19th Nov2018

Cut It Up!: The PowerNeedy S2000

by Michael Chandler

You guys remember Rhett, right?  Had that really cool Integra GSR, ran time trial in NASA Utah with it.  Ringing a bell?  If so: good!  If not: click that link, read it, then get back here.  Anyway, he”s back with a new car!  He sold, or traded, the Integra and now he’s traipsing around in the best Miata ever: an S2000!

Of course it’s making crazy power.  It wouldn’t be his car if it wasn’t.  Hanging off the DocRace manifold is a Turbo by Garrett Gen 2 GTX 3582R (just like what Hert has on the Twerkstallion).  Attached to that is a PowerNeedy downpipe, and oval stainless steel exhaust, that exits right out the center of the rear bumper.  A 45mm Turbosmart Hyper-Gate wastegate and electronic boost solenoid regulate boost, and a set of Injector Dynamics ID2000cc injectors make sure there’s enough fuel for all that air being crammed into the engine.  He then hit it with the Science of Speed catalog.  SoS is represented by a catch can, V Mount intercooler and twin pass radiator, surge tank system, axle spacers, billet twin disc carbon clutch, and flywheel.  Most people would be cool with that, but not Rhett.  Oh no…

NOPE! He also hit the suspension with the SoS catalog a few times! Spherical suspension joints, extended ball joints, and bump steer joints join billet aluminum reservoir clamps and non-compliance toe joints.  Somehow the camber ball joints are from SPC and not SoS, but you can’t win em all.  There’s a Gendron Motorsports sway bar up front, and on all four corners are RZ RS dampers with Eibach springs on them.  Those Eibachs are 1100lb/in in the front, and 1000lb/in in the rear.  Why?  BECAUSE THIS IS NOT A GAME!!!

You may notice that this body work is familiar.  If you’re weeb trash like myself, you’ll know that this is the J’s Racing Type GT widebody in all carbon.  It provides all the street cred one could need, and is actually functional!  I asked him why he went with an off the shelf kit, as opposed to getting buck in the garage.  Here’s what he told me

Make no mistake I really enjoy cutting stuff up and making parts, as I have changed many things on the wide body kit to make it better. Seriously though if something is already manufactured that has been wind tunnel tested and proven why start from scratch? Just because you can make it doesn’t always mean its the best or most cost effective approach. We do this as an after hours shop so making time to work on cars can be very limited. On some things like the J’s Type-GT wide body kit that puts you leaps and bounds ahead of the curve even though we have made many changes to improve its functionality.

And about adding stuff to make it better.  He made and installed hood and fender vents.  There’s that big ass APR GT-1000 swan neck wing that’s attached to the chassis for maximum effect.  That hood vent necessitated the cutting of the Seibon hood, carbon fiber of course.  And the Seibon carbon trunk kind kits around the wing. Oh, and there’s MORE SCIENCE OF SPEED STUFF HERE TOO!  Just some tow hooks, but still.  And the hard top isn’t some super rare, carbon-kevlar piece of magic.  It’s just the OEM one.

The interior is just as much business as the outside is.  Which is to say: nothing but.  Race TechnologyDASH2 Pro dash, CAN and GoPro interfaces, and data logging capture and relate all the information Rhett needs to improve lap times.  He maneuvers the roided up roadster with a 350mm Sparco wheel.  He has another Cobra Evolution seat in this Honda, and a full on fire suppression system.  This si the last of the SoS stuff: a NSX Type S shift knob, AND AN ENTIRE ROLL CAGE.

Because the car is serious business, it runs on serious tires.  Hoosier A7’s to be exact.  He’s got 18×11 and 18×12 Forgestar wheels, and behind those massive rollers are StopTech brakes.  Up front he has the C43 system, and in the rear is the ST22.  Despite the different kits in the front and rear, he’s running one pad compound: the StopTech race compound.

I like the S2000, I really do.  BUT I was curious as to why Rhett went with one, instead of another front wheel drive chassis, or even an NSX. 

