09th Oct2017

Euro Brews: Cars and Doggos

by Michael Chandler

I started this past weekend off by not really sleeping in, and going to Euro Brews for the first time in a while.  I managed to show up before everyone (hooray poor time management!), and watch a bit of Petit Le Mans.  Then everyone showed up, and conversations were had.  

There was also a very good doggo who showed up in a 2002.  Good dog!  

Also this fancy lookin hybrid sports coupe made an appearance.  A decent amount of people came out, so here’s a gallery of that.

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*Article, Photos, Videos, and Audio clips are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
07th Oct2016

The Best Worst Trip

by Michael Chandler

ronda-lotto-tickets

It was cold and dark last night.  In the darkness, surrounded by storage units filled with other people’s stuff, Scott, myself, and a man named Cody pushed Big Ronda onto a U-Haul trailer.  As they were ratcheting the car onto the trailer, I began thinking about something I found the day before.  I went down to the storage unit on Tuesday, and began cleaning it out the refuse that had accumulated in the three years I owned the car.  While cleaning out the glove box I found a receipt and some lotto tickets that never made it across the counter of the convenience store in Franklin, Idaho.

The Powerball jackpot was rather high, but not historic in August 2013.  Being the sort of fellow who thinks that having ridiculous amounts of money would allow me to pursue many of the endeavors I’d like to, and having a GT car in need of a test of its grand touring prowess, the decision was made to head to Idaho and grab some lotto tickets.  I called up Dave, and we made plans to run to the land of Russets.  But first we needed to address one big problem the car had: the lack of speakers.

When I test drove the car, it had a speaker box in the back and some semi-functional door speakers.  When I picked it up, the speaker box was gone.  Dave and I went to a junkyard, harvested some door speakers from a GS300, and proceeded to install them while parked on the street in front of his house.  While installing the speakers, we also plumbed in a fully functional boost gauge.  One that went up to 25psi.  With those installed, we made our way to Tommy’s family’s restaurant: Thai Drift.  We rolled in, showed off the car to Tommy and Trent (who happened to be down there) then made our way back to the freeway.  On that short drive we noticed something: Ronda was making more whoosh pcha noises than before.  While I stepped on it, Dave looked at the boost gauge and let out an excited laugh when the needle hit 15psi and the car hit fuel cut.  That was an issue we’d deal with later, because we were on our way to prosperity!

We stopped at 7-11 in Kaysville before making the final push through Logan and into Idaho.  The clutch felt weird while getting off the freeway, but I just attributed it to the heat.  We grabbed some drinks, popped the targa top off, and got back on the road.  Everything was fine, until we got off I-15.  While merging onto US-91, the clutch pedal stopped doing anything.  It would sink to the floor, and stay there.  I managed to keep the car going, but we ran into some construction on 89 and I killed the car.  I had only ever driven it with a full functional clutch pedal, I could blip the throttle on downshifts, but I had no idea how to drive the car without using the clutch pedal entirely.

It was at this point that I began rethinking every decision I made for the last few months: why did I buy this car?  I didn’t want a mk3, I wanted a mk2.  Something I could slam on tiny wheels, and live out my new found dreams that I saw on Instagram feeds like All That Low, DOHC Research, and Liberty Walk.  Why did I not test the car out on a different drive?  What happens if this car can’t get going again?  Why am I here?  Who am I?  What is this?  Through all of the self-doubt, Dave’s voice came through. He coached me through, and while it was stressful, we made it to the L Tienda.

The radio took a dump on us at some point, so we just had our conversational skills to get us through. So while I went in and spent way too much on lotto tickets, Dave contorted himself and got the radio kicking again.  We then faced an important decision: Head back the way we came, which would take us back through Logan and Brigham City at rush hour; OR stay on the 91 until it ran into I-15.  After some brief discussion, and realizing that there would be a lot less shifting required, we stuck to the 91.  We got on the road, and Dave found what would end up being our soundtrack for the rest of the drive: Sports by Huey Lewis and the News.  The 1983 classic went into the tape deck, and never came out.  The damn thing ate the tape, but kept playing it.  It played both sides, on constant repeat, but refused to eject the tape.  It was on the third play through that I decided to uncork Ronda, and see how 100+mph felt without a roof.

We weren’t stopping until we got to my house, where we would grab the Subaru, and take Dave home.  A friend of mine in Farmington wanted to see the car, and us, but I did my best to convey to her that we could not stop, despite how much we wanted to.  We soldiered southward, and prepared for our final test: the stretch of road between the freeway exit and my driveway.  A harrowing 1.1 mile stretch of surface streets, filled with stop lights, traffic, and people who don’t understand how traffic laws or courtesy work.  Would we have to face each battle, or would luck smile upon us?  Mercifully, we had a favorable drive over that stretch.  We made it to my driveway, where we abandoned Ronda for the Subaru, and made our way back to Dave’s.

