Archive | June, 2011

Green With Envy

28 Jun

(This pic is BIG!)

I know it’s not the latest and greatest from Aston, but you would be hard pressed to find a more beautiful race car than the DBR9. Stunning

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What’s in a Wheel?

28 Jun

We get this question all the time, and figured this would be a good opportunity to shed some light on what goes into making an aftermarket wheel. Most tend to think a wheel falls into 2 categories – forged and cast. While this is generally true, there are variations that make a very big impact in the finished product.

At the bottom of the pyramid you have Gravity Cast wheels. This is a fairly simple production technique whereby molten aluminum is literally poured into a mold. Because of the simple process, the mold can be quite complex and intricate. This affords the manufacturer a wider range of styles to play with, and offers the greatest flexibility of design. The downside of course is the technique itself. Since you’re relying on plain old gravity to fill the mold, it’s not perfect. The net result is a wheel that has more empty space between the molecules vs. more involved manufacturing processes. They also tend to be on the heavier side of things, as the goal is style in design vs all out strength. The upside is the price for these wheels can be downright cheap. But so can the quality. Often times, the wheels are made in plants of dubious quality, and attention to detail is sometimes shoddy. You can tell the el cheapo stuff by casting flash on the backside of the spokes and hub.

Next up you’ve got Pressure Cast Wheels. As the name implies, this technique relies on external pressure to fill the mold. As you can probably guess, the result is a wheel where there is far less empty space between the molecules. This method is a bit more limiting in overall style, but the strength to weight ratio is much higher compared to plain gravity cast wheels. This is the most common method used by the larger OEM manufacturers, because it affords them a good compromise between design and strength. Within the Pressure Cast family you have both higher pressure and low pressure. Differences are as stated – the amount of pressure exerted on the aluminun in the mold.

The next technique is relatively new compared to the above, and is employed by several manufacturers such as SSR, Enkei, etc. It’s called Flow Forming, or Spun Form, Hybrid Forged, etc. This process employs a pressure cast technique at first, to achieve a general shape. Rollers are then used to literally pull, or press, the material to shape the final design. Many high end OEM manufacturers use this technique on their wheels. While it’s still technically a casting technique, the process allows a wheel to be incredibly strong (since the molecules are very densely packed), and light weight at the same time. While the production costs are the highest among the cast methods, it still allows the wheel to be about 50% less costly than a forged variant. SSR Type F, Type C RS, several designs from Weds and BBS and several in Enkei’s Racing series employ this technique. Enkei has licensed the process to several other traditional cast manufacturers such as Konig and AME over the years as well.

The pinnacle of the wheel production pyramid is of course forging. In this process, a single, billet hunk of aluminum is literally stamped into a design using very high pressure applied to a die. Because of the costs involved from the raw materials, to the production equipment, these are far and away the most expensive types of wheels. However, they also tend to have the best weight to strength ratio. The designs are often quite limited because of the cost to produces the dies. These tend to be simpler overall designs (aka Volk TE37, BBS LM and LMR, etc.).

From there you get into a variety of materials. Aluminum and Magnesium are the most often used metals. In recent years, we’ve also seen hybrids employing both carbon and aluminum bonded together. The cost of these more exotic materials is high, but it’s done in the pursuit of the lightest weight, and highest level of strength.

When you begin to examine the above in greater detail, you also begin to see that the process is only part of the equation. There are bad quality cast wheels and good quality cast wheels. There are wheels who’s designs are based on a forging model, that are replicated in cast models. There are wheels who’s design is based upon a low or high pressure, or spun technique, and some company turns around and does a low pressure cast version. From the outside, it all looks the same. The price is certainly more attractive. Sometimes it works well, sometimes it doesn’t. This is why the better cast manufacturers don’t replicate every wheel under the sun – because they know it’s an accident waiting to happen. Another important consideration is who is making the wheel in the first place. Some firms own their own factories, some simply come up with a design and broker manufacturing out to the lowest bidder. The problem is the consumer never sees this side of the market, they only see the finished product. When it arrives to you new in the box, it can look all shiny and pretty. Turn the wheel over and examine the spokes, and you can begin to see the origins, and the quality of the wheel. The better quality wheels tend to be finished in very great detail even on the backside, and no casting flaws can be seen, and no extra flashing. The cheap stuff looks…well, cheap.

