Martin Superlite APEX

#1
I will re-post the build notes for our Apex under a new thread so following it will be easier for those interested. I will post in the order that it is being built so I will go back and include a few of the original pictures of the disassembly of the Eclipse so one can see just what is involved.
 
#4
One of the first things to consider when building an Apex is that you do not need to purchase a perfect car to begin with. Most important is to find one that is damage and rust free. No need for perfect paint, nice exhaust system, big brakes or nice wheels and tires. They will all be tossed aside. It must have a straight floor area. You will end up using only the passenger cell of the Eclipse. Everything other than the doors, windshield, roof structure, the body harness and any interior parts that you wish to reuse gets stripped off of the car. A lot of people may say that what you end up with is a 'junkyard dog'. It is best to totally strip the the body including the dash assembly and all of the wiring before you make the first cut.
But wait! Its gets worse before it gets better. apex-body stripped.jpg
 
#5
The instructions that come with the APEX are straight forward. Fran has done a good job putting together the illustrations telling you where to make the required cuts. The rear off the car gets removed about 6" behind the 'B' pillar and the front end gets removed at the front edge of the shock towers. The entire front frame rail on each side gets cut out from the firewall forward.
This picture shows the initial cut made to the front of the car.
apex-initail cut front of body.jpg
 
#6
Removal of the rear portion of the body is a two person job. Use care in supporting the part that you are removing so you do not buckle your quarter panels. Follow the instructions that come with the kit.
This picture illustrates just how much of the rear sheetmetal is removed. Although shown in the picture, the dash assembly was removed along with all of the wiring. Keep in mind that items such as the shifter and cables, e-brake handle and cables and all wiring need to be removed.
apex-rear of body.jpg
 
#7
This picture gives a quick glance at the front rail that has been removed. It will be ground smooth and a plate welded over the area to keep water and debris out of the rail and to gain additional strength to that area. All cts will be ground smooth and dressed as the build progresses.
apex-front rail removed.jpg
 
#8
Here is a view of the rear frame assembly. It features a drop out section that supports the engine and transaxle assembly. Location is straight forward. The pads at the base of the main roll structure will attach to the main crossmember at the edge where the front of the rear seat used to rest and the two tabs on each side of the rollbar attaches to the existing threaded holes that were originally used as the upper mounts for the factory front seat belts.
apex-rear frame section in place.jpg

apex-rear frame section lh side.jpg

apex-rear frame section showing tabs.jpg
 
#9
The rear frame section will need to be persuaded into place. You will find that at first it just does not seem to fit within the space proved but if you gently pry upward on the rear flange of the roof, the rear frame section will go right into position. We found that we had to reshape the edges of the floor where the pads on the rollbar attaches to the floor. There areas were reshaped after the rear frame section was in place, End caps were cut and welded into place after the rear frame was in place. Shims will need to be fabricated at the roof attachment points. U channels were fabricated and installed within the rear frame section for added strength.
The rear edges of the body were ground flush with the original seams after the factory caulking was removed. I used a chisel to remove the factory seam sealer. All seams will be resealed before painting. View attachment 79457

View attachment 79458

View attachment 79459

View attachment 79460
 
#10
the front frame section goes in without any trouble. It locates at the base of the firewall using two studs that the original engine cradle attached to. Two additional bolts are also used at the outboard corners of the new front frame assembly. We fabricated aluminum spacers to fill the gaps at the tops of the shock towers. Grade 8 fasteners are used to secure the upper brackets to the side wall of the shock towers. All suspension tabs and upper shock mounts are included to mount the C5 Corvette suspens apex-front frame assembly.jpg

apex-front subframe in place.JPG

apex-lh shock tower.JPG

apex-lower front mount.jpg

apex- top frt mount.jpg ion parts.
 
