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  1. #1
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    Default Fit conversion in 2023

    I’ve come across a formula ford roller close to me I’m thinking of picking up. I’m under no delusion that a ton of time, effort, and $$ will be involved to get the car on the track. Was curious what a fit conversion cost in 2023 and are all the parts still available? I contacted fast forward and found they only do engine parts. It looks like HPD still makes the wiring harnesses for the conversion. What other parts are needed for the chassis? Are they still available?

    What’s the typical cost of a fit rebuild and how many hours do you typically get on an engine?

  2. #2
    Senior Member cliff's Avatar
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    Default

    what chassis...?

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    Quote Originally Posted by cliff View Post
    what chassis...?
    I'm going to guess he's referring to the Eric Langbein RF97 that's been popping up all over Facebook and is in PA.
    Van Diemen RF99 FC

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    Bingo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank62 View Post

    What’s the typical cost of a fit rebuild and how many hours do you typically get on an engine?
    I doubt that you will get any real standard for this. The engine has only been in use for about 15 years, and many of the engines are 5-10 years old and not ready for rebuild. I have never "rebuilt" any of mine (I have 6). I take off the heads every few years and send them to Quicksilver for cleaning. I have replaced the rings in several. I have never changed bearings or replaced parts other than rings and head gaskets.

    Some people are much more diligent and will have an engine shop maintain their engines. In my prep shop environment, reduced costs is what allows me to keep rates at only an "obscene" amount. My business model would collapse if running kents or pintos. One of my engines is a wrecker engine, which after rings and head cleaning, is no different than the others, which started life as crate engines.

    We lost two (in 12 years) due to overheating because of cooling systems being compromised. Overheating is really the only threat to extended use so your driver needs to understand that any off-track or otherwise activity needs to be assessed and remedied. Wheels off into fresh cut grass at Mid-Ohio will mean a pit visit to clean out the grass. More than 2 laps will result in a cooked (and junk) engine.

    I would put my energy into sourcing all the parts. Once you get it together, you will have years before you need to worry about engine maintenance.
    Last edited by problemchild; 10.16.23 at 10:41 AM.
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    Contributing Member problemchild's Avatar
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    The good news is that the 97 conversions did not use much of the HPD kit that was sold for the later Van Deimens. Most of the conversion will be custom but not particularly difficult. I will look for pics from my 97 conversion.
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    Contributing Member problemchild's Avatar
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    If you do proceed Frank, I do have an exhaust for sale. It won't fit, but has the rear-facing flange which would be a starting point.
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    Thanks for the feedback. Will be in touch if I decide to get the car. I have enough vee projects to keep me busy so I can take my time sourcing parts.

    I’m guessing Fit conversion just from a cost/maintenance stand point is the better option. Is there any reason to keep the car a Kent engine?

    I hear you can spend around $500,000 on a Kent engine.

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    Contributing Member problemchild's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank62 View Post
    Thanks for the feedback. Will be in touch if I decide to get the car. I have enough vee projects to keep me busy so I can take my time sourcing parts.
    I think the big obstacle for most people is the size of the cockpit on those cars. If your driver is larger than 5-9, 160 lbs then you need to factor that in. Yes, some 6 footers may fit depending on their build, but their is a long list of people who bought these cars who made mods and were determined to make it work, before giving up and selling off. I am on that list.
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    Again. Great advice. I’m 6’ 175lbs. Is it a function of the Fit engine in the car or does the 97vd just have a short cockpit reguardless if the engine. If it’s a function of the fit modification. Does the roll bar need to be moved forward or does the firewall just move up? I can typically fold myself into some pretty short cars.

