21st Sep2016

The New Classics: SaltCityTinners 2016

by Michael Chandler

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Every year the Utah Japanese Classic Car Community gathers to show off their projects, swap stories, provide support, and occasionally race Hot Wheels.  This year was no different.  Except that the meet had out grown it’s old location, and had to move to a bigger one.  One with a big hill leading to the parking lot…

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This year’s meet brought out a wide variety of classics, from the ever popular Datsun 240/60/80Zs…

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To the first of the modern Skyline GTR’s to be legal for import.

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The meet wasn’t limited to cars, there were a nice selection of off roaders, like this diesel powered Nissan Patrol.

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Best Of Show, Best Datsun, and People’s Choice was awarded to Hunter Heller for his orange S30, which he brought from Montana! It was a great meet, on a beautiful day, and the jackassery was kept to a minimum.  Can’t wait until next year!

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

 

25th Jul2016

Another Classic for Y’all to Vibe With

by Michael Chandler

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We had a new challenger appear for the J Tin Cup!  Joining Nathan Rohner’s RX-7 was Troy Duffin in this Datsun 510.  You remember Troy: drove open wheel, got himself some championships, nice fellow.  Now he’s back, and in a classic.

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I know absolutely nothing about the car, but it’s a Datusn 510 and he won his class in it so it deserves a look.

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You can’t say no to this, unless you’re cruel and heartless.

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
23rd Jun2016

A Vintage Racer in a Modern Series

by Michael Chandler

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In a world where more modern, piston driven vehicles are the norm, a lone vintage rotary powered car emerges.  Not so much emerge, but burst onto the scene.

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This is Nathan Rohner’s RX7, and it’s cleaning up in the PTB class in NASA Utah.  It’s the best, and also the worst in class because it’s the only car in class.  That not withstanding, it’s an amazing piece of machinery.

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The flares are massive, and utilitarian.  They’re stylish because they serve a purpose, and that purpose is to house Hoosier slicks and a set of period correct wheels.  The OE size and width wheels and tires would serve a pedestrian RX7 fine and dandy.  This is not a pedestrian car, far from it.

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There’s very little left in the cabin to remind you that this is an RX7.  The stock gauge cluster is out, replaced by a single, massive tachometer.  More gauges are hanging out in the middle of the dash, and switches sit where an air vent used to be.  This car is all business.

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And it does its business well.

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
19th May2016

The Way It Were: Why Nothing Is Ever As Good As It Was

by Michael Chandler

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CAUTION: OPINIONS AHEAD

A few years ago Niki Lauda suggested that for F1 to be more exciting, they needed to go to wider tires and bigger wings and lots more horsepower.  Basically, turn the clock back to when he was racing.  He’s not the first person to suggest going back to “the old ways”.  When the new turbo motors came out, everyone complained and wanted to go back to the V10 era.  Was the V10 era that much better?  Were the 70’s the peak of F1?

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People in drifting have some thoughts on the current state of the sport as well.  There was a time where 500 horsepower was considered a lot, and the steering mods you needed were rack spacers and modified knuckles.  Now the top Formula D cars make around 800 horsepower, completely redesigned steering components for crazy amounts of angle, and over fenders on over fenders to cover the tires because the steering mods have pushed the wheels so far out from their original location.  But were the lower power, simpler days so much better than today?

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Back in the day, you could fix damn near any car with nothing more than a socket set and a bucket of carb cleaner.  The bodies were made of steel, and they were designed by guys with slide rulers and very little understanding of aerodynamics.  Modern cars are massive compared to the old cars, and the technology is so deeply embedded in every aspect of them that working on them is nearly impossible.  But were the old steel bodied classics better than the stuff you can drive off a dealer’s lot?

