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Project management and building a dsm

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DSM Wiseman
Nov 19, 2011
oklahoma city, Oklahoma
I wrote this for another board some time ago and wanted to share it here.

Project management.......

Over the years we keep hearing opinions of this or that, how to build something etc but we rarely see something broken down (no pun intended) to more basic terms.
I have been dealing with professional project management and building a car is no different. If you want a successful project some things need to be planned and organized. I'd start one like this, works for cars, building a shed, etc.
What do you want the car (item) to do?
What constraints do you have?
Choice of car etc (maybe you want something rare)
Alot of this might just change the budget but sometimes not. Depends upon goals.
Do NOT confuse goals with a parts list. A common mistake.
If a goal is to say I have XYZ part to impress your friends so be it. It's shallow but perfectly acceptable.
I prefer much more objective goals and the list can get lengthy and specific
Must not overheat in traffic
Run on 91 octane or even 87 octane (we aren't talking about just dsm)
Idle well or idle lumpy
Look a specific way
handling goals
Driveability in certain weather
Price of initial purchase
Ability to street drive and race or not
Practical for kids 4 seats or two
blah blah blah
The goals and constraints lists are different for everybody but I think you get the point.
Then we need to compile items required to meet those goals. Here is where some subjectivity comes in but it shouldn't invade too much. List what you NEED to accomplish the goal. If the part doesn't accomplish all the needs then it isn't the right part. Perfect example is this turbo is better than that turbo blah blah blah. 16g may well fit the performance goal but doesn't fit the "impress my friends" goal but either may be within the budget constraint. Get the point?
I have very few subjective goals except for paint and cosmetics. Still unsure of there as I want more than my budget allows. Thankfully that can almost be an entire separate project. The end results for myself are usually very satifying.
Take this as food for thought. Many newer dsmers think the first thing they must buy is a new turbo. Forget supporting systems, exhaust etc. I love outrunning them in my 14b daily driver. Sometimes you may upgrade a part thinking of future goals and for the sake of repair or maintenance. Perfectly acceptable. For instance my 14b car will never have another 14b on it. No reason to. If the 14b fails I'll put a 16g on it. Right now 14b is fine on my driver. It's not fine for my other car.
Anyway think about this for a bit and see if it helps your projects.
Some points to ponder, is the project being built to please you? or your friends? Either is acceptable but you should ask the question.

No goal is wrong. Whatever you decide if it's what you want then fine. You do need to know what each part will or will not do and realize each goal can be a constraint on another goal.
You want a 10sec drag car?
You want to glue 5000 bottle caps on the car?
Okay fine you can do both, just realize what one goal might do to the other.
One thing is for sure, you aren't escaping any laws of physics.
For us car guys the goals are usually performance oriented so physics plays an important role.
Another thing we should notice. Making statements about why somebody should or should not do something
without knowing what the goal is doesn't make sense. You want a neon green body kit? Fine, but somebody saying
you shouldn't do that without knowing what you want is merely stating an opinion, not a fact of why you should or should
not do something. Same goes for any performance part.
IE. you should not install xyz part. Well....the poster should state why and should also know the goals of the car.
Again, don't confuse a parts list with goals, they are not mutually exclusive.
DSMers have the benefit of many people having similar goals so making decisions on how to achieve them is a simiplified process. This is also why we often just list parts and not goals. Wrong process.
t certainly makes sense to plan upgrades all the way to the "end" and make each modification fit an overall plan with a consistent goal. After decades of running design projects that's what I did just by doing what comes naturally.

Not all mods make sense with each other. Beehive valve springs are a good way to rev to the moon and stroking the 4G63 is a good way to get more low end torque. Pick one goal and stick to it.

On the other extreme if you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there.
Last edited by a moderator:
I think its time to add to this. Everybody wants the "perfect car" it seems. A car that does everything well. This is probably why dsms are so popular as they do many things well. Exceptional? Maybe not. For a daily driven car im quite satisfied with the ability to corner and perform in a straight line. At some point one or more performance goals will conflict with each other or conflict with other goals.
Ex. Want a ten second car? Want it to be quiet? Not likely. Its up to you to define what you want. I am of the opinion a dsm can travel in daily driver territory much faster and corner much harder than many many cars and do it 365 days a year. Few cars can say that. I wouldnt mind a ton of other fast cars but very very few can drive like this 365 days a year. This is also why my halo car is a porsche 911. Yes I would drive one in the snow. I have introduced more constraints in my own build over the years. The decisions made it necessary to have a set of winter wheels are tires. Does the car perform as well? No. But it meets the requirements of driving 365. So for specifics id say maybe break it down like this.

How fast, how much hp do you want to make?
This begs the question at what point do things break and what is reliable daily.
Is this a daily driven car?
How hard do I want to brake? Track conditions or highway conditions?
How hard do I want to corner? Am I wiling to give up wet/snow traction for the sake of dry traction?
What about noise, vibration, harshness? Is what im doing going to affect this and do I care?
The questions will be different for everybody.

Above all maintenance should be performed constantly. Watch what happens to your "it was just fine before" clutch when you add 100hp. Same goes for just about any system that sees additional stress as a result of an upgrade. Plan for this not JUST the upgrade. You dont hear about this much on guys modding a vette or camaro as the cars are relatively new. Depends on mileage and abuse but for the dsm platform we know all of them are old. Even on my 50k mi example ive done a ton of maintenance and I keep records.
Have a plan and I think your driving experience will be more fun
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