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    Senior Member HazelNut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank62 View Post
    Again. Great advice. I’m 6’ 175lbs. Is it a function of the Fit engine in the car or does the 97vd just have a short cockpit reguardless if the engine. If it’s a function of the fit modification. Does the roll bar need to be moved forward or does the firewall just move up? I can typically fold myself into some pretty short cars.
    I believe that's my old car that I ran as an f2000 years ago. I'm 6'1" and was about 200 when I drove that. The cockpit is just small on those cars. I had a very thin seat and it was still tight.
    Awww, come on guys, it's so simple. Maybe you need a refresher course. Hey! It's all ball bearings nowadays.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank62 View Post
    Again. Great advice. I’m 6’ 175lbs. Is it a function of the Fit engine in the car or does the 97vd just have a short cockpit reguardless if the engine. If it’s a function of the fit modification. Does the roll bar need to be moved forward or does the firewall just move up? I can typically fold myself into some pretty short cars.
    When I was in the market for a new car, I "tried on" a 97 Van Diemen, and it's not the length that might be a problem:

    It's the width.

    I'm 5'9"+ and vary from 185 - 200 lb. When I got in the RF97, I realized there was no way I could have raced it without a pit crew, because there was no chance I'd be able to do up my own belts.

    At 6' and 175lb, you would probably be built a little slimmer than I am, so it could work.

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    I did some digging the past few days. It looks like the engine parts are available and the electronics, but I can’t find a source for any of the chassis specific adapters. Is it still possible to pull off one of these conversions with HPD out of the game?

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    I think you must call Doug at Fast Forward since they received all of the engine and chassis conversion remaining stock and intellectual property. I believe HPD retained everything specific to The ECU and harness. Just assuming, the basic bellhousing and engine mounts that were part of the kit are within the capability of Fast Forward's fabrication and could be reproduced.
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  20. #15
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    How long did HPD actively support the Fit conversion before they quit? Not all that long from my perceptions!

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    kea

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    I spoke with Doug yesterday. Really helpful guy. They currently do not make the input shafts or the bell housing adapter. They would need to reverse engineer some existing parts to make a kit. Sounds like HPD got out of the game in a hurry.

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    Default Adapters for the Fit Conversion

    I may have the adapters that I used to install the Fit engines in Citations that were designed for the Kent and Pinto engines.

    I was looking for something else today and ran across several of the Fit adapters I made for my cars, Citations. I even found a partially machined adapter for the Fit engine to mate to the Hewland MK 9 transmissions. The part is the same Fit/Hewland adapter that Honda sold when they were in the business.

    I have several input shafts on the shelf and there might be one for a Staffs gear box.

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    Default Fit

    Problem Child,
    Interesting coincidence cuz I blew a head gasket a while back on my Fit and I’m about to do whatever is needed. I’ve been under the impression that the short block would be ok in this circumstance but head will need a valve job and planing.
    I have a spare short block and a spare complete motor. So you think my short block in the car is toast then? There is no compression at all at this point. I guess it would be smart to use one of the spares.
    Btw what is required to get the pulley off the crank? Breaker bar not doing it.
    Thanks

    PS for the original poster you need a 2009 to 2012 FIt which is L15A7. Other years don’t work.


    Quote Originally Posted by problemchild View Post
    I doubt that you will get any real standard for this. The engine has only been in use for about 15 years, and many of the engines are 5-10 years old and not ready for rebuild. I have never "rebuilt" any of mine (I have 6). I take off the heads every few years and send them to Quicksilver for cleaning. I have replaced the rings in several. I have never changed bearings or replaced parts other than rings and head gaskets.

    Some people are much more diligent and will have an engine shop maintain their engines. In my prep shop environment, reduced costs is what allows me to keep rates at only an "obscene" amount. My business model would collapse if running kents or pintos. One of my engines is a wrecker engine, which after rings and head cleaning, is no different than the others, which started life as crate engines.

    We lost two (in 12 years) due to overheating because of cooling systems being compromised. Overheating is really the only threat to extended use so your driver needs to understand that any off-track or otherwise activity needs to be assessed and remedied. Wheels off into fresh cut grass at Mid-Ohio will mean a pit visit to clean out the grass. More than 2 laps will result in a cooked (and junk) engine.

