We are closing in on finishing our Honda Mini-Stock. We didn't make it to the track before the season's end. We have, however, been making laps around the house much to the chagrin of my dear spouse and the neighbor's dogs. Even on a track this short, we have been learning.

I want to take a moment to acknowledge the assistance I've been fortunate to have on this project. Tony Elliott and his younger brother Dalton spent three nights a week at my shop for several months. Tony is one sharp cat, young but mechanically experienced. He also did much of the welding. Dalton learned a lot during the project, too. Matt Bixler did his share of the dirty work. Dwight Bush lent a knowledgeable hand, parts and information throughout. So, no, I didn't build this project all by myself.

Remember this was to be a low-budget, entry-level car with a target of $2,500. Granted, there are classes at some tracks where the cars are in the category of $500 or less, but our competition will include cars costing in the $10,000 range. My intent was to introduce as many ideas and techniques as possible for building FWD unibody cars. It will be your job to sort out those thoughts and ideas that fit your situation. We spent a lot of time building and thinking. Much of our work was learn as you go. This meant that we sometimes redid things and in a different way. A one-off car, a unique car, is always a prototype. Prototypes can always be improved.

We didn't make our budget. The junkyard engine had gotten water in it and thus had to be taken apart and freshened. A bore job with new Perfect Circle rings and Clevite bearings, plus a 0.080-inch cylinder head mill, shot our budget limit down. Then we found that the engine management computer was bad so an HEI-type distributor from Performance Distributors was installed. These taken together have an upside: We now have no electronics except the ignition and a fresh engine.

Suspension Mods

Our rules at East Bay Raceway call for the suspension to remain mostly stock. The suspension pickup points have to stay in the stock location, and the suspension must remain stock appearing. The exceptions are that springs and shocks may be changed.

The Honda has a coilover suspension and is not a "strut" car, although it may appear so at first glance. However, many of the small FWD cars are of the McPherson strut design, in which the spring is mounted on or over the strut that becomes part of the spindle. That is a type of suspension different from a coilover.

The Honda front suspension is actually an A-frame design similar to the Ford front suspension used in the Cup cars for years. The Honda coilover unit (similar to those used on Late Models) can be removed and the suspension will still control the placement of the wheel.

The rear suspension is also of a coilover design. There are multiple links with several pivot points. This is not a bad design, but you may need to stare at it a while to see how it works.

The stock coilover units are not adjustable but they are easy to disassemble. If you do not have a safe and secure means of compressing the spring, don't take the shock assembly apart. If you are not planning to use the stock springs, they can be carefully cut with a torch. I cut several using this method. This relieves the spring's tension and allows safe disassembly of the unit. Knowing I might use some of the springs again, I made the cuts one coil apart at one end. This saved a spring about 10 inches long.

AFCO coilover springs were used on three corners. They fit right over the Honda shocks. The left-rear has part of a stock rear spring. Knowing we had to draw the line somewhere on costs, the stock Honda shocks were retained. Well, they feel like they are good. We'll run them to start and see where we are.