Under Cover of Darkness

November 20th, 2015 by Q

ToHeaven683You know the car is only so interesting to drive, when I’d rather play with the camera. This is my Canon sitting on a bench with exposure time set to 8.0 seconds, me pushing the button then walking into the frame. Looks like photoshop but feels like magic.

That said, for the sake of trying to get my wife interested in this car, you may notice that I found a used TRD front lip. After installation she has noted nothing about the appearance of the car, but complains that she hits the front end on parking blocks. Sounds like I need to build a proper sturdy splitter/undertray to protect the new muscular look.

foggymorningI also picked up some Sparco Terra’s and studded Hankook’s. My four year old thinks they are cool, but again my wife noticed nothing except tire noise on the highway.

I’m sure that the TRD springs and dampers currently on the boat from Nihon-land will turn her around and wake her up to how fun and awesome this car really is. If not… at least it is turning into something that I really like having around.

Everything You Need To Know About Badlands Motorsports Resort

November 19th, 2015 by Q

BADLANDSMOTORSPORTSRESORTRENDERIt’s been almost two years since the Badlands Motorsports Project lands were re-zoned from “agricultural” to “direct control”, but other than minor updates from their website, we haven’t heard very much from them. That has led to all sorts of rumours from people “in the know” or people “familiar” with how developments like this go. I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time recently with with those directly involved with the project, so I feel like I’m in a good position to clear some of these rumours and insights up. The truth is, everything you need to know about BMR is on their website: www.badlandsmotorsportsresort.com. From what I hear at the pub, it doesn’t seem like many people read it.

First off… let’s stop referring to it as simply a racetrack. It’s not a racetrack in the conventional sense. It will not host large races. It is not a spectator destination. Calling it a race track creates all kinds of connotations that not only don’t resonate with what the developers have in mind, they make the local residents think that only people named Ricky Bobby will visit the area. If you are looking for a place to run your Spec Miata, this will still be a great place, but don’t expect Indy or Superbike or anything of the like. That intention instead is for a family getaway zone. Parks, homes, other sports facilities, restaurants etc are all part of the plan. It will be a full service community rather than a standalone road course that adds comparatively little benefit to the surrounding community.

BMR_morethanjustaracetrackThe current economic climate in Alberta may have created some unanticipated challenges, but on the other hand with falling oil prices comes a need for non-energy related developments. Badlands Motorsports Resort is a non-energy related development, and a big one. While our new provincial government has done well to raise the ire of many Albertans, some of their initiatives and mandates do align very nicely with a project like BMR: diversity, infrastructure, tourism. Construction prices have fallen. Unemployment rates have risen by 2% in the past year. The timing is right. Those suggesting that this a project that only benefits a few motorsports enthusiasts haven’t truly grasped the depth of what is planned. Projected cost of the development is not just a couple million dollars. We are talking hundreds of millions of dollars for construction, likely thousands of jobs, and then an influx of tourist dollars for decades to come plus a top notch facility that locals can take advantage of… motorsport enthusiast or not.

Environmental considerations are always extremely important for developments of this size, and while the lands that contain the development are beautiful, they are not so sensitive that they should not be developed. In fact, the Hamlet of Rosebud is working on a development west of the BMR site right in the Rosebud River Valley.  Environmental considerations for the BMR development certainly are comprehensive and involved, and careful design and planning has been needed to ensure that standards can be met… but they can be.  If restrictions were so severe that they prohibited development then the BMR Area Structure Plan, and Land Re-zoning by-laws would not have passed.

But they did pass, so what is the hold up?

BMR-siteBefore construction can commence, BMR and Kneehill County must finalize a Development Agreement that looks at all aspects of the project in great detail. As I said, it’s a big project. There are a lot of details. The good news is that the folks at BMR have completed basically all of the analysis and studies required, and on their end are ready to complete the Development Agreement with Kneehill County. Unfortunately, bureaucracies often move quite slowly.

So while many Albertans stay home or collect EI benefits, and heavy equipment sits idle in yards and shops, the BMR project sits at the bottom of someone’s desk drawer. The most recent update on the BMR website called once again for our support. For the sake of economic development, and for the sake of all us who have somehow gotten by without a proper motorsports venue for the past four years, let’s do all we can to make this project happen. Check out their website for details on how to help, and everything else you might want to know.


Cleaning Out The Garage…

November 18th, 2015 by Q

GDASplitterRender… and moving things to the hard drive.

My shop is full of all sorts of home-brew contraptions: some of which were never useful, some of which fulfilled their purpose and now sit tucked in a corner waiting for future opportunity. Amongst that pile was an old splitter from my WRX. Although the car is now gone, I had saved the splitter (though it was slightly damaged) hoping that Andrew might want to use it again on the car that it came from, or at least use it to make a shiny new one. Instead, he has gone with a much less fashionable, protective aluminum undertray. I spent an hour with a tape measure, and then moved the old splitter into the trash pile.