The S2000 still to this day has massive amount of aftermarket support, and parts availability. The aftermarket availability for aero, turbo kits, suspension, etc.. is still plentiful and being developed despite the fact the last S2000 was discontinued almost 10 years ago. I will always have a passion for the NSX and the majority of the FWD Hondas. The issue with the NSX are parts are very expensive, as they made very few of them, and the aftermarket availability is very limited. We were pioneers for going fast in a turbo FWD Honda and helped shape some of the current big names direction to get where they are now. I really enjoy problem solving, designing, and creating to overcome a problem, but when we started to make the integra really fast and competitive the parts that were available through manufactures began to fail far to frequently, and being a privateer, it became too expensive to keep the integra on the track.

Fair enough.  This car is amazing, and as is evident in his performance at Super Lap Battle the S2000 is one of the chassis to beat for the RWD classes.  I’m just glad this thing gets on the track, as opposed to be a garage queen/hard parker.

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14th Sep2018

A Goddess Among Subarus: Abeona, Megan’s ’15 STI

by Michael Chandler

This 2015 STI is a lot of things.  It’s the culmination of a long life journey, full of some of the pitfalls we all fall in to.  It’s the green light across the harbor, except it’s not an unattainable goal in a book we had to read in high school.  It’s what we all want: something to call and make our own.  

What ever that may mean.  In Megan’s case, it meant building a fun, reliable daily driver, then hitting it with some flavor you don’t see much of at all: Itasha.  We’ll get to that in a minute, let’s go back to the beginning…

Megan Lalock is originally from a city notable for throwing batteries at Santa Claus: Philadelphia.  It was there that her dad instilled a love of cars in her by always working on cars.  From there she started building and racing Hondas. “I just always had a good time being a female in a male dominated world and being able to hang ‘with the big boys’.”  And then she started dating a fella.  A fella who said “cars are kind of silly, why don’t you put your money into something that is worth it.”

And like we’ve all done, she listened.  “I sold ALLLL my car parts. I got out of the car game and I would lustfully look at any Evo, Sti, Honda, etc. that went by and gave me the ” Good old days” vibe.”  Thankfully, she’s moved on to a better guy.  A guy who is down for cars, and a change of scenery.  She decided to grab her dream car, and make a break for the west!  Unfortunately, that didn’t go quite according to plan…

“After buying a used 2014 STi that blew up on me the same day I bought it, I finally landed on my 15 STi.”  With a warranty in her pocket, and the open road ahead of her, she made her journey.  And when she got here, she started working at the best place for a Subaru enthusiast that isn’t an idiot: RallySport Direct.

Being that RallySport’s motto is “Life’s Too Short To Stay Stock”, her STI didn’t remain that way for long. “About 2 years ago I started on the upgrades with the bolt ons and some minor JDM parts. I had the car tuned by Simple Performance and they got me the exact power I wanted ( 365 whp/ 348 tq) and I was pretty good as far as the car goes.” And then she started driving in AutoX events, where she realized 1) she likes racing and 2) the STI was never going to be both a competitive AutoX car AND a nice daily driver.  So she scooped up a 2.5RS, and kept the STI as the daily.

Ok, now we get to the lady on the car.  Megan wanted to keep modifying the car, but didn’t want more engine mods.  She went with something cosmetic, and unique around here: this Itasha wrap.  Itasha, very basically, is adorning your car with cute, female anime, manga, or video game characters.  Watch this Noriyaro video to see how it gets done in Japan, and for a better explanation.  ANYWAY, “I always secretly LOVED Itasha and doing a character I loved on my car. I approached my marketing department at work, and my President of the company, and wanted to start with my vision.”  

Megan wanted Elizabeth Bathroy from Fate: Grand Order on the car, but needed a designer to help her out.  Stucky recommended a woman by the name of Dani for the task.  Megan and Dani got to work on the design.  They produced what you see, and Micah at Inkwise Graphics made it a reality in a short amount of time.  “We had a week to really make this happen before our RSD Meet and Greet so time was literally of the essence and I don’t know how show people do this. It was so stressful and just all around nerve wracking wondering if I would get this done. She came together great though and she looks awesome.” 

The car is named Abeona, which is a fitting name for a car that she took on a 2600 mile trip.  Abeona is the Roman Goddess of outward journeys, who watches over a child’s steps, and protects travelers.  May she keep watch over Megan as she continues on the journey that is life.

