Ignoring that fact that it drinks fuel at an alarming rate, your tuned Marauder would make a great left-field drag racer - nobody expects to be blown away by a six-cylinder classic pony car with a turbo!
Now here is my first modified car on this thread - it isn’t from any of my brands at all, so I’ll give credit to @Speedemon for providing the original design.
Wild Woolsey: From Turbo Four-Pot Weakling to Atmo V8 Beast
Last year, I bought a brand-new Woolsey WS3 for use as an everyday driver. However, after owning it for several months, I was underwhelmed, to say the least, despite the high-quality interior. It wasn’t fast enough, and more importantly, it wasn’t exciting enough to drive either. Most disappointingly of all, there were no sporty variants in the range, as far as I was aware. At least the underpinnings - an AHS steel chassis with a double-wishbone front and a multi-link rear end - showed some potential. So I undertook a project involving the Woolsey which would either be utterly insane… or incredibly inspired. In fact, I was wondering if it would turn out to be both…
The first step was to replace the engine and transmission. Out went the WS3’s weakling of an engine - a bland and quiet 2-liter turbo straight-four - and in came a 6.4-liter normally-aspirated V8 crate engine from Australian manufacturer Albury Motors, specifically the Hi-Comp version with its individual throttle bodies. The new engine, with twice as many cylinders and more than three times the swept volume of the stock unit, developed 500 (metric) horsepower - more than double the output of the four - without breaking a sweat, so I left it as it was, although the larger dual exhausts barely fit the cut-outs in the rear bumper. I also wanted this to be a driver’s car first and foremost, so the 7-speed automatic was junked in favor of a 6-speed manual, complete with a gated shifter (an item which, sadly, has been consigned to the history books). In addition, the complex electronic LSD was replaced by a much simpler and cheaper Quaife mechanical LSD.
Visual mods were limited - I fitted subtle lip spoilers at the front and rear to provide more high-speed stability, and swapped the stock fenders for reshaped items. The reason for doing so was to allow fitment of 20-inch lightweight forged alloy wheels at each corner, shod in 255/30ZR20 Michelin Pilot Super Sports. All the power and grip in the world is useless without adequate brakes, however, so I installed a set of AP Racing brakes - 330mm vented discs up front with 6-piston calipers, and 275mm vented discs with 1-piston calipers in the back.
The biggest change from stock was replacing the hydropneumatic suspension with a set of KW coilovers incorporating progressive springs, passive sway bars and adaptive dampers, tuned to provide a sporty feel without excessive loss of comfort. Inside, the interior was retrimmed and the overly complex infotainment system replaced with a simpler, but still high-end, aftermarket unit, although all five seats were retained for practicality’s sake. Finally, the car was resprayed in a menacing gloss black.
Such was the comprehensive nature of the modifications undertaken that the end result was, to all intents and purposes, a totally new car. A colleague of mine who had helped me with the build called it the “evil twin” of the stock WS3, since it was capable of speaking softly and carried a huge stick. But the proof of the pudding was in the eating, and so I decided to test it - not just on the road, but also at the track.
Before it underwent its drastic transformation, I drove the WS3 at Queensland Raceway. I was shocked to find out that it had absolutely no business being at a racetrack - as its turbo four droned tunelessly, it clocked a best lap of 1:46.81 from a standing start, and understeered like a drunken sheep all the way through. One can only wonder how much faster and more involving my custom-built V8 version would be…
…and sure enough, I returned to the track not long after the build was finished. This time, the WS3 managed a best lap of 1:26.35 - a whopping 20-plus seconds faster - but it came as no surprise considering the extent of the changes I had made. What was surprising, though, at least to me, was the ease with which it lit up its tires while cornering. With so much more power and torque being sent to the rear wheels, it was easy to break traction in the lower three gears, but once it started getting sideways, keeping it under control was a breeze. To prove the point, I drifted all the way around the track after my hot lap, trashing a whole set of tires in the process. Incredibly, the WS3 was now 26 kilograms lighter than it was previously (and the weight distribution hadn’t changed much, either), which helped with dynamics even more.
On the road, the deep, angry roar of the V8 made bystanders take notice from far away. The exhaust note was louder than stock (unsurprisingly), but not too loud - it helped that the exhaust system came with bypass valves as standard, and at any rate, it sounded like a real muscle car should (and better than today’s turbo hybrid F1 cars to boot). Turn-in was much sharper without feeling overly nervous, and the ride, though firm, was not too harsh, with excellent body control.
As for straight-line performance, the 0-60 mph sprint could now be accomplished in half the time compared with stock, while top speed increased from 140-ish mph to just over 186 - also a humongous improvement, although one that would only be needed on an autobahn. And quarter-mile runs took almost four fewer seconds than previously. About the only downsides were the monumental running costs - chiefly due to massively increased fuel consumption (not helped by the Albury V8 requiring 95RON premium unleaded) and the expense of replacing a full set of tires - but the colossal increase in reliability should compensate for it somewhat.
So, in short, by completely re-engineering the WS3, I created the brutally fast, tire-smoking, supercar-baiting Q-car I wished it had been. Yes, it was an expensive endeavor (in the short and long term), but the result was totally worth it. And no, I will not sell it off to anyone, for now at least (although I will let others drive it, if they are skilled enough): I will keep this beast for as long as I can. In fact, this build had me wondering: Why didn’t Woolsey, a well-known and respected Canadian brand, build their own sporty variants of the WS3, powered by a tweaked version of one of their own engines?
In a word, economics. With downsizing now commonplace throughout the automotive industry, few companies are willing to install a larger engine and/or one with more cylinders, particularly if it’s normally aspirated, and due to increasingly strict government regulations, they can’t often afford to sacrifice economy or cleaner emissions; moreover, as automatics become increasingly advanced, manuals are becoming increasingly rare - another reason why my build bucked both of these trends. However, as this build demonstrates, there are still plenty of tuners who embrace the maverick spirit of the time-honored engine swap and are willing to go to considerable lengths to realize their dreams, no matter how outlandish they may be.