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Well, I've finally achieved my goal of building my ideal smart car. I started with a bone stock 2008 cabrio that I bought used in 2010 in Portland, Oregon. I loved the way it drove in the twisty roads of the Oregon coast, but it wasn't nearly sporty enough.

My first move was to upgrade the shocks and springs to the Brabus Sport Suspension package, then add wheels and tires: I opted for the OZ X2 wheels, specially designed for the smart fortwo, that bumped the tire sizes to 175/55R-15 front and 195/50R-15 rear with ContiProContacts (great tires for Pacific Northwest rain!).

Next came two products from Smarts4YouRacing Limited in the U.K. The first was a complete set of performance suspension bushings (front wishbones, rear beam center, rear track arms, steering rack mount, and front anti-roll bar mount. Smarts4YouRacing offers three levels of bushing compound - I opted for the orange "mid-range" ones. The bushing upgrade made a significant improvement in the car feeling absolutely planted in the turns.

The second upgrade from Smarts4YouRacing was a four-wheel disc upgrade consisting of their 280mm Front Brake Kit and their Rear Disc Conversion. The brakes are amazing, though I have had some difficulty getting the integrated parking brake to work as well as stock.

The final piece of the puzzle was a turbo kit from SpeedForce Racing that went on this past winter. This was by far the most technically challenging DIY car project I had attempted. Up to this point I had installed the shocks and springs myself, had a local garage do the brakes, and had Mercedes of Portland do the bushings. I opted for the Stage II kit with air-to-air intercooler running 8lbs boost, but after experiencing more heat soak at the beginning of summer, I ordered the air-to-water intercooler upgrade (that is yet to arrive). I also installed a Bosch mechanical boost gauge - the location isn't ideal, but the more I drive the turbo the less I look at the gauge.

The addition of the turbo literally blew my mind. The pulling power of that little engine, even with 150k on the clock, is amazing. I have not dyno'ed it yet, but SFR claims 115hp, putting the power-to-weight very close to that of a Mini Cooper S. The car has great mechanical grip and I've been surprising quite a few Audi and BMW drivers lately, especially since my car looks totally stock when seen in their rear view mirror. I'm not trying to be the fastest guy on the road, just happy staying with cars that should be totally out of the smart car's league.

The "spyder" logo was an idea of mine that I took to a local vinyl decal shop, one for the rear and one for the dash. I'm quite pleased how the car has turned out. This is my daily driver over the Coast range from Lincoln City to Salem four days a week. It's a car I plan to keep as long as it puts a giant grin on my face, likely quite a while yet!

Thanks for listening!
Peter
 

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Great looking ride and I have to appreciate the fact you did most of the work yourself , and that makes it even better .
 

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nice job Peter. did you do the work yourself? did the engine need to be dropped? that makes it about 1 horsepower for every 19 pounds....nice

you have made us all envious....now all you need is the GT 50% Ultimate Smart (tuningmag.net)car kits and vavavoom!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
nice job Peter. did you do the work yourself? did the engine need to be dropped?
Thanks. I installed the shocks/springs, sway bar bushings, and the turbo myself. Didn't have to drop the engine, but having a lift sure would have made things easier. The trick to getting proper access to the exhaust side of things is to remove the rear body panel and rear crash bar. Frankly, it was wiring in the Split Second Fuel/Timing Calibrator box that had me the most nervous (I’m not a fan of electrical work), but I took it nice and slow and it was actually easier than I thought. Speed Force Racing provides good instructions and Tim was a great source of help when I got stuck.

BTW, the air-to-air intercooler is fine if the ambient temps don't go above 65F, but when the ambient is 80F+ you get intake air temps quickly hitting 180-200F after a short canyon blast (IAT courtesy of my ScanGauge II). According to Tim @ SFR, the air-to-water unit running a water/ethanol mix should hold IAT to 120F or less. The other advantage to switching to air-to-water is losing the rather noisy fan in the engine compartment, though you do add a bit more complexity with a water pump, water lines to the front, and the heat exchanger in front of the radiator. I also opted for the optional Synapse diverter valve - well worth it in the way it smooths things out when up-shifting and going off throttle.

Most of the turbo effect starts at 4,000RPM; below that the car seems pretty normal. When the boost does kick in the results are quite dramatic – I’m glad I waited until I had the chassis and brakes done before adding the turbo! There is also more grunt at cruising speed and I’ve noticed several hills on my commute where I can stay in 5th and maintain 65mph with just a few pounds of boost. For canyon runs between 50-80mph, 4th gear is all I need now. In a way it feels like adding the turbo makes life easier for the engine since I don’t have to rev it out in 3rd to make passes, I can just stay in 4th and lean on the turbo.
 

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wonderful job. especially when you have help in your corner. now if you just do tuningmag.net and prepare to pay for some broken necks...lol
 

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Hi,I just put the same wheels on my Smart Car.I opted for the 6.5" all the way around with 195/50R15's. Other than the wheels and tires mine is still stock ( I have only had it since March though). Nice looking ride,good job.
 

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At the April Fools Rally this year in Lima Ohio, Jetfuel took me for a ride in his Turbo Brabus and like you the turbo was only one of the mods that he has successfully done to his Fortwo. I immediately noticed the difference in how well the Fortwo stuck to the ground in the turns. But I must agree with you when you say the turbo makes a remarkable difference in the performance of that little 3 cylinder. Jet doesn't have the rev limiter/speed limiter on his and that speedometer needle buries out of site very quickly. He keeps one of the settings on his scangauge set to the throttle position sensor opening and because the Fortwo uses a drive by wire setup, the throttle plate doesn't open past like 85% at WOT if I am remembering correctly. My mouth waters for a turbo, but it's just not in my budget to be able to do so. DCO

Jetfuels' Brabus.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
At the April Fools Rally this year in Lima Ohio, Jetfuel took me for a ride in his Turbo Brabus and like you the turbo was only one of the mods that he has successfully done to his Fortwo. I immediately noticed the difference in how well the Fortwo stuck to the ground in the turns. But I must agree with you when you say the turbo makes a remarkable difference in the performance of that little 3 cylinder. Jet doesn't have the rev limiter/speed limiter on his and that speedometer needle buries out of site very quickly. He keeps one of the settings on his scangauge set to the throttle position sensor opening and because the Fortwo uses a drive by wire setup, the throttle plate doesn't open past like 85% at WOT if I am remembering correctly. My mouth waters for a turbo, but it's just not in my budget to be able to do so. DCO
I knew pretty early on with this car that it was a keeper and I wanted to make it a long-term project. Investing the $$ was definitely not a logical decision, but it's worth it for the smile it puts on my face every time I drive it!
Jetfuels' Brabus.
Hey Jetfuel - what is that front splitter you're running?

Speaking of aero mods, I can vouch for the effectiveness of the S-Mann roof spoiler for the cabrio. I definitely feel the downforce effect about 50mph. It's so good I'm sometimes reluctant to put the top down if I know I'm going to be pushing it in the canyons.
 

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Wow. Those brakes are some serious investment by themselves. I have been wishing to get the rear disc conversion but kind of lucky I didn't. Mine was involved in an accident and I'm waiting to find out if it is totaled, again.
 
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