Abeona 2015 Subaru WRX STI

  • Owner: Megan Lalock (@missjinxed)
  • Power: 365 horsepower, 348 lb/ft torque
  • Tuned at Simple Performance
  • Power adders
    • SteamSpeed STX 67+ Turbo
    • Perrin Turbo Inlet
    • DeatschWerks DW1000cc fuel injectors
    • Process West Fuel Rails, TGV Deletes, Top Mount Intercooler, and Cold Air Intake
    • Cobb FPR kit, and Fuel Pump
    • Grimmspeed Ceramic Coated Up- and Downpipe
    • Tomei Equal Length Header, and Exhaust
  • Suspension
    • Ohlins Road and Track Coilovers
    • Perrin 22mm Solid Sway Bar (rear)
    • Whiteline Lower Control Arms, and Steering Rack Bushings
    • Beatrush Pitch Stop and Transmission Mounts
  • Wheels and JDM Goodies
    • Advan TC3, custom anodized blue, 18×9 +25
    • JDM Push Button Start, Oil Cap, and Foglights with Daytime Running Lights
  • Exterior
    • Seibon Carbon Fiber Fenders
    • 2018 STI Front Bumper
    • Maxton Design Front Lip
    • OLM Corona Foglights
  • Shoutouts
    • Micah at InkWise Graphics
    • Armor Coatings
    • RallySport Direct

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11th Jul2018

Porsche 964: That One Time I Met My Hero

by Gavin Pouquette

 

When I was 9 my father purchased a 1989 Porsche Carrera 4. It was Linen-on-Grey, and my family called her “Luna” due to the ever-changing color of the paint in different light. To little Gavin, nothing could be cooler. The car came with a bumper-installed radar detection system, It literally had lights popping out of the dash for the radar! It had an aftermarket exhaust that made the car roar, rather than howl as 911s normally sound. It’s safe to say that this car really made an impression on me as a child. My dad and I would drive it on boys trips down to Moab and play golf. He and my mom would go on dinner dates in the car, and he would kill time before dinner just going on a drive in the evening light of the summertime.

This 964 911 had such an influence in my life that, with a saved up allowance, I got myself a subscription to Car and Driver. I would bring the latest issues to school, read articles during my lunch just to learn as much as I could about new cars. This 964 would be the leading proponent in me falling in love with cars. We had the car for two years, but sold it to get my mom a new car: a 2005 Subaru Outback 2.5 XT.

They say never meet your heroes, but I got the chance to do meet mine.  Did it live up to the hype? Was it everything I ever hoped it’d be? I mean, 15 or so years of pent-up feelings can only fester and put the car on a fairly high podium. After having experienced all the cars I have over the last 5 years of filming and photographing them, then eventually getting into driving them….. Yes. The car was exactly what I was expecting.

A howling flat-6 that produces ~250hp that revs to 7,000 rpm and a suspension geometry that is quite frankly, rudimentary by today’s standards. The car is in no way groundbreaking or game-changing in the year 2018. However, after being handed the keys, and hopping into the driver’s seat, it made my inner 9-year old’s dreams finally come true. It felt like jumping into a time machine. It gave me the biggest shit-eating grin on my face that I am still wearing as I write this article.

The noteworthy features of the 964 are as follows: Increased engine size from 3.2 liters to 3.6 liters, the introduction of Anti-Lock Brakes, All-Wheel Drive, and the infamous automatic spoiler (ACTIVE AERO, YO!)

The powerband of the 964 is like any naturally aspirated 911. It’s a completely linear build in power that gives you exactly what you put into it. Very livable and predictable down low through the midrange, and then starts to really pull around 5,000 rpm. All three pedals are floor-hinged and fairly strange to operate if you aren’t accustomed to that sort of feel. On-center steering isn’t exactly tight, but once you load the car up in a corner you receive two fists full of communication with the road and the chassis. Primarily what the rear end is up to, strangely enough. I’m also not talking about hooning a car at 8/10 or 9/10. I’m talking a leisurely 5/10, and just going out for a nice drive. Having driven 996s, 997s and 991s, this car felt much more raw and visceral than its younger cousins. The gear throw isn’t too long or too short. Just the right amount of throw while still feeling nice and notchy.

