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Project Valtezza


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Welcome to the forum! I'd do the usual 'ask any questions, lots of help on here' but I get the feeling you aren't going to need much - in fact, we're going to be asking you ^_^


Shame you're not closer to me as I have a Lexus RX400 as my daily car and I could do with someone who knows more about them...I also had one of the early Lexus IS220s back in 1999 - that was called the Altezza in Japan, I think (well, it was in Gran Turismo :) )? Both Lexus's (Lexi?) have been the best cars I've ever owned...

Thanks and anything you need to know about your rx400 just ask, I know the engines inside out.

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Theres a Hood in Bedfordshire owned by a member on here, it looks very nice with the special noesecone that was made for them, have you got any panels for it? They have a long wheelbase in comparison with most 7s, the rad was fitted horizontally in the nose.

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After speaking to Richard he still has the Hood nosecone mold, so that is coming my way along with scuttle and rear panel.


Today was a busy day on the Hood, one of the big jobs i had to tackle before even thinking about getting this project off the ground was making the Altezza gearbox fit the engine and to get a working starter motor position. There is only one spot on the V6 that will allow a starter motor to locate and even then a lot of block material needs removing, along with having to relocate the starter housing on the bellhousing as well.... yep moving starter bosses, pretty involved stuff.


So this is the gearbox starter position before surgery....




On the V6 engine this would place the starter right in the middle of the left bank head, which isn't ideal, i'd prefer my cylinder head not to have a starter motor in it. So this boss needs rotating from the 10 o'clock position around to roughly 9 o'clock.


This was achieved by making a jig that slides tightly over the release bearing trumpet and bolts securely to the starter bolt holes, the boss is then cut out, the 2" of bellhousing removed beneath it and the boss swung around on the jig and welded back in place. The piece that was cut out then goes back in where the starter used to be...... clear? Let the pics speak....


Starter rotating boss jigamathing..... made from scrap steel mig welded together, the important bit is the ID of the trumpet tube, which fits very snugly, freeplay here would be a disaster.




First job, cut out the starter boss....




Check on the engine which area i need to remove on both engine and gearbox....




Remove the area where the starter boss needs to sit....




Quick vid showing the "rotate-a-jig" in action, sorry about the music, the radio was on, who doesn't like the Spice girls though?



Now with the starter boss in its new position, everything is Tig welded back up inside and outside the bellhousing, not my best aluminium welding but not my worst either.




Inside my bell end...... hilarious.




Now the counter part area on the engine block is cut away, this was the one and only spot it could go into.




Et Voila, one Altezza gearbox bolted to a Lexus 1mz-fe and with a working starter motor position.



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So seeing as the gearbox was fitted to the engine i though it would be rude not to have a trial fit in the chassis just to get a rough idea of things....




This gives me funny feelings in my undercarriage.






That's all for now folks, next up is engine mountings, gearbox mount, hanging the diff and more parts buying, hope you're enjoying the build.

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So i've been writing build threads and blogs on mine and customers cars for best part of 20 years now, and find the basic fabrication stage with oily engines and rough cut metal doesn't really interest readers that much, it's only when you start to paint things and make it all pretty that they come out of the woodwork, people are magpies i guess!


So at this stage i have no shiney shiney to show you but for me the raw fabrication and mock up stage is the really enjoyable part, templating brackets and getting everything to fit with all of the challenges and solutions required are the best bits for me, the making everything pretty stage is ok i guess, that's the part that rewards your efforts with a good looking result, but give me a grinder, plasma cutter and a welder and i'm a very happy man.


Here are the left and right engine mounting brackets tacked up in situ, they are sitting on 1976 Ford Capri bobbins (they were new and cheap) , Rover V8 ones are also ten a penny.


I had to cut the right side mounting bracket off the chassis and Tig weld it further towards the front of the car as the block mounting holes on each side are not equidistant.








Once removed, these will be seam welded, holes plasma cut in them to reduce their weight, planished off, shot blasted and powder coated.


The engine in the sweet spot.... note my car moving solution, the pallet truck also allows me to jack it all up 3" or so.




Next up is gearbox mount and diff hanging.

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Personally, I find it all amazing, as a guy who works in IT and, until I built my car, hadn't done much more than wire a plug!


'I had to cut the right side mounting bracket off the chassis and Tig weld it further towards the front' ?!! Mind. Blown. :crazy:

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Fully agree Paddy, building is the interesting & fun part, solving the problems, cussing because you've over-looked some & need to go back several steps. The paint & polish is O.K but the engineering is better.

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Good to know i'm not the only one who prefers the raw fabrication stage, although not such a fan of people who leave them in this state and label them as a Rat look, that's just laziness! :)


I'm having a hard time deciding the overall direction for my build, it's kind of evolving into a complete one off (i suppose all kit cars are that to a certain degree) but i have options at my disposal regarding wheels and body style etc so opinions would be welcome.


1. Keep it as a true Seven replica, stick to the forumla, i have some 15x8j deep dish Watanabe replica wheels (minilite clone), keep the body as you would expect, a nice colour and stainless, can't go wrong.


2. I also have some ridiculous 18x12j rear and 18x9j front 5 spoke wheels with massive 4" dishes on them, the handling aspect would go out the window and i'd be building a Seven inspired hot rod, custom bodywork, it would be a straight line toy that looked awesome but not very good at much else, but still look like a Seven. It would need power steering (which i have from the Mx5 donor if need be).


3. Perform what we call a "Chop and plop", stray completely away from the Seven styling and fit a classic or vintage car body over the frame, think Ford pop or old Austin cabin, exposed engine bay, it would be heavy and again not handling focused, a show car that could be driven at weekends.


Asking this question on a Seven replica forum is probably only ever going to return answer 1, but i do fancy building something different to the norm too.


I might work on a few photoshop mock ups and see which one works best. Also i already have a "stock looking" 2B so maybe this does deserve to be something different? I'm open to ideas at this stage.


In other news i have decided to beef up the other aspects of the car, the chassis on this is pretty heavy duty, but lacking a few braces in areas it could do with in my opinion, especially around the rear tub/diff mounting area, so i will be adding strength there. I've also decided to use 30mm CDS for my wishbones with larger than stock inner bushes, having seen the weedy arms on some Locost builds and running the V6/Altezza gear i want to man these areas up a little.

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