Oscar played favorites in 1991 when "Silence Of The Lambs" cleaned house, winning the Academy Award for Best Film, Best Actor (Anthony Hopkins who beat out Robert De Niro and Warren Beatty), Best Actress (Jodie Foster) and Best Director (Jonathan Demme). Talk about awe-inspiring domination.
About the same time, the import craze began to form. An unsuspecting Eagle Talon TSi rolled onto the dealership floor; like "Lambs," it, too, was destined for domination. While Honda was about to bust the scene open with the 1992 Civic, the DSM camp had a hit of its own on its hands-the Eagle Talon was turbocharged from the factory and could be ordered in all-wheel-drive configuration.
As the scene began, these two import icons soon became rivals, of which Turbo played a small role. The Hondas of the day were fast but ugly as sin. Racers would take off bumpers, hatches and sunroofs to lighten the load and go fast, then tape plastic to the hatches. The extensive use of tape on body parts, headlights, etc. got out of hand. Meanwhile, the DSM devotees adopted the Buick Grand National catch phrase "Go Fast With Class" and they were turning out cars with more attention to detail and with more pride.
Since the Hondas were primarily West Coast and the DSMs were primarily from the Midwest, a geographic element also developed. The breaker was a photo of a roll of "Honda Race Tape" we ran in one of the first Diamond Star Shootouts. The idea for the "Honda Race Tape" sign and roll of duct tape occurred at the spur of the moment, pulled off by Dave Buschur, and the Honda camp got the message. It was good because the H-pilots began to look past the timeslip and invest beyond the engine bay.
The Talon shown here belongs to DSM enthusiast Scot Wegman, but it used to belong to Tym Switzer, chief key tickler and overall tuning guru at Buschur Racing. The Buscher Racing white Talon was the first DSM to break into the 10s. About a month after the car changed hands, the flywheel exploded and took out the whole engine. "I called Tym mere minutes after the explosion and he calmed me down and assured me it could be fixed," says Wegman.
The venerable 4G63 was fortified with the right tricks, some tried and true, some one-off, but all with one foot on the strip and one foot on the street. Buschur Racing has plenty of experience tweaking these wild DSMs and is clearly one of the top 2.0-liter DSM tuners in the country. The block has been prepped for power while the stock crank has been shotpeened and magnafluxed for severe duty. Custom Wiseco pistons forged to Switzer's specs fill the holes. The 9.5:1 slugs are joined to Crower forged connecting rods and ARP fasteners are used throughout.
Switzer did the honors on the head, performing extensive porting and bowl work, then building the unit with Buschur-spec valves, Crower springs and Crower retainers. A set of Crower custom-ground bumpsticks orchestrate valvetrain activities, while a pair of HKS adjustable cam gears aid in fine tuning.
One of the more interesting and innovative portions of the car is the intake manifold. Tym Switzer earned his pay for the week, as he fabbed a big-plenum intake manifold with an integrated air-to-liquid intercooler.
On the fuel side, a high-flow Aeromotive fuel pump is teamed with huge 1600cc injectors. We're used to seeing 1600cc injectors on alcohol-burning cars but not on gasoline engines, and this 4G63 burns C-16 race gas. With such big injectors, the ability to precisely control the injectors are key to their success in this application. A tried-and-proven AEM EMS stand-alone engine management system is the go-to player. Switzer was able to dial-in the injectors at idle and light throttle and open them when the hammer fell.
When it comes to the ignition, the EMS fires a MSD DIS-2 capacitive discharge box that works in tandem with a Buschur coil-on-plug package, which was developed and installed by Switzer.
On the Buschur Racing Dynojet, the Talon was too tenacious to generate a consistent pass in FWD trim, so Switzer fabbed some dummy axles and the car was tuned as a RWD. With boost from the Buschur Racing T-72 "special recipe" turbo bumped up to a moderate 30 psi, the 4G63 dished out 826 whp. It should be noted the engine was pushing power through the transfer case and center diff, so there was most likely more driveline loss than if the car was tested in FWD trim.
An Achilles' heel for the all-wheel-drive DSMs is the drivetrain. When both the power and the intentions get serious, the clutch, tranny and transfer case suffer the consequences. Buschur Racing has amassed a great deal of knowledge (and broken a great deal of parts to get it) concerning the DSM drivetrain. Using this database, Switzer has developed a custom twin-disc clutch setup and a modified throw shifter to take some of the shock out of hard shifting.
Body roll at launch is curtailed by a set of custom coil-overs sprung specifically for drag racing. Stopping power is provided by Wilwood discs all around. Switzer used Wilwood calipers and rotors but constructed custom hats to position the assembly in just the right position. A Tilton pedal set and master cylinder round out the system.
Tires play a very important role when it comes to driveline problem children like the AWD DSMs. Wegman runs 28x8.5 Goodyears on 15-inch Volk TE-37 wheels. Wegman plans to move to a 26- or 24-inch tire in 2004.
The cockpit is all business; 1320 business. Wegman and Switzer together installed a Kirkley race bucket, stuffed the dash with Auto Meter hardware and added Simpson harnesses and a Simpson window net. Switzer spent a whopping 60 hours on the wiring harness. The custom harness saves weight and explains the super-sano condition under the hood. Jeff Johnson of Johnson Racing Chassis constructed an NHRA 7.50-second roll cage constructed of chrome-moly. To further save weight, the car runs a carbon-fiber hood and Lexan glass.
The car made a hasty debut at the 2003 Diamond Star Shootout, but made a beeline for the wall. Wegman saved the car with some good driving but engine gremlins forced the car to the sidelines. The Talon is now fully sorted and Wegman has high hopes. "I'm very happy with the car and can't wait to get it going again. It's making more power than many cars running the bottle and I'd love to break into the eights without nitrous."
Stay tuned as we plan to keep tabs on the progress of this crazy, streetable Diamond Star warrior.