18th Sep2017

The Driving Experience: Omar’s NSX

by Gavin Pouquette

The new NSX is a marvel of modern technology: hybrid power, advanced manufacturing techniques, an ECU that’s smarter than you.  But what about the old one?  On this episode of The Driving Experience, Mike and I hop in Omar Vargas’s NSX and see what a world changing super car was like in 1991.

Music by Mathusaworm

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02nd Jun2017

Face/Off R32 GT-R

by Michael Chandler

Like many of us, Skitch Bryant fell in love with the Skyline GT-R’s whilst playing Gran Turismo.  Unlike many of us, he imported one.  One that’s a bit different than most of the R32’s you’ll see roaming around.

Yes, despite what the car looks like from the A pillars forward, this is an R32 GTR.  It just has front end conversion, similar to the Bee R 324R.  Unlike the Bee R kit, this one has some R34 Z Tune fenders grafted on to it.  It also has a rear windshield wiper, which is a nice touch.

Under the hood is…

*sips soda*

An RB26DETT that’s been given a lot of NISMO upgrades: N1 turbos and oil pump, bigger intercooler, and other stuff we’ll file under “etc”.  It also has…

A BUNCHA SHINY-ASS HARD PIPES!  And a shiny Top Secret catch can.

All of those pipes, along with the downpipe, exhaust, oil cooler, and oil filter relocation setup are GReddy/Trust pieces.  There are also Spitfire coil packs, and a Cusco strut bar in there, but since it’s an RB26, people will focus on the power adders.  Which is a shame, because this thing has seen some upgrades in the handling department as well.

Behind the NISMO branded Enkei wheels are the OEM brakes and rotors.  And behind them are a set of Cusco Street Zero coilovers, and NISMO stainless steel brake lines and sway bars.  

The interior has been given the NISMO touch as well, in the form of seats, floor mats,…

And 320 kph gauge cluster.  

That orange, blurry thing in the last photo is a MOMO steering wheel, because it can’t be all NISMO all the time.  While we’re here, can we take a minute and appreciate the late 80’s goofy awesomeness that are buttons and switches on the cowl of the gauge cluster?  Man, makes me miss my Legend and its radio controls on the cowl.

Skitch picked up the Bayside Blue Skyline from a seller in Japan.  He did all the paperwork, and flew to Long Beach to drive the car back.  And that drive was interesting, because everyone was snapping photos of the car.  Especially in California.  From the email he sent me (because I forgot some of the details when he told me the story during the shoot):

I stopped at a Walmart along the way in Cali to grab some snacks and supplies for the road trip.  I was literally inside for only about 10-15 minutes and come out to an entire Nissan club with their cars parked next to mine, taking pictures and geeking out over the Skyline.  I asked them how they got here so fast and they told me that one of their members was following me and phoning everyone in the club to come out before the car disappears.  They were super cool and we hung out for a little bit before I had to move on.

Stalkers can be fun sometimes!

People love it at car shows, especially kids.  I love it when the little kids run up to it and recognize that they’ve played the car in a video game or that it’s their favorite color.  Although I wasn’t expecting anyone else to really pay much attention or freak out over the car, it’s fun to know that it’s so well received and love in the community.  After all, I bought this for me and because I love the platform and heritage of the car.  It’s nice to know that others know of the car as well in some form or another

I can attest to the kids freaking out when they see it at a show.  I was the guy shooting the roll in photos at ISS, and when Skitch and the Skyline rolled past, the crowd behind me lost their minds.  

I’m glad that we can finally, legally, have R32s of all varieties.  Especially ones like Skitch’s: super unique, and driven frequently.  Now let’s see some crazy time attack builds!

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05th May2017

Shakotan Spooky: Austin’s Widebody AE86

by Michael Chandler

What you’re looking at is a car that is as old as I am; and much like myself, this car has gotten wider as the years have gone by.  Unlike myself, however, Austin intended for the car to be wide.  I did not want to be wide.  Let’s talk more about Austin Fenn’s Corolla.

We’ll get to the flares in a minute, so settle down.  Austin plucked this car from a perpetual project state, and built it into what you see here.  And he did a fair amount of that work in his garage.  He’s touched every aspect of this car, like the suspension.  Megan Racing supplies a set of Track series coilovers, roll center adjusters, and their adjustable four links.  Up front  is an MR2 steering rack (because it fits and is also manual), extended lower control arms, and T3 modified steering knuckles. 

 The shock and coil perches in the rear have been modified to allow for additional droppage, and there are hand made traction brackets as well.  There’s also a T3 panhard bar for good measure.  There is Motul 600 brake fluid coursing through braided brake lines on all four corners.  The OEM calipers grab onto slotted rotors.  All of that is tucked behind a set of Basset steel wheels, 14×8 in the front, and 15×10 (-52 offset!) in the rear.  The front wheels are currently wearing a pair of Yokohama S.drive tires, and the rears are sporting Falkens.

