Doug Mill's 1985 GLH Turbo "FLY-N-BOX"
- The "FLY-N-BOX" ... Doug Mill's 1985 "GLH Turbo"
12.99 secs @ 105.5 mph
June 18th, 1994
A 12-second quarter mile in an Omni? Yeah, right ... and a zebra won last year's Kentucky Derby! Well everybody ... I wouldn't have believed it myself if I wasn't the owner of this car. It's true, and for how I did it ... read on!
- The Acquisition -
My interest in this particular vehicle was tweaked when I read a road test in the May'85 Car & Driver magazine. I remember reading that this lil' front-wheel driver could "suck the tail-lights out of the turbo Thunderbird!" ... 0-60 came in 7.5 seconds, with the quarter in 15.8 at 88 mph. Hmmm? Sounded like fun, but it's a MOPAR! Yuk! At that time I was a devout Chevy guy, (having a restored '57 Bel Air in the garage) and I could never own a MOPAR! ... or could I?
In February '86 I saw an ad for a silver '85 Dodge Omni GLH Turbo
with less than 1300 miles at a nearby Dodge dealer. I thought "Why
not go drive one and just see for myself?"
There it was! Sorta an ugly little box ... Had dealer "stick-on" pin-stripes (they'd go!), but otherwise, real straight. OK ... lemme drive this thing! Wow, clutch and shift-linkage sure are stiff compared to my Toyota's. Power steering?! That's nice. Runs like a top! This sucker sure does "Go Like HELL"! The price was $6799, about a grand less that book. Hmmm? ... But it's a MOPAR, Doug! Yeah, but it's a "Lil'Screamer" too! My '69 Toyota Corona 2-door hardtop with its 212,000 miles had been such a GREAT car for the past 17 years! It was Family! Gee, "The 'Yota" took my wife and I on our honeymoon down the Oregon coast! But, no doubt it was gonna need some major attention in the very near future. Besides, its 18.84 seconds at 70 mph in the quarter just didn't cut it! A deal was struck February 24, 1986 ... and that's how I became an owner of a 1985 GLH Turbo. Little did I know what lie ahead!!!
Mod#1: About a year later (Jan'87), in the back of a Motor Trend magazine, I noticed a tiny ad for "Mopar 2.2 Turbo Owners - Add 40-50 Horsepower!" It was an ad placed by a firm back east called "Turbo Technologies" who sold a neat little manual boost controller. Well, $96 later I had my first modification installed on my GLH. It allowed me to run a constant 12-14 lbs. of boost, providing I didn't forget the octane boost!
The results of Mod#1: 15.15 seconds at 90 mph
Mod#2: I thought "Gee, I think the 14's will be no problem!" Turbo Technologies had mentioned a High Performance Logic Module sold by MOPAR (P/N P4349743) that would really complement the boost valve, allowing 0-60 times in the low 6's! Sounded good to me, so that was my next addition.
The results of Mod#2: 14.47 seconds at 98 mph
Mod#3: As you can see, the new logic module really worked by altering timing, allowing a constant 10 lbs boost (without boost valve), and modified the injectors' fuel curve. The next step was the most involved; adding an intercooler. A friend of mine at work owned a red GLH Turbo who had at one time had an intercooler kit on it from Spearco, a company in California (818-901-7851). He took it off because he now had a new toy, a Car Tech (company in Texas) Honda Civic-S, with an intercooled turbo putting out 175 hp! Anyway he said "Doug, you can HAVE that intercooler ... I don't need it." (Did I luck-out or what?)
I wanted the intercooler up front where it belongs; not like the Spearco installation that puts it inside the engine compartment with an air-scoop under the car ducting air to it. To put the intercooler up in front between the radiator and grille required moving the radiator 4" to the passenger side, and rotating the battery 90 degrees. This allowed for a pathway for the intercooler tubing, which I had fabricated by George Scott of Turbo Technology, Tacoma, Washington (206-475-8319). Also, the factory fan had to go because it was too deep; a Derale 14" fan (p/n #905) solved that problem.
