Drag Master

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February 19

If you ask me, a Peugeot 309 GLD would probably be the last thing I want to take to a drag race let alone, win it. But that is what Team Mars, a group of enthusiasts from Hyderababd wanted to do – take a lateral approach at the project. They could have started off with an already fast car and made it faster but that is what everyone does. So they started off with a clean sheet of paper and three years later they had something to show to the world. The end result is a 309 GLD that has been eating up the tracks across the country and returning home with several podium finishes in its bag. The best Quarter Mile run it has clocked so far is a scarcely believable 13.006 seconds.

If you’re wondering what sort of firepower it runs under the hood, there is nothing. Because everything that powers it is, inside the car, next to the driver. A new firewall behind him, sits a K24 engine and gearbox from the Accord and on his left is a Nitrous Oxide cylinder where the passenger seat should have been. There is no formal dashboard, and the rest of the car is stripped down to its bare basics to save weight. There is a roll cage running along the cabin frame. The hood, fenders and some other panels are tough fiber-glass, all made in-house. The front grille has been deleted, for there is no radiator behind it now. After market projection beam lights and sponsor stickers dominate the front panel. An elbow joint like in PVC plumbing forms an air intake duct sticking out of the car on its left. The rear doors and windows and the rear hatch are plexi-glass. The rest of the rear is covered with meshed metal sheet beaten into shape with chequered flag painted on. Led strips serve as make shift brake lights.

For drag racing, getting the power down is as important as having a powerful engine. With rearward weight transfer during sudden acceleration, a rear wheel drive can launch itself with the least amount of wheel spin. A mid engine layout not only eliminates the need for a propeller shaft, it also exerts more weight on the driving wheels pushing them further down giving better traction off the line. All this works on paper, but how easy was it to get it working on the track?

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Starting off with procuring an engine, the team had to buy a used Honda Accord 2.4 take out what was necessary and ditch the rest. Mounting an engine mid-ship needed a lot of careful planning and fabrication. The Accord’s 2354cc, 160bhp VTEC engine, gearbox, drive shafts and front wheels were retained, so the car runs a wider 1555mm track at the rear. The Accord front struts along with the steering was locked in place, for working in the rear. The radiator now faces the rear and has two cooling fans helping cool the engine down. The K24 runs stock internals, but benefits from a lightened flywheel and a stage IV clutch from Clutch Masters.

A Hondata ECU has been used for its ability to offer better valve train control and a higher 7200rpm rev limit. It breathes in through a conical air filter on the left and breathes out through the stock exhaust manifold and shortened piping leading to a very loud end can. For an additional burst of power, the team also fitted a 50 shot Holley wet Nitrous Oxide system. The whole car now weighs approximately 1200 kg with driver which is terrific power to weight ratio. For the front, they use, Maruti 800 struts and shorter springs giving it a lowered stance when viewed from the front.

Rather than calling themselves a tuning firm or a racing team Team Mars likes to introduce themselves congregation of like-minded petrolheads namely Rajasekhar Prabhu, Surendran Bhaskaran, Nazim, Arun, Ravveendrra and Venkat. Over the course of three years since its conceptualization in 2007, the team has spent so many man hours on their project. They say they have taken the car apart at least a dozen times and spent close to import car money on this one. But the end result more than justifies their effort.

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