After lots of thought and many different considerations I have decided to build an Opel GT with a 2.2 FI Ecotec DOHC aluminum block motor. I think for ease of installation I will go with the 4 spd Automatic. My thoughts are to find a 03-05 Chevy Cavalier that is totalled in the rear. Remove the motor, tranny and suspension as a single unit (transaxle assembly). Then cut the engine compartment out, including the firewall, strut towers, frame rails and inner fenders. Then cut out the Opel until all of the Cavalier drive (transaxle assy and firewall, strut towers..) fits into the rear of the Opel.
The rear axle width on the Opel is around 52.5 inches and the Cavalier is 57.5. But the Cavalier wheels seem to have alot of offset with the lugs almost flat to the outside of the wheel, while the Opel seems to be inset several inches, this should be enough to keep the tires inside the stock fenders. By using the firewall, strut towers, frame rails and inner fenders from the donor car, it should make mounting the entire setup pretty simply.
I figure I will mount the radiator in the front nose section and run long hoses back to the motor. At the same time keep the stock heater core with remote hoses. I think I will leave the stock transmission tunnel for running cables, wires and hoses. I will convert the engine compartment to a trunk of sorts.
I think the Gas tank can stay in its original location. That puts alot (all) of the weight in the rear of the car. This is not such a bad thing, it would be real easy to pull away from a light with the front wheels off the ground. Hydraulic wheelie bars would keep the car from flipping over. I think it would hurt the handling quite a bit although having Independent rear suspension should be a huge plus.
To combat the light frontend I will put the radiator, battery, brake booster and anything else I can in the front of the car. I was also considering adding some ballast weight to the front, but it would have to be adjustable and how would I be able to adjust it on the fly. One thought I had would be to mount a 20 gallon tank in the front and fill it with water/coolant and then mount 10-12 gallon tank (empty) in the rear over the gas tank. Setup 2 eletric pumps, one at each tank, then I could move upto 12 gallons to the rear and then move it back for handling. At 8.34 pounds per gallon thats 170 lbs added to the front and 100 lbs that can be moved to the rear with a flick of a switch.
I am now looking locally for a wrecked 03-05 Cavalier or Sunfire with a good front end. I have a lead on a good GT but it is 2000 miles away. If anyone knows of one for sale a little Closer to Maine, please let me know.
I am open to any suggestions and ideas anyone might have that could help out. Like what to do to make the front and rear wheels match. Cavalier has 5 lug and GT has 4. At this point I planned on keeping the stock frontend. Stock steering, I don't think I will need power steering with the engine in the back. I can also increase the foot room in the front by reducing the size of the transmission tunnel.
The 2.2 Ecotec is the Only motor I will consider using and the choice of the Cavalier/Sunfire is based on the Narrowest width wheel to wheel.