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From the “nah, they fit fine” Department

9 Aug

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Guten Tag, lasst uns gehen für ein Laufwerk

20 Jul

You’ll notice a lot of German, and specifically Porsche content on the blog lately. As time has gone on, I’ve found myself more and more drawn to these timeless sports cars, and the culture surrounding them. It’s something I wish the “JDM” crowd would more readily adopt. Or rather, perhaps it’s that there’s always been this element to the “JDM” scene too, it’s just not either widely embraced or reported. Instead we end up often seeing the same old same old. Build it with an online signature filled list of sometimes random parts, dyno it, get it in a magazine or plaster pics all over, sell it. No desire to take the time and build it slowly. No real plan in place. Or worse, the ill-advised practice of building it with parts based purely on budget, without any consideration (or understanding) of the actual differences between Brand A and X.

No matter what scene you’re in, there are always dividing lines. Built vs original, real vs replica, genuine vs tribute, show vs race. The Japanese car scene will always be my first love. There are many iconic Japanese sports/performance oriented cars, and they deserve all the love that those who are consumed by their bloodline can bestow upon them. What I find the most intriguing thing about some of the European firms, is there are still firms trying to meld old and new. Classic styling with modern manufacturing techniques. Going forward, I think there is a lot to be learned from this direction of the hobby.

I also readily appreciate how fanatical many in the European scene are about the motorsport history of their favored brands. We all have heard of Alfa-holics, Porsche-philes, Tifosi. Guys that are seemingly walking encyclopedias for all things related to the car or brand that keeps their heart pumping. Let’s not forget, the Japanese similarly have a deep rooted car culture. One that has risen to the top of the motorsport realm in Rally, Sports Car, and Endurance racing. It’s something to be appreciated and preserved. But often is ignored. So to those out there who keep that candle lit; hats off to you.

Anyway, just some random musings on a Saturday morning. I recently saw an article on a DP Motorsport project 911 that really struck a chord with me. DP has an extensive history building, racing, and modifying Porsches, most notably, 911’s. This new project combines parts that span 4 decades. From the ’73 911T shell, to the modern carbon bodywork (carbon, not carbon stickers). It was built to deliver fun and reliable performance. Not built to set a dyno record, not built to win shows (though it easily could). The attention to detail is what I find most impressive. The car is cohesive. Everything in it’s right place. The design and parts classifications on the outside match those on the inside. Sure, it’s a bit raw (and expensive!) for a daily car, but it would easily serve it’s master for fun weekend jaunts and track days. While it certainly plucks at the heartstrings just looking at it – the execution is clean. It’s low, it’s wide, it’s loud – but it’s still subtle, at least till you drive it. It makes a substantial amount of power, particularly for a non turbo motor. But it’s the way that power is installed in an ultra lightweight chassis (ala the famed RSR) that makes the whole more than the sum of its parts. Which I personally think is a box that many “JDM” project cars fail to tick.

Now, I fully understand taste is subjective. Always will be…and I wouldn’t want it any other way. But when you’re building your car, no matter what it is, don’t be afraid to draw inspiration from different scenes. Be willing to look at a different canvas and see how and where you can apply some of the themes to your project. The car is an extension of it’s owner afterall. As such, it pays to be forward thinking. It pays to imagine yourself 10, 20, 30 years down the road and see if you can picture yourself still driving the car, as it sits. Do you view the car as a stepping stone? Do you view the project as a way to embrace a current ‘fashionable’ trend, or do you view the car as a almost an heirloom? Take your time with it, do it for you, and not for the feature, and most importantly, build it to drive it.

Anyway, I’ve drawn some inspiration from this video – I hope you enjoy it too. A detailed article on the car can be found in the current issue of Excellence for those interested.

Just a Couple Funny Guys and a Carrera RS

15 Jul

Axis Powers: Internal Conflict

13 Jun

porschevsdatsunJapan vs. Germany

2013 Canadian Grand Prix Preview

8 Jun

A Tale of 2 Bushings: Steering Rack Bushings for the 350Z/G35 Comparison

28 May

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Most people will never consider bushings sexy, or even significant parts. But for those who have upgraded them, you know they can pay big dividends in the performance of your car. There are multiple companies out there that make urethane bushings for the 350z and G35. Today we are going to look at 2 versions of the popular Urethane Steering Rack Bushings.

The rack and pinion on these cars is supported in a very traditional fashion – 2 mounts that attach to the chassis via 14mm Grade 10 bolts on one side of the rack, and a third bracket type that uses 2 10mm bolts. Two bushings are in the rack assembly itself; the third is a larger piece that mounted via a clamshell bracket. Very standard stuff. Replacing the bushings can be done in under 35 minutes with the rack in the car. No lines need to be removed nor fluid bled.

But the question we want to look at, should you decide you want to upgrade these bushings: who’s to upgrade to? On the one hand you have Energy Suspension. Their bushings are far and away the most popular. They are a US firm and they’ve been making urethane bushings for cars for decades. They make 2 flavors: red and black. The black has graphite added in which they claim aids lubrication. These are inexpensive to buy ($27.50 shipped for the set). They are quite stiff at 88a durometer.

