The Road to Speed Week 2014 Part 4: Return of the Sheet Metal Whisperer

The Road to Speed Week 2014 Part 4: Return of the Sheet Metal Whisperer

by Chuck Johnson

Photos by Joe Lu

I’m greeted by the sounds of classical music as I walk into the garage of Specialty Cars Fabrication which is nestled in a corner next to the Fullerton airport. A bright light strikes out from the torch of a tig welder and illuminates the front of a welding mask. The man underneath the mask is John Kuchta, owner and proprietor of Specialty Cars Fabrication. Calling John just a fabricator though, would be an understatement and a borderline insult in my opinion. Put simply, he’s in artist and metal is his canvas.


The last time we covered John’s talents in depth, he was massaging metal into the one of a kind dash that now resides in Project 240SX LSR. This time, we’ve come to him to complete the last bit of plumbing required as a result of our Turbosmart waste gate relocation as well as our swap to a VQ35DE fly by wire throttle body. At the same time, we also wanted to rid Project 240SXLSR of its full exhaust system in favor of a fire breathing, side exit race exhaust. There is little else that can give us gear heads such instantaneous wood.


If stainless steel is our best weapon in the fight against corrosion, then this would make Burn’s Stainless our sole arms supplier.

To construct the boner inducing exhaust, John Kuchta starts with a series of stainless steel bends from Burn’s Stainless. Over the past few years, we’ve talked a lot about combating the corrosion issues that we’ve encountered from racing on the salt. Our best ally in this fight has been to use stainless steel on anything we can, from fasteners to the bodies of our KW Suspension coil overs. The exhaust system is no exception.


The down pipe starts at the turbine housing outlet in the form of a round 3” mandrel bent tube. After it makes a quick, but smooth bend towards the ground a 3” round to oval transition is joined to the assembly via a single slip connector. This is where things get tricky.


Due to time limitations, space constraints underneath the car, and the unavailability of an oval bend along the oval’s minor axis, John Kuchta resorted to creating a complex oval bend utilizing pie cuts. In this technique, straight pieces of pipe are cut at angles and then welded together to make a bend. In our case, 9 pieces of pipe were cut at 10 degrees each to produce the very tight 90 degree bend in our exhaust.

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