The rear bumper has been ditched, and a pair of boso pipes are sticking out the back.  The US spec front bumper has been cut up and tucked, and the body (underneath the custom livery that Austin designed, and Hero Prints turned into printable files) is some satin black paint and Chrysler Crystal Metallic Graphite.  

He’s fitted a set of Jblood sideskirts, and popped on some sideskirt extensions he snagged off of eBay.  Now let’s get to the thing you’ve been waiting for:

The flares are truly one-offs.  They aren’t some super rare Yahoo Japan finds, or something he found at a swap meet.  No, these are flares that he designed, AND MADE HIMSELF.  You won’t be able to get a set of them unless you A) rip them off Austin’s car, a move which is highly un-advisable for a litany of reasons or B) beg him to make a set for you, which will probably result in an answer in the negative.  They’re N2 inspired, but all Austin’s design.

Turning our attention under the hood, we find a 20 valve 4AGE!  And no A/C or power steering!  He has a newer xB, which has at least one of those things.  There’s a big Mishimoto radiator, and matching fans, along with a Setrab oil cooler and a thermostatic oil plate.  

The 20v inhales through a set of individual throttle bodies, topped with 75mm T3 velocity stacks.  It exhales through a very good looking header that I can’t remember the name of, nor the reason that he chose this header.  But damn is it good looking.  If there’s a bad looking, aftermarket header for the 4AGE, I haven’t seen it.  And I don’t want to.  Oh, and the head has been ported and polished.  And the whole shebang is being orchestrated by a Sprint 500 standalone ECU.

There is no carpet inside Austin’s Corolla, only custom floor mats.  The rear of the car doesn’t even get the luxury of floor mats, it just has the relocated battery, sitting inside of a stainless steel box.  There’s a Veilside OG fixed back seat, which necessitated the recovering of the OEM passenger seat and door cards.  You know, so they match the Veilside bucket.  The steering wheel is a Vertex (by Vertex) wheel, and doesn’t have a horn button.  It is very colorful though.  Oh, and that stuff sitting on the driver’s seat?

A sweet pair of Shirts Tucked In driving gloves.

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18th Jul2016

It’s Really Not a 240SX: Erik’s 180SX

by Michael Chandler

180SX feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-2

In a world full of real and fake, mislabeled things, and people trying to fake the funk, it’s rare we find someone with a real, correctly labeled, funky ass thing on their hands.  Sometimes it’s a guy with a rad, rare camera.  Other times it’s somebody with a copy of that movie you loved as a kid, but could never find in adulthood.  In this case, it’s Erik with a legitimate 180SX.  Right hand drive and all.

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Can we acknowledge the clear timing belt cover?

You can’t really see it, but the ID plate lists this car as a 180SX that came with an SR20DET.  And this car ran an SR for a very long time, then Erik got an itch, and BH Motorsports got crafty, and it has an RB25DET Neo under the hood.  It’s not crazily built, the only internal modifications are a set of Tomei Pon cams.  Everything else is a bolt on.  On the intake side is a Freddy intake manifold (Fake Greddy, keep up) with a set of R35 GTR fuel injectors and a Tomei fuel pressure regulator.

180SX feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-13

On the fun side is a Garrett 3076r snail, bolted to a CX Racing manifold.  Cooling the compressed air before it gets to the Freddy manifold is a PBM intercooler.  Watching over this whole ordeal is a Haltech Platinum Pro Series ECU, which gets and sends information via a Wiring Specialties harness.  Tuning services were provided by D-Wreck.

180SX feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-18

Or else what?

Getting that power to the driven wheels is an RB20 transmission, loving stuffed with an ACT 6 puck unsprung clutch.  In the back, between the driven wheels, is a NISMO two way limited slip differential.

180SX feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-3

Doing the stopping is a set of S14 brake calipers up front, and the stock calipers in the rear.  Both have Project Mu pads in them, which seem to be doing the job.

Helping Erik get that sweet, sweet steering angle (which, as I’m told, translates to sweet, sweet street cred) is a whole mess of stuff that my feeble brain barely has a grasp of: PBM knuckles front and rear, lengthened and boxed lower control arms, Driftworks offset and bent tension rods, an GK Tech offset steering rack spacers.

180SX feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-17

Helping to maximize grip, something a drift car actually needs) are a set of Gecko street coilovers.  Strut tower bars provided by JIC  (front) and Cusco (rear), and a Godspeed full rear suspension arm kit in the back help keep things planted.  Also some Stance subframe risers raise a subframe… Not sure which, but one of them is raised!

180SX feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-1

The front and rear wheels and tires are different, for reasons.  Up front the 18×9 Rota G Forces are wrapped in 205/40 Federal 595s, and out back the 18×10.5 Vordovens turn 265/35 Achilles ATR Sports into white smoke.