The results of Mod#3: 14.11 seconds at 100 mph
Mod#4: Now I was begining to think "13's!!!" with good reason. I was still running the stock exhaust system with catalytic converter and the original slippery 195/50 Eagle GT's! To remove some of the exhaust back-pressure, I had the catalytic converter flanged so that I could easily remove it when at the strip. I also bought some 205/50 Hoosier Auto-Crosser "stickies" for more hook at the start. A couple more tricks at this time included removal of all the plastic "flash" from the air-box to the throttle body intake housing, and cleaning up the inlet housing to the turbo.
The results of Mod#4: 13.97 seconds at 102 mph
Mod#5: Now that the 13's were a reality, I wondered what else could I do? Being a subscriber to TURBO Magazine, I had read of a fuel-enhancement device called the "Turbo GroupFueler" made by Miller-Woods. It consisted of an extra (5th) injector that had its own computer that was boost/rpm regulated. Claims of a half-second improvement in quarter mile times really caught my eye! After calling Miller-Woods (they are no longer in business) directly and telling them of my application, they convinced me the GroupFueler would really make a difference. I was sold; I parted with $400 and got one! I had heard that opening up the exhaust would make quite a difference also. So I had STAN's Muffler in Auburn, Washington (206-854-5310), fabricate a 2-1/2" exhaust system with mandrel bends, and capped it with a Walker Dyno-Max Super Turbo muffler. I also wrapped the exhaust pipe from the turbo-outlet to the catalytic converter with Thermo-Tec (800-274-8437) 1" wide, 50' long insulating wrap; this is suppose to help disperse the heat (ie, exhaust) more quickly. Finally I decided to run with open exhaust by unhooking the exhaust from the front of the converter via a 3-bolt flange.
The results of Mod#5: 13.49 seconds at 103 mph with open exhaust.
13.64 " " 103 " closed "
Mod#6: The above times were recorded in summer of '89, with the original untouched cylinder head (Note: Head updated since; see Page 4, Item #22). I was content with this performance level ... UNTIL I met Rick Johnson of Bothell, Washington. Rick said, "Hey Doug! Would you be interested in a set of used Mickey Thompson front-wheel drive slicks?" Hmmm? Well, he made me an offer I couldn't refuse and that brings us to the next chapter of this story. These slicks are only 20" tall, 3" shorter than my 205/50's! This gives my 3.56:1 ratio an effective ratio of 4.10:1! It would also mean that I would be turning 6500-6700 at the finish line at 105+ mph! Well, on June 18th, 1994, history was made ...
The results of Mod#6:12.99 seconds at 105 mph with open exhaust and slicks!
(60' time on the above pass was 1.98 secs ... not bad for a
front-wheel driver, huh?)
Note: On February 26th, 1995, the car went 13.33 secs. at 104.4 mph "as it sits on the street"; that is, through the muffler with Yokohama A008RS tires up front.
In Summary: Having muscle-car "GO", sports car handling, and the economy of a 4-banger (25+ mpg) is a combination that is hard to beat. Yeah, I know: "... but it's an OMNI!" That's what makes it all the more fun!. I wish I could read the minds of those unsuspecting Porche's, Corvettes, 5-liter Mustangs, and a Grand National or two after just being shown my tail-lights. Do you think they went home and told their buddies they just got beat by an OMNI??? No way!
MOPAR Performance Parts Listing:
High performance ignition wires.
Heavy-duty front motor mount.
A525 heavy-duty component package
A525 5-speed trans girdle package
2.2 turbo high-perf logic module.
A525 5-speed heavy duty trans gears.
Urethane stub-strut bushings.
High performance (K&N) air filter.
Other Additions and Modifications:
9) Centerforce II clutch: pressure plate P/N CFT360040, clutch disc P/N 381014, throw-out bearing P/N N1728.
10) Waste gate bleed-off valve from "Turbo Technologies" (no longer in business).
11) VDO boost and exhaust gas temperature gauges.
12) Spearco intercooler, intake manifold, and throttle bracket from
the Spearco "GLH" kit #2-130. To install,
had to move radiator 4" to the passenger side and turn the battery 90 degrees.
