Tag Archives: jdm

Cusco Roll Bars Explained

29 Apr

There seems to forever be a debate about Cusco roll bars and cages. They are often used in Japan, and as such, customers here want them for that reason alone. Secondly, they have a tremendously broad range of applications, so one is available for a ton of different cars. However, what many people don’t realize, is there are more than 1 type of roll bars and cages. Each has a specific purpose, a specific construction. With this entry, I hope to clear up some of the confusion, so people understand each one in a clearer way.

First up, you have the often-seen “Blue” rollbar and/or cage. This is called their D1 Spec. As you may have guessed, it is named as such because they are legal for use in the D1 Drift events. Granted, they are offered for a wide array of cars, and many of these cars will likely never drift. But this is what their design, manufacturing, material selection and mounting is geared towards. They also can be ordered in many other colors besides blue, but of course, for this part, that is the signature color. These are made of 40mm diameter chromoly, they bolt in, and are offered in 4 point through 8 point mounting.

Next up, are the Safety21 line of roll bars and cages. These differ significantly from the blue D1 spec units, in that they are made of 40mm cold drawn seamless carbon steel. They are available in 4-14 point in both bolt in and weld in mounting. The Safete21 units are used in Cusco’s GT300 efforts as well as in many of their club level rally cars. Some have FIA approval, depending on the number of points, and the application. These generally come finished in black, though again, custom colors are available. They have larger mounting and reinforcement plates vs the D1 spec units as well.

cuscosafety21

Lastly, you have Cusco’s ASN-FIA Spec cages.These are full Regulation J spec cages, weld in only, and used in WRC as well as GT class racing.

EVO X FIA photo

cuscosubaruFIAcage

If you have any questions about the right unit for your car, just drop us a line at z1sales@z1auto.com

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Reducing the Vibration, Upping the Performance

3 Oct

NISMO Rear Performance Damper 350Z

NISMO Front Performance Damper 350Z

There is an old expression in the sports car world “handles like it’s on rails”. In other words, a car that changes direction with such eagerness, authority, and minimal loss of energy, that its akin to a train following a track. To this end, people often go about fitting the stiffest springs they can, with the biggest possible swaybars, and rubber-band thick tires, hoping to reduce lean and roll. This works great on cars with huge sticky tires and lots of downforce (and thus high speeds), and ideally, driven on perfectly smooth tracks. While many try to mimic this on a street car, it’s usually not the case. Normal roads, and even many racetracks around the country are anything but glass-smooth. We’re genernally not running slicks or even R compound tires when we drive to the local diner or for a weekend blast down some backroads, and while we may have installed them on our cars, we’re not generally using dive planes, functional splitters and spoilers to their potential due to street-legal speeds. The same car that handles on rails is also crashing over every imperfection out there. Expansion joints might as well be speedbumps, uneven pavement akin to driving over road spikes. Geometry aside, these super stiff setups often compromise road car handling, more than they improve it. Chassis stiffening is not the same as suspension stiffening, and this is an often-overlooked feature. The chassis of the car is like the skeleton of a high rise building. It’s made of steel girders, because it’s the backbone of the structure. Similarly a cars chassis is the skeleton of the car: it supports everything else.

When NISMO developed the 350Z NISMO edition, mane shunned it as merely a cosmetic upgrade. The engine afterall was the same – but it wore a wildy out there (for a factory car) body kit – a long front bumper with low splitter, a long rear bumper overhang, and a decidedly “Fast and Furious” style spoiler. Delve deeper and you find what makes it so special. The chassis is fully seam welded. Meaning every joint, where 2 pieces of aluminum are bonded together, are full sealed. There are no gaps, there are no open joints. This increases chassis rigidity by a decidely large amount. This is one of the things people often do when bulding a race car from the ground up. To that chassis, Nissan fitted significantly stiffer springs (one of the stiffest out there on a road car) with heavy duty dampers. While the bushings and swaybars remained the same compared to other NISMO cars, the car was noticeably stiffer. But this is, afterall, a road car. While it is very much at home on weekend track days and club events, it’s designed to be a fun, sporting day to day means of transportation. Had it been left alone, it would have been panned for being too obnoxious on the road, too upset by the concrete jungle. To solve those issues NISMO worked with Yamaha to develop a Z-specific pair of body dampers. These attach fore and aft of the shock pointing points, between the 2 biggest “holes” in the chassis – at the front bumper, and in the rear spare tire well. Why there? When a suspension compresses and rebounds, energy is created, stored, and released in very quick succession. The stiffer the spring, the more aggressive the shock valving, the quicker this process happens. Which is why from inside the cabin, that uneven pavement can be downright punishing….whereas in a Toyota Camry, it’s just soaked up effortlessly. The dampers Yamaha and NISMO developed are designed to specifically combat these vibrations, without toning down the benefits that the spring/shock combo gives the handling aspect of the car. When you look at them out of the box, they are basically a strut brace, with a little shock built in. They compress and rebound, like a strut does. However they mount veritcally, whereas shocks mount horizontally. So they combat the natural vibrations the chassis will face when hitting potholes, uneven pavement, and normal bumps in the road. This minimizes energy losses, and lets the spring and shock more efficiently do their job, while keeping the driver comfortable, and thus confident, behind the wheel.