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Well… No.  Modern race cars are demonstrably faster, more efficient and safer than their old counter parts, drifting has graduated from “a bunch of idiots in a parking lot” to a legitimate motorsport, and modern cars are faster, safer, more efficient, and better equipped than the designers ever thought cars could be.  When Niki Lauda won his first World Championship in 1975, he turned a 1:26.40 lap in qualifying.  In 2011 Sebastian Vettel ran a 1:13.556.

With more knowledge and data, the Formula D cars are moving through the courses faster and making more tire smoke.  Couple that with the amount of angle the drivers are using going through the corners, and you have something far more interesting to watch than what was happening in 2007.

Modern cars are heavier and bigger because they have more stuff in them.  Stuff like multiple air bags and other safety equipment, infotainment systems that play your Pandora stations and read your text messages to you!  In 1975, a V8 Camaro 13 mpg in the city and 19 on the highway.  A 2016 Camaro does 16 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway.  The humble Corolla went from 21/33 forty-one years ago to 28/37 now.  Modern cars of all varieties are demonstrably better.  But why do we keep holding up examples from the past?  In my opinion, it’s a familiarity issue.

Let me try to explain this with an analogy.  Michael Jordan is the best basketball player I’ve ever seen.  I say this because I watched him for more than a third of my life.  I saw him win multiple championships, MVP awards, and even a gold medal.  Now if you were to ask someone ten years younger than me, they probably wouldn’t say MJ was the best.  They’d probably say Kobe Bryant, or LeBron James, or even Steph Curry is the best.  Why?  Because they watched them at their peaks, like I did with Jordan.  That hypothetical person grew up knowing only an old MJ and young, rising talents in LeBron, Steph and Kobe.  Now replace MJ and LeBron with an AE86 and a new FRS/BRZ.  The Corolla was amazing, but that’s not the hero car for the new generation.  It’s legendary, and they know about the old Corolla; but, the FRS/BRZ has been around since some of these kids became aware of cars and their coolness.

Same with F1.  Some people came into the sport WITH the turbo V6s, and have no idea about the previous eras.  There are countless hoards of people out there that are convinced that to have a fun drift car you need a high horsepower 2JZ or LS, all of the Wisefab you can get your hands on, and as much fender as one can fit on a car.  And let’s be honest, spending an hour in stop and go traffic in a car with weak A/C, a semi-functioning tape deck, and an ever falling fuel needle isn’t as good a place to be as a car where you can throw it in D, crank up the A/C, listen to your Spotify playlist of choice, and not having to stop for gas at every exit.  It’s easy to look at the past with rose colored spectacles, but you can’t deny that things are better now than they used to be.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch this and then this.

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
19th Jan2016

Cool Street Cars Are Cool

by Michael Chandler

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Just look at Ian’s 280ZX.

11th Jan2016

Sightings: the RATWAGN

by Michael Chandler

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You see some awesome things while on vacation.  I started my 2016 on a vacation in St. George, UT with my girlfriend.  We had a simple plan: take some pictures of some places we didn’t make it the last time we were down there.  One of those places were the Lava Rocks: a massive field of, you guessed it, lava rock formations.  There’s no parking lots, so we just pulled off the road and into the shoulder. I was snapping away when I heard the sound of something old making its way down the winding road. I turned around to see what was making the wondorous racket, and prepared to photograph whatever it was.

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I snapped some photos, threw the driver and his passenger a thumbs up (they reciprocated), and they drove off over the hill.  And then I started to think I knew that car, and probably its owner.  My girlfriend drove, I combed through Facebook, and I found my answer.  The driver was Blaize Potts, and his passenger was… Some guy I don’t know, but the car was Blaize’s Datsun 510 wagon.  Which has the very appropriate RATWAGN plates.  Since we just saw each other in passing, this is all you get right now.  Hopefully there will be more of the 510, maybe some of his Team Scoundrel teammates (or cohorts, or whatever they are), and some other stuff I saw down there in the coming months.  Until then, enjoy the glory that is an old Datsun on a winding road!

