10th Feb2016

It’s Ruined

by Michael Chandler

Gumball Impreza Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (7 of 25)

Just absolutely ruined.  Well, it would be if it were a rally car.  This isn’t, so it really isn’t ruined

13th Nov2015

A Superb Roadster

by Michael Chandler

Supercharged S2000 feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-4

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.

Supercharged S2000 feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-2 Supercharged S2000 feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-8 Supercharged S2000 feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-9

 

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.

Supercharged S2000 feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-10

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.

Supercharged S2000 feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-6

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.

Supercharged S2000 feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-11

 

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.
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.