What's new

Questions, questions, and more questions

LukeAshlocke

New member
Hey,
I just bought a Sterling.
It was sold online as a ‘73 Sterling Nova, however, when the car is delivered the title reads a ‘79 Sterling Rally?
Then, it looks like Sterling was only in production from 72-77. The only “Sterling Rally” was produced in 1975?
Any help would be appreciated.
Also, where can I find a driver side window for this ____fill in the blank____ and a front hood?

thanks
-Confused New Sterling Owner, Luke Ashlocke
 

farfegnubbin

Site Owner
Staff member
Hi Luke!

I agree; that's an interesting new mystery. What I can say is that in all of my years of collecting history on the Sterling I've never heard of a "Sterling Rally" and I'm 99.9% confident it wasn't produced as such. What I've noticed over the years is that most state's DMV can't quite wrap their heads around kit cars and therefore I've seen a lot of random stuff make it onto titles. A weird quirk of the Sterling is that it is eponymously known simply as that. Yes, there was always some company in the background that was making the bodies but the "make" is often lazily just referred to as "the Sterling." Consequently, many DMVs had the problem of trying to figure out how to title "the Sterling" by "Sterling." I know that one of my cars had "Sterling" as the MAKE (which isn't really right) and "GT" as the MODEL even though a Sterling GT is a very specific, rare model that came years after all of the Classics were made. And mine is simply not a GT. I honestly think they did it just to fill in a blank on the title.

So that is my theory at any rate. There was no Sterling model called a "Rally" to my knowledge. "Rally" was one of those words like "GT" and "SS" that got added to pretty much anything cool in the 1970s, sometimes officially, sometimes not. Sounds like you have a wonderful, normal classic Sterling (no suffix.)

Many of our cars have an ID plate on the sill of the body on the driver's side near the canopy hinge. Many were metal. Some were embossed in the fiberglass itself. When you get a chance, see what yours reads (or share a photo.) That should tell you the body number and manufacturing location and it might include a date but probably not. Anyhow, that would help us piece together a little more of the history. Most bodies were made in California. A few came from the midwest. The models were all the same except that we've noticed a few small differences in the thickness of the fiberglass and the depth of the side window sills. Every few years we discover another little nuance.
 

farfegnubbin

Site Owner
Staff member
Regarding parts, Sterling Sports Cars III has the molds and can fabricate pretty much any part you need. (I'm the owner and main contact.) What we've found is that It costs quite a bit to have a fabricator pull parts for us due in part to the small volume. Most parts are a few hundred dollars plus modest shipping depending on how big the part is.

There are three hood styles we can make: Nostril (with two scoops), smooth, and "Sovran style" with subtle forward and rear-facing scoops. At this point we have made them fit interchangeably so an owner can pick whatever they want.

Glass comes from a high-quality manufacturer. We usually sell side windows as a pair for $355 (as of this posting) plus about $110 for packaging and shipping which is tricky for glass. We don't usually sell singles but can do so for $180 which the same packaging and shipping.

Greg (unofun) has a fairly large collection of used parts. Sometimes he has the exact part an owner needs. (y)
 

letterman7

Honorary Admin
Hi Luke. Welcome to the forum. I've answered a couple questions on your Facebook posts about the car. I see what you're planning with the Porsche engine and those wheels. Think very carefully before going any further. Those wheels won't allow a turning radius of any sort (18's are about the limit on these cars), and the Porsche motor will require a Porsche transmission - they (the engine) will not bolt to a VW transmission.
 

LukeAshlocke

New member
Hi Luke. Welcome to the forum. I've answered a couple questions on your Facebook posts about the car. I see what you're planning with the Porsche engine and those wheels. Think very carefully before going any further. Those wheels won't allow a turning radius of any sort (18's are about the limit on these cars), and the Porsche motor will require a Porsche transmission - they (the engine) will not bolt to a VW transmission.
Hey thanks for the insight!
Well I hope it will work because I don’t wanna have to buy a transmission though, since the weather’s been bad here and the engine hasnt arrived I wonder if I can cancel?
i’ll try that now, it looks like they are closed but I left a message and sent an email saying that I wish to cancel… Now let’s wait and see what they say.
In order to get more horsepower out of this engine what do you recommend that will bolt into that four-speed manual volkswagon transmission?
Is there anyway I can get more horsepower out of the engine that’s in it which is the 1.6 L volkswagon 4 banger?
And as far as the wheels go unfortunately I’ve already paid for them they look great on it but I’ve noticed that there’s only about an inch and a quarter clearance in the front but I could cut back that skid plate and possibly make more room for better turns?