    I would put my energy into sourcing all the parts. Once you get it together, you will have years before you need to worry about engine maintenance.
    Hybels

  25. #19
    Contributing Member Roux's Avatar
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    Default New head is also an option

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Hybels View Post
    Problem Child,
    Interesting coincidence cuz I blew a head gasket a while back on my Fit and I’m about to do whatever is needed. I’ve been under the impression that the short block would be ok in this circumstance but head will need a valve job and planing.
    I have a spare short block and a spare complete motor. So you think my short block in the car is toast then? There is no compression at all at this point. I guess it would be smart to use one of the spares.
    Btw what is required to get the pulley off the crank? Breaker bar not doing it.
    Thanks

    PS for the original poster you need a 2009 to 2012 FIt which is L15A7. Other years don’t work.
    Instead of sending my head for a cleaning, I bought from Honda dealer, a head and 16 new valves and put that on. Maintenance after 8 years of regular racing. Very economical engine.

  26. #20
    Contributing Member problemchild's Avatar
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    For the price of the cleaning, I personally have no reason to put on new parts. I would also prefer to support Quicksilver than a Honda dealer.

    Honda and HPD were directly involved for over a decade, which is an eternity in the corporate world. Like in the corporate world, the FF supporters at HPD moved on (retired, etc) and the new people were not so interested. Although I was left frustrated and hurt by the withdrawal, I am thankful that HPD was involved as long as they were. And it is no coincidence that engine builders and Ford have since improved the kent experience. Both are now expensive, but similar and available. Engine cost is only a portion of the total class cost problem.

    The cylinder head literally melts when it overheats and becomes junk. You can tell by looking at it from 4 ft away. In my experience, although the head was trashed, if the piston tops look okay, then deglaze, put in piston rings and the short block will be good to go. You also may want to take the opportunity to put in the oversized pistons. If you take it apart, keeping the parts clean, then it can all go back together without bearings, seals, or any other consumables. The workshop manual is very thorough and provides all the info you need.

    The engine front pulley is a bytch. I bought a giant air gun but don't have enough air volume that it helped. I have made special tools which are essentially two 4 ft breaker bars, one for the pulley and one for the pulley nut (which fits through the other bar.) I also have a flywheel lock ($20 item for air-cooled VW engines.https://www.amazon.com/Universal-Fly...00BJPY9OS?th=1 )

    On several occasions (without my tools) I have gotten the pulley off using the flywheel lock and a sledge hammer on an extended breaker bar. The initial impact got it started. This task may be the biggest challenge of any engine maintenance or repair I will try and get a pic of my tools.

    Cheers!
    Last edited by problemchild; 11.12.23 at 11:28 AM.
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    Contributing Member problemchild's Avatar
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    Better late than never.
    Note that the last 1/4" of the little socket is turned down to fit inside the pulley.
    The large socket welded on the bar is a stamped socket purchased from McMaster Carr.
    Once you get tools like this, the problem goes away.
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    Default Thank you sir.

    The local guy finally got it off with some heat and “the strongest impact they make” according to him.
    I haven’t taken a motor apart in decades and those were big ass Chevy’s so this tiny thing is odd to me.
    Thanks again.








    Better late than never.
    Note that the last 1/4" of the little socket is turned down to fit inside the pulley.
    The large socket welded on the bar is a stamped socket purchased from McMaster Carr.
    Once you get tools like this, the problem goes away.[/QUOTE]
    Hybels

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    Quote Originally Posted by problemchild View Post


    Better late than never.
    Note that the last 1/4" of the little socket is turned down to fit inside the pulley.
    The large socket welded on the bar is a stamped socket purchased from McMaster Carr.
    Once you get tools like this, the problem goes away.

    That's one "BFH" Greg!
    bt

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    Will any of the holder and socket kits on Amazon work for the Fit?

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    Default Honda Fit Conversion on RF97

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank62 View Post
    I’ve come across a formula ford roller close to me I’m thinking of picking up. I’m under no delusion that a ton of time, effort, and $$ will be involved to get the car on the track. Was curious what a fit conversion cost in 2023 and are all the parts still available? I contacted fast forward and found they only do engine parts. It looks like HPD still makes the wiring harnesses for the conversion. What other parts are needed for the chassis? Are they still available?

    What’s the typical cost of a fit rebuild and how many hours do you typically get on an engine?