180SX feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-11

Ok, now that we’ve covered what makes this car go, we can get on to the miles of style this thing has.  In the back it has a set of JDM kouki tail lights, over which is a custom drag wing made by Team Orange.  Who is Team Orange?  They’re the drift team that ran RWD Evos and WRXs in D1GP.

Salt City Drift 2016 Rd3 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-1

The car sports a replica Vertex body kit, and a real D Max hood vent.  It also has a one of ten Godai Elements: Earth windshield banner from Super Wow Factory.  The gray and deceptively purple two tone was done by Brandon over at D-Spare.

180SX feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-10

Inside, on the driver’s side, is a Bride Vios Low Maxx 3 seat, on Planted seat rails.  The limited edition Jimmy Up steering wheel is mounted on a Works Bell quick release, and a NISMO shift knob tops the shifter.  180SX feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-6

On the passenger side is a Bride Zeta seat, also on Planted rails, and a set of Defi gauges mounted in the dash.  No such thing as too much information.

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And in the back, opposite the Sard surge tank, is a .50 caliber ammo box.  Inside that box is not ammunition, but his battery.

SCD2016 Round 4 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-15

This isn’t a 240SX with 180SX tail lights and center section.  This is the real deal.  It also hasn’t been dipped and deep fried in America either.  This is about as JDM as you’re gonna get until you hit the home islands.  It’s really authentic, and really a 180SX

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
20th Apr2016

There’s A Storm Coming: Makes & Models ST Huracan

by Michael Chandler

Makes & Models Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Feature CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-7

Words and Photos by Michael Chandler

It wasn’t that long ago that the big dogs running at Utah Motorsports Campus were the Porsche 911 Cup cars coming from the Tatum, Air Power, Snow, and Magnus garages.  They would be battling it out with a few Corvettes, but the Porsches didn’t have much competition.  Then some guys from a shop in Layton got an opportunity to do something to shake up the order.

NASA Utah Round 3 2014 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (65 of 148)

They bought an Audi R8 LMS from a Pirelli World Challenge team.  They took it to Envision to have it wrapped in their livery, and started learning the limits of the car.  Then they started winning.  Of course I’m talking about the Makes & Models R8.  That changed things up quite a bit.  Suddenly the dominance of the Porsches wasn’t so overwhelming.  Eventually other ex-PWC cars came, and the old V8 LMS wasn’t the dominant car it once was.  Seeing as how they changed the game once, why not change it again?

Makes & Models Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Feature CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-2

Well, another opportunity came up.  A privateer who was running in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo series was looking to unload their Huracan.  Derek Wolthoff of Makes & Models made some calls, and soon enough there was a car under a big, Lamborghini branded sheet sitting in their showroom.  What was under that sheet?

Makes & Models Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Feature CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-3

Obviously.  Well what exactly is a Super Trofeo spec Lamborghini Huracan?  Well, it has a complete aero package that is very different from the street car.  Also different from most of the road going Huracans is the lack of all wheel drive.  This bad boy is rear wheel drive, and has a Marelli six speed sequential gear box.  There’s no ESP, but there’s ABS which has 12 levels of ABS-ness.

Makes & Models Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Feature CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-5Makes & Models Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Feature CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-4

Sitting at all four corners are 18 inch wheels, with Pirelli P Zero tires, and Brembo brakes.  Up front the wheels are 18 x 11, draped in 305/660-18 slicks, with 380mm x 35mm slotted rotors with monstrous 6 pot monoblock calipers.  The rear wheels aren’t much wider than the fronts, they measure in at 18 x 12.  The tires, coincidentally… not really at all, are 315’s.  The rear brakes are smaller than the fronts, but still massive: 355mm x 32mm, with 4 pot monoblock calipers.

Makes & Models Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Feature CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-1

The engine is still a V10, but a little different.  Gone is the multi-point injection for the fuel, and in has come an intake by BMC.  Out is the master and slave ECU setup, and in is a M182 MoTEC system with 9 positions of traction control.  The Super Trofeo series still does have gentlemen racers, gotta give them a little bit of a security blanket.

Makes & Models Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Feature CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-11 Makes & Models Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Feature CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-10

There’s also the other race car stuff like a cage, seat and harness, cat flaps instead of windows, stuff make the car a great tool for racing, but awful for using as a car in the real world.

Makes & Models Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Feature CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-19

So what’s next for the car and team?  Well, they’re going to feel out the car and it’s quirks.  They’ve got one race under their belt, but things are looking pretty good.  When asked about the future of the car, Derek gave me this:

“We would like to make changes to the car that will benefit the series (NASA GTS), based on the spec for ST”

So basically make the car more at home, while still keeping it a Super Trofeo car.  This is good, especially considering that fellow GTSU competitors DXDT Racing recently announced their Super Trofeo program.  Will we see some Lamborghini battles at UMC this season?  Who knows!

Makes & Models Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Feature CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-16

We here at CAM can’t predict the future (at least not with any accuracy, but we were right about the F1 qualifying!), but we do know that, with all this new metal running around the track, there’s a storm brewing on the horizon.

