Saturn Sky Forum banner

1 - 20 of 44 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
502 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
One of our dearest friends are Leo & Hilda Franchi. You can Google them if you are the least bit interested in who they are. Leo has built up and rebuilt all kinds of racing engines and engine support systems, and as of late, rebuilds extremely rare engines worth $250,000 when he is done with them. Those terribly expensive engines are like "10 in the world" type of engine, extremely rare stuff. Leo (and even Hilda) has a long history of building engine systems for the professional auto racing industry. His forte are BMWs, but he has supported other racing teams as well. Because I am not into the sport at all, I am in the dark when he talks about it. But his pictures, articles, awards, and the people he knows, are surely impressive.

Anyway........

My wife and I drove our mildly restored Base Sky (called Money Pit) to their home today for a social visit. Naturally our Sky caught Leo's attention when we pulled up in it. He knew of the Solstice/Sky, but not beyond that. Leo spent some of his career supporting a Miata racing team so he was naturally curious about our Sky. After looking the car over and hearing my sob story about all I had to do with Money Pit, I asked him for his professional opinion on the car and it's mechanical state.

Little did I realize what I was asking for, especially after he asked me to ride along. They live in a small town with rural roads all around. After a short time feeling the car out, brakes, steering, suspension, tires, etc. he starts driving like he is on a race track, the engine sounding like it's red-lining with every press of the gas pedal, while sloluming through the winding countryside. I had no idea that a Base Sky could do that. The engine had a very impressive pull that I never felt the rare time driving the car aggressively on my own, and the car cornered so well. It was obvious he knows how to "race" and I don't.

Here was Leo's comments on the car and it's current mechanical condition based on his test drive.
  • The stock chrome wheels and tires are very heavy for the Sky
  • My 30 psi tires would perform better with 5 more psi
  • My shock absorbers are shot, emphasizing that more than once
  • He asked me to inspect the ball joints "his way"
  • The fuel injectors need to be cleaned because he felt their inefficiency at certain points of the power band, he advised putting in a full quart of Lucas fuel injector cleaner during the next gasoline fill-up, a once & done treatment
  • Other than the fuel injectors, engine performance is impressive
  • The transmission and clutch are also impressive and in fine working condition
  • He was very impressed with all the work I did to the car because it looked nearly brand new to him
  • He liked the car very much saying that considering what the car is, the various systems work extremely well together.
  • He also liked the style and feel of the car very much, minus it needing new shocks
He looked at the car from a "performance" perspective. I drive the car for pleasure. My point here is, I won't be replacing the wheels and won't be putting more air in the tires.

My wife Irene continues to fall deeper in love with Money Pit as evident with her comment of "I must do as Leo says" replacing the shocks and do that fuel injector cleaning. And she has been only a passenger so far.

Here is a selfie of us during a walk tonight in Lake Geneva, WI at the Wrigley mansion. Leo and Hilda are in the middle.
112997

Leo was sharing with me that his engine building days have dramatically changed over the years. Years ago he would build tight-spec'd racing engine components to within one-thousandth of an inch. These days he builds them to 10x tighter specs, to one 10-thousandth of an inch for high-end racing circuit requirements. Precision, precision, precision, like building a rocket for sending man to Mars.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
One of our dearest friends are Leo & Hilda Franchi. You can Google them if you are the least bit interested in who they are. Leo has built up and rebuilt all kinds of racing engine systems, and as of late, rebuilds extremely rare engines worth $250,000 when he is done with them. Those terribly expensive engines are like "10 in the world" type of engine, extremely rare stuff. Leo (and even Hilda) has a long history of building engine systems for the professional auto racing industry. His forte are BMWs, but he has supported other racing teams as well. Because I am not into the sport at all, I am in the dark when he talks about it. But his pictures, articles, awards, and the people he knows, are surely impressive.

Anyway........

My wife and I drove our mildly restored Base Sky (called Money Pit) to their home today for a social visit. Naturally our Sky caught Leo's attention when we pulled up in it. He knew of the Solstice/Sky, but not beyond that. Leo spent some of his career supporting a Miata racing team so he was naturally curious about our Sky. After looking the car over and hearing my sob story about all I had to do with Money Pit, I asked him for his professional opinion on the car and it's mechanical state.

