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


September 9th, 2015 by Q

Philosophically, ZN6 nearly requires four throttles IMO. Three years in though, and I don’t think that anyone has actually done it right. By my reckoning, Toyota’s D4-S system is mission impossible for all the major standalone systems. And since ITB’s typically run off a MAP sensor and all the commonly available individual throttle bodies are cable operated, then relying solely on the stock ECU is problematic as well.

Yet EMC Engineering has done just that… Looks like the individual banks of throttles are activated by the stock electronic throttle body, which is not so well disguised underneath some fake bling. And yes, that’s the stock MAF sensor sitting in the velocity stack for cylinder 1. This plus EcuTek could theoretically run the engine…

… But I’m not quite sure it could actually do it well.

uglyredmonsterAn alternative would be to hide the electronic throttle body under a gigantic red four legged monster wearing black socks, and then stuff the MAF down it’s throat. This apparently actually works… but I’m not sure that’s my thing either. Let’s face it, quad throttles are largely about aesthetics.

There is hope though… as finally some real FA20 development appears to be underway all over the globe. Cams? FB25 hybrids? Intake Manifolds? Headers with massive forced induction type gains? And speed density tuning with EcuTek? A real quad throttles solution is inevitable.


September 5th, 2015 by A


My life has been full of cones.

My first enounter with a cone was as a 7-year-old goalkeeper. Because when kids are too small to use a full sized soccer pitch, you make a mini-pitch and mini-goal with cones.
Despite all of the lines painted on high school gymnasium floors, basketball practices are still littered with cones that define space and dictate how to step.
Football practice? Got CONES? Football receivers drown in cones for months on end since they are about as essential to a practice as the surface of the earth [and past October they outnumber blades of living grass about 17:1].

As a motorcyle instructor, I can spend 16 hours in one weekend stacking, placing, dodging, pointing, kicking, dodging, and dragging cones.

Enter autocross.
Need to modify an open road course into an autoslalom course? Cone alert.
Don’t have a proper race venue but have acces to a medium sized parking lot? Cone city!
No pavement? All you got is chunky Alberta gravel covered in snow and negative 40 degree winds? CONE SMASH!
Got a truck/hatchback/set of feet and a shred of willingness to help set up or take down at your local autoslalom event? You get a cone! You get a CONE! EVERYbody gets a cOOOOnnnE!
Are you on a frozen lake, miles from the grind, and practicing winter car control? Ahhhh, cone paradise.

I have enountered cones in almost every season of my life for the past two decades.

And unfortunately, at Auto-X, I have encountered more than my share of penalty cones.

When I first started, I didn’t go “off course” very often, and I went off the physical track even less often [but not less memorably]. But man did I devour cones.

If the car of choice had enough clearance, the cones got trampled Pamplona style. If the front lip was lower than center-of-cone-mass, the cones got punted out of bounds. Entire swaths of cone walls were razed by the AE86 rear-end-turned-sickle in my hands [which were slapping at the wheel].

As the cookie monster is to chocolate chip, so was I to orange thermoplastic.

But that was a long time ago. And now I totally have clean runs almost all the time. Marshalls don’t cringe when I’m on the line. Timing personnel don’t shake their heads when my number populates their spreadsheet.

Or maybe they do. Because I had a podium finish at Nationals this year… in cone count. And my weekend was over on the morning of the first day of racing. And I felt like a decade of driving improvement fell out of the car as I was driving it. And the worst part was, when I straight up needed a clean run, and I told myself it was my one, my only, and my sole objective – I still couldn’t relax enough to make it so.

Q talked about looking ahead. I am just trying to dodge cones. These are the basickiest of the basics.

College football players train 300+ days of the year to prepare themselves for about 12 games.

At the average Autoslalom event, a driver will get roughly 6 minutes of full-pace seat time.

Competitions are not a good place to practice. But with Auto-X it seems like the only time to practice is during competition.

This leads some people to say that natural talent is the ultimate trump card: Since most Auto-Xers don’t have ample opportunity to significantly improve upon their natural talent, he with the greatest natural talent wins. Others focus on the long road, either recollecting that it took decades of perseverance to improve – or predicting that they will require those decades in order to improve.

I just say we need to find more chances to practice.

