Every one has read about the struggles of building my little Acclaim, I decided to write instead about what it’s like to drive.


In it’s current state, it’s not much to look at, although I find the simple square design to be clean:

Illustration for article titled A week with the Project

Slide into the driver’s seat and you find a pretty utilitarian interior. Manual windows, manual locks, column shifter. The seats are comfortable for long hauls with mild side bolstering, the inside is very roomy for a small car. The dash is simple and understated (exception to my seafoam cluster):

Illustration for article titled A week with the Project

With knobs, buttons, and sliders for all important functions. Gauges are basic, giving speed, fuel, temp, and battery. Housed next to the wheel are simple HVAC controls and an aftermarket JVC head unit (not pictured).

Easy driving:

Easy driving is an extremely simple, comfortable, worry free process.

Handling is light and smooth.

The ride is smooth and compliant, while not being too soft.

The engine and trans are quiet, shifts are butter smooth, and happily chug along in town or on the highway.


Hard driving:

Pushing this car is both a riot and scary in it’s current form.

Engine: The engine is strong, with even power delivery from idle to the rev limiter. Currently the sound is not so great, due to the exhaust situation, but the sound coming from under the hood is a thing of beauty as the engine screams through the rpm range.


Transmission: The trans is tight. Shifts are quick and precise. It allows the engine a sultry blip off the rev limiter before grabbing the next gear. Step on it mid corner and it seems to always hit the correct gear and start pouring on the power.

Handling: Remember that smooth, compliant ride? That comes back to bite it in the ass here. Push it around corners and the 185/75r14s fight and complain the whole time. Push even harder and you end up buckling them under. Lift off mid corner however, and the rear will rotate into place, setting the car up for quick cornering (which the tires cannot handle).


Brakes: The brakes are quick stopping and carry the car’s weight well. However, start pushing on a curvy road and they will begin fading 4-5 corners in when used hard.

Final Thoughts:

I love this car more than I thought I would. All in all it is a joy to drive. Its current downfalls will be mostly solved when I get the SRT4 wheels, new struts/shocks, and new exhaust installed. These should give the engine a great tone, while tightening the handling up tremendously. At that point I will drive it as is until brakes are needed, then I will search for the RT rear disc and convert it to 4 wheel disc, that will clean up the brake fade.


Added Note:

Checked mileage for the first time last night. 24.8mpg, which is actually quite impressive seeings I’ve been wringing it out pretty hard this whole tank to see what breaks. Guessing it’ll be in the low 30s if I keep my foot out of it, perfect for a run around vehicle.

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