Some brief history of the specific car that I drove. it was actually a former display car for Porsche of North America. Every time Porsche would debut a new 911, they display all the former cars in a line with the new car on the end. Of those cars that Porsche consistently used on display, this specific 911 would represent the 964 generation. It was used on display until the 997 generation and then was sold to a gentleman in Los Angeles. He daily drove it until Nathan (the current owner) purchased the car late last year. As of now, the car has over 180,000 miles. Which is an interesting coincidence because if you add an enthusiast’s amount of miles to the miles my dad had on his old car, then both cars would be at about the same amount of miles.

The great part of this whole endeavor was that the owner of the 964 also owns a 991.2 Carrera 2S with a Sport Exhaust and a 7-Speed manual gearbox. Being the incredibly gracious gentleman that he is, Nate offered me to drive that car as well. And good lord so much has changed in roughly 30 years of Porsche’s engineering. The 964, constantly wants the rear to come around and play like a puppy, whereas the 991 is so incredibly planted and grounded in the corners, despite being under power from the 3.0 turbo engine. Not to get too carried away here, but the point of this article is not necessarily to compare Porsche’s past and present, however it is worth noting that both cars provide interesting offerings in the company’s lineage. Upon its reveal for the 1989 model year, the 964 introduced legitimate safety features that previous cars never had, while the 991.2 introduces turbocharging for models in the lineup that are not known as the “Turbo”. Both cars push the envelope for the company in their moments in history and for that, I commend Porsche in continuing to push the envelope and look towards to future in improving their driving experience and being the best cars that money can buy.

Porsche. There is no substitute.

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13th Apr2018

A Most Aggressive Panda: Camaro ZL1 1LE

by Michael Chandler

Words by Michael Chandler.  Photos by Michael Chandler and Gavin Pouquette

As we’ve discussed, the upcoming 2019 Camaro looks like an Impala.  Thankfully Jay Steffey’s is not a 2019, it’s a 2018.  It’s also had one important box ticked: the 1LE package.

“Hey Michael, what the hell does that mean?”  GLAD YOU ASKED!  First it means you opted to grab a ZL1, because 1: why wouldn’t you? and 2: it’s superior to the pedestrian SS because it is packing a supercharged V8.  It also has beefy Brembos, Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar rubber, and an eLSD that does some stuff with the traction control to make cornering better.

When you tick the 1LE box, you get some things that take the ZL1 from good to great.  You get diveplanes and a big spoiler for added downforce, and aggression.  Just looking at the car, you can tell it means business.  And that’s before we talk about the upgraded mechanical parts.  Tell me this doesn’t look like it’s going to burn your town to the ground for a laugh.  YOU CAN’T!  

The 20″ wheels get replaced with 19s, and you get a special set of Eagle F1 Supercar rubber that has been specially developed for the big Chevy.  The magnettic dampers are replaced by an upgraded set, made by Multimatic.  You can adjust the ride height in the front, and the camber because YOU GET CAMBER PLATES FROM THE FACTORY.  You can stiffen up the rear sway bar if you want to!  You still get that eLSD, but it’s packed with a 3.73 gear set.

Six piston and four piston Brembos, with this neat 1LE logo on them, haul this thing to a stop.

Now, you may have noticed that this thing is covered in NASA stickers.  That’s because Jay runs Time Trial in this thing.  Some of you may be chuckling, and saying something like he’d probably do better if he were in a GT350. You might be right, but let’s look at some numbers.  This Camaro weighs 3880 pounds and makes 650 horsepower, which means each horsepower has to move 5.97 pounds.  A Mustang GT350 weighs 3760 pounds but makes 526 horsepower, which results in 7.14 pounds for each horseypower.  So, going by that he would be doing worse in the Mustang.  But enough about this, let’s get back to the Camaro.

The interior is pretty swank.  You wrap your mitts around things covered in suede.  The steering wheel, which is also flat bottomed, and the shift knob are wrapped in suede.

You get to plant yourself in some nicely bolstered Recaros, and if you can get a ride in Jay’s you’ll get to secure yourself into those Recaros with these Safecraft harnesses.  