Hopefully that helps shed some light on what some differences are between the various wheel manufacturing techniques.

2011 STi Under the Knife

28 Jun


Looking sinister with a set of SSR Type F

Such a Shame on so Many Levels – aka Why Perception is NOT Reality

26 Jun

At least the genuine BBS center cap survived. Note, the wheel is NOT a genuine BBS product

Sunline Racing meets the Evo X

26 Jun

Sunline Racing has introduced a range of new parts for the Mitsubishi Evo X. Their stylish body kit features a mix of FRP and Carbon fiber, and is available as a full set, or as individual components. They also have a carbon paddle shift kit for the SST owners, allowing you to shift at the flick of a finger, while fitting an aftermarket steering wheel!

Contact us for pricing and availability

Recycling Never Looked so Good

25 Jun

Back in the winter, Jon traded in his Civic Si and picked up a 2011 Mazdaspeed 3. Since that time, some tasteful mods have been added, but nothing crazy, as the car is already a ton of fun stock. Though he managaged to sell all the mods from the Civic, one thing is making a reappearance – the wheels! Rays 57F (forged) in 18×8.5, this time wearing 245 inch Sumitomo HTRZIII. She’s sittin on H&R springs for those interested. Since these wheels aren’t made anymore, and they were paid for long ago, it only made sense to reuse them on the new car.

A Lifetime in 24 Hours

25 Jun

It’s that time of the year again! Fresh off the heels of the 24 hour race at LeMans, it’s once again time for the 24 Hour Endurance Race at the world famous Nurburgring. We all know how tiring driving can sometimes be, even if we’re in the car for an hour or two. Imagine driving flat out, through any weather condition, throughout a challenging course in the middle of the German forest, with a field full of fellow nutcases doin the same. This is what the 24 Hours of Nurburgring is. The best drivers in the world, in some of the best sports and GT cars, engaged in the in the ultimate dance between man and machine.

If you’re interested in lve, free online coverage, here are some resources:

1. http://adac.24h-rennen.de/Streaming.4101.0.html?&L=1&cHash=f6a7d1bb2f (the official Nurburgring site)
2. http://tv.audi.com/#/02 – Audi’s Live Stream
3. http://www.radiolemans.com/ – Love the coverage and insight these guys bring

Future Imperfect?

22 Jun
It’s human nature to be curious about our own future.  We’ve all pondered where life may take us, and we’ve all looked back and wondered “what if something had happened differently.”  If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve probably daydreamed about how your favorite automakers will evolve their products in the future.  However, the future is rarely what we fantasize.  Considering the current line of enthusiast vehicles, let’s try looking backwards for a moment.  What if you could jump into the Doc’s Delorean and go back 10 years.  Armed with your knowledge of next decade, what would happen?
 
A car-guy surrounds himself with car people.  Surely you would take to the local “meets” and internet forums of 2001.  You would prophesize the market in 2011…and you would likely be labelled an automotive heratic, burned (or more appropriately “flamed”) at the virtual stake.  Afterall, 2011 looks VERY different from 2001…
 
Honda fanboys would be in full-force in 2001.  Bolstered by the success of the 1999-2000 SI, They would be looking forward to the next iteration of the SI nameplate.  Like a modern day Nostradamus, you would tell them about the fall of Honda.  You would tell them that the upcoming 2002 SI hatchback was reminiscent of a VW GTI, albeit without the charm.  You’ll remark how the anemic K20 under the hood is from their brand new base model RSX, rather than the vtec screamer in the RSX-S.  You’ll tell them that in 2006, the RSX would be dropped and Honda would install the RSX-S drivetrain in the 2006 Civic SI coupe.  With a limited slip.  For LESS money.  But, it wouldn’t last as the 2012 SI would again become an uninspired bean-counter’s car.  They would say, “well the 2011 S2000 must be awesome, right?”  Nope.  The beloved S2000 is also discontinued in 2009 with very little evolution along the way. In 2011, Honda’s most exciting car will be the V6 accord coupe and that is very disconcerting.  The big “H” from Japan becomes boring and lifeless and the hardcore Honda-files from 2001 won’t believe you.  However, it’s the rise of the “H” from Korea that will REALLY set them off!
 
