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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*Article, Photos, Videos, and Audio clips are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
28th May2015

When the Flame Dies Out

by Michael Chandler

Dallin Evo X Revisited CAMautoMag-15

Words and photos by Michael Chandler

Nothing lasts forever.  Memories fade, seasons change, and projects run their course.  Such is the case with La Flama Blanca, Dallion Felton’s Evo X street car/RallySport Direct’s project car.  After two years and 80,000 miles, it was time to say goodbye.  So I made Dallin, and his little doge Hiroshi, drive to an office park so I could say goodbye to the car.  And also to play with his dog, but mostly to say goodbye to the car.

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The car looks mostly the same, sans all the vinyl decals.

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It still has the APR splitter, vortex generators and GTC 300 wing.  It sits on the same red 18×10.5 Volk TE37RTs, and it still has the Ohlins coilovers.  To be honest, this thing is pretty much the exact same as it was back in February.  That’s not a bad thing at all.  Back then it put down a healthy 293 horsepower and 289 lb/ft of torque, which is pretty good considering what power adders were installed.

Dallin Evo X Revisited CAMautoMag-20 Dallin Evo X Revisited CAMautoMag-21

Fairly simple straight forward things: Tomei Titanium cat-back, test pipe, Big Mouth downpipe, and upper intercooler pipe.  A Mishimoto intercooler, oil cooler, and radiator are things you would find on a lot of street driven Evo Xs, as are the AEM intake and TurboSmart blow off valve.  The biggest changes are ones you can’t see.

Dallin Evo X Revisited CAMautoMag-9 Dallin Evo X Revisited CAMautoMag-13

 

Those big changes?  A set of 1300cc fuel injectors from Injector Dynamics, a Cosworth high volume fuel rail, a TurboSmart fuel pressure regulator, and an AEM E85 capable 320lph fuel pump cradled in a Cobb Tuning fuel pump holder.  Oh, and a Cavalli Stage 2 Turbo.  The ball bearing, single scroll turbo has a 58mm inducer and 56mm exducer, and fits like the OEM turbo.  Despite fitting like the stock turbo, it makes more power than the stock turbo.  How much more?  With a fresh tune on 91 octane the car put down 330 horsepower and 277 lb/ft of torque.  On a  tune optimized for E70 (ethanol, corn fuel, stuff you can’t get at a pump in Salt Lake County as far as I know) it made 408 horsepower and 345 lb/ft of torque!

Dallin Evo X Revisited CAMautoMag-16

Those are respectable numbers for a street car!  And there’s more room for the next owner to turn up the heat.  The turbo can move enough air for 600 horsepower.  And yes, I said next owner.  By now the car, and many of its parts have found new homes with other Evo Xs.  Fear not, Dallin is on to bigger and better things.

Suchmodelsoposemuchlookwow CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-1

And he still has his dog.

BONUS GALLERY!!!

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
28th Aug2014

Gumball WRS: A Study In Cool

by Michael Chandler

Gumball Impreza Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (2 of 25)

What makes a cool car?  I heard someone say that “the scene” considers a car cool if it’s lowered and has wheels on it.  Others think cool is a full on race build, with street legality and budgets thrown in the trash with the stock struts.  And others think if it isn’t adorned with the rarest of the rare it’s a waste of time.  And it has to be daily driven, or else why build it? David Arellano’s 2000 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS is low, and on a rare set of wheels.  It has the heart of a WRX, and enough power to embarrass some people’s dedicated track day toy.  And it sees regular street duty.  If this isn’t cool, then I don’t know what is anymore.

Gumball Impreza Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (7 of 25)

The search for his “Gumball” began three years ago.  While biting into a sandwich, he was bitten by the urge to spend a large amount of money on a car.  After mulling over such reliable, and easily modified chassis such as FD RX-7s and twin turbo 300ZXs, David finally settled on the mildly rare 2.5RS coupe.  After looking at two other coupes he finally found the 2000 coupe you see here sitting in the corner of a shop.  The shop was in the process of building the car, and swapping in a 2.0L WRX motor.  With the promise of “prototype” coilovers, David was sold.  After some hemming and hawing by the shop, they finally dropped it off in David’s driveway.  No coilovers, but some blown struts and what would turn out to be a mismatched transmission and rear differential were in the car (which eventually failed), but so was that lovely WRX motor.  Soon after arriving in his driveway, David got to work making this car his own.