Think it’s still just marketing hype? F1 cars began using similar devices in the 2006 season. Or, just try it for yourself: we have. A 350Z with coilovers (pick your poison, it even helps with wife-friendly coilovers such as Bilstein and KW). With the typical set of low profile 18 or 19 inch tires, and at the typical lowered stance these cars look so good at, it turns the car from a bit erratic over bumps, to downright stable. The suspension is now more able to work in unison, left and right, front to back, whereas without the dampers, it’s a bit of a free-for-all, with the driver being asked to control it all on the fly. It is truly eye-opening how these simple bolt on devices stabilize the vehicle.

The neat thing about these, is they are available for several carswe get here in the US, including the Subaru WRX (02-07), 350Z/G35. Need one for your car? Just drop us a line!

High Society

2 Oct

endlesszealz33

Best of the best on this 350z – Endless Racing 6 big brake kit, Zeal Coilovers with Eibach race springs, Roberuta Cup Kit (to adjust height on the fly), Esprit forged adjustable a-arms, and a bevy of Whiteline and SPL bushings. The end result is going to be out of this world, stay tuned!

Here’s the Scoop

26 Sep


Chargespeed carbon hood duct for the GC chassis Impreza as shown on a customer car. A great, stylish option for guys running a front mount (or non turbo guys just looking to change up the look)

Tech Talk: FRP (Fiberglass) vs Blended Materials for Aftermarket Body Kits

24 Sep

We get this question ALL the time – what is the ‘right’ material to select when buying aftermarket body parts? There are a range of materials that manufacturers use. Several higher end manufacturers, mainly in the Japanese realm, offer several of their products in both FRP as well as a blended, or hybrid material. FRP stands for Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic. This term is tossed around alot in the aftermarket aero world. It’s a bit of a catch all term, that generally describes a range of composites (parts made by mixing various materials together). Without getting boring, there are differences among “FRP” blends. Not only do the materials mixed together vary, so do the epoxy types used to hold them together. Since a fiberglass part is only as good as the quality of the mold used to produce it, that is why you see such a huge variation in pricing among parts that on their surface look similar. This is an area where you get what you pay for. For ease of terminology, I will stick to using the generic term “FRP”, but I am specifically referring to the better-branded/manufactured stuff out there, since that is what I am most familiar with. FRP has many fantastic properties. It is extremely strong relative (especially) relative to it’s weight (it’s light), it can be molded into many complex shapes, it is easily repaired should it get damaged, and it’s able to be produced at relatively low costs. FRP really has no downsides in and of itself, it is a terrific material for these type of parts. Some will say that urethane is ALWAYS better, and it’s simply not the case. Urethane molds are extremely expensive to produce, which is why you rarely see aftermarket aero parts offered in the material to begin with. When you do, they tend to be extremely heavy relative to their FRP counterparts. Urethane is extremely durable, mainly because it has so much tensile strength, but should it be damaged via impact, it’s very difficult (and often impossible), to repair. Most times when it suffers such an impact, it has to be replaced. Fiberglass on the otherhand can literally be decimated – shattered into multiple chunks after an impact, but joined back together relatively easily. Serviceability is a big benefit of FRP parts. Another issue with aftermarket urethane, that is often overlooked, is longevity. Depending on where in the world you live, the urethane can break down over the course of time, due to environmental conditions. This process can cause the urethane to lose its shape and literally deform. As this happens, its aesthetic value and its durability both suffer.

