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Stage 1

Air Intake
Cost | $50-$400
Power | minimal, more gains can be realized with more mods
Difficulty | 1
One of the first mods any tuner will do to their car. Don't let corporate propaganda sway you - the difference between a name brand and generic air intake system is minimal. The best value can be had by getting a "short ram" kit from eBay and then installing a quality K&N air filter on it, which you can buy at most local auto parts stores. The only reason to buy a new, name brand full cold air intake system is if you're not going to turbocharge the engine anytime soon or just want to make your engine bay look pretty. There is also the risk of water ingestion with the full CAI set ups. You can't use this with a turbo kit, so keep that in mind.

Cost | $60-$500
Power | minimal peak gains, powerband will change in the midrange
Difficulty | 3
If you shop around, you can find a used header in good condition for under $100. They do not provide significant gains in terms of peak power, but they are a part of a comprehensive exhaust system. Exhaust note will change somewhat and, until thoroughly warmed up, you may experience a bit of raspiness from the exhaust note under hard acceleration. Another mod that you lose when you boost the car.

Cost | $50-$500+
Power | minimal, more gains with more mods
Difficulty | 2
The best value for a 2GNT exhaust system is a GST cat-back. You can't use the engine out of the turbo cars, but you CAN use the entire exhaust system from the catalytic converter back off the FWD turbo cars. They have an additional resonator in the mid-pipe and a better flowing muffler with two tips that reduces back pressure and sounds great. Shop around and you can get the entire system for under $100. Full-on, mandrel-bent, Stainless Steel exhaust systems with performance mufflers can run upward of $500 and yield only slightly better gains.

Underdrive Pulley (UDP)
Cost | $100-$150
Power | None.
Difficulty | 3
The UDP is said to be one of the most noticeable mods you can do to your car. It does not generate additional horsepower, but by spinning the PS and AC slower and weighing much less than the stock pulley, it allows the engine to transfer more power to the wheels and this feels good. Before you do this mod, be sure to have the proper tool rented to remove the stock pulley. You do not use a typical jaw-type puller to remove the stock pulley.

Now it's decision time for you.

At this point, you've tuned up your engine. You've got things running good and breathing easier. Hopefully, you haven't spent too much money to get to where you are today, but if you have, hopefully it all looks cool and you're a bit proud to pop the hood and show off your clean engine bay.

You got your hands dirty more than a couple times and you think you might like taking things to the next level. After all, when you achieve a goal, it can feel pretty good, right? We've started out by giving you a list of basic maintenance and entry-level modifications to get your feet wet in this hobby without spending too much money and losing interest. So now that you think you can handle it, we're going to get into making some real power. There are three ways to go and each one will give you different amounts of power for different amounts of money and effort. The truly beautiful thing about these three ways to go is, should you make it to the top of your game, you could be using all three at once! At this point, though, it's best to determine what you really want, set your goals, and pick one to start with. Let's get to it!

Turbocharging your 2GNT is very popular. Some of the more clever members have pieced together their own "custom" turbo system for a thousand dollars or so, but the most common system you will find is a Hahn Racecraft (HRC) "Stage 2" system which runs just over $3000 brand new. When you turbocharge the car, you will have to lose your header and air intake, as these systems are plumbed differently with the turbo. (This is why we suggested saving as much money as you can on these parts earlier.) Power output can go from the level of a stock, turbo DSM to more than 400 with proper engine building and tuning.

Look for a separate article which compares features and benefits of the two mainstream turbosystem offerings in the turbo section soon.

Nitrous Oxide
Do not call this "NOS." NOS is a brand name for Nitrous Oxide Systems that sells nitrous kits for all kinds of cars. Calling it "nos" lumps you in with ricers and Fast and the Furious wannabes. Just call it nitrous, spray or "the bottle" if you want to avoid taboos. Stock engines (like yours at this point) can take a 50 shot no problem. Some people say you can even push a 75 shot if you want. Built engines can handle a 200 shot if that's what you're after. It's all in the tuning. Kits tend to start around $500, but if you're clever, you could piece something together at the local muscle car swap meet and save a tidy sum.

There is an article in the works to discuss the basics of building a nitrous system for your 2GNT.

Looking for a real challenge? Then all motor is the choice for you. Competition is fierce among the all motor 2GNT enthusiasts, but the number of people actually willing to live with spending massive amounts of money on a car that will probably never see 200whp no matter what you do or fight tooth and nail in the hopes of being the first all motor DSM into the thirteens at the track is small. As in less than a dozen of us. The camaraderie is second to none in this group and despite being the slowest course to follow, there is a respect earned from trying to push the limits of what this engine can do by all by itself. Currently, the fastest and most powerful all motor 2GNT known by this community put down 177.4whp and the fastest ran the quarter mile in 13.863 seconds. That's it. Do you have what it takes? If disappointment tends to make you cry, this is not the way to go right now. All motor means NO turbo and NO nitrous. Those are power adders.

While "all motor" means you don't have a turbo, this isn't to say that you don't need to build up the inside of your motor if you turbo or spray. In order to be a serious contender on any level, with any car, you're going to need to upgrade your internals to handle the additional power the engine will be making, so you can decide to build your engine up now and then install the turbocharger. This gives you an opportunity to really learn how to work on the car and gets you ready for anything that could happen when you turbocharge or use nitrous. Things will break, but a built engine is much more forgiving once you get to the higher levels of tune.

The rest of the Power Stages will discuss the bulk of subjects you might consider when planning a rebuild, however they do not offer many comments on "which is best." Don't ask that question. There is often no way to answer it. Once you have set your goals, you will better be able to determine which components/brands are best for your project.

Things get expensive at this point, so you'll want to have a game plan in place to help keep you focused on what you're after. Set a major goal for the car that represents what you want the car to be when you're all done with it. Will it be 400 horsepower, or a 14 second E.T. in the quarter mile? The trick to setting goals is to figure out the end-all, ultimate goal that is what you really want when you're done with the entire project, but also set smaller, more easily achieved goals along the way to help inspire and motivate you to press on. There will be times when things will break and you will become frustrated. It will seem like the entire universe is aligned against you, but if you take small steps on your way to the dream, you will find yourself more optimistic about things.

You goals for the car can be anything you want. Do you want to scar the Earth beneath you as you accelerate straight down the quarter mile or intricately carve corners with surgical precision? Do just want a zippy daily driver that looks cool or a monster that strikes fear in the hearts of Porsche owners? Do you want to spend $10,000 creating your masterpiece and allow this hobby to consume you (as it does many of us die hards) or would you rather keep the number closer to a couple thousand and do what you can? These are all things to consider when setting goals, as they will steer you towards which route you will take. You can make your car a sleeper or make it looks like it cost a million dollars.

Give it some thought, but remember that it's your car and having fun with it is paramount to continuing. The instant you stop having fun, it becomes a chore and we'll be helping you select your next car or offering to buy various parts off your car so you can return it to stock trim and trade or sell it. We'd rather not see that. We want you to stick around. We want more die hards who share in our love of these wonderful little underdog cars.


Document statistics: Last modified on 2007-10-02 15:05:57 by bullettdsm

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