I mean, c’mon man, all you need is some empty space and a few cones…

In Veneration Of…

September 5th, 2015 by Q

ft-macleod-autocross-46The Solo season is essentially over, it snowed yesterday and leaves are starting to turn. Winter is almost here, and I’m trying hard not to demonstrate the symptoms of being sick in the head. My FRS is ok, but I want another car: a real Subaru.

When I owned this car, I acknowledged that it was the greatest car I had ever owned. It was not the fastest (although it certainly wasn’t the slowest! Eyes on you ZN6!!!), but it was floggable in all situations, fun and easy to wrench, carried four people comfortably, was demonically fast on ice and actually handled really really well dodging cones in the summer time (gasp!). It was a car that didn’t do anything GREAT, but did everything pretty damn well. I’ve owned a lot of cars, and none ever were so willing to adapt different personalities.

So let’s get in on again GD Impreza!

This car (my old car), is currently in Andrew’s project pile. It was purchased by him, a little worse for wear, from the gent that I sold it to… and has since incinerated a valve, and suffered through a hail storm.

It sounds like a bit of a sad story, but it is an an entirely reasonable ordeal for this ultimate vehicle to endure mid life. Would I buy it back? Hell yes. But Andrew shares the same feelings that I do, and I’m not so attached to it that I’m willing to make it worth his while.

Although that freaking MOMO Handoru and STI cluster really tugs on me nicely.

Doing this all again, I’m going to do it a little differently. I’m not going to remove the rear differential. Instead I’ll spend the money on a KAAZ, or some other clutch type diff that would actually allow me to pull into my park spot at CO-OP without drawing black lines on the ground. Everything else can be exactly the same.

Or I can buy a cheap ass 2.5RS, enjoy honest cable actuated and turbocharger free throttle response and never concern myself with odd misfire codes and finding exactly Petro Canada 94. Despite a half cut of horsepower, this is something that I actually contemplated when I owned the car. That… and the 1.5 times EG33 swap.

Or I could confidently decide that the line of work I’ve undertaken will support another car that is not a project, and just buy myself an honest GD STI. GD’s are the ultimate anyways…

Writing this now… selling the ZN6 comes to mind… but like I said in the beginning, “I’m trying hard not to demonstrate the symptoms of being sick in the head.”

Never mind beautiful Lexus gauge clusters and winching plus triple locking trucks on 35’s.

One More Year of Endurance

August 27th, 2015 by Q

CNAC2015DI hate when I realize that I’m not yet a master. Here I was… so ready to move on to something else, or somewhere else… and yet it’s clear I have so much more to achieve with my boring C-Street ZN6. The Canadian National Autoslalom Championship (CNAC) was last weekend. It was not a great autocross weekend, but it was a great competition weekend… and now it feels like the 2015 season is essentially over. I won’t go to Lincoln. I’ll study up for at least one more year before making that trip.

Not that the results at CNAC were terrible…

  • Over the course of the weekend, of 7 FT86 entrants, I was second fastest.  Only three of those entrants were in Street class like me.  The guy who beat me, was not in Street class.  On the second day of competition, I was the fastest FT86… period.
  • Of the 46 Solo classes, CS is deemed to be only the 36th fastest of those classes.  Of 88 competitors in all classes, I was the 24th fastest despite being in a “slow” car.  No one in a class slower than CS posted a better time than me.
  • Indexing times, I placed 8th out of 88 but…
  • Our long lost friend Ryan in a borrowed CS prepared 350Z  smashed me by a little more than 1 second each day, and made me second place out of six in CS.  1 second per day is a gigantic gap.  Ryan PAX’ed second over all at the event.
  • My target was top PAX, and seven people beat me.  The gap was not small.

CNAC2015CYou may or may not remember, but when I first auto-xed this car, I thought it was a dream.  Minus a lack of grunt, the car was communicative, easy to place and generally forgiving.  After a year of auto-x though, and my familiarity with the car grows, I have a complaints that go beyond power output… but I think they are somethings I should learn to work around.

It doesn’t feel as nimble as it once did.  Maybe not having to drive a WRX, or a real race car with the engine in the wrong place has spoiled me, but now the FRS feels stiff, awkward.  In quick transition I feel like the car is easily unsettled.  At low speeds it hates to rotate. At high speeds it wants to go backwards.  Originally, I felt like I was tossing the car around.  Recently it has felt more like the car is driving me.  To combat this, I think I’m going to go back to maximum stiff on the front sway bar, and then maybe get aggressive with toe settings.  My current alignment is quite conservative as I’ve been road tripping to and from events:  3mm  toe in out back, 2mm of toe out up front.