My first creation of the splitter, was done with 12mm aircraft grade birch plywood (SEE HERE). I wrecked on the lake one day and blasted a basketball size hole in it. The second version was constructed from a balsa and fiberglass sandwich. This was a helluva lot of work, and ultimately heavier and flimsier than the straight wood piece.

Wood on a car gets a lot of hate, but as I’ve noted in the past, it works quite well and is an obvious choice for how little it affects your bank balance and for how easy it is to work with. Guys who don’t get that will try poly-metal, alumalite and other composite aluminum sandwich plates. From my experience, those products are either heavier than birch plywood or no where near as stiff. Spending a meaningful amount of money… honeycomb core carbon fiber or FRP sandwich is lighter and stiffer, but in no case does anything that performs comparably take a beating like wood can. Formula 1 uses wood. It’s perfectly cool on your car.

GDASplitter2drawingwebI’m convinced… and if I ever own another GD Impreza (which I almost certainly will someday) I’d do it all again. This piece fits very nicely to the stock U-brace, bolting at the back to two existing M8×1.25 holes in the crossmember, and three existing holes in the U-brace underneath of the rad support. The drawing describes a front radius that fits the Bugeye bumper and a Prodrive V1 lip nicely. If I had a kouki or chouki car it would be easy enough to cut the back section out and leave the front edge square and mark a new leading edge on the car to fit a different bumper. Also, should I want to make the leading face any larger, I would probably add some additional bracing or mounting points. Perhaps a couple turn buckles from the front bumper beam forward. Perhaps a couple bolts through the splitter into the rear corners of the front bumper.

Other Vehicles

November 6th, 2015 by Q

IS300FallI’m occasionally rolling around in this thing these days. When our family hauler GD Impreza bit the dust, it was something I stumbled upon for a good price, and despite understanding that it wasn’t quite the practical family vehicle that our Impreza had been, I assumed I could convince my wife to like the Lexus name, and the low number on the odometer. I guess she is smarter and more practical than I thought: our fleet now includes an AWD Matrix… The family is getting back to it’s roots. All Toyota. All the time.

The Subaru is gone. The Power Wagon is gone. With FHI stamped all over it, the FR-S is now the point of embarrassment.

The IS300 has intrigued me a fair bit. There have been times when I’ve thought that it might be better than the FR-S in all respects.

That sounds shocking, but it’s fairly easy to rationalize. The IS300 is about 400lbs heavier, but you get pretty good value for that weight: a usable back seat, a large trunk, power everything, overbuilt Toyota everything, suspension with two control arms on every corner… and the biggest baddest lump of iron ever to come out of Japan. Well… minus the snails that are supposed to go with it.

The 2JZGE, despite a lack of turbo’s and despite being heavier than any modern V8, and a helluva lot heavier than an FA20, still feels like a great engine to me. Talk of BEAMS swaps into this chassis seems like silliness, even if you view the swap as a convenient excuse to install a clutch pedal. Having driven the odd 2JZGTE car at the track, I never appreciated how smooth they sound and feel during every day use, especially compared to a strung out four cylinder. Yes a BEAMS or an FA20 might make almost the same power out of the box, but gobs more torque goes a long long ways. In many situations the 15 year old sedan feels faster than the brand new “sports car”.

And that’s stock versus stock! If you start thinking about doing work and making your car interesting, the IS300 starts looking really really really good in comparison. It’s a platform that could shed significant weight in any system. Proper suspension on all four corners. A variant of the greatest Japanese engine ever already installed under the hood…

It was obvious. And so the FRS sat alone, untouched, for the last two months. I made plans to spend beautiful time alone with the Lexus… until the Scion dealership called and asked me to bring the FR-S by for a Pro-Pack Inspection. Reluctantly I pulled the keys out of the back of my dresser and took the car that was supposed to be my actual dream car for one last drive before winter.

I came back feeling much less love for the IS300.

blackandgrey2I like to think that good cars are greater than the sum of their parts, but often forget that when I’m not behind the wheel of said cars every day. Hence why I was always in and out of AE86… often forgetting why I was so in love with them when they sat on jack stands, under the knife for months on end. Luckily I’m too financially committed to the FR-S to really waiver on it. The FRS is greater than the sum of its parts, and it’s all about feel and aesthetics. The way the hood line rises on either side still stirs me. The design of the interior which fit me as well as any other car ever has. The big fat rim of the handoru, and the line of sight from the drivers seat.