Gumball Impreza Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (3 of 25)

First things to go were the US spec lights.  David made a call to Japan and had some OEM clear corner markers and red/clear tail lights sent over, along with some Chargespeed clear bumper markers and clear signal lenses.  With the scourge that is amber lighting removed and banished to the land of wind and ghosts, it was time to address some other visual cues.  After running through a Bugeye WRX lip, and a Bakemono replica of a JDM V5/6 STi lip, David finally settled on something that is no longer in production: Orciari 1 piece front lip.  Sitting above the Italian made lip, are his OEM fog lights which were hiding behind the OEM fog light covers.  Out back there’s a purple Rallytech tow hook, and a set of Honda Accord spats.  According to David they were easier to install than his OEM JDM spats, and they look better.  He’s also sporting rolled and pulled fenders, because low car problems (the tires were munching the fenders before the rolling and the pulling) and also because wheel whore.

Gumball Impreza Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (21 of 25)

I use that last term lightly.  Having a garage full of Rotas and other OEM whatever make you drive wheels, makes you a wheel street walking hooker.  Having the stuff David has had makes you a wheel high class escort.  The streets aren’t littered with Volk CE28Ns or Work Emotion 11Rs, and coming across a set of Volk C-Ultras isn’t as easy as walking to the store.  He’s had the CE28Ns and the Works, and the C-Ultras are being repaired (they were in pretty rough shape) and custom center caps are being designed.  Enough about the past and the future, let’s talk about the present.  Specifically these 17×9 +38 Desmond Regamaster Marquis Promadas.  An exceedingly rare, Russian made wheel.  Normally you see Regamasters on Hondas, and while that’s not terribly unusual (but still cool, so if you’re doing that keep doing that) seeing them on a Subaru is VERY different.  Wrapped around the wheels are a set of Achillies ATR Sport tires, measuring in at 205/40.  Also of note, he’s running some adapters to make the wheels work.  They’re 15mm 5×100-5×114, and they’re made by a local company called Grapple Parts.

Gumball Impreza Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (4 of 25)

To achieve his stance David had to not only throw on coilovers, but things that allow him to make suspension adjustments.  The coilovers are BC Racing BR series coilovers with camber plates fore and aft.  For more camber adjustment, he is employing OEM camber bolts up front, and Eibach’s in the rear.  Joining the OEM camber bolts in the front is an OEM WRX swaybar, while an STi sway bar joins the party in the rear.  Also back there are some Cobb end links.  Back to the front, and in the engine bay, is a Cusco Type ST strut tower bar.  And speaking of the engine bay…

Gumball Impreza Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (19 of 25)

Here it is, in all its glory!  There is the afore mentioned WRX swap, which came from a 2004 WRX.  No longer is the wrong transmission behind the motor, a 2006 WRX transmission has taken its rightful place on the back end of the motor.  Between the motor and transmission rests an Exedy light weight fly wheel, and stage 1 clutch.  For enhanced shifting pleasure there are Kartboy shifter bushings, and a stainless steel clutch cable has been installed.  Holding the transmission is a STi Group N mount.  Rigged Performance performed an internal stub axle conversion and a 2001 2.5RS 4.11 final drive conversion to pair with the 2001 2.5RS viscous limited slip differential.  Bracing that rear differential is a Laile Beatrush rear differential brace.

Gumball Impreza Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (16 of 25)

The motor has been hepped up on goof balls accentuated by digging through the massive Subaru parts bin, and picking up quality aftermarket pieces.  The OEM supplied parts are a VF39 turbocharger, top mount intercooler, and 565CC fuel injectors all from an STi.  The aftermarket bits are a K&N Typhoon intake, a no name one piece header and up pipe, an Invidia Bellmouth downpipe, and a Cobb cat back exhaust.  There’s also a Hallman Pro manual boost controller, which helped Jason Cleverly of Cleverly Tuned tune the car to make 286 horsepower and 240lb/ft of torque at 18psi of boost. Prettying up the bay are a Cusco turbo heat shield, Rallytech fuse box cover and radiator shroud, and a Beatrush alternator shroud.  The engine bay has been semi-wire tucked, and the battery is now in the trunk.  The coolant reservoir is now hiding in the fender and the A/C has been ditched all together.