    Frank: You may want to speak with Jay Messenger in Texas about converting to a Honda. I know he has done this in the past and may be able to help you out with any questions you may have with the conversion... Good Luck

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    Jay did reach out to me. If I decide to do the conversion I believe I will be buying some parts from him. The concern I have is the long term viability of the fit motor. Honda has stopped making the 1.5L engine and they seem uninterested in supporting the project. It does seem superior to the ford in terms of interval between rebuilds and consistency, but I’m not sure I’m ready to invest the kind of coin needed in this car. My RF 97 is sitting in a series of crates right now and I have a ford motor of questionable condition that came with the car. Will start seeing what I need to get the car back together in a couple months. Look for wanted post coming for RF 97 parts in future so I can get this thing back on track.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank62 View Post
    The concern I have is the long term viability of the fit motor.
    Appropriate concern. There will be some builders continuing to support the Honda, so buying a car that already has one is not such a bad idea, but doing an actual conversion these days seems a stretch. There will be support for the Kent as long as we use petrol for fuel.
    Caldwell D9B - Sold
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    RF94 Monoshock - here goes nothin'

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  36. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank62 View Post
    The concern I have is the long term viability of the fit motor.
    If this is your concern, then go the kent route and save the Hondas for the people that want to race a lot and now. The cost savings of a converted Honda is such an advantage that prep shops and serious racers will want the Honda engine. I figure I will run my 4 cars for the next decade with engine costs of a couple of $K. The critics will scoff but I have no concerns.

    Using up a HPD kit on the conversion of an oddball car as a casual long term project does not seem viable to me, even as a Honda fan!

    Yes, please get that car back on track!
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  38. #29
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    Default Fit fan

    No arguments from me on the superiority of the Fit motor. There were 286,000 sold in the US from 2009 to 2013 which is the relevant period.
    A buddy of mine has been second and third in the Runoffs with motors that came from junkyards with freshened heads. I’ve heard of three that blew head gaskets including mine around the San Francisco region in many years.
    In 2020 I had a 711M rebuilt for $7k.
    Im thinking to bore my Fit as long as it’s going to be out so need a source for .020 over pistons if anyone knows.



    Quote Originally Posted by problemchild View Post
    If this is your concern, then go the kent route and save the Hondas for the people that want to race a lot and now. The cost savings of a converted Honda is such an advantage that prep shops and serious racers will want the Honda engine. I figure I will run my 4 cars for the next decade with engine costs of a couple of $K. The critics will scoff but I have no concerns.

    Using up a HPD kit on the conversion of an oddball car as a casual long term project does not seem viable to me, even as a Honda fan!

    Yes, please get that car back on track!
    Hybels

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    Default No Dog in Hunt

    Quote Originally Posted by problemchild View Post
    In my experience, although the head was trashed, if the piston tops look okay, then deglaze, put in piston rings and the short block will be good to go. You also may want to take the opportunity to put in the oversized pistons.
    I have seen in many post about the Honda a mention of 'the big piston'. Why is there a piston change option? Is there an advantage to the big piston over what I assume is the stock piston?

    I have zero opinion one way or another.... just curious for some information about the piston and why it exists. Thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by CGOffroad View Post
    I have seen in many post about the Honda a mention of 'the big piston'. Why is there a piston change option? Is there an advantage to the big piston over what I assume is the stock piston?

    I have zero opinion one way or another.... just curious for some information about the piston and why it exists. Thanks
    It exists to extend the llves or save cylinder blocks.

    If the premise is that the1%ish theoretical improvement is not worth the cost of taking an engine apart for upgrade, that if you are having to do a bunch of machine work and labor already, then its a good time to spend the money to add the upgrade.

    Same concept: If you are getting other repairs made on your street car and it needs to go in the shop, do an oil change and rotate tires at the same time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by problemchild View Post
    It exists to extend the llves or save cylinder blocks.

    If the premise is that the1%ish theoretical improvement is not worth the cost of taking an engine apart for upgrade, that if you are having to do a bunch of machine work and labor already, then its a good time to spend the money to add the upgrade.

    Same concept: If you are getting other repairs made on your street car and it needs to go in the shop, do an oil change and rotate tires at the same time.
    Exactly.

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