GRAB AN UMBRELLA, CAUSE IT’S RAININ’ BONUS IMAGES!

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.

 

25th Mar2016

Make It Yourself: Widebody Voltex WRX

by Michael Chandler

Voltex WRX feature CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-4

Words and photos by Michael Chandler

Since that fateful SEMA, all those years ago, making your car wide has become a lot easier.  There are rivet on fender flares for all of the popular chassis: FRS/BRZ, 350Z, 240SX, E36, I even saw that there’s a Pandem kit for EG Civics!  If you have a Porsche, you can have Nakai-san fly to you and make your 964 or 993 chassis 911 insanely wide.  This is great and all, but seeing a hand made wide body kit, where the fenders were cut and shaped and re-welded and repainted is a rare sight.  Hardly anybody is doing that.  Jon Truong is no stranger to making something work on his bug-eye WRX.  For a while this thing was known for sporting some Voltex pieces, pieces that weren’t made for the 02-03 WRX’s.  How do you improve on that little project?  Well let’s talk about that.

Voltex WRX feature CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-8 Voltex WRX feature CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-16

A pair of bright red Bride Low Max seats with 5-point Takata harnesses brighten up the interior.  An Auto Power roll cage provides some extra security in case things get a little wild, which hopefully they don’t.  Jon lays his hands on a gorgeous, limited edition Sparco Champion steering wheel, which is attached to an NRG quick release hub.  Between the steering wheel and the gauge cluster are an AEM UEGO wideband gauge, and one of his Defi gauges.  Atop the dash, dead center, are the rest of his Defi gauges.  They monitor oil temperature and pressure, exhaust gas temperature, and boost.  The shift boot has been replace with a JPM Coachworks Alcantara piece.  All those gauges and that cage would be ridiculous if the engine was stock, but thankfully that is not the case.

Voltex WRX feature CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-12

Definitely not stock.  Far, far from it.  Very few OEM pieces remain.  The crankcase is the on that came with the car, but that has been filled with some shiny new bits.  The block received a set of Darton sleeves, a crankshaft from a 2008 STI, KillerB pickup tube and baffle, King bearings, Rallispec connecting rods, and Cosworth pistons.  ARP headstuds hold the ported and polished two liter heads to the block, with Tomei headgaskets in between, and those heads are like a pinata: filled with goodies!  BC 1mm oversized valves, titanium valve springs and retainers, and 272 degree camshafts.  Supertech valve guides let those big valves move smoothly.  NGK spark plugs, one step colder than stock, supply the bang for the Otto cycle.  Samco radiator hoses, a Grimmspeed thermostat and a Koyorad radiator keep the engine cool, and a Tomei timing belt connects the new crank to the lumpy cams.  Hiding the alternator (hey, that’s stock!) is a gorgeous Abbey Road Company, more commonly known as ARC, alternator cover.

Voltex WRX feature CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-13

Sitting atop an Agency Power manifold and TurboXS rotated up-pipe is a massive Garrett GT3582R turbo, featuring a TiAL hotside.  That’s quite the hair dryer!  That beast requires a bit of fuel, which is provided by a Walbro 255lph fuel pump, Agency Power fuel rails and Injector Dynamics 1000cc fuel injectors.  An Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator makes sure the flow is consistent, which is an important thing when you’re dealing with any larger-than-stock turbo setup.  Keeping the boost in check are a wonder trio of bits: a TiAL 44mm wastegate and Q blow off valve, and a Hallman boost controller.  Jon is running an AEM 3.5 BAR MAP sensor, because reasons and there’s no place for a MAF sensor.  The brains of the operation aren’t behind Jon’s bespectacled eyes, but in the COBB Tuning Accessport.  Keeping everything lubricated is oil, and sending that oil to the places it needs to go is a Cosworth high volume and pressure oil pump.  At the end of this whole thing is an Invidia G200 catback.  Ok, while all of that is awesome, it’s not what makes this car special.  While beauty in people is on the inside, the opposite is true for this car.

Now, all of the power needs to go through some stuff so it becomes what they call “usable”.  As you know, or not, Subaru transmissions are known for having 2nd gears made of glass.  Thankfully an upgrade to a six speed trans out of a JDM 2007 model should have that situation remedied.  Holding that new transmission in place is a Perrin transmission mount, and connecting that to the rear differential is a PST carbon driveshaft.  Helping with the gear shifts are a Kartboy short shifter and a Goodrich stainless steel clutch line.  With great power comes great necessity for a clutch that can handle that.  A Carbontec carbon clutch is up to the task, and an ACT Streetlite flywheel helps with engine response.

