Skip to main content

Topic: An unusual and slightly ubsurd build: Sue, the Kia that could.  (Read 21797 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
  • 357transam
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Flapdisc Fanboy
An unusual and slightly ubsurd build: Sue, the Kia that could.
As the title says, this will be a bit of an unconventional build for most of you. To start off, let me give you a bit of history on how this all came to be. Throughout my formative years, my dad was always tinkering on stuff in the garage, whether that was boats, cars, trucks, dirtbikes, go-carts, whatever it may have been, there was always fuel involved somewhere in the deal.  Thereby, it was passed on to me and my brother.

Originally, I was more geared towards going fast, as any young boy tends to be. I bought my first car at 14 with a loan from BPL (Bank of Parental Loaning). It was a 1970 Pontiac Ventura with a blown transmission. We pulled it home, I spent a week cleaning it, and me and my dad swapped in a junkyard Turbo 350 to get it going. I then decided I wanted something a little cooler, so sold the car for a meager profit, and bought my first love, a 1986 Trans Am, with the awesome all powerful carbed 305 v8, a crunch in the right front fender, interior, and completely shot clear coat. Throughout the next several months while I was getting my driving permit, we fixed the fender, stripped the interior and had it recovered (by my parents neighbor Eddie Potestio; a fairly famous guy if you know about hot rod interiors), and repainted the car.  I drove it for a couple years, and then we built a mild 350. I raced the car every chance I got for the Friday night drags, and generally raised as much hell as I could without actually getting in trouble. I realized after high school, and an unsuccessful year of community college that I wanted to try and get into the car industry, so I signed up to go to Wyotech.

Growing up in Colorado, I knew that the T/A would not enjoy the snow and cold of Laramie, Wyoming. To top it off, the T/A only got about 14 mpg, which is painful on only slightly more than minimum wage.  It was time to look for a secondary vehicle.  I wanted a 4 cylinder, with 4 wheel drive. I looked at a lot of different vehicles (most that were well out of my price range,) and finally stumbled across the most unlikely of vehicles. 

It was perfect! Full frame, 99 inch wheelbase, 2 speed transfer case,  5 speed manual, 4.97 final drive, and to top it off, 28mpgs. This is proof that there is something really wrong with me. I purchased it, with another BPL loan, and brought it home.  



At the time, I had just discovered the great Mr. Cash, and in honor of him, I decided to name it Sue.  In congratulations, my dad made up some sweet shift knobs for me.



I immediately swapped in the stereo equipment from the T/A, as it was destined to become my drag car, and headed off to college.
Please ignore the neon light. I have since moved on from such childish things. I now rock LED’s.



While there, I decided that it was time to change the exterior a bit, and the wheels got painted.



Graduation came and went, I got married, and moved to OK. After a while, I was finally back on my feet enough to start some mods. Step one, bigger, bald free 31” tires and a 3 inch lift, with a 1 inch body lift. The bumpers, and front fenders rubbed, so off the bumpers came, and the fenders got trimmed.  And of course, Flex shots!





Fast forward a bit, my brother bought his Cherokee, and we finally went wheeling. And then I learned the value of good tires.



Or even half way good tires.



A bit later, the Kia saw its first snow storm on bigger, balder tires.  It was terrible.



Fast forward again, and after a couple more wheeling trips, I learned the value of plugs in the body that can be removed.  And again, bald tires suck.





Also, I managed to partially soak the air filter on that trip, so it was time for the next cheap mod. I had been saving some cut up pieces of exhaust tubing, so it was time to build a snorkel.  A few hours, welds and cuts later, and the snorkel was done.



Next up…. Finally! Tires! After a lot of research, I decided on KM2’s in the 31 x 10.50 flavor, on a 15 inch wheel.



Snazzy!



I forgot to mention earlier, but at some point before this, the factory cat went out. Being a cheap skate, I opted to put in a permanent “test pipe”.  Which just so happened to be 2.25 inches (vs the factory 1.5) and the length of the vehicle, as well as including a resonator and muffler.  You can see it in its original location above.

Around this time is when the CB got installed.





And then, Wheeling again!!!





And here’s what happened when my wife tried the same hill…..



She did retry and make it though.
Boosted by my success, I got a bit overconfident in the rigs abilities, and went up a hill that I probably had no business being on.



I did make it to the very last ledge though.