That was the first, and only big drive Ronda ever went on.  It was the best drive it could have been.  If it was completely uneventful, it would have been boring, and I wouldn’t have remembered the details three years on.  If it was an abject failure, then Ronda would’ve been gone long ago.  It was exciting, it had danger, humor, drama, no romance though.  I could not have scripted it better, nor would I have wanted it to be any different.

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
22nd May2014

Rhonda Gets Low

by Michael Chandler

Supra Update Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (1 of 12)

When last we left off with Rhonda, our MA70 Supra project car, she had proven that a late 80’s GT car can be surprisingly practical. We also rifled off a list of issues that had arisen. Well sir, we got around to addressing some of those issues and found some others.

Supra Update Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (2 of 12)

If you recall the old girl was damn near doubling up on the boost, hitting 15psi instead of the factory set 8. It sounds cool, but hitting fuel cut in every gear except first isn’t. All the vacuum lines were intact so obviously it was something a bit more intensive than that to fix. There were a few options, including pulling the turbo off and looking at the wastegate; however, we’re on a budget with this so a plan was hatched to find a throw on a boost controller. The guys at Ziptie Dynowerks recommended the Hallman Pro RX Manual Boost Controller.

The big feature of the Pro RX is the ceramic ball it employs instead of the standard 316 stainless steel ball found in other manual boost controllers. The ceramic ball is lighter, which allows it to act quicker than its stainless steel counterpart. The lightweight ball allows for very fine control of how much boost you want to run. It came with a light and a heavy spring, the heavier spring allowing for more boost. Since we didn’t want to go that crazy just yet, we left in light spring in. After a few runs up and down the street (the dyno was occupied by someone who booked some time and was paying  to use it), the boost was set at 10psi and that was that. Next up was a trip to Innovative Garage to adjust the attitude by changing the altitude.

Supra Update Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (3 of 12)

Choosing the right  set of coilovers is somewhat tricky. There are hardcore, remote reservoir 1632 way adjustable sets out there that cost more than this car did. There are dirt cheap, a step above cutting your springs sets that are just barely that. Then there’s the boat we found ourselves in.  There’s not a lot out there for the MA70, and those that are out there are either a middle of the road as far as stiffness and adjustablity are concerned or crazy track series coilovers. Eventually we landed on the Megan Racing EZ Street coilovers.

Supra Update Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (4 of 12)

They’re a basic monotube design and are 15 way adjustable. The spring rates are 14kg/mm in the front and 8kg/mm in the rear. They’re also shiny and blue, which is a lot better than the beat up black the stock springs and struts are. Unfortunately they didn’t have provisions for the adjustment motors that were atop the stock bits. Yeah, she had adjustable suspension from the factory back in 1987. Oh well, it’s not like that’s gonna be the end of the world or the mere existence of said motors would make the install any more difficult than it should be.

Supra Update Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (8 of 12)

While Tyler was on the horn with Megan Racing, I inquired about a radiator. Megan makes one, and so it was tacked on to my order and went in with the coilovers. It’s a three row, all aluminum piece that came with a 1.1 BAR radiator cap. It also didn’t have some of the nasty crap that flowed out of the old one, so that’s a bonus.

Supra Update Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (10 of 12)

The front went together fine…ish. Aside from a gigantic bolt holding the upper control arms in, everything went smoothly. The rear on the other hand required some trimming of some interior trim just to get those stupid motors off the top of the struts. And even then we barely got them out!  And then there was the issue of mounting the bottoms of the struts. What should’ve been a straight forward, slide em and bolt em in affair became a date with the bench grinder.

Supra Update Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (11 of 12)

After a light show they were slim enough to squeeze in. And then came the alignment and ride height setting. The former is still an ongoing process (26 years of life on the road means that somethings that were once separate are now one) but the ride height was pretty bang on out of the box.

Supra Update Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (12 of 12)

Here’s how she sits currently, a much more welcomed stance than her previous set up. The Megan’s feel great, borderline stock feel. I haven’t had much time with them aside from blasts to and from Innovative because while we were pulling the wheels off the front we found a bubble in the sidewall of one of the tires. Pair that with the gash that extends from the outer tread block down into the sidewall and we’ve got a sketchy situation. So next up are some new shoes of the 17 inch variety, and rubber that doesn’t look like it’s going to blow out and kill me!

SOURCES:

Innovative Garage

Ziptie Dynowerks

Megan Racing

Hallman Boost Controllers

Words and photos by Michael Chandler

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