Voltex WRX feature CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-7 Voltex WRX feature CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-9

Actually putting the power to the ground are a set of Yokohama Advan AD08Rs, which are mounted on a massive set of CCW Classics.  They come in at a staggering 18×11!  Behind the gargantuan wheels (11″ wide!  On all four corners!  ON A STREET CAR!!!) are Brembo calipers harvested from an STI, which clamp Hawk HPS pads upon DBA T3 slotted rotors.  All hail the magical kangaroo paw.  Feeding brake fluid to the calipers are some Stoptech stainless steel brake lines.  The suspension is fairly simple, a set of Zeal Function coilovers bring the car down and make the lateral transitions sharper.

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They say beauty is on the inside, and while the insides of this car are very pretty, the outside is much prettier.  You can clearly see that the license plate say VOLTEX.  This is for good reason.  Jon was bold enough to graft Voltex parts not meant for his chassis on to it.  For the longest time this was just the Voltex Bugeye, and that was good.  The rear diffuser, sidesteps and GT wing, and Greddy lip proved to be starting points, because things just went from there.  In the rear we have 04-05 tail lights, and a rear bumper and fender arches from yet another STI.  Oh, and there’s also the widebody setup back there too.  But why throw a widebody on the rear, and not the front?

Voltex WRX feature CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-3

Before we get to that, let’s talk about some of the other stuff on this car.  There’s a wide assortment of JDM goodies on this: STI V7 hood scoop, grill and headlights; Spec-C roof vent; side markers, and ion fog lights.  There’s a roof vane behind the roof vent, and the corner markers have been plugged with carbon fiber.

Voltex WRX feature CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-1

As you can see, there are no rivets on the exterior of this car.  And the wide fenders on the front didn’t arrive at Solid Autoworks in a box.  Those are handmade in metal.  Seeing someone with legitimate wide metal front fenders is a rarity, in an age where you can order FRP over fenders and slap them on.  A lot of craftsmanship went into this bugeye, proving that sometimes the only way to have the best is to make it yourself.

GALLERY:

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
11th Feb2016

It’s Not One of Those 240s

by Michael Chandler

Volvo 240 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-7

When I say “240”, what springs to mind?  Probably one of the Nissan/Datsun S chassis.  Be it a 240Z, S13 or S14, those are logical conclusions to arrive at.  Unfortunately, those are all the wrong conclusions to arrive at.  You see, Volvo made a a car called 240 as well.  And like the Nissans, it was powered by an inline four cylinder engine, and sent power to the rear wheels; however, it never got the same fanatical following the S chassis received.  And that’s a shame.  Despite it looking EXACTLY like a child’s rendering of a car, they can be turned into some pretty awesome bricks.

Volvo 240 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-1

Tate is one of those folks who transformed a mundane brick into an awesome brick.  And he didn’t have to go crazy to do so, thanks to the worldwide followings Volvos have.  He also didn’t have to know Swedish to get his hands on some parts.  Thanks internet!  Anyway, this brick is more ground bound thanks to a set of R Sport International coilovers, and Kaplhenke adjustable strut mounts.  The suspension isn’t just limited to things that provide the lows.  There’s also a set of Kaplhenke roll center correcters, and IPD sway bars, adjustable torque rods, and panhard bar.  Remember: Volvo took their brilliant boxes on the touring car circuit, so seeing one of these handle isn’t out of the ordinary.

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The gold mesh wheels look period correct, like they were pull offs from an E30 BMW 3 series or a GTi.  They look period correct, but they aren’t period.  They’re a set of MSW’s, and they’re shod in Yokohama rubber.  If you look closely at the photo above, you’ll notice something ahead of the wheel.  That would be the business end of the exhaust.  One of many little touches this car has received.

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The nose is accented by a 242 GT grille and accompanying driving lights, a set Hella 700′ driving lights, and a set of European (Oooo fancy!) corner lenses.  Out back there’s a sweet ass trailer hitch, and a spoiler.  It’s not from a Volvo though.  Guess where it came from.

No, not a Honda.

Not a VW either.

Give up?

It’s from a Saab 9000.  From one Swede to another.

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The interior is a healthy mix of OEM, stuff found in other cars of the era, and creatively shoving aftermarket gauges into factory holes.  The Volvo dash has all of these sweet little places for gauges, some of those holes housed Volvo gauges.  Those holes don’t house Volvo gauges anymore.  In their places sit an AEM UEGO gauge, and some gauges that’ll measure more boost and a wider range of temperatures than the old OEM counterparts.  No fancy aftermarket wheel, just the tried and true factory wheel.  The seats are OEM, just not OEM Volvo.  Tate isn’t 100% sure where the Recaro style seats came from, but they get the job done.  Also non-Volvo OEM: the Audi 4000 shift knob, that sits atop a Pro 5.0 shifter, that juts out from a T5WC transmission sourced from a Mustang.  Wait, what?

Volvo 240 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-3

Yeah, there’s a reason for the Mustang gearbox.  The long block is the stock B21FT that came in the car, but a lot of other things are no longer stock.