#11
The roof outer skin will need to be trimmed back around the area of the sunroof. Again, the instructions call out where to make the cuts. We used a combination of cutout wheel and hand snips. A body saw can also be use but be careful not to cut any of the inner support bracing.
apex-cutting roof with cutoff wheel.jpg

apex-trimming roof with shears.jpg
 
#12
We are using the roll cage option for this APEX build. With the LS engine this is really a requirement. It goes together using grade 8 fasteners. It consists of a main hoop that attaches to the upper portion of the rear rollbar and two front bars that route through the corners of the dash and tie into the front floor boards utilizing steel back up plates.
apexroll bar in place.jpg

apex-roll bar, front lower corner.jpg
 
#13
This picture shows the lower portion of the roll structure/rear frame assemble bolted into place on the rear channel. It was bolted both in shear and in tension. All open frame sections will be boxed in before paint. End caps will be fabricated to enclose all open cuts in the original body structure. The design that Fran has come up is well thought out, It provides for a very rigid structure. It should make for a great street / track car.
We have had no real issues yet in the build. I just have not had time to post anything with the SLC build in process.
apex-lower roll  bar mounting.JPG
 
#15
Just a quick shot illustrating what the rear fiberglass section of the body looks like, Other parts that are included are the outer door skins and the front nose section.
apex-rear body rh side.jpg
 
#16
OK guys, it is time to make this another hit for Superlite Cars! Get on board and order one today. For those who are afraid to do the body/frame portion of it we can help out. It looks to be the beginning to a great car. OEM weatherproofing and glass, door seals, everyday items like power windows and door locks are already in place, ac is already in place, tilt column, main wiring, instruments-all great time savers. And the APEX can be built to be a docile daily driver or a high performance rocket ship that can be driven everyday, even back and forth to work. Lets spread the word, The APEX is here.

We are planning on using the 430 horse LS 3 with the G96 Porsche box. Brakes, steering and suspension will all be C5 Corvette.
 
#17
You're the man Mr Martin!! Thanks for taking the time to post all that. Would be great to see the pics from post 9 however as those are Key points. Was any special care/procedures done to insure the squareness of the front and rear sections to the car? or based on how they attach this isn't an issue?

I haven't done a lot of body work in the past. From the look of that rear fiberglass section/seams...it looks like I better get good at it fast. There is some work ahead of us there.

I remember seeing in the specs of the car (original) that it included a Vacuum formed rear window with scratch guard coating. Did you get this with the kit and/or are you plan on adding a window or leaving closed? Also I haven't seen anything about the rear bulkhead. Did this come with it? any pics?
 
#19
The attachments in an earlier post should open up if you click on them.

No rear window was included in the kit. The small rear trunk lid is not a separate piece and will need to be cut out and a flange glassed in place if you wish to use it, The hinge could be used from a small car or possibly a billet street rod hinge assembly. A small box (trunk) can be laid up to hold something the size of a couple of six packs. A lock could be electric or cable operated.

The rear bulkhead will probably be water jetted from 1/8" aluminum sheet and secured to the rear roll cage. We will have a removable access panel designed into it to gain access to the front of the engine.

At this time we have not made a decision as to how we are going to address the rear window. We can leave it glassed in and paint it gloss black to simulate a tinted window, add louvers to it (similar to the new ones that Fran has available for the SL-C's) to aid in cooling or make a rear window out of Lexan.

At this time we are not planning on installing a window in the rear bulkhead just so we can look at the engine.

Next on the list is installing the suspension, brakes and steering. Stay tuned!
 
#20
The same thing holds true for the APEX that holds true to any kit. Measure twice, sometimes three times to insure things are square. Shim as required. Measure again. And when you get it built and blow it apart for paint and final assembly, you get to do it all over again.

The parts that Fran supplies are square so no issues there. What you have to keep in mind is the differences in individual cars and the tolerances that you may run into. Nothing major. These cars had tons of "on-the-fly" design changes for brackets and tabs and such and the one you chose for your build may be a little different from the one we chose. We have seen variations in the front shock towers and the inside rear quarter panels, non of which will be a show stopper. Keep in mind even as good as the Eclipses are (they were designed and built very well), they were an economical (inexpensive!) sporty car when new.
 
Top