CNAC2015BThe biggest improvement however, will have to come from my driving.  Being early early early on the gas is a constant reminder.  This is always an obvious issue laggy turbocharged cars, but it’s a pretty big deal when there is only 120lbft of torque as well.  I also delude myself into thinking that because the car is on the edge and moving around, that I am going fast.  More relaxed runs where I focus on precise car placement always end up with better times and make me much more consistent.  Most of all, I struggle to look far enough ahead… driving one element at a time leads to wonky lines and poor judgement of speed.  ”Look ahead” is what I tell myself the first every time things aren’t going well, but it is probably still, the skill that I execute the poorest.

So coilovers, buckets, headers and big wide shoes would make owning the car a lot more interesting, and might even make driving the car a lot easier… but smashing modified cars with a stock one is tremendously rewarding, and when I do fail, it’s quite refreshing not being able to blame spring rates and tunes, or a long list of legal modifications that haven’t been completed to the full extent.

One day I’ll have a hard tune car… but it looks like that day is at least 365 more days away.

Thanks Ian and Joe for the pictures.
Andrew suffered a worse fate than me at CNAC weekend… but I’ll let him speak for himself.

Love and Life

August 20th, 2015 by Q

truckI don’t know that I actually love my truck. I’ve used it everyday for almost two years now, and have had no real complaints…. But it would be kind of nice if I was able to sell it. It doesn’t really fit in my shop. My wife refuses to drive it. It’s expensive as hell on gas, and the rate I pay for insurance on it seems directly proportional to it’s weight.

But it’s so incredibly practical that I can’t sell it. Taking kids to the park? Throw bikes in the back. Wait, you’ll give me that EJ28 for free if I can haul it away right now? Crawford bling in the back. Haul cones out to the lake? Five wasted bro’s at the pub? Six gigantic suitcases full of weird shit from a Japanese dollar store? Mud road leading to a work site? It does it all.

Your not a man if you don’t have a truck.

Be a man. Buy my truck.

I’d trade it all for a six throttle 2JZ R154 JCE10. I love my cheap, boring, tiny Lexus.

Now In The GaraGe…

August 11th, 2015 by Q

IS300gaugeWell… there is a whole swarm of people buying IS300’s, and now I’m in the party.  Shame that some of the guys who started the party have moved on.  I wanted one of these when they came out in 2001, I considered buying one when I bought my WRX… and now, it seems like a fun way to upgrade the wife’s Impreza.

I’m happy to finally pull the trigger.  I still think this car might have the sexiest gauge cluster of any car ever… even if the tachometer is in the wrong spot.  Given that it has a heated seats, automatic climate control and a whole bunch of other features that the Impreza didn’t have, I hope it will be forgiven (as a family car) for not having a hatchback, AWD, or a fuel sipping 4 cylinder engine.  Not that the Impreza really sipped fuel… but it’s the idea that counts.

IS300Yes I said I had to buy another Subaru… but Toyota build quality is so incredibly superior.  Even with 130k km, this car feels much more solid than my FRS… or even some of the brand new German cars that I spend time with on the job. I also… looked at the regular econo car options from Toyota: Corolla… too freaking boring,  Yaris… no power windows? Matrix… AWD, but too ugly.  Rav4… maybe, but the truth is I despise the three circle gauges clusters that all most early 2000 Toyota’s have.  A LOT.  Sometimes when Toyota tries to be interesting it fails horribly.

My reservations with the IS300 is that it has become the clapped out project of hacks and wannabe enthusiasts everywhere.  Most that I see are lowered, sporting stickers on the back window, plenty of rust and scrapes, and Domo-kun hanging from the rear bumper.  This one is 100% stock with a full service record from the dealership.  It was however, owned by a guy who told me it had a Supra engine.  It must… because it goes at least as nice as my FRS does.

IS300doorcardFamily road trips are going to be much more enjoyable now… even if we can’t pack 2 coolers and four big bags… and even if I’m yelling at the kids to keep their chocolate hands off the cloth, leather and wood door cards.