Little did I realize what I was asking for, especially after he asked me to ride along. They live in a small town with rural roads all around. After a short time feeling the car out, brakes, steering, suspension, tires, etc. he starts driving like he is on a race track, the engine sounding like it's red-lining with every press of the gas pedal, while sloluming through the winding countryside. I had no idea that a Base Sky could do that. The engine had a very impressive pull that I never felt the rare time driving the car aggressively on my own, and the car cornered so well. It was obvious he knows how to "race" and I don't.

Here was Leo's comments on the car and it's current mechanical condition based on his test drive.
  • The stock chrome wheels and tires are very heavy for the Sky
  • My 30 psi tires would perform better with 5 more psi
  • My shock absorbers are shot (he will talk with Bilstein in SanDiego to see if they can be rebuilt)
  • He asked me to inspect the ball joints "his way"
  • The fuel injectors need to be cleaned because he felt their inefficiency at certain points of the power band (he advised putting in a full quart of Lucas fuel injector cleaner during the next gasoline fill-up)
  • Other than the fuel injectors, engine performance is impressive
  • The transmission and clutch are also impressive and in fine working condition
  • He was very impressed with all the work I did to the car because it looked nearly brand new to him
  • He liked the car very much saying that considering what the car is, the various systems work extremely well together.
  • He also liked the style and feel of the car very much, minus it needing new shocks
He looked at the car from a "performance" perspective. I drive the car for pleasure. My point here is, I won't be replacing the wheels and won't be putting more air in the tires.

My wife Irene continues to fall deeper in love with Money Pit as evident with her comment of "I must do as Leo says" replacing the shocks and do that fuel injector cleaning. And she has been only a passenger so far.

Here is a selfie of us during a walk tonight in Lake Geneva, WI at the Wrigley mansion. Leo and Hilda are in the middle.
View attachment 112997
Rj,
It’s great seeing another Sky from the burbs of Chicago on this site. We recently bought a 2008 Sky base with 16,500 miles on it and have already fallen in love with it. I’m looking forward to reading your old posts to see what modifications you’ve made to your base model.
-Bill
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
5,878 Posts
One of our dearest friends are Leo & Hilda Franchi. You can Google them if you are the least bit interested in who they are. Leo has built up and rebuilt all kinds of racing engine systems, and as of late, rebuilds extremely rare engines worth $250,000 when he is done with them. Those terribly expensive engines are like "10 in the world" type of engine, extremely rare stuff. Leo (and even Hilda) has a long history of building engine systems for the professional auto racing industry. His forte are BMWs, but he has supported other racing teams as well. Because I am not into the sport at all, I am in the dark when he talks about it. But his pictures, articles, awards, and the people he knows, are surely impressive.

Anyway........

My wife and I drove our mildly restored Base Sky (called Money Pit) to their home today for a social visit. Naturally our Sky caught Leo's attention when we pulled up in it. He knew of the Solstice/Sky, but not beyond that. Leo spent some of his career supporting a Miata racing team so he was naturally curious about our Sky. After looking the car over and hearing my sob story about all I had to do with Money Pit, I asked him for his professional opinion on the car and it's mechanical state.

Little did I realize what I was asking for, especially after he asked me to ride along. They live in a small town with rural roads all around. After a short time feeling the car out, brakes, steering, suspension, tires, etc. he starts driving like he is on a race track, the engine sounding like it's red-lining with every press of the gas pedal, while sloluming through the winding countryside. I had no idea that a Base Sky could do that. The engine had a very impressive pull that I never felt the rare time driving the car aggressively on my own, and the car cornered so well. It was obvious he knows how to "race" and I don't.

Here was Leo's comments on the car and it's current mechanical condition based on his test drive.
  • The stock chrome wheels and tires are very heavy for the Sky
  • My 30 psi tires would perform better with 5 more psi
  • My shock absorbers are shot (he will talk with Bilstein in SanDiego to see if they can be rebuilt)
  • He asked me to inspect the ball joints "his way"
  • The fuel injectors need to be cleaned because he felt their inefficiency at certain points of the power band (he advised putting in a full quart of Lucas fuel injector cleaner during the next gasoline fill-up)
  • Other than the fuel injectors, engine performance is impressive
  • The transmission and clutch are also impressive and in fine working condition
  • He was very impressed with all the work I did to the car because it looked nearly brand new to him
  • He liked the car very much saying that considering what the car is, the various systems work extremely well together.
  • He also liked the style and feel of the car very much, minus it needing new shocks
He looked at the car from a "performance" perspective. I drive the car for pleasure. My point here is, I won't be replacing the wheels and won't be putting more air in the tires.

