for us. Jeremy, Amanda and some assistance from Phil got the updated spindles in place, the shocks put in and the new brake components mounted. Now all we need is the line kit to hook everything up.

Last in this update is the rear engine plate. This car had plates in it at one time and I really wanted to have at least a rear plate in the car. I feel that it helps tie the engine into the car a bit better and reduces the amount of engine twist which is wasted motion that is not getting you down the track. Unfortunately the plates were in the car for a big block and I am not sure that one of the mountings was even installed correctly. Using it would have involved spacing out to the engine plate about a 3/4″ gap so that mount was cut out and a new one built and installed in the correct spot. Before going through all of this though, I had to line up and center the engine in the chassis and also make sure that it was square to the chassis. A bit of work with a tape measure, marking pens and masking tape got that accomplished. The plate also had to have clearance for the exhaust headers so a bit of work was involved in making it fit correctly.

We also found that with the engine now properly mounted, the exhaust headers run right into the floor panels. Previously the engine was tilted downward at the back which allowed for plenty of clearance. So, we had a couple of choices, find headers that fit better or use the ones we had and modify them. We went for the second option. We obtained a couple of turn-downs from Jegs Performance and will have to do a bit of slicing and dicing plus welding to fit everything back together. I will have some additional pictures in the next post as I need sunlight in the garage to take anything decent and it has been rather dreary around here lately.

Lastly – I took time out to build a Ferrari. With my grandson LT that is, a 1/25 scale model that he brought over for a weekend stay. I must admit the couple of hours that we spent building a complete car was rather satisfying and I think LT had a blast doing it. He was rather proud of his accomplishment.


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