• FWD to AWD conversion

    Written By Josh Dace (Uniuno)
    Yet ANOTHER FWD to AWD conversion thread (VERY PIC HEAVY)

    The question of ďis it possible?Ē is asked on an every other day basis so that MUST mean there arenít enough threads on how itís done.

    I did my research before beginning by reading Shooter83ís and Bob the Greatís threads. Probably some others but those are the ones that left an impression. Thanks to them I was much more comfortable cutting into my own car.

    It is NOT a bolt in procedure, there is a LOT of cutting and welding.

    I like pictures so there are a lot of them, some may be redundant but whatever. I tried taking as many as I could. I went through 4 HTC Oneís while doing this work since the tiny metal fragments got into the speaker and destroyed it. I even left the phone on the workbench while I was working on the car. I think Iím missing some pictures due to the backing up of each phone.

    On to the Pics!

    Drove from Detroit where I live to Springfield IL where Iím from and my dad still lives to use his truck and trailer to pick up the shell from Topeka KS. What a long weekend!

    92 VR4 roller, no engine/ interior. Came with Brakes, suspension, body panels, rear subframe/dif, and a spare t-case. From our own TurboSinceBirth, Thanks man!

    SS T-Case (Purchased separately, but still from TSB)

    Adjustable upper control arms, revised rear anti-sway bar and AWS delete kit from 3sx

    Hereís my garage in its constant state of disarray. I usually have about twelve irons in the fire and can never seem to keep it clean. Youíll notice some trim that is currently being stained for a house project.

    Fun Fact: The Abarth (not mine) in these photos I just happened to bring home from work is the ACTUAL red 500 that was in one of the first commercials for the 500 where they all ďswamĒ from Italy to the U.S.. I work for Chrysler and they wanted that exact color combo in the commercial so they shipped it over there, put different wheels on it, filmed and shipped it back. I canít make this up.

    Stock subframe pulled from the car.

    Taking some preliminary measurements, Taking pictures of them comes in handy when I forget where I wrote them down.

    My garage companion, Aries

    Garage is always a mess, I forget what I was even using that insulation for LOL

    Following Shooterís lead I removed the entire wheel well. There are more detailed pictures later when cutting into my car, this is pretty much after all the parts have been cut out of the donor. Yes, I did feel bad cutting into the rare silver car, but mine was much cleaner to begin with.

    It was a combination of a cut off wheel and a sawzall that did most of the work.

    Pile oí parts

    Sorry, not a good picture, but you can see that I put the freeze plug in place of where the pump is supposed to go on the dif for AWS. It comes with the kit from 3sx.

    Wheel wells as removed.

    Side by side

    Forward AWD rear subframe mounts. These are a pain to get off. The outside edges of the parts in the next two pictures would roll up and get pinched between two parts of the unibody. I had to cut it off with the cut off wheel. Later I was able to just seam weld it. On the other sides of these parts (canít find the pictures) they are welded to the floor board just under the rear seat. An access hole had to be cut to drill the spot welds.

    And cutting on my car begins.. or is actually quite a bit done lol In this picture Iíve already removed the seatbelt mount, strut braces and strut tower. The silver strut brace is mocked in on the right.

    This is where I stray from Shooterís build. I found out while pulling the wheel wells out that it is actually quite difficult and for the most part unnecessary. You can actually just cut out the strut tower itself.

    Full donor wheel well under my car.

    NA strut tower removed with AWD strut tower brace on top of it. This shows you how much farther rearward the AWD strut tower needs to be.

    NA rear subframe with Addco anti-sway bar. (The bar ended up going on the olí ladies Stealth ES.)

    Another shot from the other side of missing strut tower. BTW, I used the spot weld cutter bits from harbor freight for this. They are awesome. 5 bucks for a reversible cutting head so you actually end up with two bits with the price of one. My only complaint is that the spring loaded pilot isnít a very hard tool steel and ends up rounding off a bit. I actually ordered a 13$ one off amazon that is much better quality. The cutting heads are interchangeable so I used the HF ones as refills.

    Strut towers: NA left, AWD right

    More parts

    Making a mess

    My other garage companion: Slartibartfast

    Yes, I covered his cage while welding so that he wouldnít watch the bright light like a dumbass.

    Had to get new wheels and tires to clear the AWD brakes. I canít remember the specs off the top of my head right now, I went through so many options when buying them. Already dusty.

    Studs, you gotta go! I cut the front one off flush with the sawzall and welded it flat so it wouldnít rattle around.

    Had to cut an access hole from the top to get to them and then get the sawzall in there to cut them out.

    This shows the size comparison between the two. Also, itís very important to note the hole that it came out of. It is two layers, the top layer must be made bigger using a dremel for the bigger mount to sit down inside of. The lower hole can be made bigger with a stepped drill bit.

    Finally beginning to cut the lower mounts. A wire wheel on a drill became my best friend for removing the factory undercoat to reveal the spot welds. Also, Lots of finesse with the sawzall.

    Oh what a hole

    Same story on the other side. That is weld-through primer, it is amazing and well worth the money!

    The welding begins! I had my female up top to watch for fires.

    It all went well though

    I donít claim to be a master welder, but Iím good enough to do some damage.