My wife Irene continues to fall deeper in love with Money Pit as evident with her comment of "I must do as Leo says" replacing the shocks and do that fuel injector cleaning. And she has been only a passenger so far.

Here is a selfie of us during a walk tonight in Lake Geneva, WI at the Wrigley mansion. Leo and Hilda are in the middle.
Interesting story, and he sounds like a fascinating guy to know.

We have always been told that the shocks are not rebuildable, so it will be interesting to find out what someone who apparently has inside connections can find out.
Given your intent for the car, i would go to Rock Auto (or somewhere) and buy the ACDelco replacements, unless Leo learns something that we haven't been able to.

What tires do you have fitted? The four different tires I have used all run best at 30-33 psi cold. I find 29 to be too low, and 35 is definitely too high.

What Leo thought was under-pressure tires is probably the inherent weakness in the rear suspension that is cured by installing a ProBeam from DDM. The flex in the rear suspension feels very much like low tire pressure to me, and the ProBeam eliminates it completely. It is the one suspension mod that is pure improvement, with no downside and no change to the normal ride characteristics. It will not stiffen the ride, but it will eliminate the little twitch that occurs when transitioning in or out of a turn.

You have done repair & restoration and appearance & convenience, so you need a performance mod. Its only money.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17,477 Posts
Just ordered Lucas....what is your mileage on your vehicle. I have a set of Bilstein shocks sitting in my garage for that just in case moment....F2s I believe they are for an NA
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
5,878 Posts
Just ordered Lucas....what is your mileage on your vehicle. I have a set of Bilstein shocks sitting in my garage for that just in case moment....F2s I believe they are for an NA
From another thread I remember 120k. Estimated because of a replaced BCM.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
502 Posts
Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
JohnWR is correct. Our Base Sky has 120,000 miles on the corrected, now accurate odometer reading after a new BCM was recently installed, but that is another topic.

Interesting comments given here that the shocks cannot be rebuilt. You could be right because Leo did say he would give Bilstein a call. We crawled around the car and got the Bilstein numbers. I have C406 up front, and C404 in back. Leo wrote down the data. I believe he assumed the shocks could be rebuilt. He may find out otherwise.

About my tires. They came with a better conditioned set of chrome OEM wheels that I exchanged as part of an larger deal I made with Hoosier GXP for many parts including a plan B convertible top assembly. My tires are Antares Ingens A1 245/45ZR18 100W with a production date code of 4816 (November 2016). They are hardly worn, like new. A quick search on the internet, they are sold at many places for around $85/tire so they are not high end tires.

About that rear Probeam from DDM. I googled it, watched a fellow install it, so I kind-of understand it now. I don't yet know how to feel about investing in it. I surely appreciate the information to consider. I first want to get the basics addressed like the shocks, then see from there.

For those of you who recall my comments back early this year 2020 concerning my initial drive home from Georgia, I complained how rough the ride was, hoping to make the suspension softer for cruising comfort. Leo is a "performance focused" guy so if I followed all of his advice, my wife and I would be disappointed instead of pleased.

A lot of what Leo stated is applicable, though I would not act upon it. For example, he commented that the wheels and tires must be quite heavy. He asked me how they man-handle of which I said that I did notice they were quite heavy to handle compared to my 2014 Nissan Altima alloy wheels and tires. He said lighter wheels would make an improvement reducing unsprung weight. That makes a lot of sense, but I will be keeping my OEM wheels anyway.

So to be clear about it, technical deviations/modifications I make to the car will be primarily focused on improving our cruising comfort, but I won't take advantage of every possible soft-ride improvement due to cost over-runs. Cost-To-Benefit needs to be considered on this 120,000 mile driven Sky. Another exception would be a significant safety-related improvement that may also benefit on a track. We drive primarily on local and back-country roads, following the people in front of us, obeying the speed limits within reason. My wife and I are surely not "performance" drivers. While we own it, our Sky will never be in any sort of competition, nor would we pretend so on regular roads.

Roads in northern Illinois suffer from winters pretty badly with a lot of salt applied which melts the ice and snow, later mixes with more water, then refreezes in places that damage the road surface. Come spring time they get repaired quickly and poorly, hence bumpy roads that we don't like bouncing over.....and right now, we bounce badly. That is why adding more psi in the tires for improved handling is another bit of advise that I won't be taking.