In 2001, Hyundai is laughable to an automotive enthusiast.  Their sporty car is the Tiburon, but it’s slow and strange looking.  “It takes time,” you’ll say “but in 2008 Hyundai is a contender because of their new model; The Genesis.”  In sedan form, it’s a solid rear-drive luxury sports sedan created in the image of a 5 series BMW.  It’s no slouch either, with nearly 300hp available from the standard V6 or almost 400hp from the optional V8.  You’ll tell them it wins car of the year in 2009, and their jaws will drop.  Furthermore, the sleek ‘n sexy coupe now competes with the legendary Nissan Z-car in both spirit and design.  Enthusiasts may choose from a turbocharged four cylinder, or a big 3.8 liter V6.  Eventually, even the Hyundai Sonata is a promising alternative to the Accord or Camry.  Upon further disbelief, you’ll mention that the Sonata has an optional 274hp turbocharged 4 cylinder motor and MSRP is less than 25 grand.  In 2011, Hyundai is winning hearts and minds, but they aren’t the only ones…
 
Ford.  “Fucked on race day.”  “Fix or repair daily.”  You’ve heard all the acronyms. Their flagship, The Mustang has always been an iconic car, but in 2001 the passion has fizzled a bit.  In fact, Ford’s entire line is…boring.  It’s as if they built cars specifically for Hertz and Enterprise.  However, in 2005 Ford draws inspiration from the past when it develops a modern version of their LeMans winning GT40.  Now dubbed the simply the “GT,” a true American super-car.  Interestingly enough, Honda discontinues the NSX that same year.  Since the introduction of the GT, the Ford line has undergone a dramatic shift.  For example, a V6 Mustang never got much respect, but in 2011 a V6 Mustang has it in spades.  When equipped with the performance package, Mustang gets shorter gears (and a 6-speed manual) firmer suspension, thicker sway bars and a monster 19inch wheel and tire package.  Die-hard American Mustang owners will love the throwback styling and will revel in the fact that the base V6 makes 305hp…nearly 50 more than the V8 GT in 2001.  The V6 is now a real performance car, but nobody in 2001 will believe you.  And it doesn’t stop with the Mustang; Fans of the original SHO may be disappointed in 2001, but you’ll tell them a suitable replacement is coming in 2010.  Aggressive styling and a 365hp twin-turbo V6 is impressive…  In 2001, twin-turbo’s are equipped on the likes of the Audi S4 and the Japan-only Skyline GTR.  Twin Turbo Taurus…it takes time to sink in.  Hell, Ford even the base Focus in 2011 makes nearly the same power as the SVT model from 2001.  Ford ups the ante with the upcoming 247hp turbocharged ST model.  
 

It’s remarkable how much the industry has changed in such a short period of time.  I could go on and on about Porsche’s development of the Cayenne and the equally strange Panamera.  Similarly, Ferrari’s recent FF hatchback has also spurred much debate among the loyalists.  Years ago, such projects would seem like automotive blasphemy.  Where will be 10 years from now?  Considering the current situation, do you look toward 2021 with excitement?  Dread?  Cautious optimisim?  Either way, if we had a window into the future, there is a good chance we simply won’t believe what we see.