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
02nd Sep2015

JDM Legends End of Summer Meet Up

by Michael Chandler

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Words and photos by Michael Chandler

Last year, JDM Legends had their First Thursday series of meets at their shop.  It was cool to have Eric and the guys open up the shop to us: the lowly, unwashed masses.  This year the meets were absent, but last month the doors opened up, the cars were rolled out, and a meet was held!

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Plenty of S30s came out for the meet.  Seeing any number of these gorgeous coupes together in one place is always a welcomed sight.

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There were also some more modern classics in attendance.

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Inside the shop there were a couple of ongoing projects: a Hakosuka an a 240Z that looked eerily similar to a certain hero car.

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Outside was the car I’ve been dying to shoot photos of: the now legendary RX-7.  It was just hanging out, just chilling with its IMSA flares and Work wheels.

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We always love it when the doors go up and the cars come out at JDM Legends, because we always know something cool is going to roll out or we’ll see something awesome tucked away in a corner of the shop.

29th May2015

Give Me the Works: Lancia Delta HF Integrale

by Michael Chandler

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Words and photos by Michael Chandler

So, sometime last week CAM turned 5.  Yes!  We’ve been plugging away at this for five years.  Going to track days, meets, SEMA, all sorts of places to show you cool cars and events and people.  In those five years we’ve seen some exceptionally cool things, but more often than not we see some mind blowingly cool things in our own backyard.  Things like a Lancia Delta HF Integrale running about in one of the HPDE groups at the last NASA Utah weekend.

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The Delta was Lancia’s last Group B WRC monster.  It featured an insane twin charged, two liter, four cylinder engine.  It was the peak of rallying insanity!  This isn’t one of those, BUT it is a former “works” car.  The 16 valve engine produced 200 horsepower, and sent the car to 62mph in five and a half seconds.  Five and a half seconds doesn’t seem fast today, but that was faster than an E30 M3 and a half second behind a 911 Turbo of the day.

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This belongs to a fellow also named Mike.  He, like myself, is also from the Chicago area so we hit it off quickly.  He told me that this is one of two former works cars in the country, and that its sister car competes in hill climbs and ran the Tail of the Dragon.  Hopefully this car will follow in its sister car’s footsteps (tire marks?) and get into some classic rallies and hill climbs.

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These cars are legal for import now, but you may want to think twice before having one shoved into a container.  Lancias were never really known for being rust proof.  In fact, about a third of all Lancias made in the late 80’s and early 90’s have completely rusted away*.  Also, these being performance vehicles they have probably been beat on.  Pretty hard.  And finally, while people in the States have been messing around with engines like the RB series and SR’s, not a lot of people have been messing with Lancia mills over here.  Something to think about, because you don’t want to find yourself 1500 miles away from the nearest mechanic when you start hearing a ticking noise.

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All that said, I’d bring one over in a heart beat.  Just look at it!  It’s a four door hatchback, but it’s so much better looking than a four door Golf.  The wide fenders and bulged hood don’t seem like tacked on after thoughts, they look like they were always meant to be there.  They have a purpose, but not to the point where it’s sacrificing aesthetics.  It’s definitely a child of the 80’s, but unlike an IROC Camaro it hasn’t become associated with the cheesiness of the decade.

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I could throw all the usual cliches a writer uses when describing an Italian car, but I’m not going to.  But I will leave you with a question: if you could bring over a former race car, what would it be?  It has to comply with our current import laws (that draconian 25 year crap), but besides that it can be any former race car.

 

24th Feb2015

A Ferrari You Know and a Lamborghini You Don’t

by Michael Chandler

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The yellow car is the Ferrari that you know.  It’s a 308 GTB, which we all remember from Magnum PI.  You never saw Magnum PI?  For those who don’t know, Magnum PI was about a private investigator named Thomas Magnum, played by Tom Selleck, who lived in Oahu and solved crimes and such, and drove around in a borrowed 308.  The 308 GTB is a 3 liter, V8 powered Ferrari that replaced the Dino and was primarily driven by cocaine dealers.  They made them starting in 1975, and quit in 1980.  Well, sort of quit.  The 75-80 models were carbureted, and the 81+ models came with Bosch K-Jetronic mechanical fuel injection and branded as GTSi or GTBi.