Then you’ve got SuperPro. This is an Australian suspension engineering firm and have also been making aftermarket bushings for a long time now. The SuperPro kit is a bit softer at 80a durometer. The SuperPro are purple in color. They are far more expensive at around $115 shipped for the set.

Both SuperPro and Energy use a 2 piece bushing for the internal rack mounts with internal metal sleeve for the bolt to ride in. The factory setup is a 1 piece rubber in sort of a coke bottle shape, and are soft and comfy at about 55a durometer.

Get a good screen for the pics and a few things become apparent. Energy is on top, SuperPro on bottom. The first thing you will notice are the SuperPro are much thicker overall. Much more bushing material. This should help isolate NVH better than the Energy ones, even beyond the softer compound permits. It should also help spread any impact loads a bit better as well. The biggest difference between them though were overall tolerances. The factory bolts are a shoulder type, meaning there are only threads on a portion of the shank. All of the bushings had a bit of slop between the bolt and sleeve that goes away when you torque them down. However the SuperPro had a noticeably tighter tolerance the factory or Energy (which had more slop than even factory).

Install wise it’s a snap. Car in the air, drop the front crossmember. Remove the factory hardware mounting the rack….don’t lose it! Using a mallet and a dye, knock the factory bushings out. The new bushings slip right in place. Torque back to spec and reinstall the crossmember and you’re all done. Didn’t take any pics at this stage as it went to quickly but it’s extremely straight forward.

Because of the design differences we used the SuperPro this time around. As soon as you turn the wheel you notice a difference. A bit more of a weighted feel. But at speed is where things really get interesting. The subject car only had about 35k on the rack and bushings so they were in good shape. With the new bushings installed steering response was noticeably more direct. You do notice a bit more front end stiffness over bumps, but much less wheel movement when you encounter a bump mid turn. In layman terms, it all feels much more connected: which of course is the idea. There is no way you will not realize a change immediately…it’s that much of a direct improvement. At speed there is zero noise and zero vibration. Just a very firm wheel that responds instantly to any input. Makes me wonder what could further be improved if we got quicker than the racks’ 15.9:1 ratio. G35s with Active Rear Steer had a bit quicker ratio of 15.0:1. Imagine the response of a rack along the lines of an S2000 (13.8:1 on first gen cars).

While the Energy ones are the most popular as mentioned, the SuperPro, even with their higher cost, are worth a serious look.

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Big Whoops

26 May

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The Tire War

26 May

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As those who follow F1 know, tires are the same for everyone. Everyone is handed out the same compounds and must run all of them during the race. Ok, sounds easy enough, fair enough, right? Ehhhh….wrong. During Friday, NBC’s Will Buxton took over NBCSports Twitter and was fielding questions. I asked about tires for the weekend…and the reply was “they are round, black and the same for everyone, lets race”. Well as it turns out, such is not the case.

See, F1 cars are very adjustable, very intricate machines. These are not spec cars. Nor are the staff each team employs. This is racing at its highest level: with the perennial levels of technology, and money all being mixed together in a world class stew. Will Buxton is now reporting that after Spain, in which Mercedes complained about their tires, was given a private test with Pirelli. 1000kms of private testing so Mercedes could “better understand how their chassis was relating to the tire”. It’s also being reported that Ferrari had a similar test after Bahrain. Certainly helps explain the awesome performances since those private tests were conducted. Of course such private tests are not allowed under the rules from a team level. But they are allowed under Pirelli’s contract as tire supplier for the series. Now, whether they plan to hold tests for each individual team remains to be seen, but its nevertheless going to be a hot topic.

BMW M5: Frightens Dogs

24 May

Funny ad

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Hot, Loud, Raw, and Red

7 May

California dreaming……

Dualing Ferrari F50’s

11 Apr

It’s silly, it’s pointless, it’s loud and its fun. Courtesy of Tax The Rich YouTube Channel and Motortrend, where I found the link.

Crushed Ego

26 Mar

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Track Day Insurance

18 Mar

Track day season is upon us, and as such, many people are busy buying rollcages, brake pads, new exhausts or tunes. But what about insurance? I know, booorrrring…but this is important. Your regular policy in all liklihood does not cover you during even an HPDE or driving school. Wreck your car? You’re SOL. Wreck a car that you leased or still owe money on? Even more SOL…because you’re still on the hook to pay for it.

With that, there are actually some firms that offer Track Day Coverage. We have zero affiliation with these companies, so contact them directly, but, I think its something alot of you guys might benefit from. The coverage isn’t exactly cheap (might even be more than the track day fee is), but if you think about it relative to the cost to fix or replace your car, is it something you can afford NOT to do? These firms both offer various ranges of coverage for both single and multiple events, and seem to work on an agreed-value basis.

http://www.hartlandinsurancegroup.com/contact.html

http://hpdeins.locktonaffinity.com/Default.aspx?cID=3

Shiny side up!

12 Hours of Sebring Preview

8 Mar

Straight from Malaysia: “Volk”…….Watches? Huh?

6 Mar

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When the car market is flooded by replica car parts, I guess it’s time for all the knock off factories to retool and start making knock off car part tchotchkies (pronounced Chotch-kie, for those of you who didn’t have a Jewish mother! Google it if you don’t know what it means). This one’s Magnesium Blue and even comes with an “AP Racing” brake kit behind it…..

Where to find it? Ebay of course.