I continued to wheel it that way for quite a while. Took it to Colorado….



Anyone that has wheeled there is probably familiar with this sight.



While there, the front auto hubs grenaded, so I missed Tin Cup pass, where my favorite pic of my wife’s TJ was taken.



Upon returning home, the auto hubs got replaced with Warn manual hubs. You can see them here if you look close enough.



My brothers Cherokee was getting bigger as well…



We continued to wheel for a while.




And then I finally had enough. It was time for the purple to go. I bought a cheap Harbor Freight spray gun, a gallon of single stage paint from O’rielly’s, and went to work.



A bit later, and this happened! I was pretty proud of it for never having used a paint gun before.





After a couple weeks, I decided that the color needed a bit broken up.



I wheeled it a bit more, then the front suspension had started to sag, and the upper ball joints and struts were shot. I replaced basically all the front suspension, and headed back out.





For a couple of months, I had been hearing this light ticking noise from the rear diff. Eventually, I decided it wasn’t going to go away, and tore the diff out to see what it was.  Bad news.  Bad news is what it was.



The center pin in the carrier had sheared in half, allowing it to move in and out, wearing the carrier. It also contacted the pinion bearing, and chewed up the leading edge a bit. 



Sue got put in the garage for nearly a year while I decided what to do. This was the second rear diff that had spontaneously decided to destroy itself. On top of that, the trans had a slight noise at highway speeds, and the transfer case had something loose inside that banged with every gear shift. Maybe it was time to let her go?  I searched for several months for something to replace her with; Tj’s, Yj’s, Yota’s, Zukes. I finally came to the conclusion that I was not going to be able to find something that wasn’t majorly beat for the kind of price range I was looking for. I did some research instead, and found out that a company in South Korea makes gear sets for them.  And a purchase was made.

Four days later…. (Yeah! Four days after sending my money half way around the world, the parts showed up!! Eat your heart out any American company!) 5.38’s showed up at my doorstep.



In they went. But not without some trouble. See, when the first diff blew up, I pulled one out of a junkyard, not realizing at the time that there were differences. The early Sportages like mine had a smaller 26 spline axle. The one I pulled it from, a 2000, had a larger 28 spline axle. Sweet! Upgrades! Well, I kept the non damaged parts from the original, one of which was the carrier. I figured I would just use it for the new gear set. The gears went on, the new carrier bearings went on, new axle bearings went on….. And then the problem.



The 28 spline axles were a bit larger than the internal diameter of the 26 spline carrier. So, out came the dremel…



And in went the axles.



I also replaced the transfer case at this time.  And then, back to wheeling!!!!





So that pretty much brings us up to now… Whew.  Sorry for the long wordy part, but it takes a bit to catch up on 5 years or so of modding.

  • ShaunSweeney
  • [*]
  • Staff
Re: An unusual and slightly ubsurd build: Sue, the Kia that could.
Reply #1
Sooo different. I love it. Make some bumpers and I think it will look pretty killer.  [weld]

  • Twinstickd20
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: An unusual and slightly ubsurd build: Sue, the Kia that could.
Reply #2
That little thing is great! Way to use what you are given.

  • aw12345
  • [*]
  • Staff
Re: An unusual and slightly ubsurd build: Sue, the Kia that could.
Reply #3
Cool, I like different

  • Danno6102
  • [*][*][*]
  • Vendor
  • Get Ready to Rock!
Re: An unusual and slightly ubsurd build: Sue, the Kia that could.
Reply #4
This thing is full of awesome! Who would have ever thought about hardcore wheeling a KIA.  [rockon]

  • Sundowner
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Admin
  • Neutral Evil
Re: An unusual and slightly ubsurd build: Sue, the Kia that could.
Reply #5
Love it.  ;D

  • 357transam
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Flapdisc Fanboy
Re: An unusual and slightly ubsurd build: Sue, the Kia that could.
Reply #6
Thanks guys! Sometimes I really wish I would have gone a different route, just because its a pain to source some parts. My brother just recently bought a good welder, and I have a Rogue Fab bender sitting there waiting to be put together, so bumpers and more importantly rock rails are in the plans.