Volvo 240 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-2

Tate converted the car to EFI himself using Microsquirt, which he wired and tuned himself, and an intake manifold from a newer 240.  A Swedish company called Do88 supplied the radiator, intercooler and piping.  There’s a GT2871R ball bearing turbo with a ported compressor housing hanging from a one-off tubular exhaust manifold.  A Tial MVS external wastegate that’s plummed into a custom three inch exhaust, the one that dumps right in front of the passenger rear wheel.  A Forge Splitter diverter valve relieves anything above the current preset amount of boost.  That amount is 20psi.  That number will be increasing.

Volvo 240 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-10

Oh, there’s also a ratchet strap holding things down.  Hey man, necessity is the mother of invention.

When someone starts throwing around “240”, people’s mind will instantly jump to the Nissans.  That’s all well and good, but hopefully after reading this you’ll ask them “do you mean the Volvo?” And then you’ll enlighten them about the glory that are the turbocharged, Swedish bricks.

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.

 

 

20th Jan2016

Dodge Ram Camper Van: Make Your Own Adventure

by Michael Chandler

One Man's Van feature CAMautoMag-20

Words and photos by Michael Chandler

Most of us go on vacations, and we enjoy them.  We go on cruises, fly to Vegas, or road trip to a nearby getaway.  My trips last a few days, and I haven’t gone further than Las Vegas in a few years.  A bold few will pile into a large vehicle, and take to the open road for weeks at a time.  And some just up and live in one of those vehicles for months on end.  This is a story about one of the latter.

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The handsome fellow relaxing in the Adirondack chair is Jay.  Jay is quite the character.  He has lived on a boat while he was fixing it up.  He’s done bike races, well into decades when most people would be content to sit at home and reminisce about the life they’ve led.  He’s lived in the desert, and biked on trips that most people would drive.  He also turned a 2000 Dodge Ram delivery van into a pretty sweet home on wheels.

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Jay got to work pretty early.  He says he got cracking two weeks after buying the van, his girlfriend says the stockness lasted five minutes. Regardless, he built this van to live in, and while some people would throw a twin mattress in the back and call it good, Jay didn’t do that.  He couldn’t even really settle on how the interior would look, in the fifteen years he’s owned it he’s changed the interior ten times.  No project is ever done.

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Now, why did he pick a van of all things?  Imagine this: you’re living in Newport Beach, California.  You live in a rather expensive home, in a very nice neighborhood.  One morning, you go out for a run and you see a Class C motorhome parked on your street.  where did this come from? You think to yourself.  It can’t be here all summer, there’s no way.  And yet that monster sits.  Obstructing views and traffic, and generally being an eyesore.  The site weighs on you, your productivity at work falls.  By the end of the summer, you’ve been fired.  You can’t afford your mortgage anymore, so you end up moving to a trailer park in the IE and reminisce about the life you led.  Now imagine that instead of seeing the Class C, you see a bubble top van.  It’s smaller, less garish.  You don’t notice it because it’s a van, and contractors and other professionals drive them.  You don’t get fired, and you continue living happily in Orange County.  That’s why the van, because it’s inconspicuous.

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Running width-wise across the van is a large shelf that could be used as a bench, but is just a shelf.  It holds all the supplies one would need when living out of a home-made camper van, including a broom.  Above the bench/shelf is a pretty sweet little Murphy bed, on which he’s attached some Tibetan prayer flags. Underneath the elevated bed is his Adirondack deck chair, and half a chest of drawers. Directly across from the bed are some hooks, which he hangs jackets, hats and whatever else he wants to on them. It’s a van, were you expecting there to be a distinct lack of storage?

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Jay throws his bike in the back when he heads on his adventures.  And he’s gone on plenty in this van.  He’s put 166,000 miles on the odometer, and those miles taken him to the Pacific Northwest and Orca’s Island.  He’s taken it to California a hundred times, and it’s gone up to Fish Lake in central Utah dozens of times.  Him and his girlfriend, who is my girlfriend’s grandmother (hi Jeanette!), hop into the van, hitch up their fourteen foot trailer, and they spend their summers living in the van and trailer by the lake.  And that trailer hasn’t been spared from Jay’s handy work.  He built a deck for that thing.  Out of wood.  And they bring it with them!

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The van isn’t perfect.  If he could, Jay would’ve picked up a 3/4 ton van instead of the half ton.  And he definitely would have a V8.  The V6 hasn’t exactly been the fuel sipper he imagined it was going to be, especially when dragging that trailer up to the lake.  Overall, it’s been pretty good.  And it’s really hard to complain when you’ve got the door open and you’re enjoying a view of Newport Harbor.

Bonus Images

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
13th Nov2015

A Superb Roadster

by Michael Chandler

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Words and photos by Michael Chandler

I’ve said it many times before: the Honda S2000 is the best Miata ever made.  It has near perfect weight distribution, has an amazing engine and gearbox combination, and (to me at least) looks much better.  It never got the stigma of being a “hairdresser’s car”, but it never really changed much over the course of its ten year life.  And Honda axed it in 2009, and left rear wheel drive behind them.  Thankfully, S2000s are rather widely available, and there is a huge aftermarket for these cars.  Jonathon Esmeyer’s S2000 is an excellent example of a well done street car, that’s inching closer to becoming a track day terror.

