Overview

You've spent a lot of effort building your SL-C. Make sure you understand how lift, tow, transport or secure it for dyno testing.

Lifting on a 2 or 4-post lift

 Lifting on a 4-post lift is as simple as verifying that there is clearance and driving up on the ramps.  Be sure you have an adequate approach angle, and use ramps if needed.  Generally, if you can get on the lift ramps without hitting the splitter, you will probably be OK for the rest of the journey down the lift ramp.

For two-post lifts, which are the predominant type in service bays, you must be very careful when lifting the car,  or damage to the car will occur.   The problem of course, is that most SL-Cs are very low, and like all cars, have very specific places where the car is intended to be lifted.  Unfortunately, the typical service tech can't look up the SL-C in a book to determine the ideal lift position- you have to help.  To make matters worse, because the car is so low, is is normally too low to get over the lift arms for most lifts in use today-- without some specific instructions.  

The solution in most cases is to move the lift arms to the side and move the car roughly in place where you want to lift it.  Remember that the car has about a 60/40 weight distribution to the rear, so plan for the rear lift arms to be fairly far forward so the car doesn't tip backward when lifted.  This would be a Bad Thing.  

After the car is positioned correctly (this usually means placing the front tire PAST the tire plate that most lifts have), put a low floor jack (as described in the Jack section below) under the rear of the car and lift the rear up at least 15-20 inches, but not so high that the splitter hits the floor.  You will then be able to slip the lift arms under the car and position them.  If you have an older chassis with an aluminum 2x2 as a crossmember, this is a great place to place the lift.  For those with a billet crossmember, please heed the engraved warning on it not to use it as a lift site.  Use the transaxle or some other secure place.

The front arms can typically be aligned such that the arm pads follow the 45 degree angle of the footwells at the chassis.  You can place them there with safety.

The rear arms should be positioned so that they are lifting the rear of the car from one of the 2x2 tubes on a 45 (looking at them from a plan view).  Be sure that the rear arms are set to use the small flip-ups n most rear arms.   Failure to do this will likely cause the rear arm to hit the side skirts and destroy them.  Please be extremely careful about this and don't raise the car unless and until you are sure any of the lift arms --particularly in the rear-- do not hit the side skirts as the car is lifted.

Where should you be sure NOT to lift the car?  If you put the lift arms under the floor, it will bend the floor.  If you put the lift arms too far out, it will end up on the 1/8" floor extender and destroy it and the side skirts.  If you put the lift arms even farther out they will probably destroy the side skirts and the lower body.   Please place the lift arms ONLY under the reinforced parts of the chassis.  See the build manual for a picture of places where the chassis can be lifted with a jack or with lift arms.

It's not a bad idea to put tape or paint where you have determined it is safe to lift your car.  That makes it easy to describe to others when they are helping, and serves as a reminder to service techs who may need to lift your car.

When lowering the car, allow the lift to drop all the way down.  Then jack up the rear of the car again, and slide the lift arms away from the car.  Lower the jack carefully once the lift arms are positioned all the way clear of the car.  The car can them be driven or pushed out of the lift bay.

Floor Jack

You will need a super-low-profile jack that only just fits under the car. This jack is known to fit under the car at normal ride height, and work well with proper care. 

Rear Wheels- Changing Wheels/Tires

The SL-C has a wheel opening in the rear that replicates the openings in Group C cars of the era. The wrap-around style at the bottom of the opening is great for aerodynamics, but can make it difficult to change large wheel/tire combos. Some have trimmed the inner fender with a Dremel to make the changes easier- and this is a good approach for a race car (though the race suspension doesn't allow much droop, so this really isn't a problem for a car so equipped).

For the street, if you are willing to invest a little time to change the rear wheels, you don't need to trim the bodywork: the trick is to jack up or lift the car in the conventional manner, then use this Harbor Freight jack or one like it, to carefully lift up the rear control arm from the rear and side so the hub is centered in the wheel opening. You can do this even with the stock diffuser on the race tail. The wheel/tire assembly will be easy to remove and install!

Towing

It should go without saying that the SL-C can ONLY be towed on a flatbed.  There is no place to lift the car on a conventional sling, and most stingers are too narrow for the wide SL-C body on front.  And you can't use a stinger on the rear, as the front approach angle (which will be the departure angle on a rear-lifted tow) is too small to permit the rear to be lifted enough without destroying the front splitter.

In any case, watch for clearance issues as the tow truck operator pulls your car up on the flat bed ramp, and don't allow him to just jerk the car up and ruin the splitter, or the underbody part of the chassis.  The good news is that all the trouble will be in the front- the rear, especially with a race tail, will not be a problem, as the ride height is higher, and the departure angle is quite high.

One builder says:

I used to carry special straps in my cobra so that it wouldn't get chewed up by chains etc. I used to keep the specs in the glove box because I once had a guy who didn't want to use someone else's straps. I know that there isn't much room in a SL-C, but I'm thinking i'd want a really small soft bag with a couple of essentials in it like straps.

Trailering

 Trailering your SL-C is necessary if you have a race- or track-only vehicle.  And sometimes a regular street car needs a ride in a trailer as well.

This topic describes some of the things to consider when you need to trailer your SL-C.  A good start to understanding trailering in general is an article from Hagerty Insurance here which describes the advantages of open vs closed trailers, along with some great tips on how to secure the car.

One owners approach is here.  Further discussion follows.

Size Matters

 The right size trailer is important.  Too short and you won't be able to fit the car safely, or more likely, won't have enough extra room to tie it down properly.  Too long and the tow rig begins to have a longer moment, which makes it a little less stable.  A rule of thumb is to always have an additional 3 feet as a minimum at each end of the car.