    I used the weight of the car to hold the pieces in place.

    And the subframe is in!

    I coated it with weld-through primer every time I quit working for the day. You can see the seam I was talking about earlier here to the left. I only have an inch or so of weld at the top and bottom at the moment.

    While I was there I decided to do some more corrosion protection.

    Painted with flat black Rust-Tough paint.

    Underside primed and coated with Permatex rubberized undercoating.

    Subrame all assembled and set as close to ride height as possible for a pseudo alignment with the tape measure. Good enough to get me the 8 miles to the alignment shop.

    Better picture of the freeze plug in the diff

    Itís in! For the first time every my car has a rear diff!

    Now back to the strut towers. I cut the ends of the wheel wells off to be able to slide this up in and get a better idea of how much metal I need to take off.

    Yep, still a hole on the other side.

    Using the weight of the car, a big hammer, and a ratchet strap I was able to get the shock towers where they needed to be.

    So this is whatís actually left of the whole wheel well once it was modified to fit into the FWD hole. The little flap left on makes up the gap in front of the strut, this is the driverís side one.

    This shows how the holes had to be enlarged to fit the new piece in order to move the strut towers back.

    I love me some ratchet straps

    Had to take a small break to clean and paint the front calipers

    All welds are not created equally. I welded it from both sides.

    Iíll admit, some of them I made up for quality with quantity.

    Welded the floor shut.

    Began grinding the welds, they had to be flat to put the strut braces over.

    Found that I didnít need to go so ape-shit with the welds on this side. Gravity pretty much holds these in.

    C-clamps to keep things tight

    Here you can see where I drilled a hole and ran a self tapping screw in to hold it tightly down and then a C-clamp to pinch it tight before welding.

    Keeping it tight

    Here you can see the 3M seam sealer. Great stuff, very pricey though. Also, began welding in the seat belt mounts, which also holds the top of the back seat.

    While the tank was out I wire wheeled some surface rust and shot it with some Rust-Tough paint.

    Back to welding. For this project I used a little 110V campbell hausfeld mig welder with Flux-Core wire. A lot of people hate it, but I love it. I picked the welder up from the same pawn shop as featured in the Hardcore Pawn TV show for 95 bucks. No, they werenít filming while I was there.

    Oops, boogered that one!

    Here you can see I used cardboard to protect the windows from weld splatter.

    Cleaned up, primered, sealed, and painted, Done! Youíll notice I was able to still use the FWD seatbelt supports (white).

    Pretty Panda (or cow, whatever)

    I picked up a used two piece shaft with new U-joints and carrier bearing. I had to order the bushings and spacers for it from the dealer. I canít find any pictures of the install of the carrier bearing mount. I used Bob the Greatís method of cutting an access panel and dropping in a stud from the top and welding it in. The other hole is already threaded so I used a bolt there. Pretty simple compared to the work out back.

    Totally unrelated, but I thought youíd all enjoy it anyway. This is the drive shaft from a buddyís Factory Five Roadster. He is running a 6.1L Hemi (we do work for Chrysler after all) with a t56 trans and a mustang rear end with GT500 CF LSD Center section.

    I ordered brake lines from NinjaPerformance, Thanks Chris!

    I ordered the wrong ones apparently so a couple ends didnít match up. This forced me to eliminate the section of hard-line on the hub. No loss though, looks cleaner and has plenty of room for travel still.

    This shows the other tab where the hard line would be

    I was running out of time to get it done by NG at this point so not everything got finish painted the way I wanted, but all the corrosion protection was taken care of at least.

    1st Gen rear brakes on a 2nd gen car. Not many people even noticed at NG.

    Pro Tip: Spray the paint onto a folded up a paper towel or similar and dab it onto the letters.

    Finally ready for wheels!

    BTW, a little bit of weight savings, only 2nd gen turbo cars came with an aluminum crash bar in the rear.

    Itís only 12.2lbs, but with everything I just added, Iíll take it!

    While I was in there I ran cables for the rear mounted battery, aluminum under-tray for the fuel and brake lines. Re installed the fuel tank and exhaust and called it done.

    Obligatory ďrunning while on jackstandsĒ video:

    The payoff at NGí13

    Against 2FnLoud

    Against Brett (99 Vr4)

    Canít find the video where I lost to Nate, but I ran my best time that run with a 13.8@99.06. My best speed of the day was 100.33. Thanks for reading!
    Comments 5 Comments
    1. Mitoska's Avatar
      Mitoska -
      thats a ton of work. +1 for Josh.. nice work man!
    1. Uniuno's Avatar
      Uniuno -
      Looking back over it again I realize I don't show the differences between the FWD and AWD transmissions. It is mainly focused on the work involved to hang the rear subframe. However, since I was running an AWD trans converted to FWD prior to this conversion those pictures would be in an entirely different bucket.
    1. CoopKill's Avatar
      CoopKill -
      Nice work! May, or may not be my next feat. I enjoy the abuse...
    1. TurboSinceBirth's Avatar
      TurboSinceBirth -
      I don't know how I missed this thread. I never visit this section though. Glad to see the car put to good use. I didn't want to scrap the car but I needed the room also.
    1. green-lantern's Avatar
      green-lantern -
      Damn! you did a really good job on this!