Project Car Build

Whether you appreciate track-focused builds with purpose-driven go-fast bits, or instead prefer the look of perfectly stanced-out street cars, chances are you are a car enthusiast. And as a true enthusiast, you may have at one point or another thought about modifying your own car, or even to pick up a dedicated project car to serve as a base platform upon which you would build your own ‘masterpiece’.

Believe it or not, this type of conversation happens quite frequently at 11Tenths between our team and current/prospective clients. And it is during these countless discussions, that we’ve come up with some things for people to consider as they plan out and execute their own projects.

Goals. This is a really important starting point that many people lose focus of as they continue their build, or worse, don’t even take the time to think about it to begin with. What are your goals for the car? Is it going to be a daily driver during the week, and track weapon on the weekend? Do you plan on keeping it street legal? Is it going to be a trailer queen that will be transported from one event to the next? Do you plan on driving it year-round? Or will it be stored during the winter season only to be pulled out on warm sunny days? These are all important questions to think about as they will guide your overall build and dictate your parts selection. This will save you from mistakenly buying parts that don’t align with our overall objectives for the build.

Budget. Before you lower your inhibitions and loosen your wallet for the first few purchases, you should have a budget in mind. Far too often, people will impulsively start purchasing parts for their car before having a good grasp of their overall budgeted spend. Setting up a concrete budget up front will allow you to look at the entire build and start allocating monies to specific portions of it. It will also enable you to prioritize specific areas of the build, should you have conflicting purchases that put you outside of your budget. Finally, if used properly, a budget should be able to prevent you from ending up in the worst possible spot – having a partially complete car only to realize you have maxed out your budget.

Reliability. While this applies to a number of scenarios, here are just 2 to think about. If you daily drive the car, you want to ensure that you are not adding modifications to the detriment of reliability. Otherwise not only will you get frustrated with car fairly quickly, you’ll be using your CAA card (or worse spend money) getting it towed every time it breaks down. If you are building a car doing a lot of track time, you need to factor in the added stresses being placed on the car lap after lap. This includes having all the supporting mods in place. For example, if you have a turbo-ed car, or are turning up the boost or adding bigger turbos on a factory turbo-ed model, you will need to have adequate cooling in place; which means a bigger intercooler and possibly an oil cooler. Otherwise heat soak will set in very quickly and you’ll find that a few hot laps weren’t worth loosing the entire session for.

Sacrifices. Oftentimes improving many traits (speed, uniqueness/looks, handling) of a vehicle results in sacrificing things previously taken for granted.  That stanced-out show car looks hella-sweet when parked, but how stressful was it driving to the “meet” with 1″ ground clearance, fenders rubbing & catless fart-burbles fearing an MTO/Police impoundment while cruising below the speed limit?  Doing that V12 swap earns Nationwide recognition, but sitting in traffic on a scorching-hot August afternoon really makes your reconsider the A/C delete.  Tearing out the entire wiring harness of the new track toy saved you 90lbs in wiring, but now there is no ABS or DSC and the VANOS doesn’t work correctly. While the sacrifices will be different and specific to your build, you should take note of them to ensure they are worth the ‘anticipated’ smiles the end product will give you.

Recurring costs. While this will typically fall outside of your project budget, so to speak, it should be something you pay close attention to as it will affect the ongoing operating costs you will have to cover. That new black paint job looks amazing, but going to a detailer for a 2-stage polish before every big car-show gets expensive. Those TrofeoR tires get the best lap times, but buying a set every month requires a bank robbery. 800whp on the E85-Ethenol on an N54 is impressive, but sourcing that fuel locally proves impossible and it breaks down on a weekly basis, plus you can count on 1 hand how many drives it didn’t go into limp mode. While recurring costs might not be something on your radar yet, it is something you should take a look at during your build phase to ensure you don’t end up with a car too costly to run.

Resale. Are you “investing” into a platform that will garner you some sort of return, or at least hold its principal reasonably well (such as a vintage 911, MK4 Supra, E30 M3, FD-RX7, etc.), or are you prepared to kiss that mod-money goodbye when it come time for resale? While this is a hard question to ask yourself, its an important one – its easy to get excited to spend money on a project you are excited about in that moment. As time goes by, and the excitement dwindles, it could start to become a bitter pill to swallow (if you have not prepared yourself for it)

There you have it, a quick list of things that you should think about when you’re pondering your next build. In fact, it might even be something to consider on your current build if you feel you have lost focus. If there are any other lingering questions you have that aren’t covered on this list, feel free to reach out to us and we’ll be happy to answer your questions and concerns.


Written by: Kaizer