There’s a performance data recorder, and then there’s this!  “This” being the paddle that activates the rev match for the transmission.  Yes, the six speed manual in the ZL1 has rev match so you don’t royally screw up your shifts.  The system can’t help you if you can’t find 3rd.

If you’re curious, the paint is called Frost White, and if you go to build your own on Chevy’s website it’ll look gray.  It’s definitely not gray.  It’s very white, and the diveplanes and hood are very black, making this thing look like a panda.  A panda that’s been eating nothing but steroids for a year.  

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11th Dec2017

When Worlds Collide: Old Meets New

by Gavin Pouquette

After the leaves on the trees have changed color and fallen, some of my favorite canyon roads to drive in the summer shut down  due to the fact that they aren’t maintained in the winter. Thus, making the next 5-6 months, from late fall into late spring, a tad grim for those of us that consider canyon carving a favorite pastime. East Canyon, Guardsman’s Pass, Wolf Creek Pass, closed until the winter snow thaws out in May of next year. Kind of a bummer, I know. But this gives us true addicts an excuse and reason to get out of our bubble, and discover even more of this beautiful state that we call home.

The MK 7 Golf R isn’t exactly an old car, but with the release of the MK 7.5 facelift, and the fact that I have driven various renditions of MK6 and MK7 Golf Rs, makes this platform somewhat familiar. For those who don’t know me or my background, I work as a photographer and videographer at Integrated Engineering; a Volkswagen and Audi tuner shop in Salt Lake City. I tried to keep a level head and an unbiased opinion going into this project. But thinking about driving a fun and engaging road that is a 2 hour drive from home, I figured “What a better car to be in than a comfortable and luxurious car on the freeway, while still being fun and engaging in the twisties?”

Okay, so the road and the commute. UT-199 is a quick and twisty road that resides in the Stansbury Mountains overlooking Skull Valley. It sounds intimidating, but there’s really just not a lot out there. Lots of flat terrain with straight roads… Oh yea, and not a police officer, Sheriff, or Highway Patrolman for miles. The perfect place to pull over to the side of the road for an impromptu photo shoot, or to *potentially* test out the aerodynamic properties of the Strafe carbon fiber rear diffuser. The road in question is in a place that isn’t really well known for driving or any kind of recreation, seeing as it is so far from anything of real interest. It’s roughly a 2 hour drive each way going around the north side of the Oquirrh mountains, and then southbound to the end of the Stansbury mountains. Quite the trek I know, but worth the drive to experience something new. With a drive this long to a place so desolate, it’s always wise to bring a co-pilot. So, what better co-pilot to assign to this adventure than my gearhead girlfriend Brooke? She’s one of very few women I’ve met that actually likes me driving fast up canyon roads, and is also a sucker for new Volkswagens. Match made in heaven, amirite?

Another note about UT-199: this is the place where Tim Stevens of CNET drove the 2017 Ford GT supercar for on road testing, to show how the car rides on surfaces that aren’t a perfectly smooth racetrack, such as Utah Motorsports Campus. Packed with tight sweepers, S-curves, and canted corners, it’s unlike many other roads that we have access to here in Utah. The only other place I’ve experienced such a combination is in the hills of Malibu where it is almost impossible to go wrong on picking a fun canyon road. I was enjoying myself in a 320 hp Golf, I can only imagine what that road would be like in a 600 hp, mid-engined supercar, purpose built to handle such corners.

Let’s talk about the car. 2017 Volkswagen Golf R with a Cobb AccessPort V3, and Whiteline lowering springs that are (at this point of me writing this article) still a prototype product. The Accessport is simply running a Stage 1 Tune, putting it at 320 hp and 340 lb ft torque at the wheels. With a boost gauge as one of the many features of the Accessport, the highest number for boost that I saw was roughly 24 psi, which is about par for the course for the power output in cars such as this. That power is put to the ground via 6 speed manual gearbox, and a trick Haldex All-Wheel Drive system. For those that are unfamiliar, the system used in the Golf R is Front-Wheel Drive for 100% of the time under normal driving conditions. When the system detects loss of traction, or any potential for understeer, the rear wheels are engaged via clutch pack to help rotate the rear end of the car. The steering inputs feel electronic, but is still weighted nicely for a premium feel. Not necessarily a bad thing for daily use, or commuting to and from work, but I would have definitely appreciated more information from the front wheels while flying through corners on UT-199.