I realize I am on a forum where everyone wants more from their Sky for improved performance. My goal is different. I want "Fluffy", not "Lion King". It appears I won't be very successful. I will do what I am able without pumping more megabucks into Money Pit. The car must be safe and proper. I only hoped to soften it up while doing so. Maybe new shocks will help that a bit.....if I can find both front and rears for our Base Sky with FE2 suspension. Only rear shocks are available for it at Rock Auto.

Is the FE2 suspension softer than the FE3? It appears it would be so. Are shock number C404 and C406 for the FE2 suspension? I can't assume anything on this Sky. Maybe the wrong shock was installed sometime during the past 120K miles.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17,477 Posts
JohnWR is correct. Our Base Sky has 120,000 miles on the corrected odometer after a new BCM was recently installed, but that is another topic.

Interesting comments given here that the shocks cannot be rebuilt. You could be right because Leo did say he would give Bilstein a call. We crawled around the car and got the Bilstein numbers. If memory serves me right I have C406 up front, and C404 in back. Leo wrote it down, not me. I believe he assumed the shocks could be rebuilt. He may find out otherwise.

About my tires. They came with a better conditioned set of chrome OEM wheels that I exchanged as part of an larger deal I made with Hoosier GXP for many parts including a plan B convertible top assembly. My tires are Antares Ingens A1 245/45ZR18 100W with a production date code of 4816 (November 2016). They are hardly worn, like new. A quick search on the internet, they are sold at many places for around $85/tire so they are not high end tires.

About that rear Probeam from DDM. I googled it, watched a fellow install it, so I kind-of understand it now. I don't yet know how to feel about investing in it. I surely appreciate the information to consider. I first want to get the basics addressed like the shocks, then see from there.

For those of you who recall my comments back early this year 2020 concerning my initial drive home from Georgia, I complained how rough the ride was, hoping to make the suspension softer for cruising comfort. Leo is a "performance focused" guy so if I followed all of his advice, my wife and I would be disappointed instead of pleased.

A lot of what Leo stated is applicable, though I would not act upon it. For example, he commented that the wheels and tires must be quite heavy. He asked me how they man-handle of which I said that I did notice they were quite heavy to handle compared to my 2014 Nissan Altima alloy wheels and tires. He said lighter wheels would make an improvement reducing unsprung weight. That makes a lot of sense, but I will be keeping my OEM wheels anyway.

So to be clear about it, technical deviations/modifications I make to the car will be primarily focused on improving our cruising comfort, but I won't take advantage of every possible improvement. Another exception would be a significant safety-related improvement that happens to benefit performance handling as well. We drive primarily on local and back-country roads, following the people in front of us, obeying the speed limits within reason. My wife and I are surely not "performance" drivers.

Roads in northern Illinois suffer from winters pretty badly with a lot of salt applied which melts the ice and snow, later mixes with more water, then refreezes in places that damage the road surface. Come spring time they get repaired quickly and poorly, hence bumpy roads that we don't like bouncing over.....and right now, we bounce badly. That is why adding more psi in the tires for improved handling is another bit of advise that I won't be taking.

I realize I am on a forum where everyone wants more from their Sky for improved performance. My goal is different. I want "Fluffy", not "Lion King". It appears I won't be very successful. I will do what I am able without pumping more megabucks into Money Pit. The car must be safe and proper. I only hoped to soften it up while doing so. Maybe new shocks will help that a bit.....if I can find both front and rears for our Base Sky with FE2 suspension. Only rear shocks are available for it at Rock Auto.

Is the FE2 suspension softer than the FE3? It appears it would be so. Are shock number C404 and C406 for the FE2 suspension? I can't assume anything on this Sky. Maybe the wrong shock was installed sometime during the past 120K miles.
I would also like to know....are their different numbers for the F2s for rear and front? I would feel that they should be identical....good question.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,887 Posts
The guy that wrote the first message in the following thread was the guy that designed the suspension for the Kappa cars:

Suspension Specs

There's lots of detail there for the springs and shocks as well as GM part numbers, have fun!

