A Passionate Journey
In the world of automotive enthusiasts, there are those who dream and those who do. Today, we have the privilege of diving into the story of Andrew MacPherson, a dedicated automotive tech and a DIY enthusiast who has transformed a 1995 Dodge Viper RT/10 into a roaring beast that pushes the boundaries of power and performance using the MegaSquirt MS3X ( check it out here ). Join us as we unravel the secrets behind Andrew’s build and discover the challenges and triumphs he encountered on his journey.
The Perfect Canvas: Why the Viper
The choice of the 1995 Dodge Viper RT/10 as the canvas for his masterpiece was no accident. Andrew was drawn to the Viper’s charismatic appeal, but more importantly, he recognized its potential to deliver an unrivaled combination of a massive engine, exceptional handling, a manual transmission, and rear-wheel drive. It was a recipe he just couldn’t resist. And who could blame him?
Power Beyond Measure: The Extensive Engine Transformation
Competing mainly in autocross and private 1-mile events, in which the car has gone more than 200mph, Andrew has left his mark on the asphalt. Additionally, his foray into autocross events resulted in several Fastest Time of the Day (FTD) finishes, further cementing his reputation as a force to be reckoned with. The Viper’s performance on the track is a testament to the dedication and skill Andrew poured into every aspect of the build. One notable achievement that sets Andrew apart is his record for the highest wheel horsepower (whp) at a local dyno shop. Clocking in at an astonishing 1100whp, it’s clear that Andrew’s attention to detail and unwavering pursuit of power has paid off. A true commitment to extracting every ounce of performance from his Viper.
Under the hood lies an 8.0L V10 engine that has undergone an extensive transformation. Upgrades include CP pistons, Carillo rods, a custom cam, fully ported and polished heads by the legendary Greg Good, and ARP head and main studs. The engine, assembled by Andrew himself in his garage, is a piece of art in and of itself. To give the Viper an extra boost, Andrew added twin Comp Turbo oil-less 6767 turbos. Turbocharger installation presented a unique challenge due to their low positioning in the Viper. Andrew overcame this obstacle with the use of oil-less turbos, ensuring both performance and reliability. This prevents the complexity and potential failure points that would have come from using external oil scavenging pumps and return lines.
MegaSquirt MS3X: Andrew’s Hands-On Approach to ECU Tuning
When it comes to ECU tuning, Andrew takes matters into his own hands. With prior experience tuning MegaSquirt MS1 ECUs on other projects, including a twin-turbo V8 swapped 300ZX and a single turbo Ford Explorer, he dove headfirst into tuning his Viper. However, he sought the expertise of Greg Good for the crucial task of building and porting the cylinder heads. Armed with his knowledge and skills, Andrew fine-tuned the ECU himself and used a local dyno for performance measurements only, gaining valuable insights into his Viper’s capabilities.
While Andrew encountered challenges during the installation and tuning process, his perseverance paid off. One significant hurdle was the ignitor setup. Since the Viper uses “dumb” or high current coils, the MegaSquirt MS3X wasn’t able to provide all of the necessary ignition outputs directly from the ECU. An outside ignition driver would be needed to run 5 coils in a ‘wasted spark’ configuration. After experimenting with a 2JZ ignitor box and discovering it was insufficient for high boost levels ( proven with an oscilloscope ), Andrew designed a custom 5-circuit igniter board to ensure reliable ignition even under extreme conditions. This ingenuity showcases Andrew’s problem-solving skills and his dedication to finding the best solution for his build.
The Viper’s ECU is using some additional sensor integration, including coolant pressure, fuel pressure, and turbine back pressure sensors. These provide vital data to monitor performance and keep the engine running optimally. Looking ahead to the future, Andrew plans to upgrade to the MS3Pro Ultimate, which offers even more I/O options and advanced features like traction control, aside from Andrew’s right foot. This will further enhance his Viper’s performance and allow for the seamless integration of additional sensors.
Wiring Wizardry: Maximizing Efficiency with the Factory Harness
Wiring was another aspect where Andrew showcased his expertise. Rather than completely rewiring the Viper, he decided to utilize the factory harness. Extending the wires from the OEM harness to the DB25 connectors inside the cabin seamlessly integrates the standalone engine management system into the existing setup. This approach not only saved time and effort but also ensured a clean and efficient wiring solution.
Throughout his build, Andrew relied on a couple of specific components to make his vision a reality. The JBPerf add-on board (necessary for the additional 2 injectors). And an external ignition driver board (driving 5 pairs of coils in a wasted spark configuration). These were key additions that enabled full sequential fuel injection on the V10 engine. By leveraging the core components of the MegaSquirt MS3X system and these auxiliary parts, Andrew achieved a highly effective and optimized engine management setup. This also allows him to utilize the original cam and crank sensors, along with the standard wheel decoder settings included in the MS3X.
Pushing Boundaries: Andrew’s Viper as a Testament to DIY Enthusiasm
Andrew’s build is a testament to the power of passion, expertise, and relentless pursuit of automotive excellence. From his meticulously upgraded engine to his hands-on tuning approach, every detail has been carefully considered and executed. The results speak for themselves: a record-breaking Viper that captivates both onlookers and competitors alike.
As Andrew continues to push the limits of this Viper, we can only imagine what he will accomplish next. This story reminds us that with the right combination of knowledge, determination, and creativity, combined with the MegaSquirt line of engine management systems there are no limits to what can be achieved.