Asanti Wheels – Concave 2011 Edition

21 Jun

Porsche @ Goodwood

21 Jun


Every year the Goodwood Festival of Speed takes place in the UK at the end of June. It takes place on one of Englands most famed estates and features an eclectic mix of people and cars from around the world. This years theme revolves around “Racing Revolutions – Quantum Leaps that Shaped Motorsport”. Porsche is no stranger to that, and as such, will bring several unique models from their racing history. One such iconic car is the 961, the LeMans going version of the iconic 959 car originally developed for the Paris Dakar Rally. Motorsport has always been a proving ground for top tier manufacturers, and Porsche used this race to continue development of their twin turbo, flat six engine. It finished 7th overall, as well as winning it’s class. Not too shabby. If any of you guys are going to this years festival, let us know – would love to feature some of your pictures and impressions, to be shared with those of us not fortunate enough to be there.

Are Your Brakes Worthy?

20 Jun

Today’s import market seems dominated by off brand parts, made god knows where, with names that sound racy, or even have Race or Racing in them. But does that make them worthy of the name?

Endless is well known amongst competitors the world over for no compromise, high end performance brake systems and components. The same exact kit shown on this Hassemi Z can be purchased for your car.

This particular car is the 2010 GT300 Winner Hasemi/Tomica Z used our MONO 6/MONO 4R Calipers, E-Slit brake disks, and pads

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Who Remembers These?

16 Jun

From the mid 90’s to about 2002 ish, these were the gauges to have. GReddy Electronic. They were pretty affordable, electronic, easy to read, and very reliable. I dug up a couple of these today at the shop, that we still have.

52mm Electronic Temperature – reads from 30C-150C (86F to 302F). Black face, lights up green. Great for oil temperature, transmission temperature, etc. New in the box, includes sensor, etc. Part # 16001008 – $50.00 gets it!

52mm Electronic Pressure – reads from 0-140 PSI. Black face, lights up amber. Part # 16001020. $50.00

We’ll even comp the shipping in the US (all 50 states!)

Top Secret!

16 Jun

A very rare version of the famous Works Bell Rapfix II Quick Release. This is not cheap, we know, but this is also not a common part, and not something that anyone else in the US has in stock right now. The wait times are usually huge as well. And yes, I am aware other places have it on their website for less…which is just an indicator that they have not ordered it in a long, long, long time, and don’t know what today’s cost on the item is given the exchange rates, etc. This is made by Works Bell for Top Secret and is finished in their signature Gold color. The only place to get this is through Top Secret. Allows 1 touch removal of your aftermarket steering wheel!

Priced at $540 shipped to all 50 states. To order just give us a call

Need a hub to go with it? Let us know – this will mate to any Works Bell short hub for the 350Z, or any other car

Understated

14 Jun

This model never made it stateside, but back in the late 90’s, Subaru was offering their answer to the 5 series with the Legacy B4 RSK. 2 liter, twin turbo flat 4, 5 speed manual transmission, “280 hp” per the Japanese guidelines of the time. The interior was nowhere near at the 5 series level, and looks even more dated today, but the exterior doesn’t look like a 13 year old car to me.

Low Buck/Low Dust Brake Maintenance Package 2002-2007 WRX

14 Jun

We hear everyday from customers who aren’t interested in a big brake kit, aren’t interested in some exotic pad compounds. They just want an all in one, complete replacement parts for their tired and worn brakes. We’ve put this package together with this customer in mind, and it includes everything you need.

What you get:

2002-2005 WRX:

Front AND Rear rotors (vented, non slotted, non drilled, just good old fashioned blanks like the car came stock with), front and rear Akebono ceramic pads. A great low dust, low noise pad that outlasts the factory stuff. We encourage you to price this out at your dealer – and see why our deal kills theirs

2006-2007 WRX: Front AND Rear rotors (vented, non slotted, non drilled, just good old fashioned blanks like the car came stock with), front and rear PBR ceramic blend pads. A great low dust, low noise pad that outlasts the factory stuff. We encourage you to price this out at your dealer – and see why our deal kills theirs

Priced at just $419 shipped in the 48 states for any of the above years! To order, give us a call at (631)863-3820 or email to z1sales@z1auto.com