Tanner Foust Pimps a Saab
On the outside rally cars look like the street version of the same car you might buy at the local dealership Your ride is also sponsored and skinned by Red Bull or Rockstar, right? For newbies to the rally world it can be tough to know exactly what makes these cars different. To get a feel for it, I asked rally and X Games vet Tanner Foust to fill me in on what I'd need to do to get my sensible commuter car X Games rally ready. It's a long checklist:
HOW TO TURN A 1999 SAAB 9-3 INTO A RALLY CAR FOR X GAMES:
"You have the turbo engine; you'd want to make it all-wheel drive, which would be a little difficult. But it's a tough car, which is good. The one problem with the Saab is that it's a heavy car. So probably what you would do is you would literally take the body and the chassis of the car and go find yourself a drive line out of, say, a Ford Focus rally car. You'd completely take out all of the Saab under the skin and put in a Ford suspension, drive train, and racing transmission under the skin of your Saab. That would be the only way to do it.
That'll run you an easy $250,000. Then probably a good season of racing to get it up to speed.
There's a huge amount of preparation that goes into these cars, even though they look a lot like the street car on the outside. The suspensions are very high tech. They have to be, to be able to handle that 70 foot jump. The engines produce a huge amount of power, even though we're restricted to the amount of air flow that we can have in the cars. So there's a lot of money that goes into these engines to make them work with a 40mm restrictor. Then, of course, there's safety equipment. You have to have a full FIA approved roll cage and have all the equipment and reinforcing that you need to withstand a 100 mph crash.
And the transmissions are dog box transmissions, meaning you don't really need the clutch, and the drive shafts are all different, and these are all-wheel drive versions. There's a lot of electronics involved. You can spend a quarter million dollars on one of these cars really easily, so obviously that money goes somewhere. But fundamentally, the character of the stock car still comes out in the race car, even with all the technology and stuff in there. The Subarus still drive like Subarus, the Mitsubishis still drive like Mitsubishis."
I might argue that after all those modifications your average Swede might not recognize my Saab, but that's not really the point. The important thing is the blueprint (modifications that seemingly push repairs to the AC panel that broke last summer down on the list). Now I just have to find a quarter mil, then convince my wife to let me spend it. Easy peasy.