:thumbs:

.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
5,878 Posts
I think that, regardless of a desire for comfort or performance, 35 psi is a mistake. It makes the ride rougher and reduces grip with the four tires (two different Goodyears and two different Michelins) that i have used. I don't know those tires, but i suspect that they follow the pattern. An easy thing to do is to incrementally raise the pressures to see what happens.

The ProBeam will make the car more stable. Period. No added harshness, just less moving around, and my impression is that it helps with bumps as well as cornering.

Those are the correct numbers for the FE2 suspension fitted to the NA. I think we confirmed that when you first discussed the stiffness of the ride.

The FE2 is softer than the FE3, and the fronts are different from the rears. They are physically different, so you cannot install a front in place of a rear.

This chart is distilled from one posted back in the early days, I just cleaned it up a bit.

Capture.PNG
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
502 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
The guy that wrote the first message in the following thread was the guy that designed the suspension for the Kappa cars:

Suspension Specs

There's lots of detail there for the springs and shocks as well as GM part numbers, have fun!

:thumbs:

.
DaveOC,

I forgot about that discussion. I recall it now that I see it. Thank you for sharing it!

I compared my Base FE2 suspension components to that spread sheet from the Sky engineer (forum member Flash's Owner) and everything matches up perfectly. It is good to know I have an unmodified original FE2 suspension, both shocks and springs for front and rear. And "Yes" they are different part numbers for the front versus the rear. Here is the Base FE2 suspension specs.

FE2 LE5 SKY 15224875 10376421 15236924 15280026
Code C404 (3800N - 22.5 N/mm) Code C406 (3700N - 31.0 N/mm)
[Tag = Dk Grn] [Tag = Tan]

Oh, I see JownWR just posted the entire chart for all models. Nice work!
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
5,878 Posts
Dave posted between my reading of your message and being able to post, hence the duplication.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,014 Posts
About my tires. They came with a better conditioned set of chrome OEM wheels that I exchanged as part of an larger deal I made with Hoosier GXP for many parts including a plan B convertible top assembly. My tires are Antares Ingens A1 245/45ZR18 100W with a production date code of 4816 (November 2016). They are hardly worn, like new. A quick search on the internet, they are sold at many places for around $85/tire so they are not high end tires.
My advice here is to discard all other advice and replace your tires as the starting point. Cheap tires that are four years old belong in the bin, it doesn't matter if they have zero tread wear, they're done. Get a high quality new tire and then decide if you need to mess with anything else.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
502 Posts
Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
My advice here is to discard all other advice and replace your tires as the starting point. Cheap tires that are four years old belong in the bin, it doesn't matter if they have zero tread wear, they're done. Get a high quality new tire and then decide if you need to mess with anything else.
I expected someone would say that. I am not certain I will take that advise right away. It was on my mind to begin with. New tires, especially ones selected for comfort-ride, would surely make an improvement in ride quality. If this Sky wasn't such an upside-down investment already, I would immediately take your advise. I could easily invest another $2000 into this Sky and it still won't be to our satisfaction concerning the ride we desire.

If I can find brand new C404 and C406 Bilstein shocks (or equivalent) I will start investing there first, then evaluate again.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
5,878 Posts
I do not think that four-year-old tires are done, although they certainly may have lost some grip. I just replaced a set of eight-year-old Michelins that were still quiet, comfortable, and grippy enough.

I think the bottom line is that you are unlikely to ever achieve the ride you desire. Your best bet may be to find some 16- or 17-inch wheels and go to a higher-profile tire.

As a side note, it may actually be illegal to use the words "investment" and "car" in the same sentence.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
502 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
I think the bottom line is that you are unlikely to ever achieve the ride you desire.
I agree. That is why I am not quick to throw even more money into the car, except that which is worn, the 4 shocks if I can find both front & rear replacements.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
5,878 Posts
I agree. That is why I am not quick to throw even more money into the car, except that which is worn, the 4 shocks if I can find both front & rear replacements.
Rock Auto has front and rear ACDelco.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
5,878 Posts
But only the rears shocks for the FE2.
Look again, you did the same thing I did the first (and second) time. The first item listed is: "Front EXCEPT Sport Suspension (FE3)

I don't know why it is listed that way, but several on-line sources use that wording in addition to simply FE2.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
502 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Ah! I see that.

I have a question in at a place that might sell loaded C404 and C406 shocks (springs included). If that is a dead end, I will order from Rock Auto.
 
1 - 20 of 44 Posts
Top