For SL-Cs, that means that a 20-foot box is about the minimum.  Allan U has a 20' box with an additional 2' Vee and he is very satisfied with the length.  The author has the same trailer as Allan, but 2' longer, which works well, as his SL-C has a rear-mounted wing that extends farther back.  Others have even longer trailers.  More is better, but generally, a 22 or 24 foot trailer is ideal.  If your tow rig can handle it, consider strongly the 24' size, as it is the most popular for amateur racers, and a trailer of that size will have a wider audience on resale.

Remember that adding cabinets, winches, etc., may have an effect on tie-down space, so think about the process when you spec or modify your trailer.

Managing the doors

Opening the doors in an SL-C makes the car wider.  Too wide, in fact, to have the doors fully open and fit inside the max interior width of an enclosed trailer (in the US, the maximum exterior width of a trailer is 102").

That makes it hard to drive the car into the trailer, and then open the door fully to get out.   One solution is to close the doors, drive in and have a helper open the door from the outside and hold the edge from hitting the inside of the trailer wall while you extricate yourself.  A variation of this is to use a length of common heater hose insulation (as from Home Depot or Lowes) to wrap around the edge of the door.  Open the door and allow it to hit the trailer wall, with the foam insulation protecting the door while you exit.  Remove the insulation and close the door.

Another solution is to really plan ahead and order the trailer with an egress door.  These doors are on the drivers side of the trailer, and can be opened to allow a car door to fully open.  This is pretty common, and every trailer manufacturer has done this many times.  In this case, open the egress door on the side of the trailer, drive in, open your door as usual, exit the car, close the car door, then close the trailer egress door.

Still another solution is to build in an electric winch at the front of the trailer, and use it to winch the car into position.  This has the benefit of less risk of damage to the car and clutch, as the car is slowly winched in (and out).  It can be stopped instantly to adjust the wheels if the car is drifting too close to one side.  Since there doesn't need to be a driver in the car while it is being winched in or out, there is no issue with having to open doors, or clamber in and out of the car in cramped spaces.  The author has such an arrangement in his trailer, and it works well.

Keeping the car secured in the trailer

 Too many times cars have been damaged in transport because they weren't secured properly in the trailer.  There are few things so depressing as opening the trailer door to find your car slammed to the side (or front, or rear) with damaged bodywork- or worse.

Keeping the car secure means strapping it down correctly, and having backup straps in place in case one fails in some way.

The first line of defense is to have adequate straps in place.  The best straps are made by Macs, and are at least 2" wide.   Although the car only weighs about the same as a Miata, please don't use motorcycle-style straps as they are not sufficient for the task.  Don't buy the cheap straps, even though they may be "rated" at 10,000 lbs, as independent tests have shown that the manufacturer-provided ratings are often meaningless (e.g., they apply only to the steel components, not to the assembly itself).  This is an area where trying to buy cheap straps may be a false economy.

Every trailer comes with large D-rings in the corners to attach straps, and your trailer may have these in just the right places.  Or not.  If you aren't happy with the D-ring locations, they can be moved, but should be done so only by a competent weldor, as the D-rings need to tie into the chassis or frame of the trailer, not the plywood floor.

If you don't want to use the D-rings, consider the use of E-track.  This is a great way to attach straps, and allows the accurate placement of specific holding straps like full-wheel cages.

However you choose to tie the car down in the trailer, be sure you cross the straps in a sort of X-pattern to minimize sideways movement while in transport.

For the rear, you can attach straps to the billet chassis uprights on which the suspension arms are attached.  Be sure you use a "cross" or x-pattern to limit shifting.

The front of the SL-C is harder- partly because there are no easy tie-down points like a bumper.  But there are several options:

  • Use wheel cages  like these to hold the tire and wheel assembly.  These can be setup to tie down on the sides, or at the front and rear of the tire.   Room is tight, so the side mounts are easier to attach and detach.
  • Use tire straps as shown in the link.  These work well, and hold the car safely.  The author uses these on his SL-C.  
  • Use long straps through the brake vent openings in the body, looped around the control arms.  This is a also the best way to drag the car up on a flat bed tow truck, as the control arms are very strong, and nowhere else in the body or front end is there anything strong enough to use to pull the car, unless you build your own weldment to be attached directly to the chassis near the footbox area.  Please be sure to never pull the car by anything else in the front end-- it will only serve to rip the nose right off the car.

Again, if you use straps, remember to install them in an x-pattern.

If you are a belt-and-suspenders sort of person, consider double-strapping the car with two sets of redundant straps wherever possible.  For example, you may find it useful to use the 2" straps to tie the car down, and follow them up with a set of smaller motorcycle-style ones purely as a backup, to help absorb some shock, as well as be there in case of a failure of the larger strap.  Or leave the winch strap setup on and loosely tensioned as a sort of backup to the regular straps in the front.

Dyno

 Many SL-Cs find themselves on a dyno at one time or another, whether to just do an initial tune for a modified engine, or squeeze out a little more power from a stock crate motor.

It's vital to strap the car down correctly, as the forces involved in full-throttle runs are immense.  Search Youtube for dyno accidents if you need convincing.

Most dyno operators are pretty careful, and generally know what they are doing, but often it is prudent to help them find the best places to strap the car down.  Most important is to insist that the car be strapped down only at chassis points, or by the suspension.  Don't allow anyone to fabricate "tow hooks" that aren't welded ot bolted directly to the chassis.  Using the bolt-on nose piece that holds the radiator, etc is a recipe for disaster.

To be specific, you can strap down the car from the front by looping straps through the control arms and bringing them out through the brake ducts in the front bodywork, and strap the rear down with straps around the rear billet uprights to which the rear control arms are attached.