Gumball Impreza Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (15 of 25)

The interior has also received its share of JDM goodies.  JDM STi pedals and Type-RA front seats have been installed, along with a Nardi Torino steering wheel, Splash steering wheel hub and Omori boost gauge.  The Beatrush Duracon shift knob sits on a stock length shifter, which has a Zealous Interiors blue suede shift boot with cherry blossom red stitching.  The shift boot matches the emergency brake boot.  Black WRX carpet and STi floor mats have come to rest at the bottom of the passenger cabin, and the door panels have been recovered in blue suede.  All the lighting is LED, and tunes come courtesy of an Alpine deck, which has an ipod cable weaving out of sight through the center console.

Gumball Impreza Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (24 of 25)

Former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart is famously quoted as saying “I know it when I see it” in regard to hardcore pornography.  Cool is definitely subjective, but when you see it, you definitely know it.  Will there be a unanimous consensus on what is cool in the automotive world?  Probably not, but if there is ever an argument to be made for it, I shall submit David’s Impreza as my exhibit A.

Words and photos by Michael Chandler

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

 

14th Aug2014

Grocery Getter

by Michael Chandler

Grocery Getter Subaru Forester Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (10 of 12)

“Bags Are For Groceries” read a sticker on a 2.5RS I saw at a meet once. That particular Impreza was lowered on coilovers, which for the uninitiated means he was static.  And while the debate of bags versus coilovers will most certainly rage on for a while, the sticker’s sentiment isn’t entirely true. Bags aren’t just for groceries, they’re for grocery getters too. Grocery getters like Jenny Nielson’s Forester XT.

Grocery Getter Subaru Forester Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (1 of 12)

This isn’t her first foray into the wonderful world of Subaru modification. She used to own a hawkeye WRX, which wasn’t too shabby. And it wasn’t her boyfriend’s car, which is often the case whenever a woman gets out of any nice or modified vehicle. The hawkeye was hers, as is the Fozzy. And this thing has come a ways.

Grocery Getter Subaru Forester Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (5 of 12)

As we’ve all seen, Foresters are tall. Tall enough to be classified as SUVs for insurance and marketing purposes. This is a problem for a gal who has a license plate surround that says “Stance Will Make Him Dance”. So it had to go lower. A lot lower. First came some Raceland coilovers, which for the purposes of dumping something are pretty fantastic; however, those were not to last. Nor were the wheels. First were a set of XXRs. Then those gave way to a set of Rotiform Nues. Finally she has settled on a set of STRs. The current setup measures 18×10 with a +25 offset all around. That’s a bit of wheel.

Grocery Getter Subaru Forester Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (9 of 12)
Back to the suspension. And the whole “bag” thing. If you haven’t figured it out yet, she bagged her once static Forester. Airlift was contacted and suddenly eventually the car was sporting Autopilot V2 digital bags. Stance achieved, right? Technically yes, but she wasn’t quite done.

Grocery Getter Subaru Forester Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (11 of 12)

Before the Rotiforms, and after the Racelands she got to work adding a little bit of power and noise to the car.  Breathing is helped by an SPT intake, an Invidia catless downpipe, and a Blitz Nur Spec exhaust. A Go Fast Bits blow off valve relieves excess intake pressure, while making fun noises.  And because it’s a turbocharged Subaru it’s totally got an Accessport and a Stage 2 tune.  It’s just a rule of life.

Grocery Getter Subaru Forester Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (3 of 12)

The Regal Blue Pearl (a factory color by the way) looks lovely on any Forester. It looks more lovely one this one because she’s spruced it up a bit. There’s the factory spoiler which wasn’t there when she picked up the car. There are the 04/05 taillights which have been fitted. And most noticeably, there is the 2008 sport bumper and lip on the front of the car which help separate it from the pack.
Then there are the little details, like the headlights. The housings have been painted black, and the amber reflectors have been removed. The lights themselves were replaced with 8000K HIDs, and all of the windows are sporting 20% tint.

Grocery Getter Subaru Forester Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (12 of 12)

Also, there’s a child’s seat in the back seat.  This is for two reasons: #1 she has a kid (it would be weird if she didn’t have a kid, but still had the seat) and #2 this is her daily driver.  She takes it to all the fun places! The gym, work, the gym, and finally the store.  Where she gets groceries, and puts them in her grocery getter.

Words and photos by Michael Chandler

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