13) Derale 14" electric fan #905, auto and manual control.
14) Accel cap/rotor kit, #8327.
15) Mobil 1 synthetic oil and Redline MTF trans gear lube.
16) Removal of catalytic converter Note: The car still passes the Wash. State emission tests.
17) Removal of all plastic "flash" and smoothed/ported all air intake passages, including turbo inlet and outlet.
18) Added extra 2" diameter air inlet to front side of air box, plumbed to below front bumper.
19) Attached torque-strap (small chain) between front engine mount and block.
20) Yokohama A008RS (aka "Yokies") auto-cross tires, P205/50ZR15.
21) Miller-Woods Turbo GroupFueler, a totally independent computer
controlled 5th injector that is RPM/boost
regulated; prevents lean fuel mixture (detonation) at higher boost levels.
22) MOPAR Performance Mildly Ported 2.2 Cylinder Head, with 36.15mm exhaust and 41.6mm intake valves, P/N P4529104; also MOPAR Performance larger 11mm head bolts, P/N P4349736. Note: Further pocket porting done Dec'94 by Gary Pugh of Performance Engine Development "PED" in Puyallup, Washington (800-585-8469).
23) Complete 2-1/2" exhaust system with mandrel bends, coupled to a Walker DynoMax Super-Turbo low-restriction muffler.
24) Koni Adjustable front shocks, Monroe Formula GP's in rear. (Update to Koni’s someday.)
25) Thermo-Tec exhaust insulating wrap (1" width, 50' length) applied to the first three feet (approx) of the exhaust pipe.
Bosch Platinum WR7DP, Champion RN9YC or “Gold” #2405 plugs have been used with equal success. "Race Day" preps include a 1/4 tank of premium gas with 8 oz. of Super 104+ octane boost, spare tire/jack removal, inflation of front/rear tires to 18 and 50 lbs respectively, the front Koni's at "max firm", and boost at 15-16 lbs. Best runs were achieved with a 3500 rpm launch (4000 with the slicks!), short-shifting 1st to 2nd at 5800 (except slicks), with all other shifts at or about 6200 rpm. By the way, with the short slicks, I'm in 4th gear before half-track (1/8 mile)! I hit 85 mph at the 1/8 mile (in 8.3 secs); I shift into 4th at 79 mph at 6200 rpm.
What else can be done to further enhance MOPAR's 2.2 Turbo? Done?
Extensive head work; port'n polish, larger valves Yes
Convert to the more efficient Turbo II intake. No
Larger throttle-body, injectors, and turbo. Yes
MSD ignition (or comparable) Yes
Raise boost to 18-20 pounds. No!
Nitrous oxide No!
Switch to the A555 trans; requires cable shift.
and custom-built left front drive-shaft. No
Install "limited-slip" in A555 (from Shelby). No
Drag slicks Yes
One example in particular to mention belongs to a co-hort of mine, Dave Zelkowski, an engineer at Chrysler. Dave has run a “traction-limited” 12.64 secs at 108.69 mph with his 4-door "GLH" with a modified Turbo-2 set-up. By the way, this was the "Omni from Hell" that gave all entries in the 1990 "One Lap of America" event fits, winning almost all of the performance events, but greatly penalized in a rally section due to one wrong turn! ... ending his chances for victory.
As of the summer of ‘97, there are several 2.2 turbo-powered MOPAR “daily drivers” running in the 12’s, with a couple “race-only” vehicles having reached the 11’s! Most are located in the mid-west and east coast running automatic transmissions coupled to the newer Turbo-2 intake (modified) or the factory available “Super-60” kit that claims to pump out 300hp! There’s only a hand full of us that are running the original Turbo-1 engine that can claim a 12-second time slip!
Again, being my daily commuter, I am thoroughly enjoying my "FLY-N-BOX", especially when I out-pull those unsuspecting stock or mildly modified Mustang LX's, Corvettes, IROCS, and Grand Nationals! Fun? You bet!
1007-146th Ave SE
Bellevue, Wa 98007-5648
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