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AeroModder 02-21-2011 02:10 AM

AM's '96 Ford Aspire mod thread
While looking around for a cheap car with a manual transmission to learn on, I was contacted about a '96 Ford Aspire with a 5 speed. I ended up buying it for $650!

It's in pretty good shape with 155k miles, few scratches, and good interior (shows signs of use, but not abuse). The guy I bought it from said that he was having an issue where it would lose power and smoke out the exhaust for 15-20 seconds once in a while, but it was fine otherwise.

I've started with running Seafoam through the motor and changing the oil to Mobile 1 high mileage synthetic. The oil was quite dark before the Seafoam/change. Next I'll be giving it a tuneup (plugs/wires, cap/rotor, fuel/air filters, injector cleaner) and cleaning the intake system (throttle body, MAF sensor). From there, I'll start learning how to drive it.

Pictures, taken by the PO:

Needless to say, it needs a LOT of work done to the aero to squeeze more MPGs out of it on the highway. My first goal is 50 MPG highway, and if I meet that, my second goal will be 50 MPG tank averages.

I've already laid the streamlining template over the same model:

I'm planning on raising the hatch to come closer to meeting the template, but I'll also test a spoiler similar to the Crisis Fighter Pinto model.

Since it's a '96, I'll be able to get a Scangauge or similar tool to measure the actual improvements of the mods, as opposed to guessing from tank averages. But the first instrumentation addition will be a tach, because it doesn't have one.

I'll need to find a cheap camera to document the aeromods with! For now, it'll just be learning how to master a manual transmission and fixing it up as needed.

Oh, some other stats for the car:
1.3L I4
Manual steering, windows, and locks
Does have AC
155/80/13 tires
Weighs about 2100 lbs

It doesn't have a name yet, but it's going to have to be something related to a turtle. My wife is wanting to call it "Nibbles..."

BamZipPow 02-21-2011 03:27 AM

Squirtle... :D

aerohead 02-21-2011 06:21 PM

50 mpg
An acquaintance who owned an Aspire claimed 50 mpg highway for his.It seemed reasonable in light of the frontal area,weight,etc.. My stock '84 CRX averaged 52 mpg at the old double-nickel speed limit and the Aspire is not remarkably unlike it.
I don't think you'll have any trouble getting there.

AeroModder 02-22-2011 03:06 AM

I was poking around the underside a bit, and I think I'm going to do a full undertray on this one, using wood blocks to make mounting points along the underside. I'll also try to go with a 4* diffuser, starting from the rear axle. The skinny 155 tires will make full rear wheel skirts very doable. Definitely going to do an air dam as well.

Backtobasics 02-22-2011 10:46 AM

I always considered Aspires to be under-utilized compared to the Geo Metro. There just seems to be less of them pulling big MPGs, perhaps less overall units on the road?

Cd 02-22-2011 11:29 AM

Since it is a hatchback you could raise the hatch to the appropriate angle and just fill in the gaps. that way you would be able to use the stock glass.
This would also allow you to experiment with the ideal angle that you need.
It could be fully reversible too if you don't drill into the body.

Cd 02-22-2011 11:32 AM

Oh wait - I forgot your hatch glass is connected to the hatch.
I'm so used to my Civic hatch, which has the glass open separate from the bottom half of the hatch.

AeroModder 02-22-2011 11:42 AM

I was hoping that the glass section would be separate, so I could do that very thing. Unfortunately, it's all one piece.

I took it out for the first time yesterday to fill it with gas (OUCH, 3.20 for REGULAR!), and it's not all that hard to drive! I just need to find and remember where the clutch slips and give it some gas at the right moment.

First mod is going to be an aftermarket tach, since the stock cluster doesn't include one.

aerohead 02-22-2011 06:32 PM

Aero,I found my piece on the Aspire.It is so close to the CRX with exception of the rear hatch which isn't as steep.My car was advertised at Cd 0.32 but registered only Cd 0.35 in a better wind tunnel.Your Aspire is Cd 0.36,and that's a yaw-averaged Cd.It should be a very conservative number.
The belly will help.The diffuser will help but it won't function until everything upstream is clean.So I would recommend you start at the nose and work back.
Here are some things I did to the CRX which would lend themselves to the Aspire:
* wrap-around nose/airdam with flexible chin and built-in grille block.Plex covered headlamps and signals.
* rocker panel extensions to get sides even with sides of tires and guide air down the sides.
* Full-coverage rear wheel skirts
* Full dish wheel covers
* bellypan ( I just added panels where Honda didn't have 'em )
* Rear hatch header wing/C-pillar buttress extension out to new tail
* 12-inch boat tail with electrical umbilical for integral trailer lights built in.
The kit pushed the top speed from 93,to 100 mph at sea-level.
Mpg went from 52.2 mpg @ 55 mph,to 60.6 mpg at same velocity.
Highest one-way run went from 62 mpg,to 82 mpg,over a 345,000 mile database.
Drag coefficient dropped from Cd 0.35,to 0.235
I think a 'kit' could do exactly the same for your car.And you could take it further! Really 'basjoos it.'

AeroModder 02-23-2011 02:35 PM

Did some digging and found out the Aspire SE model came with a rear hatch spoiler. My estimation puts the height just underneath the template, which should be good enough for attached flow.

I'm thinking of using it as a mount for a kammback if I can find one for cheap. The Wings West ones cost nearly $200.

Or, I might try vortex generators and see if that helps. The shape of the Aspire's rear end is very similar to the shape of the body used in this video:

Without VGs:

The Aspire's hatch is a 25* average with a maximum angle of 35*, with the glass starting at about 22*. I'll be doing some tuft testing to find the separation point when the weather clears up.

Also, I took it out on the highway for the first time this morning. 5th gear runs the engine at 2400 RPM at 55 MPH. Not too bad, but taller tires might help some.

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