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The car has an OEM+ look to it.  While there are plenty of options as far as widebodies, flares, and monstrous wings, Jon went far more subtle.  A Greddy Gracer front lip and a Speedhunter’s tow strap are the only changes made to the front of the car.  An OEM hardtop and decklid spoiler are the other big noticeable modifications to the exterior, or at least the ones you notice at first glance.  It’s when you look closer that you notice the little details, like the smoked S2000 CR side markers, shorty antennae, and badges redone in black chrome.  Getting closer makes the carbon fiber single exhaust cover and ForbiddenUSA carbon side strakes readily apparent.  These little details add up to that OEM+ look.

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Lowering spring can do wonders for making an S2000 more ground bound, but coilovers are the way to go for the burgeoning track day hero.  Since Jon plans on taking this thing to more NASA HPDE events, he went with the ubiquitous KW Variant 3 coilovers.  To help stiffen the chassis further than it already is, a Cusco front lower cross brace and a Comptech rear lower tie bar have been installed.  And to eliminate the vibrations coming from the driveline because the car has been lowered, a set of Megan Racing driveshaft spacers were added, along with Megan’s anti bump steer kit.  eXedium differential collars help minimize the amount of flex in the OE differential bushings.

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Stoptech slotted rotors are gripped by Axxis pads on all four corners, with brake fluid delivered to the calipers via Agency Power lines.  A good set of wheels and tires can do wonders for any vehicle, and this roadster is no exception.  Desmond Regamasters aren’t a foreign sight on a Honda, and the Marquis Promada Brights look amazing with the Silverstone Metallic paint of the car.  The wheels measure 17×8 +35 in front, and 17×9 +38 in the rear, and are covered in Hankook Ventus V12 tires, 225 width in the front and 245 width in the rear.  Don’t focus too much on the tires, stickier meat is on the way!  All of that is held on KICS Leggdura lug nuts.

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How do you make an incredible engine better?  Some would say “leave it alone”, but the rest of us would say “add more power”.  And that can only mean one thing: forced induction.

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A Science of Speed supercharger kit, based around a Paxton Novi centrifugal supercharger, was chosen to up the power.  The heat exchanger upgrade box was checked when the kit was ordered, and one of their ported throttle bodies made its way into the box as well.  A Comptech Ice Box was modified to work with the supercharger setup, but the Berk header, high flow cat, and HKS exhaust didn’t require any modification.

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A Mishimoto radiator with slim fans help keep the boosted mill cool, while a plastic intake manifold gasket help keep intake temperatures cool.  A PasswordJDM Kevlar cooling plate makes sure that radiator gets all the air it needs.

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The interior has the same OEM+ feel that the exterior has.  A MemoryFab Kevlar bucket seat on Buddy Club seat rails replace the factory red seat.  Yeah, red seats.  They’re pretty bad ass.  The optional titanium shift knob one could get from the factory has been replaced with an Aspec titanium knob (heh), and the shifter has been extended with a Moddiction shift knob extender.  The interior is dripping with Go-Tuning suede products: elbow pad, A-pillars, sun visors, shift boot and e-brake cover.

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Jon doesn’t have any concrete plans for the car, aside from more track days and driving the car whenever he can.  He has no plans on making it a trailer queen, so be prepared to see this thing prowling the streets and cruising to the track for years to come.

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Mazda’s Miata is entering its 4th generation, having been in production for 26 years.  Honda’s roadster was only built for ten years, 1999-2009, and lasted two generations.  In those ten years though, it rivaled Mazda’s grip on the roadster game, and may have even surpassed it.  It represents a time when Honda was building fun, rear wheel drive cars alongside their front wheel drive selections.  As we bring Honda Week to a close, I can’t think of a better car to close the curtain.

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
11th Nov2015

A Tale of Two Civics Part 2

by Michael Chandler

 

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Words and photos by Michael Chandler

 

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Zack’s EG is another Civic that, in more civilized parts of the world, came with a B16 under the hood.  We never got those stateside, which is a shame.  It’s also a shame we never got the Accord Euro-R, a hotter version of the Acura TSX.  But because enthusiasts are an enterprising group who have access to the internet, and sometimes have more money than sense, we can do some interesting things.  Like shoving the Accord Euro-R’s K20A under the hood of an EG Hatchback.

While KC’s Civic is rather mild, Zack’s is serious business.  The beating heart of the car needs air flow to keep cool and make power, so the OEM bumper has been modified to accommodate that need for air, and the hood has received a KSR hood vent to increase flow.  Sending air through the engine bay helps, but channeling it around the car helps make the car turn laps faster.  A Spoon style front lip sits above a customer splitter, which is attached via PCI brackets.