In the last 10 years (give or take), we’ve seen variations of fiberglass hit the market. These are components use a combination of different man made materials (urethane, various plastics, etc) added into the “FRP” mixture, and sealed with a different type of epoxy. The purpose of this type of material was to bridge the gap between the aftermarket urethane parts and the OEM plastic/urethane level parts. These blended, or hybrid materials are more flexible vs their straight FRP counterparts, but not as flexible as a full urethane part. In the case of manufacturers like INGS and CWest, their blended materials have the added bonus of requiring much less prep time before they are ready for paint. This type of manufacturing is more expensive to do, so only a handful of worthwhile companies offer it. Several try (mostly knockoff firms), and succeed to varying degrees. In many cases I have seen, while the material itself is generally quite good, in the interest the mold quality suffers. Molds are used for longer than they should be, or simply are inaccurate in the first place. This results in unwanted gaps when installed, or parts that are too long, too short, and require significant prep work in order to actually install on the car. Prep work is expensive, generally charged per hour, and can quickly make the ‘savings’ vs the genuine article disappear. While the hybrid/blended parts are slightly heavier than their FRP counterparts, they are nowhere near the level of a urethane part. Somewhere on the order of 5% or so heavier.

Advan RS-DF Forged Wheels

18 Aug

Brand new forged goodness from Advan/Yokohama: click the pics for pricing and exact sizes/offsets

Advan RS-DF

Advan RS-DF

Advan RS-DF

Advan RS-DF

This new forged wheel from Advan Japan combines a classic 10 spoke sports wheel shape, with a series of different lips. These are sold in 19 inch sizes only, in widths ranging from 8 inches to 10.5 inches in both 5×100 and 5×114.3 patterns. Available in Hyper Bronze, Black and Hyper Silver.

Contact z1sales@z1auto.com to order!

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View From Above

16 Aug

aerialviewhksevo

HKS Summer Sale: Begins Monday August 12

9 Aug

HKS

Starting Monday August 12 and continuing through Friday, August 16, all HKS items are on sale! HKS is Japan’s premier manufacturer of performance parts for performance vehicles. Their parts are second to none because they race what they make. There are tons of items on sale, many more than we can just list here. Drop us a line at z1sales@z1auto.com with your HKS needs.

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Proper

21 Jul

endless380rsc

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.

El Diablo

3 Jul

varissuprajza80

Gorgeous Supra courtesy of Varis Japan

Want one for your JZA80? Drop us a line

New Eye Candy From Volk

28 Jun

volkg27ferrari458italiaVolkG27colors

volkg27

Volk has released a new wheel: the G27. This multispoke wheel comes in 19’s and 20 inch sizes for a range of vehicles. It’s features Volk’s legendary 1 piece forged construction, making it both durable and lightweight. It also features a new spin on center cap design for a nice clean look. Comes in Prism Dark silver (shown). Prism Light Silver or White are optional finishes.

Contact z1sales@z1auto.com for price and availability.

Unicorn

14 Jun

FIAGTR

The FIA GT1 Spec R35 GTR – high res, so click and save as a desktop

Greddy Turbo Kit for BRZ/FRS is Around the Block

24 May

greddybrzfrs

The T518Z based tuner turbo kit from Greddy is now available for preorder. Big gains from this simple kit: +93.5 whp / +68.7 ft/lbs increase at just 7 psi on a stock 2013 Scion FR-S with factory injectors and fuel pump (with an exhaust and ecu reflash). The kit includes the GReddy T518Z 10cm2 actuator turbo on an equal length 4-1 SUS header-type exhaust manifold with dual flex joints, SUS downpipe and cat-delete, free- flow Airinx AY-SB intake, short-routing intercooler piping, Type-40E front-mounted intercooler with cast end-tanks and all the necessary brackets, heat-shields, hoses, clamps, and gaskets.

Contact z1sales@z1auto.com to reserve yours as quantities are very limited.

One of One

12 May

gtr-lmTo the best of my knowledge, Nissan only made 1 of these (someone correct me if that’s inaccurate)