So, how did the car do on the UT-199? With swooping esses, and smooth pavement with no traffic, it felt like my own personal race course. With the sheer fact that the road is so desolate, it’s imperative to keep the sticky side down and to stay in the lane. I have to admit, I only kept to the former. With open curves and the ability to see around corners two or 3 corners ahead, cutting over the line and hitting apexes is only inevitable. The Golf R does what most Front-Wheel Drive based VW products do best. Super fun and engaging in the high speed kinks, but easily shoves if you enter a sharp hairpin on the quicker side of fast. Considering I had never driven this road before, and being in a car that isn’t mine, I felt fairly comfortable pushing the envelope more and more. I almost got a little carried away and Brooke had to tell me to reel it back a little (which never happens). The car always felt planted and secure; even hitting S-Curves nearing triple digit speeds.

With Brooke being a fan of all things Volkswagen, she is an absolute fan of the car. She loved the layout of the interior controls, she said that everything was laid out in a very coherent manner, and that the car has a very luxurious feel to it. Gathering from her giggles and her laughter, I can tell that she also loved the way the car delivers power and takes corners.

I only have two legitimate issues with the Golf R. I’m in no way a fan of the clutch and the shifter feel of the manual gearbox, and I also don’t care for how the car rotates around corners. As far as driving dynamics go the shift linkage is rubbery and vague, and the clutch is equally uninformative. The “catch point” of the clutch is vague, and not as defined as I would like. These can easily be fixed in the aftermarket with a different clutch, pressure plate, and a short throw shift kit. When it comes to vehicle rotation, I understand that the platform is based on Front-Wheel Drive architecture with a transversely mounted motor and transmission so I have to take that into account. But objectively regarding handling dynamics, the sheer fact that the Focus RS exists somewhat kills the appreciation of the Golf R for me. On the RS, the rear end just wants to pop in for a little visit. Ya know… Just a little meet and greet. Maybe have a spot of tea, and then carry on its merry way. The rear end on the Golf R just stays in its room and looks at memes all day, while the front dives and digs into the road, clinging on to any and all grip it can find. I mean, it doesn’t understeer like a Subaru at least… But it sure as hell doesn’t rotate like I want a canyon carver to.

Everything else about the car I appreciate. The sculpted exterior, the exquisitely refined interior, the way the engine produces power, the value per dollar on the aftermarket for bolt-ons. It’s all there. The car just needs a little more coaxing in the dynamics department, and then it’s quite the perfect car. Spacious, comfortable, reasonably quick, engaging, and also practical with having a hatchback and All-Wheel Drive. And for a mini road trip with the person you love, I feel that’s all you really need.

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14th Nov2017

Coca-Rolla: A New Formula!

by Michael Chandler

You remember Ian, right?  Has that S130 we featured a while ago, and I swung by his house earlier this year to see what he was up to?  Any of that ringing a bell?  If you remember that last one, then this car shouldn’t be that much of a surprise to see.  It’s the SR5 coupe he was working on when I was over there.  What you might not know is what he was doing to it.

He got the car with a BEAMS 3S-GE under the hood.  An amazing engine, that all the Toyota guys love and would love to swap into a Corolla, or an old Celica, or whatever RWD Toyota they can get their hands on.  That amazing engine rod knocked on Ian at the first event he took the car to.  Instead of shelling out for another BEAMS, or dealing with a 4A-GE and its associated costs, he went with something he knew.  Something that filled his cold, dead heart with warmth and life: a goddamn KA24DE.

Yes, he ripped out a trashed BEAMS and threw in a truck motor.  BLASPHEMY! I can hear you crying.  Why would anyone do that??? The BEAMS and 4A-GE are made by God himself! First, no to that whole second sentence.  Secondly, why not swap in something that is 1. familiar 2. proven and 3. cheap compared to building a 4A-GE or buying another BEAMS?  Argue for purity, and I’ll come back with practicality.  And this thing gets down, but we’ll get there in a minute.  First we’ve gotta talk about this car.