What do you think?
 

letterman7

Honorary Admin
Good evening Luke,
Well.. all the big questions that new owners usually ask :) Between myself and the site owner who actually owns the company, we probably have a combined 40 years experience in these cars, so we've seen just about everything that will and won't work. Let's address the wheels first: Fore and aft movement aren't a concern. Vertical clearance certainly is as well as the turn radius. The only way to know for sure is to turn the wheels until they hit the body - my guess is they will interfere with the upper wheel arch internally before they hit lower, especially under power and the shock absorbers bouncing. As that part of the body (wheel well area) is a critical structural portion of the body, you don't want to be cutting anything away. Really, the logical choice is different, smaller diameter wheels. Not only for the clearance issue, but also to take some of the strain off the wheel bearings. Even at 18", there is a lot of rotational mass on the brakes (drum brakes are terrible for more mass than they are designed for - a smart move is to put disc on all 4 corners) as well as the bearings. Remember, these were/are simple machines not designed for high speed road duty.
Second, the engine: Porsche 6 cylinder, depending on the year, aren't as powerful as you think they are. They rely on torque, though with the turbo, your horsepower does go up. The trade-off is actually fitting the unit under the body. Knowing that a Corvair engine will not fit without cutting some of the body away, I can almost guarantee that the Porsche engine won't either. Plus, that engine (again, depending on year) adds significant weight to the rear of the car which you don't want. Couple that with a transmission that you'll certainly need adds more complexity than you want to deal with.

Now, options: It all comes down to what you expect of the car. Many new owners expect super car performance because of the looks and don't understand that underneath is a 70 year old design chassis. I'm not saying that fun can't be had - I've spanked Trans Ams off the line with a simple 1500CC engine in my car (weight vs horsepower) but of course lost in the long haul to the cubic inches. At the same time I've left many Mustangs lost in the twisty roads near me because I dialed in the suspension with simple add-ons and respected what the rear engine layout would do if I didn't. What you decide comes down to your wallet. I don't know what you paid for the Porsche engine, but likely for the same price you could get a new built larger bore (1835cc or 1944cc) VW engine from a reputable dealer that would provide plenty of grunt for these lightweight cars without adding any complexity to your build. There are engine kits out there that you can adapt to your current engine to build out a larger displacement if you know how to do engine work for less money.
 

farfegnubbin

Site Owner
Staff member
What Rick said. 🙂

Don't fret if you have that engine already. On the one hand, if you decide against it, it can always be sold again. And if you decide to try it, It'll be a neat challenge.

I've gone both ways on issues like these over the years. I love promoting a "can do" attitude. Using a 6 cylinder Porsche engine on this car IS possible. But I also have an increasingly dominant practical side to both my own projects and regarding advice to others. There are a lot of compromises with that engine, which Rick summarized better than I could've.

There was one rare distant variant of Sterling called the Viper 2000 (which was actually a minor spin-off of the Cimbria, which is a spin-off of the Sterling.) The Viper 2000 used that basic engine. But it was rumored to be heavy, expensive, temperamental, and required a different transaxle (I'm pretty sure,) and didn't actually give as much performance boost as they were touting (we're pretty sure.) Bottom line, it was an ambitious, nicely executed experiment but didn't have as much up side as could be had from a simpler, more reliable, less expensive engine. (It did have a pretty good cool-factor to it.)

The engine compartment of these cars is reasonably wide but isn't very tall or long. Height doesn't matter much with that Porsche engine but length might. One of my cars has a V6 in it and length (and height) were a problem. There is always a way. There are always work-arounds...with compromises. I like seeing interesting, unique, challenging projects. But we'd feel irresponsible NOT helping a new owner/builder avoid potential frustrations.

Keep us updated on how stuff progresses!
 

ratrog64

Active member
The Porsche motor can likely be fitted to the vw transaxle with a Kennedy adapter plate. They make one for just about any other configuration possible, I would guess they can make one for that set up. Cost? hmmmm my guess is not cheap but likely less then a Porsche transaxle.

I completely understand wanting more power. We all crave it. Funny thing is, it doesn't take a whole lot of power to make these cars fun. Hell, half the fun of Sterling ownership is when the car is sitting still. Everyone whats to ask about it and take photos of it and with it. The one thing I have found very surprising is this, I have never had anyone come along side of me at a light and want to race. They usually would pull along side and give me a thumbs up and maybe yell out the window " what kind of car is that? ". Never ..... not once. In the past 3 or 4 years, I bet I have driven my old Sterling more then most have ever. The new owner says the same.
 

Unofun

Member


letterman7

Honorary Admin​

Hi Luke. Welcome to the forum. I've answered a couple questions on your Facebook posts about the car. I see what you're planning with the Porsche engine and those wheels. Think very carefully before going any further. Those wheels won't allow a turning radius of any sort (18's are about the limit on these cars), and the Porsche motor will require a Porsche transmission - they (the engine) will not bolt to a VW transmission.#####

Hi Luke. Welcome to the site!
AHH... The Porsche motor! If it is a 6 cylinder for get about it. On the other side of that, the Porsche 914 or VW bus type 4 motors ( Identical motor other than an extra head shaft) are 1700cc up to 2liter engines stock. Any of these easily bolt right up to the stock VW transmission ( make sure your trans mounts are in good shape or change to non rubber ones) .. nothing else needs to be done to it.. Just as in mine in the name photo shows. Some of the other great things are that an A/c compressor will bolt right on the motor and they only have alternators. ALSO the Porsche is much heavier, than the sterling by far, but the engines weigh about the same, so much faster until needing the 5th gear of a Porsche.
 
Top