SL-C Manual: Planning and Build Order
Often the first thing prospective builders want to know is where to start and what goes next. There are probably as many theories of the proper order as there are builders, and all of them have a perspective to offer.
The factory suggests the build order below. If you deviate from it, be prepared to do things more than once.
Everyone wants to know in what order the car should be built, so we've developed this guide to help you get started.
1. Inventory your new car kit when you have received it. We get many calls each year from builders who have "missing parts", when a careful search reveals that they were packed in a box they hadn't fully opened, etc. Check for every part against the packing list that the factory sends along with the car. They actually take pictures of your car and parts with labels with your name to know it belongs to you before packing them to avoid just this kind of problem.
2. Label and mark the positions of all the body spacers, washers, etc., and remove the body (and interior tub, if present) from the chassis. This will help you get access to everything on the chassis, which will be the first part of the build.
3. Note the position of the suspension fasteners and washers, and setup the suspension and steering system per the section in the manual. Beginning with the suspension arms and heights roughly correct will make the rest of the assembly task easier.
4. Install the brakes, brake lines, clutch lines, pedals and related parts. Doing this early in the build makes it simple to access everything you need here.
5. Install the coolant lines, from the radiator to the back of the car.
6. Install the AC system, including the hoses, as far as possible If the drivetrain is already installed, you can finish this, if not, just leave the hoses long and connect them later when the engine is in. Make sure you have the hoses run appropriately if you have the interior tub- check for clearance.
7. Install the wiring harness and electrical system. Don't worry about fixing the harness in this step, loosely taped is OK for now.
8. Install the fuel system. Pumps, filters, valves, etc.
9. Install the rear bulkhead if not already there, and apply whatever heat barrier you have selected at this time. Now is a good time to add any other panels you may want to fabricate.
10. Install the drivetrain, any related parts (intercoolers, additional plumbing, intake, etc) and engine control system. Install any oil or transmission coolers you have selected, if any. Test for proper operation and start.
11. Install the axles.
12. Re-install the body, (and interior tub, if applicable, with any under-tub Dynamat) and fit the headlights, turn signals and taillights. Finish installing the electrical system.
13. Adjust body and doors if not already done. Loosely install windows. Install dash and other interior panels if present. Build and install exhaust system.
14. Perform any body mods now (fender vents, window vents, any needed repairs, etc.).
15. Install Dynamat or similar insulation.
16. Perform paint prep, and prepare for paint; remove body again and paint on builder-provided bucks.
17. Re-install body and buff as needed.
18. Install interior as required.
19. Perform new-car testing (e.g., short drives at first, then longer ones to validate the car).
20. Enjoy the car!
Plan your build. This is most important piece of advice we can offer. If you are going to register your car, find out in advance – before you buy that cool engine that turns out not be smog-legal in your state– exactly what is and isn’t legal for a kit car registration in your state. Will you need a parking brake? Do your tail lights need an e-marking? What emission requirements are there in your locality, etc.? If you are building a race car, know the rules for the sanctioning body, and class(es) you will want to run in, and build the car accordingly. If you are racing the car, get prior approval for a roll cage design, and implement it as approved. It’s always less expensive to do things the right way the first time. Know your goals, and build the car accordingly.
Reserve painting the car until next-to-last. Only the interior finishing should come after paint. This makes it less likely that surfaces will be scratched during assembly when the car will be apart many times. More importantly, the body may need fettling to get the gaps perfect, in which case any small amount of body work that might have to be done will force a repaint of the affected areas. Fit the body first, then paint last.
Finish all body fitting, including hinges, latches, and weatherstripping and sealing before the car goes to paint. Too many builders forget to install weatherstrip when they are doing body fitment, and when it is installed later, the fitup changes. It’s very preventable, but yet very common.
Fitting the doors and latches will likely change the way the spider and font and rear clams fit together. Don’t lock down the front or rear hinging until the doors are completely fitted. When fitting doors, be sure you have the windshield in place and attached, as windshield fitment can be a problem if you warp the body to fit the doors without understanding how it affects the windshield opening.
The same goes for fiberglassing in interior panels like fender liners, tail light housing covers, etc. Save them until the body is completely hinged and mounted- then glass them in when the final body position is known and done.
When fitting the doors and clams, leave adequate room for door trims, seals and upholstery. This is a common error even in pro shops, and the results are always expensive to repair. Use children’s modeling clay to check for gaps when fitting doors, and be sure that the doors have sufficient gaps to account for the seals and trim.
When doing HVAC, fuel, coolant and oil plumbing, think of them as a system, along with the wiring. Lay things out loosely and tape them up temporarily to be sure that the plan you have on paper is actually viable on the actual car. Many times these have to be redone, relocated or otherwise changed because your original layout didn’t account for a hose, pipe or wire that was in the way. When you have a plan that is verified, implement it then, but not before. A common mistake is to think “I’ll get the wiring out of the way first”, and then find that the already-trimmed harness is in the way of a coolant tube, or AC line is in the way.
Plan your electrical system before you begin that section. Most cars won’t need to change a thing with the included chassis harness . But if you do, it will be much easier to modify the harness on the bench instead of one that is already neatly tied off on the car.
Read the entire manual first, before you start assembling or changing anything. For example, bolting in the fuel tank, hooking up the fuel system, plumbing, and then realizing that you need to take it all out again to clean the tank is an avoidable mistake.
Again, after planning, the most important thing is to do something every day and keep the momentum going!