It’s time for Part 4 of the ongoing series documenting the P4 by Norwood build process. In this installment, Pete Schow documents the installation of the engine and electronics. A V12 from the 575 Maranello has been installed as the heart of the car, one of the most reliable and least temperamental engines from Ferrari. The collection of high-end electronics that manage the engine are also detailed in the article found below. If you missed the previous parts click here – Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.
Why the V12 from the 575 Maranello? Aside from an easily accessible 600hp with mild tuning, it is one of the most reliable and least temperamental engines to come out of Ferrari’s stable. Ferrari’s use of the variable geometry intake manifold on the Maranello engines makes the engine extremely suitable for an application where street and daily drivability is key.
The system originally patented by Ferrari places butterfly valves in the intake runners where electro-pneumatic servos controlled by the engine management control units adjust the plenum’s air intake volume to maximize efficiency based upon engine RPM. This allows for the engine management unit to take full advantage of the full length of the intake runners at low RPMs for low-end torque, and then close off a section of the runner at higher rpms for a straighter, shorter shot of air into the combustion chambers for top-end power. As with any hand-crafted, street capable, 600 hp, iconic tribute car, the end goal is a refined engineering marvel that, for those fortunate enough to have one take permanent residence in their garage, can hop in, fire the potent V12, grab first gear and blast through the RPM range with confidence and a usable powerband throughout the RPM range.
When the motor arrives, the P4 by Norwood team kicks off its rigorous inspection program by first pulling the intake manifold and valve covers and dropping the oil pan. Beginning with the top-end, valves, valves springs and cams, along with every other component of the valve train, undergoes an interrogation that would make Scotland Yard proud.
On the bottom, end main bearings and rod bearings receive the same treatment and any pieces not in compliance with factory Ferrari specifications are removed and replaced with factory Ferrari parts. In addition to the painstakingly detailed inspection, all assembly hardware is re-electroplated, removing any doubt the donor engine is in impeccable condition before getting acquainted with its new home.
While the oil pan is off, the P4 by Norwood team makes some minor modifications to better align with fitment of the large V12 in the mid-engined chassis. The stock oil filter housings are machined off, as the lower placement in the chassis compared to the Maranello causes potential clearance issues. Clearance issues that could lead to an oil filter being knocked off by a sudden, unexpected dip, making oil drain from the engine and ultimately lead to catastrophic engine failure. To complete, the modification fittings are added in the pan to allow remote mounting of the oil filter. The modification also goes beyond safety as the lower center of gravity only adds to the already impressive handling.
One area where the Maranello engine becomes less then cooperative in is the programmability of its factory engine management system. Coupled with the significant weight difference between the 575 and the P4 by Norwood, approximately 1500lbs, the factory tune simply is not suitable for the lighter application. But as with anything in life, challenges either inhibit your abilities or become an opportunity to further yourself. And as anything with Tim Taylor or Bob Norwood’s name attached to it, challenge accepted. Insert a Motec Engine Management system.
Through the use of the Motec and a custom wiring harness using military spec wiring and gold plated fittings, every aspect of the engine becomes tunable. The variable geometry intake runners can now be optimized to take full advantage of the power to weight ratio as well as the fuel and ignition timing. Controlling the factory drive-by-wire throttle bodies also introduces an element of safety quite necessary in a sub 2000 lbs, 600 hp Italian thoroughbred – traction control.
As mentioned in a previous entry, backing up the potent V12 lies a G50, close-ratio, Porsche 5sp. A lightened, machined in house, aluminum flywheel assists with getting the revs into the engine’s sweet spot, and a 3-disc carbon fiber and titanium Tilton clutch provides crisp, and precise shifts. The G50’s gearing matches well with the engine’s broad powerband, and its heavy-duty design ensures driver confidence with each shift.
However, always a team to push the performance envelope and stay on the cutting edge, the P4 by Norwood team is researching the introduction of the Graziano transmission used in the Lamborghini Gallardo due to its ability to be converted from a synchromesh engagement to sequential stick or sequential paddle shift.
What’s even more advantageous about this setup? The Motec engine management unit goes beyond just digital fuel injection and can electronically control the DSG Graziano application. Purists will always prefer a close ratio manual to an auto-stick, and I love stabbing the clutch and grabbing the next gear as much as anyone, but unlike “The Matrix,” in this battle of man vs. machine – advantage machine.
As each section of the build comes together my anticipation for hearing the Italian symphony pour from the exhaust grows like a teenager waiting for the doors to open at the DMV on the morning of his 16th birthday. In our next feature, we get one step closer as the body panels return from the paint shop and the finishing touches are completed on the custom long tube headers.