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Mile High Talon MileHighTalon@groups.msn.com  
 
$9 Front Air Dam  

4/16/04: If this appears as a text-only FAQ, click Here for the photos to make this page a VFAQ.
 
Above: 1.5" center/1.0" side ground clearance Front Air Dam on the Bonneville Salt Flats in 2006.
 
This modification is a quick, easy, and very effective way to dramatically increase front downforce and high-speed handling on '95 & '96 Talons and Eclipses. The huge amount of extra downforce at speeds above 100mph make the car feel like its absolutely glued to the road or racing surface; which these cars really need as they tend to develop undesirable lift characteristics above 100mph in stock form. This air dam has been tested at off-road racing speeds above 145mph with absolutely no flex or distortion. The techniques and air dam sizing can easily be adapted to fit other stock and lowered 1 & 2 G's; and is done with the vehicle on the ground. The only question is: How low can you go?

DISCLAIMER: Check your local and state ordinances  about ride and bumper heights prior to installation. The author is not responsible for any failure or accident in any way related to the design, manufacture, or installation of similar parts developed from the ideas or techniques described herein on any motor vehicle licensed to operate on any public or private roadway or in any off-road usage. *These designs are intended for DSM applications only! Any other usage is bad Karma ~:^(  

Installations on the '95 TsiAWD above, and a '95 Eclipse GSX,  revealed that a 3.00" ground clearance was as low as we could go on the "paved roads" here in Colorado (with moderate to severe daily scraping). Front bumper covers/air dams/bras are considered to be wear items in Colorado! 
 
For Land Racing at Bonneville in 2004, I fabricated this front air dam with a 1.0" Front & Side ground clearance as shown below, but the front edge bottomed-out under braking:
9frontairdam_files/fetch.htm 
 
On the plus side, this air dam uses extremely-durable and very-inexpensive materials from your local hardware mega-retailer, its resilient enough to put up with major off-road abuse(hehe); and, it can easily be replaced for <$10 if you munch it on a speed bump or curb. This airdam is way more durable than any aftermarket fiberglass bumper cover will ever be!

Materials:
 
82" of  6" wide professional-grade lawn edging (sold in 25' & 50' rolls at HD).
5    L.F. of 18 ga. 1.25" x 1.25" slotted steel angle.
 
Fasteners:
10  ea. 3/8" Stainless steel "Snowmobile" rivets and backing washers. 
2   ea. 1/4" x 3/4" bolts and Nyloc nuts, or metric equivalent.
 
Re-use all the factory 10mm bolts along the lower edge of the bumper cover.
 
12 rounded-head carriage bolts and 12 Nyloc nuts can be substituted for the rivets and backers.
 
Tools:
safety glasses
work gloves
3/8" drill bit, drill
tin snips or hacksaw
rivet tool -or- wrenches
tape measure
sharp utility knife
framer's square

Before you start:
1) Place the car on a level surface with all tires inflated to spec. and with normal weight distribution and ride height; i.e., if you weigh 150 pounds, place 150 pounds in the driver's seat before taking measurements and fabricating the air dam. If you carry around a passenger regularly, also add their weight to the seat they usually sit in.
2) Park the vehicle, with the safety brake engaged.
3) Wear safety glasses when drilling. Wear gloves when cutting.

9frontairdam_files/fetch.dll
Bracket Fabrication & Installation:
1) Remove the seven 10mm bolts along the bottom edge of the front bumper cover, and set aside for re-use.
2) Straighten the removable metal bumper flange if necessary.
3) Cut  nine 6" sections of slotted angle, and two 3" sections, with a tin snips or hacksaw. Locate the center of each section at a slot or hole in the angle bracket when cutting.
4) Paint leading edges of angle brackets w/black paint(recommended, not required).
5) Enlarge the hole in the top edge of the slotted angle for clearance for the factory lower bumper cover bolts if necessary.
6) Starting in the center, replace the 10mm bolts through the center hole in the slotted angle, so that the vertical side of the bracket is facing toward the leading edge of the car.
7)Working to each outside edge, install a 6" section of slotted angle centered on each of the factory-tapped bumper cover holes.
8) Approx. 4" in front of the wheel opening there is a factory hole in the bumper cover. Place the 3" section of slotted angle above the plastic bumper cover flange as a backing plate above these holes; and secure the angle brackets and bumper cover together with a 3/4" long bolt and nut.

