"Everyone in my family-and almost all my friends-have rear-wheel-drive domestic cars," says Eric Thompson. "Still, I bought this '92 Corrado as a daily driver and fell in love with it."
Being the only kid on the block with a front-wheel-drive import brought some unique pressures, though. Little brother Elliot recently set a world-record ET (in just 30 passes) with his Heavy Street Camaro. Middle brother Evan drives a supercharged 5.9-liter Dodge Ram and Dad loves his Corvettes. Things at home definitely influenced Thompson when he decided to look for more performance.
The deciding factor in the project's direction, though, was probably a ride in Brian Berwind's beautiful single-turbo VR6 Corrado (see SPTurbo.com for details). Feeling the front tires break loose while accelerating over a buck-twenty convinced Thompson that radical thinking was required. "Brian has the ultimate front-wheel-drive street set-up," says Thompson. "I just wanted to go past that. I wanted my car built the way Volkswagens should be built-with the engine in the rear and rear-wheel drive. Old Beetles are fast. I don't know of any water-cooled Volkswagens that can beat the air-cooled cars [at the dragstrip]. You have to have respect for those guys. Traction is key."
Thompson teamed up with VR6 turbo guru Bill Schimmel at Schimmel Performance and set to work. That was three years ago. "Bill is the 'skills guy' behind the project, but I helped. It was pretty much a joint venture and definitely a learning project for me," says Thompson.
Determined to keep the outer sheetmetal stock, most of the interior sheetmetal from the front seat mounts back was removed. A combination roll cage/tube frame chassis was formed to replace the missing structure and provide mount points for the engine and new rear suspension crafted from Porsche Carrera 4 front A-arms and hubs, and C4 Bilstein PSS9 struts with custom Hypercoil springs (matching Corrado units live up front), all located by A-1 Racing (of dirt track fame) torsion rods. Carrera 4 front brakes took up new duties in the rear, while Porsche Big Red calipers grab 12.9-inch Stoptech rotors up front. An adjustable-bias Tilton double master cylinder and pedal set distributes the pressure. After a year, they had a roller. It would take another year of after-hours thrashing for the pair to build and install the twin-turbo, 24-valve, 2.9-liter VR6, plus all the cooling and fuel systems and drivetrain. Schimmel used 82mm forged JE pistons on Manley 4340 connecting rods tied to a stock crank, and assembled the engine with ARP fasteners. Schimmel Performance also fabricated the downpipes, air-to-water intercooler, radiator, exhaust, thermostat bypass plate, alternator bracket, and assorted pipes and plumbing for the twin turbos.
Installing the Quaife limited-slip diff and six-speed 'dog-box' gearset was simple compared to fabricating the shift linkage. And if God is truly in the details, He'd appreciate the Aeroquip hoses and fittings, Adel Wiggins clamps and 18-inch HRE 542 wheels.
A DTA engine management system switches from stock injectors to the 45-pound items (soon to be 90-pound) mounted in a Schimmel Performance intake when the twin Turbonetics T3/T4 43-series turbos ("my training wheels, I'll get a real set soon") start pumping boost. Currently limited to 10 psi by TiAL wastegates and blow-off valve while Thompson fine-tunes the project, over 500 hp is expected when boost hits the planned 20 psi.
"There are no golf bags or kids in the back," says Thompson. "This isn't a show car, there's not even a radio. It's not the quietest or most comfortable ride, but you're not getting in for a cruise. I want to drive it." Held snugly in the Sparco seat by Simpson Platinum four-point belts and finding whatever information you could possibly want in the Stack display just beyond the tiny Sparco wheel, there's no question it will be quite a ride.
1992 Corrado SLC VR6 Schimmel
*Exterior: Resprayed Dark Burgundy Pearl with x4 pearl. M3-style skirts. FK badgeless grille. Kamei grille spoiler. E-code headlights and chin. DDI side-view mirror glass.
*Brakes: Tilton dual master cylinder overhung brake pedal assembly with brake bias. Porsche 993 Big Red front brakes with Stoptech 12.9-in. rotors, Hawk pads (front). Porsche C4 front brakes and rotors, Hawk pads (rear). Jamar parking brake button.
*Wheels: HRE 542, charcoal finish. 8x18 VW bolt pattern, custom offset (front). 10x18 Porsche bolt pattern, custom offset (rear). Michelin Pilot Sport 285/30.
*Suspension: Bilstein PSS9 coilovers, SPturbo.com subframe (front), Bilstein Porsche coilovers, Porsche 993 A-arms and hubs (rear). A-1 Racing connecting rods. SPturbo.com rear cage and tubular subframes. Eibach front strut bar.
*Transmission/Drivetrain: 02A Quaife six-speed dog engagement gearbox and differential with ARP diff bolts. Driveshaft Shop Level VI axles, custom length, matched to 993C4 Porsche outer CV joints and hubs, machined by DSS. Clutchnet four-puck clutch and dual diaphragm pressure plate. Lightweight flywheel. Tilton clutch master cylinder and pedal. B&M short shifter. SPturbo cable linkage.
*Engine: 2002.5 2.9-liter, 24v VR6. JE forged 82mm pistons, Manley 4340 connecting rods, ARP head bolts, main bolts, rod bolts, exhaust manifold bolts, SPturbo alternator bracket, SPturbo solid motor mounts, Setrab oil cooler (Electronics) DTA engine management, 12v coilpack, SPturbo plug wires made by Wires4Cars.com. SPturbo engine harness. (Coolant) SPturbo stock thermostat bypass kit, C&R Racing in-line thermostat housing, Meziere water pump, SPturbo aluminum radiator, SPturbo coolant reservoir. (Fuel) RCI 15 gal. fuel cell. SX pump, filter and regulator. SPturbo triple fuel rail, dual stock injector rails, secondary boost injector rail with 50-pound injectors. (Turbo system) SPturbo downpipes. Twin Turbonetics T3/T4 .43 series turbos. dual TiAL 35mm wastegates. Burns Stainless collector. SPturbo three-inch exhaust with Burns Stainless ultra-light muffler. SPturbo aluminum piping, Adel Wiggins clamps. TiAL 50mm blow-off valve mounted on SPturbo air/water intercooler. Meziere in-line water pump. Holley 80mm throttle body. SPturbo short runner intake. CNC hydraulic throttle linkage and pedal.
*Interior: '93 dash. SPturbo cage. Sheetmetal firewall, rear fenders and panels. Sparco seats and steering wheel. Simpson Platinum Series Harnesses. Stack street gauge cluster. Safecraft five-pound fire extinguisher system. Optima Red Top battery. American Autowire fuse block. DDI Corrado door sills.
*Thanks: Bill Schimmel and Brian Berwind at Schimmel Performance. Kenny, Krissy and Dom at Mondello's Autobody. Stephen Klitzch and GMP Performance. Guy Atherton at HRE Wheels. Tom Wood at Wires4Cars.com.