It’s an internally stock KA that sits in an engine bay that’s been completely stitch welded.  It does have a Greddy header meant for an NA S14, albeit modified to fit in the Corolla.  That connects to a Buddy Club Spec II exhaust, meant for a Corolla.  There’s a S14 Koyo radiator with a 16 inch SPAL fan to keep the whole deal cool enough.

Fueling is provided via a bevy of Aeromotive products! And by “bevy”, I mean 2: a 340lph fuel pump, and a fuel pressure regulator.  This whole thing is run via a MegaSquirt plug and play stand alone set up.  There’s a Painless switch panel, and absolutely no OEM wiring left in the car.  Ian rewired the whole thing to his liking.  Oh, and the battery is in the trunk.

That power (at least as much as that KA is producing) is sent through a one piece driveshaft to a solid rear axle.  No, not the stick that came in the Corolla, but a solid rear axle out of a Chevrolet S10.  Turns out it’s actually narrower than the Corolla axle.  Oh, and it’s been re-drilled for four lug.  AND the stock e-brake cables have been modified to work with the giant drums that are now out back.  They grab REAL good.  

Before we go on about the technical aspects of the car, let’s talk about that livery.  If it looks familiar, congratulations!  You’re either old, or a fan of vintage sports cars.  This livery is inspired by a livery on both the Porsche 962 and 935.  Both cars have sported many iconic liveries.  When I visited him earlier this year, he had the KA mounted, and then showed me a bunch of pictures of the Porsches while saying “that’s what I’m doing”.   He then grabbed a cutoff wheel, and got to cutting down the old grill.  It was an interesting evening.

I did not doubt him, in fact, we wondered why nobody else has done this before.  Seriously!  There are so many awesome liveries out there, everybody knows someone who works with vinyl, the pieces are there!  Make it happen, nerds.  Back to what he did.  The attention to detail is amazing!  It’s not just the big, swoopy Coca-Cola logo, it’s all of the little sponsor logos too.  Domino’s, 7 Eleven…

Even Jolly Rancher is on there!  With the period correct logo!  And the Advan logo, because it’s Ian.  Advan logo, despite the fact that he’s running 14×7 and 14×7.5 SSR Mk3’s.  Also period correct, and very awesome.

Speaking of awesome: you know what’s awesome?  Keeping things simple.  The suspension on the car is pretty damn simple: Megan links, T3 tension rods, and Stance coilovers.  The only big swap, aside from the KA, is an AW11 steering rack, which is a pretty standard thing.  No Wisefab, no craziness.  Just stuff you can buy, and that’s probably on the Corolla of your local AE86 guy.  

Inside is pretty spartan.  Again, no craziness.  Just a Nardi Gara steering wheel, and a Bride seat that’s mounted on some Buddy Club seat rails, straight from Japan.  And a cracked dashboard.

And a bunch of Auto Gage gauges, and an Innovative wideband.  

And that Painless switch panel.

The car is running what Ian describes as a “Duraflex runfree knockoff” body kit.  Could’ve fooled me, but then again I have no idea what I’d be looking for in the original.  I’m a lover, not an expert.

Remember how I said that this thing get’s down?  Well, Ian showed us how well it does.  There was a concrete slab, like what’s under your local strip mall, right by where we were shooting.  Dave guided him up, onto the slab, and then Ian did Ian things.  The car will boogie, and it will boogie without bash bars, or as Ian calls them “confidence bars”.  

Will people start slapping KA’s into Corollas?  Probably not.  Corollas are only getting more expensive, so you’d either have to have one fall in your lap, or start off with one.  And then you’d have to make everything work, either make the Nissan mill play nice with the Toyota wiring, or go full Ian and just rewire the damn thing.  And then there’s also the other Nissan motor that people shove into Corollas: the SR20DET.  Why stuff the truck motor in there when the JDM hotness has been done enough that it’s not weird?  

Much like New Coke, I don’t think Ian’s formula is really going to take off.  However, it is a welcome change to something that hasn’t seen many updates.  It’s different, it’s interesting, and it definitely brought a smile to our faces.

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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.

180SX feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-15

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

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