Fabrication of the Air Dam:
1) Measure the ride height(rh) of your car.
(ground to lower edge of bumper cover at car center).
2) Determine the ground clearance(gc) you desire.
3) Subtract the ground clearance from the ride height. This is the width(height) of the air dam you will cut from the lawn edging.
 
Example: 7.25" rh - 3" gc = 4.25" air dam height
 
3) Use a utility knife and framing square to cut an 82" long piece of lawn edging. [Wear the work gloves to avoid cutting yourself.]
4) Use the knife and square to cut the edging to width.
5) Use a pencil to mark the center point of the 82" length.
6) Trim the height of the lawn edging down to the pre-determined center air dam height along the entire 82" length.
7) Hold the air dam up in place against the bottom of the bumper cover in front of the flange at the center point and drill a 3/8" hole through the edging and flange at the marked center point; and temporarily place a rivet or bolt through this hole to hang the air dam in place. 
8) DO NOT crimp/tighten the temporary fasteners.
9) Working from the center, pull the edging taught to each side, and mark and drill a 3/8" hole from under the car through the edging at a hole near the center of each proceeding slotted flange. Temporarily place a rivet/bolt through each of the holes you've drilled in the edging and through the slotted flanges to hold the air dam up in place. Stop drilling about 2' out from the vehicle center where the bumper cover starts to wrap back around towards the wheel opening, and mark or tape a vertical line on the airdam and bumper cover below the outer edge of the bumper cover vents. 
10) The wheel openings on '95-96's are about 1" lower than the center of the bumper cover, so the air dam height must be tapered down as it wraps around towards the wheelwell openings. Remove the temporary fasteners from the flanges and set the airdam aside. 
11) Place a piece of cardboard vertically from the side of the bumper cover to the ground, and then scribe a line on the cardboard that follows the taper of the bumper cover from the lower air ducts to the wheel openings. Cut out these templates. Align both side templates to the air dam, transfer the lines onto the air dam, and then trim down the width. [Do not trim off the long ends extending past the wheel openings at this stage]. 
12) Re-mount the air dam to the flanges with the temporary rivets. Check, align, and retrim the air dam, if necessary, to fit tightly along the bottom edge of the bumper cover. Mark and drill the holes at the remaining flanges, and place rivets or bolts through the airdam into the flanges.
13) Starting at the center, place a rivet backer/washer on the back side of the slotted flange bracket and crimp the rivet, or tighten the nut/bolt.
14) Working out to the edges, tension the edging, place a backer washer on each fastener, and tighten the air dam to the slotted brackets.
15) Finish by marking and cutting the long ends off at the front edge of each wheel opening. A plumb/vertical end or a slight angle towards the rear looks best.
16) Enjoy learning new approach angles and ultra-slow speeds at driveways and across speed bumps!

From the above descriptions, you can see that there are several potential improvements and variations which typically would add to the project's minimal cost. Unlike spendy aftermarket bumper covers, this inexpensive trick front air dam will withstand a substantial amount of abuse both on and off-road!
 
If it snows where you drive, and you don't feel like playing snow plow, simply remove the 10mm fasteners from the lower edge of the bumper cover to remove the entire air dam assembly. Re-mounting takes just a few minutes! The best part of this aero mod is that complete replacement of the all the airdam components costs less than $10.   

For those seriously inclined towards achieving maximum aerodynamic downforce, side skirts could conceivably be fabricated from the same edging, and installed along the factory unibody seams with additional brackets. This application would require several modifications to the skirts and/or your jack for jack clearance.

Copyright (C) 2001-2007 by James LaMere. All rights reserved.
 
...and, be sure to check out http://co.dsm.org  Home of the fastest high-altitude DSM's on the planet!!