Check out this insane do-it-yourself twin-turbo kit installed on a 1980’s Pontiac Thunderbird.
On the latest episode of Scumbag Labs, The Hoonigans explore the possibility of making your own turbocharger and installing it on an old muscle car. A very old muscle car.
What we see is a 1984 Pontiac Firebird purchased gently used for the low price of $700. Crucially, the Firebird is carburated, making it a simple matter to install a pair of homemade turbochargers built using readily available materials.
We’re pretty sure that the cost of this DIY twin-turbo kit cost more than the entire car did.
Each turbo is little more than a 12-inch Max-Fan, some aluminum ductwork, and some duct tape. Both turbos are mounted to the hood on a steel platform and then fed into the carburetor where, in theory, they will force more air into the engine than it otherwise would receive.
More air means more power. In theory.
To find out if their homebrew of turbochargers worked, the gang decided to test things very scientifically. A baseline dyno test and 1/8th-mile drag race were held without the electrically-operated turbos working, and then a similar dyno plus drag race with the turbos switched on.
Without the turbos operational, the old Firebird had 72.55 rear wheel horsepower. Considering it started with 126 horses when it was new (assuming it’s a V6 model), that’s some pretty harsh power loss. But for this car it’s pretty much par for the course: the hand brake doesn’t work, much of the chassis is rusted through, and the wheels are missing several lugnuts.
On the drag test, it sounds like the engine is skipping a few cylinders. It manages to struggle its way to reaching 1/8th of a mile in 17.37 seconds. But what about with the turbos flipped on?
The car comes alive when those giant fans start whirring. From 72 horses, power output jumps to over 100 hp. A 1/8th-mile drag race drops almost a full 4 seconds down to 13.75.
Then the fuel line catches fire. But other than that, this proves that anyone can head down to the hardware store right now and turbocharge their car for a 30% power boost. You just need some elbow grease and a lot of duct tape.