Unfortunately, after that last wheeling trip, I have found another new issue. At some point the axle side bolt for the rear track bar backed off just slightly, allowing it to stretch the bolt hole in the mount. To top it off, the bolt is apparently welded to the inside of the track bar bushing.  >:(  I am in the process of cutting the bolt out, but its a bit of a pain, as the grinder won't quite reach the last 1/3 of the bolt to cut though on the inside of the mount, and in my stupidity, I cut the bolt head off first, so I cant rotate it. I'm going to borrow my bro's sawzall to get it the rest of the way.  [saw]

Instead of replacing with factory, I have decided to upgrade. I was planning at some point to replace the factory 3 link with new larger, slightly longer arms with JJ. Unfortunately, my track bar brackets are 2 3/8" wide. The closest JJ is 2 5/8 wide at the mounting points. I had thought about building new mounts, until if found these.  That will allow me to drill out the mounts for the 9/16" bolt, as well as get a bit more flex out of the trackbar. Just have to get some DOM and the joints, and Sue will be back on the road.  [weld]

  • moredock_31
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Under Construction
Re: An unusual and slightly ubsurd build: Sue, the Kia that could.
Reply #7
This thing is awesome, looking forward to seeing it done

  • badmonkey
  • [*]
  • nobody
Re: An unusual and slightly ubsurd build: Sue, the Kia that could.
Reply #8
Rock that Kia!  As a Zuk guy different is good IMO.   [rockon]

  • 357transam
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Flapdisc Fanboy
Re: An unusual and slightly ubsurd build: Sue, the Kia that could.
Reply #9

This thing is awesome, looking forward to seeing it done


Thanks man! I don't think it will ever be done though. I have been doing some off and on research on suspensions, and there is likely going to be some changes to the rear. I have a ton of room back there to build up a single or likely even a double tri suspension. That being said, the current three link does pretty good. The main thing I would like to change is that on steep slick climbs it likes to wheel hop. I think it is likely an anti squat issue, but I'm not 100% on that. Also, the upper center arm is only about half the length of the lowers, which I know causes the numbers to change pretty significantly during compression/extension, as well as causing the pinion to aim down during movement.

  • G Beasley
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Admin
  • Sawzall Surgeon
Re: An unusual and slightly ubsurd build: Sue, the Kia that could.
Reply #10
 This is the only Kia I have ever seen wheeled other than at the beach . Nice work so far , and it doesnt seem like you have spent a ton on it either which makes it much more fun .

  • 357transam
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Flapdisc Fanboy
Re: An unusual and slightly ubsurd build: Sue, the Kia that could.
Reply #11
All told I probably have less than 6k in it, including the original purchase price.....  ;D.  Some sexiness came in for it last night. Pics later tonight.

  • G Beasley
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Admin
  • Sawzall Surgeon
Re: An unusual and slightly ubsurd build: Sue, the Kia that could.
Reply #12

All told I probably have less than 6k in it, including the original purchase price.....  ;D.  Some sexiness came in for it last night. Pics later tonight.
That makes for a fun and cheap wheeler .

  • 357transam
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Flapdisc Fanboy
Re: An unusual and slightly ubsurd build: Sue, the Kia that could.
Reply #13
Well, the track bar is out.



Unfortunately, not without some damage to the mount. Also, the bolt hole on the inner mount is far more destroyed than the outer.



Looking at the picture, its hard to tell, but I don't think I will just be able to drill out to 9/16 like I had planned; I think the hole is too far worn in the outward direction, and it won't allow a tight fit, even drilled to a larger size. Also, I'm not sure if it was that way due to being loose, or if it's from me torqueing on the mount, but the mount is no where near straight anymore. Should I just cut it off and get a new mount?  Or use a weld washer to make up for the size difference?



Oh yeah. As promised... Sexiness.  [thumbsup]

  • 357transam
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Flapdisc Fanboy
Re: An unusual and slightly ubsurd build: Sue, the Kia that could.
Reply #14
My brother sent me some pretty neat pics of some wheeling from the past, so I thought I would share.














Also, I am doing some more research on the track bar to figure out what I am going to do.  After measuring the frame side track bar bracket, I found that they are supposed to be 2 5/8'' wide, which is the common size for a JJ.  The axle side bracket will need to be replaced anyway.  I have pretty much decided I am going to use the Duroflex, as the cost to make the track bar single adjustable is only going to be about 6 bucks more than a JJ.  With getting the tubing, tube insert and jam nut from Barnes offroad, the total for an adjustable track bar will be about 130 before shipping.