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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I’ve had this idea for probably 15 years. That is, taking an 85 or later Aries or Reliant and doing a proper TIII conversion. I don’t believe it’s been done before, at least not that I’ve seen on either of the forums or elsewhere online (I know Cliff had a TIII conversion in a K wagon, but I don’t think it’s been done in a sedan or coupe). About 2.5 years ago I found an 87 Reliant coupe, one owner, 106,000 miles, buckets, console shifter, and CLEAN. The car has no rust and the interior is basically perfect. The paint was a 8/10 when I got it but the old lady who had it (yes, the proverbial 86 year old widow bought it new in 1987 and only put about 3,000 miles a year on it) kept it in the garage and I was actually DD’ing for a little while and the sun started to take its toll on the clear coat, especially on the roof. I haven’t driven the car nearly as much lately, but I have been collecting parts for the conversion.

(The Reliant the day i picked it up in NJ)
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About 6 months ago, I was able to pickup a Spirit RT roller from Lengel and also a freshly machined TIII short block. After a few weeks, I stripped everything of value or importance.

(The RT roller)
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I went back and forth as to whether I’d keep the car auto or swap in a 568. Back in May I spoke with Doug (D-Omni-58) and he was able to help me out with the transmission issue. As we started talking it turned out he had quite a few parts I figured I could put to use. Including a pair of 568’s and a fresh turbo spec 413, a used 160k mile TIII engine, and some other odds and ends. I decided to take my wife and 4 year old for a short weekend trip to MA and make a vacation of it, going to Salem and Plymouth (my daughter is terrified of tiny dogs in the neighborhood but had a blast learning about witches and seeing the dungeons lol. Go figure) After we got done having our fun, I got to meet with Doug and pick up the parts. Back home, I placed an order with Cindy for some much needed parts (ARP head studs, cometic head gasket, new gates timing belt, valve seals, etc). I had two good Lotus heads, one that I bought off Doug and one from my nephew Simsy, and sent them to a local shop for a cleaning and ultra smooth surfacing. So now the engine is nearing completion and ultimately what I decided was to go with the 568. I do like the idea of a TIII/auto in the Reliant for drag racing, but I plan on driving this car on at least a semi regular basis, and think the stick will be more fun.

The engine is a fresh TIII using stock pistons. I retained the balance shafts as I’ve had RT’s with and without them, and in my opinion the vibration without them is significant enough it’s not worth the weight/power savings. Stock fresh head, stock cams and intake. Just a ported exhaust manifold and as far as the turbo is concerned I’m up in the air, but might go Holset. I have the stock electronics but am likely going with a tune and 3 bar/+ 40’s.
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My ultimate goal is to swap the full suspension/brakes from the RT and make a reliant “RT” or a “RelianT” if you will 😁
For now, I want the drivetrain in and will keep the car otherwise stock except for the needed supporting mods of course. My goal is to have it running within the next month or two. I have several projects going simultaneously, not the least of which is a son who is coming into this world 9/13/21, so I might be a little too optimistic on the timeline. I have a small YouTube channel with a couple videos about it and am working on finishing and editing the engine build which will be up pretty soon. I’m no Logan Paul (which is a good thing 😂) but I try to put some stuff out that I think is at least a little bit interesting. I don’t know if i can link in here or not but I’ll try.
The channel is NEPA Garage if anyone is curious to check it out. I’ll update this thread as the project comes along!


 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Keep in mind my assumption is most people who watch a video on YouTube aren’t Turbo Dodge gurus so forgive my over explaining things haha

 

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Keep in mind my assumption is most people who watch a video on YouTube aren’t Turbo Dodge gurus so forgive my over explaining things haha

I'm doing the ghetto version of this with a 4 door 88 Reliant.
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I have 1.5 tbi motors a blown turbo motor and a beat-up G-head on my fridge. I'm going to try to build the engine in my yard and probably going to have to do a homemade T2 harness since I can't find one anywhere....
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm doing the ghetto version of this with a 4 door 88 Reliant.
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I have 1.5 tbi motors a blown turbo motor and a beat-up G-head on my fridge. I'm going to try to build the engine in my yard and probably going to have to do a homemade T2 harness since I can't find one anywhere....
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I’ve been following your thread! Decent shape K cars are getting so hard to come by at this point.
 

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I’ve been following your thread! Decent shape K cars are getting so hard to come by at this point.
Tell me about it that red one the guy had up for months took real long to get. And my blue Aries was same story. I think 9 out of 10 car ads no one ever responds. And the remaining ones are turds like this.

Back in the day these cars were everywhere but they were treated like throwaway cars so People just gave up on them and the few remaining ones out there are either in a barn or some old person still driving it to church...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
That’s exactly it, they were throwaway cara and there were basically a million of them so it seemed impossible for them to ever become “rare”. I think of the 3 or 4 my grandfather owned over the years and how he’d get them in near perfect condition for under $1000. Those were the days lol
 

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That’s exactly it, they were throwaway cara and there were basically a million of them so it seemed impossible for them to ever become “rare”. I think of the 3 or 4 my grandfather owned over the years and how he’d get them in near perfect condition for under $1000. Those were the days lol
I set my search radius farther than I can actually get a car due to scarcity. I found this and it's the luxury Reliant. Same K car frame but all the power options and fancier styling. this would make a sweet lux K sleeper it's to far and will need to be towed but the price is right...
 

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Awesome build and awesome car! I'm jealous of all of the TIII stuff that you have access to. I will give you my views in your youtube channel today at lunch time.

Keep it up!
~Mark
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Much appreciated! I’m trying to get the engine buttoned up this week and then I can put aside a day or two for the actual swap
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
A quick update as I’ve made a little progress on the engine. I haven’t been out there as much as I’d like and my son will be born this coming Monday so garage time is gonna be few and far between.
I’m putting together a video of the engine build, nothing crazy but just maybe a 10-15 minute compilation of it going together, but figured I’d share a pic or two.

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For those wondering it’s a knock off Holset HE351CW. Yes I know “Chinese junk”. I’ll take my chances. I’ve actually tried other knock off turbos in the past and in all honesty had good luck with them. I’m not 100% sold on the Holset for our cars and I figured this is a cheap way to see if it seems promising. If it performs well and turns out to be crap, I’ll get a legit Holset. If it just sucks I’ll go a different route.

Size comparison
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