But the truth is that all of these things are easy enough to adjust… if you are so inclined. Some decent seats would go a long long ways in the Lexus. The selling point of the FRS is supposed to be its on track behaviour. I’m not so sold on it being the greatest thing ever, although its certainly pretty good in stock form. The Lexus might be horrendous on track as is, but again, this is why we have tool boxes and credit cards.

So the point, and answer to all car life problems is…

Love the one your with.

Or in this case… Love the ones you’re with.

Hinata Concept

October 29th, 2015 by Q

We love Toyota. So much so that I named my youngest daughter after Toyota’s long running compact sports car, the Celica, and now Toyota has reciprocated, naming their most production ready concept from the Tokyo Motor show after my eldest daughter.

We are honoured. And you thought I was just bullshitting when I told you that I my wife’s family was from Toyota, Aichi.

Typed with a totally straight face.

Elsewhere On The Interweb…

October 17th, 2015 by Q

E6CUEMAN-instagramIt’s pretty quiet in here, but car life is busy. I recently discovered Instagram, and have enjoyed it as a an easy place to share images from my activities, with minimal dialogue, and none of the political bullshit that rules the rest of social media. Follow me here..

Leaving a Legacy

September 20th, 2015 by A

333-apres drift

I have heard anecdotes about arranged marriages that result in true love. I believe those stories. I do not mean to imply a belief that all arranged marriages can result in true love. I merely accept the idea that the act of loving can result in a feeling of love. I also accept that many arranged marriages likely result in a spectrum of non-love… ranging from hate to indifference.

The 2nd BC was an arranged marriage. It was a relationship that was betrothed by practicality and assumed mutual interest. When my 1st Subaru Legacy Sports Sedan died – heaven hold her – by throwing a rod through the closed deck block [fuel system o-ring placement can be all important], I had to decide between revitalizing the car with a rebuild, or resigning it to the wreckers. The Winestone body had already-repaired rusty quarters that were already rusting again, and some inexplicable and inconsolable chassis electrical issues to boot. So I parted that rig out [goodbye Apexi intake, and who knew a crossmember could be in such high demand!] and moved on to the university-student-budgeted Suzukolet Trackick.

But not everything sold. Sure everybody texted about the Group N mounts, but nobody seemed to care about that trusty shot-peen-hardened 5-speed gearbox. And nobody was willing to pay me what I needed to let go of my ceramic-coated, divorced-downpipe, catless full 3″ turbo-back Custom Exhaust System.

So a beauty drivetrain including LW flywheel and spanky clutch sat in the barn.

The TD04L and stock VF-11 turbos sat on my coffee table.

Boxes of JECS mafs and injectors bounced around shelves.

And the barn was patient.

And the barn owners were patient.

And the FunRunner was good.

And then one day I gave in to the spontenaity [errr, sickness] in my head and I said to myself, the hibernation must end and the most pragmatic application is to implant those parts organ-donor style, and so I dissected the classifieds and found a perfect project with a pumped-up motor that was laying waste to its unworthy OEM 4speed Eletronic Automatic Transmission – and BEHOLD! the rarest of the first-gen Legacy: a body without rust that is deserving of buying 2x one-way plane tickets and taking the then-girlfriend-now-wife on a looney-tunes sight-unseen car-acquiring road trip from Oregon up through Coeur D’Alene [hellllooo wooden roller coaster] with, yes, one 36 hour unscheduled pit-stop in Spokane to discuss wiring diagrams via roaming-long-distance to Josh in Texas who I have never actually met in person but whom is the saviour of all BC Legacy endeavorists worldwide who saved this endeavorist that day and in days to come when a year was spent at first in physical surgery but then mostly in post-op troubleshooting of the intracacies of undoing the layers of customization and neglect in order to add your own layer of modification and – yes, perhaps you could call it disregard, but it is also fair to say submission to greater priorities – neglect, which eventually, inevitably, leads to another honest full-effort attempt to clean up wiring and get rid of CELs permanently and finally have the impressive little 90’s car that could, and does, that warrants selling the project with a clear conscience and peace in ones heart.


Because I never fell in love with the 2nd BC6.

I did love it, in the sense that Love is a verb. I rescued it, I nursed it, I invested in it, I improved it, and I found it a home where it will be appreciated. I was patient, and I was kind.

But the feeling of love never attached to that collection of electro-mechanical systems. I did experience happy feelings, but the truth is those feelings were actually nostalgic-love directed at my first Legacy.

The gravity of first-car-love and memory of young-adult-emotions pulled my hearts attention all the way past the orbit of an objectively better thing, keeping my emotions captive in the black hole of non-rational but oh-so-real past feelings.

The past is hyper-real.

333-aura trail copy