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The Spoon style spoiler out back looks sharp, and probably does something aerodynamically.  And the APR mirrors are smaller, and therefore are hit with less air than the OEM mirrors.  So let’s move on to something we all have a better handle on.  Well, most of us anyway.

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This Civic is still on a set of 949s, but these are massively wide 15×9 949s.  Those wide wheels are pushed out 18mm in the front by a set of custom 18mm spacers, and 10mm Ichiban spacers in the rear.  Sticky Nitto rubber is on all four of the wheels.  Behind the rollers are a set of Wilwood Dynapro 6 piston calipers, grabbing on to 11.75 inch rotors in the front.  Out back are a set of Fastbrakes 11″ caliper bracket and rotor kit, featuring Integra calipers.

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Zack’s suspension modifications are pretty intense, which makes sense considering he has a lot more power than stock.  He too is running Ground Control coilover sleeves, 700lb/in in the front and 750lb/in in the rear, but those are over custom valved Bilstein Sport shocks, originally intended for an Integre Type-R.  More ITR parts include rear control arms, sway bar and end links.  He’s also running Ground Control top hats, an ASR subframe brace (like so many of the other cool kids), and PCI spherical trailing arm bushings.  And rounding things out are Hardrace front and rear upper adjustable upper arms, and their bushing kit in the front.

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So you may be wondering why I brought up the K20A from the Accord Euro-R.  Well, it’s because Zack has swapped one in.  You may also be wondering about that heat exchanger in the front bumper.  That’s actually a big ass Vibrant intercooler with custom end tanks, and custom piping.  Why the Intercooler?  Tucked down in the engine bay, under the alternator, is a C38-61 Rotrex supercharger, utilizing a Kraftwerks bracket.

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The belt driven snail pulls air in through an AEM filter, and then after going through the Otto Cycle, it exits the head via a SSR 4-2-1 header and leaves the car through a custom 3″ stainless steel exhaust.  That custom piece features a Vibrant resonator and a Burns Stainless muffler.  Excess boost pressure, something any supercharger that isn’t a Roots type blower can build up, is relieved by a TiAL Q blow off valve.

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Slapping on a supercharger that’s power range is 272-720 horsepower necessitates adding some supporting modifications.  Things like fuel system and cooling upgrades.  1000cc Injector Dynamics fuel injectors supply the fuel to the head.  A 255lph Walbro fuel pump sends fuel to a Golden Eagle Pro Series fuel rail, via Earl lines (with accompanying fittings), an Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator and Fuel Labs filter.  To prevent any starvation, a condition that has been the downfall of many a car, a 034 Motorsport surge tank with a Jay Racing 044 internal pump have been added.  And in case Zack wants to run magical corn juice, there’s a Continental E85 flex fuel sensor installed.

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A Rotrex spec’d oil cooler keeps the ever precious lubrication goo able at an appropriate temperature, while a custom C&R radiator with SPAL fans keeps the coolant (or distilled water, or whatever) cool and the engine in the optimal temperature range.  An Autometer oil pressure sensor helps Zack keep tabs on the internal dealings of his engine, and Hybrid Racing radiator hoses send whatever coolant he’s using into the various coolant passages of his engine.  And if things get a little too wild, he has modified Summit Racing coolant overflow and catch can to work in his swapped hatch.

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Other odds and ends include a K Tuned idler pulley, Karcepts throttle bracket, and Hasport engine mounts.  The whole endeavor is run by Hundata KPro version 4, which gets its information from all the different sensors (including a Hondata 4 bar MAP sensor), via a custom engine and charge harness, and a Hybrid Racing jumper harness.

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WE’RE NOT DONE UNDER THE HOOD!  Front wheel drive is all sorts of fun, because everything is under the hood.  An EP3 Civic Si gearbox, with 6 speed Euro-R gearing and the OEM limited slip diff translate the 420 horsepower and 268 lb/ft of torque into forward (and rearward) movement.  A Stage 4 Competition Clutch and R Crew axles put that power to the ground, and a Hybrid Racing RSX shirt shifter and shifter cables actuate gear changes.

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The interior is what you would expect in a 400+ horsepower trackday Civic.  That is to say, there’s not a whole lot.  A Recaro SPG seat, and its FIA certification, sit on a PCI adjustable seat bracket on the driver’s side, while an Integra seat sits on the passenger side.  A Schroth six point harness keeps the driver secured in the seat, and a 4 point Autopower roll bar provides some security in the event of an ass over tea kettle event.  A Personal steering wheel and Buddy Club shift knob get a lot of touching during a track session, and to keep track of the engine’s vitals a 7″ HP tablet has been enlisted and shoved into the dash.

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The Honda Civic has been a competent choice for track day shenanigans for years, and these two cars show that it’s still a solid choice for those wanting a blank canvas on which to paint their track adventures.

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
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