Like many performance oriented decisions it can be difficult sometimes to chose the right clutch. Today we will talk about the most commonly selected clutch types for a performance manual transmission car, especially a high performance turbo car like the 3000GT VR4 or Dodge Stealth R/T Turbo.
The first step is to be realistic about four things.
Performance level of your engine
Everyone wants to make 1000 HP, but its very important when choosing to modify your car that you are realistic about your real goals. Building a performance vehicle is about balance and careful planning. You don’t want a clutch designed to cope with 1000 HP in your 320 HP car. The driving experience will most likely be pretty miserable on the street and a clutch like that is usually quite hard on the drivetrain.
Intended Driving Style, Percent Street vs Race
The other critical factor about choosing a performance clutch, especially for an AWD vehicle that can often NOT be traction limited is to be honest about the intended use of the vehicle. If you go to the track once a week you are going to want a more race oriented clutch than someone who goes once a year or never.
Driver Skill and Tolerance for Driving Compromise
The final thing to be especially cognizant of is your particular skill level and your tolerance for a car that can be a little harder to drive, especially in stop and go traffic. If you have no tolerance for a clutch that acts like an on/off switch its important to be real about that and choose a street friendly clutch.
Once you have decided your intended power level, the intended use of the car, and your drive skill the next consideration is your budget. Performance clutches for the 3000GT and Dodge Stealth AWD clutches typically start out at about $350 and can go up into the thousands for twin disc units. Be realistic about your budget, and also realize this may not be a one time expense. Clutches wear and even can fail under extreme abuse, you are unlikely to buy one clutch and have it for the life of your vehicle if you drive hard and keep the car for a while. Some of the twin disc units are designed to be rebuilt, but often the rebuild cost can exceed that of a standard single disc type of clutch.
At the same time it is worth buying a known brand, rather than saving a small amount of money, due to the labor of removing and replacing one of these AWD transmissions being so intensive.
Clutch for Stock OEM Power Levels
If you have a very mildly modified AWD 3000GT or Dodge Stealth you may wish to use a clutch made by the same company that made the original clutches these cars came with and made to OEM specifications. The Exedy OEM level clutch will be great for a stock car or a car with just some basic bolt-ons, such as an air intake and exhaust, that spends most of its time on the street.
Finally, today we are going to focus on a particular brand of clutches. ACT is a major player in the aftermarket performance industry and we really like the company and their products. It isn’t just because we sell them. We think they provide a great value and they have consistently be reliable and supported the 3/S platform. We will start below with full street clutches that you could drive every day and move on to clutches that are more race oriented and may not be as friendly on the street.
Full Street Clutches
Full Street clutches will typically be based on a stock organic type of friction material, will contain springs in the center hub, and be very easy to drive. They can stand drag strip runs at the track, but should be given plenty of time to cool down between runs and not slipped excessively. On the 3000GT/Dodge Stealth platform a full face street clutch can be pushed surprisingly far. We have no issues pushing our person DR750 500+AWHP car on a street clutch very similar to the ACT street clutch. We have run the ACT street clutch at the track and as a daily driver and find it to be VERY easy to use. Besides a stiffer pedal (and holding up to a launch and being able to bark the tires into 2nd) no one would even really know it was not stock.
Street / Strip Clutches
Street/Strip clutches may often be of a puck design, but maintain the sprung hub. The very aggressive grabby nature of the puck design can actually tend to tear out the springs in the center hub on repeated very hard launches. This is not common in a quality clutch, but has been known to happen with some brands.
If your car lives on the drag strip you may want to continue down and select a clutch without springs. The springs help cushion the clutch just slightly, but their primary purpose is to dampen harmonics and rattles and lessen input shaft wear.
We are now able to offer a clutch equally suitable for the race track and for everyday driving.
A race style single disc clutch will often be a pucked design, but the springs have been removed and replaced with a solid riveted hub. This leads to having less parts to break, but may be a little more brutal in engagement, may lead to rattle at idle and harmonics at certain speeds, and may lead to slightly more input shaft spline wear. The rivets are not invincible and may still be damaged under considerable abuse, but should last longer than a sprung hub design. One other good feature of a springless design is the disc is lighter, which takes some stress off the transmission synchronizers.