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The white car is the Lamborghini that doesn’t immediately spring to mind when one mentions 80’s Lamborghinis.  This is a Jalpa, and you probably haven’t heard of it because A) they made them from 1981-1988, which was right in the middle of the Countach’s production run and B) they didn’t make a lot of them, only 410.  Much like the Ferrari it sports a V8, albeit a larger 3.5 liter V8, shoved in the middle of the car and was driven by a famous, fictitious person: Rocky drove on in Rocky IV (the one where he goes to the Soviet Union).  Fun Fact: this was Lamborghini’s most successful V8 powered car.

Now that that’s out of the way, here are some more photos of the two of them:

Words and photos by Michael Chandler
*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.

 

 

05th Jan2015

Tooele Historics: Brabham F1 Restoration

by Michael Chandler

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Out in Tooele, at a shop at Miller Motorsports Park, is a man breathing life back into a pair of F1 chassis.  They aren’t ground breaking achievements in the sport, they’re a pair of chassis that more often than not finished poorly or failed to qualify.  They were made by a historic name, during an uneventful time in their history.  They are a pair of Brabham chassis, a BT59 and a BT60, and they’re being restored by Steven Costello, a man who knows more about putting these together than any of us ever could.

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I say he knows more about this because he does.  He has had a long career in motorsports, both driving and turning wrenches.  In the nineties he was one of a handful of Americans working as mechanics in Formula 1.  He was employed by Equipe Ligier, and now he’s using those years of knowledge to bring yet another Brabham chassis to life for Race Co.

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These chassis were bought at auction by a pair of brothers.  Included in their purchase were all manner of spares, fasteners, and paperwork including spec sheets for individual practices, qualifying sessions and races.  The brothers plan to race these things, against each other, at Miller upon their completion.  When I stopped in on Halloween Steven had the BT59 on stands, with the Judd V8 mounted.  It was looking like a race car, while the BT60 was still in pieces.  The 59 was more complete, but still nowhere near done.  It was waiting on some components to be shipped back from being rebuilt.  You can’t easily find some of these parts, and you can’t just drop it off at your local shop to be rebuilt or tackle it yourself with your handy dandy socket set.

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And some of the parts had to be sent off for inspection.  Those suspension arms you see next to the blue tote?  They were x-rayed to ensure they weren’t cracked.  And they aren’t powder coated.  It’s a special compound that you see on every major open wheel car, because it’s lighter and doesn’t hinder inspection processes.

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Speaking of lightness, do you see all of those containers?  They’re full of fasteners.  Fasteners made of titanium.  This is a back marker team.  A team that finished 9th in the Constructor’s Championship in 1990, and was doing so bad in the first half of 1991 that the FIA made them pre-qualify for races in the second half of the season.  And they outright failed to qualify twice!  They finished 9th in the Constructor’s Championship behind a struggling Lotus, and then collapsed.

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After a team collapses things go up for sale.  Sometimes the people who buy the team’s assets use them in their own attempt to race.  Others buy the big, showy pieces (engines, cockpits, nose cones, spoilers, etc) and display them or piece together a shell of a car for display purposes.  And sometimes a privateer buys them, and takes them to a place that has experience with rebuilding old chassis, in an effort to bring them back to life so they can go race them.  Thankfully those brothers took the latter route, and took them to a great shop who brought in an extremely knowledgeable man to bring them back to life.  Hopefully we’ll see the cars back together, out pairing off with the BT60 chassis Race Co already restored this year, in our own historic gathering.

Words and photos by Michael Chandler
*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
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