When Imaginations Run Wild…

2016 Volkswagen 1.8T SE (2)
A possible project? – All Photos by Randy Stern

The things we think about when our imaginations run free.

My imagination can be off the chain. The things I think about – especially with automobiles – could either make me a wealthy person or locked up at a state institution.

However, there is a solid basis when it comes to the imagination. It is rooted in reality, through experience and knowledge of the currents in the universe. I always try to ask "what if" without trying to know what I’m talking about. The vision becomes clearer with every light bulb snapping in my synapse.

What am I on about? I asked myself if I were to take any vehicle sold in this marketplace and try to modify it, which one and how would I do so?

Good question. You may be surprised by what I came up with within this context. These are really ordinary automobiles with more power, better suspensions and even greater comfort and convenience.

Welcome to the world of Victory & Reseda's imaginary special operations division!

Who says a mind is a terrible thing to waste? Here’s some of my crazy ideas…

VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT: I came up with a couple of ideas based on the 2017 Volkswagen Passat. It starts with a 1.8T SE model with the Technology package. So far, so good. That is when I would pull out the 1.8 liter TSI turbocharged engine for the GTI's 2.0 liter TSI turbocharged engine. The 6-speed Tiptronic transmission goes away in favor of the DSG. So far, I have a 210-plus horsepower mid-sized sedan retaining a lot of smooth riding and fine attributes. This engine/transmission swap could be easily with the 1.8T SEL Premium model, if one wants the Fender Premium audio system.

There is another stage. With the DSG transmission already installed, why not drop the Golf R’s 2.0 liter TSI turbocharged engine, good for 292 horsepower? It might take some modification, but I could see the Passat getting a version of the 4Motion all-wheel drive system. The purpose of this would be for better performance with improved traction and power balancing. This would require a beefier tire/wheel combination – Michelin Pilot Sport A2s, perhaps?

The latter could be served better with the Passat R-Line model, however that would take some upgrades in equipment, such as the Dimension MiB II system including Navigation, Fender Premium audio and the Golf R's DCC system.

2016 Scion iM

TOYOTA COROLLA iM: I've always liked this compact hatchback. But, it can stand some improvements, however. For starters, I would swap out the CVT with a real six-speed automatic transmission. That way, I would have better drive control through the gears. I could go with a manual, but there’s more to this equation. It would mean reworking the 1.8 liter four-cylinder engine into a free-breathing cylinder head and valve set – akin to the old 4A-GE engines from the Corolla FX of yore. Could you imagine converting a 2ZR-FE into a 4A-GE? Talk amongst yourselves…

The goal would be raise performance levels to sports compact levels – 200 horsepower.

Once the engine update is achieved, then we can put on stiffer springs and three sets of wheels and tires – a winter set, a street set and a track set. The old Pioneer audio system would be replaced with the Corolla XSE sedan’s Entune touch screen audio/navigation and OEM-supplied JBL speakers.

CHRYSLER 300: If FCA wants to deprive us a SRT version of the 300 in our home market, might as well do it ourselves. The formula is simple, though there is a twist. The idea if to create a "wolf in sheep’s clothing." That’s easy when you select a 300C or 300C Platinum. Either luxurious 300 model would mask the monster underneath the hood – the 392 6.4 liter V8 with 485 horsepower.

Why not the Hellcat? Personal preference on how it handles. The 392 is better balanced and enables the LX platform to corner better while being better balanced. It may take some suspension tweaking and the addition of the setup form the Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack, with its performance pages, Sport mode and beefier tires/wheels. Instead of chrome, it would be a painted finish that is influenced by the John Varvatos editions from a few years ago. A possible second stage would be to add the Charger SRT 392’s Bilstein suspension and Brembo’s six-piston braking system. Higher performance tires would finish the package off nicely.

Not only would this be a Chrysler 300 SRT. Rather, it would be a stealth luxury car with the 392’s hammer under the hood. Its giveaway would be its exhaust sound and rumble.

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander GT S-AWC

MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER: I often discussed with enthusiasts as to how Mitsubishi could make their Outlander Sport real cool. I always thought the engine from the (now defunct) Lancer Ralliart or Evolution would make this SUV sing. Rumor has it that the Outlander Sport might go away. Not to mention that the engine bay would create a challenge in dropping a 4B11T inside of it.

The solution is actually influenced by the presence of the Ford Explorer Sport, Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT and Range Rover SVR. Instead of the smaller Outlander Sport, why not the larger Outlander? It would be the Evo's 291 horsepower tune with the TCT dual clutch transmission, connected to an uprated Super-All Wheel Control system. There will definitely be suspension modifications to make the ride/handling mix better. Seats would also get additional bolstering, while meeting crash impact requirements. The steering wheel is a bit more aggressive. Just details from here on in.

If someone could change their image with a monster SUV, why not Mitsubishi? It could strike fear in its more pedestrian competitors.

GMC SIERRA: Ford has the F-150 Raptor. Ram has the 1500 Rebel. It would be easy to create a version of Chevrolet's ZR2 package for GMC, but I have a much better idea. One may think that L86 6.2 liter V8 is similar to the LT1 found under the hood of the Chevrolet Corvette and Camaro. Then, let’s swap it. Let’s give the Sierra half-ton 450 horsepower of superb power!

There had been many engine swaps in the full-sized pickups. This one will be even more extensive. Once the engine is settled with the right transmission, it would also become a showcase of GM’s technology from magnetic-ride suspension to enhanced active safety features. Importantly, the interior will be transformed with supportive front seats, higher grade leather and a floor shifter. In other words, this is not just a sports truck, but more of a grand touring truck.

Professional Grade? Maybe, but this could give the brand a bit more attention.

1987-88 Ford Thunderbird

: Don’t laugh! It could be too soon to resto-mod a Fox Body. But, if one can be found – here is how to create an insane modern version of one of Ford’s savior from the 1980s.

It would be easy to do a Mustang. This is where you get really creative. There are plenty of Fox Body variants to choose from. Let's pick either a 1983-88 Ford Thunderbird or Mercury Cougar XR-7; a 1983-86 Ford LTD or Mercury Marquis; or 1984-92 Lincoln Mark VII. It is rear drive, which means, the rear end could be easily swapped with the independent setup from the current Ford Mustang. You might know where this is going…

The front end will be relatively all-new. From the Mustang's current suspension set-up to the Eco-Boost 2.3 liter four-cylinder engine to a choice of current Mustang transmissions, this Fox Body gets a welcomed boost of energy. That is, until you drop the Stage 2 plan – the Coyote 5.0 liter V8. Imagine one of these aero coupes or slant designed four-doors with Mustang GT power – 420 horsepower, I believe.

Everything else should be as it was in, say, 1985.

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