Turn Down for What.

March 20th, 2015

There are a lot of neat places to explore by driving around Alberta. And although most people think to go touring in the summer, technically there are more surfaces that will hold vehicles during the winter. All that is required is a vehicle that you don’t mind going off the road with.

This was on a lake not West of Calgary. And a surface not smooth. And on suspension not high enough for my Canadian Tire “racing jack” to fit under the car. Causing me to high center myself before I had finished my morning coffee.

The ‘goofy luggage rack’ that is still waiting to be filled with wild game is the most outwardly noticeable indication that this car has transferred ownership. But in my mind, the most absolute indication that I own this car now instead of Q is the fact that I have turned down the performance by raising the ride height.

The Ohlins were sweet on the cone-courses last summer, but they were not OK for winter driving conditions, regardless of road. And since I go off pavement and off grade altogether, I need something all-purpose.

A used set of Version 7 JDM STi shock&spring combo fits the bill and easily fits the wallet. Days spent on lakes and logging roads has left me satisfied and impressed, respectively. On the ice [where limits are routinely pushed] tire pressure still makes the biggest difference. On the backroads [where limits are intentionally not approached] humps, lumps and severely cambered corners are all handled with authority.

Which reminds me: When people ask what suspension the car has, the simplest answer is “just STi struts” – but that is also misleading. Because the tune is what makes the difference. Control arms, camber bolts, sway bars, polyurethane bushings…. each component only amounts to marginal change on their own – but packaged together they produce a recipe as enjoyable as boxed brownies [very].

It still feels like the WRX is Q’s car, and I am just doing my thing with it. Not sure what will have to happen before it feels like it is my car. Maybe it never will.

Turn Down for REAR copy


March 14th, 2015

A3G.00The 5×100 wheel market is not destined for development. I expect that the ZN6/ZC6 will be dead by 2017, and if something replaces it, then like the new WRX it will likely be 5×114.

I find the current 5×100 offerings quite boring, so I sketched up a modified version of my favourite wheel of all time. I’m doubtful producing such a wheel could ever pay for itself… but maybe one day when I leave stock and start installing all the parts on the shelf, I’ll spend a good chunk of money and make myself a set of these.

The Fox

March 9th, 2015

watanabe2If you are local you already know Orrin because he’s super fast and in attendance at basically every event. He is however, also a gigantic swindler. Somehow he convinces me to sell him some of my favourite wheels. Besides these Watanabe’s, he also has my old Tom’s Racing Dish in 5×100 (which he refuses to sell back to me no matter how much I hassle him).

This all means I’m a bit reluctant to shop yahoo auctions… seems quite likely that whatever I find will end up on his car instead of mine.

We aRe eX

March 7th, 2015

It was 2001; the summer of The Fast and the Furious. I had a fairly fresh driving license and a monopoly on the family Hyundai, but instead of mounting underglow [although tempting at the teenage-time], somehow I left the movie more interested to discover what double clutching was really for. I had never heard of Auto-X. Never ‘wrenched’ more than an air filter. “Danger to Manifold”? – I didn’t even get the joke.

I wasn’t interested in putting 6-foot tribal-robot stickers on my car in the same way that I was not interested in plumbing up NOS and going straight for under 10 seconds. I had been captivated by another form of driving. I had become convinced that rally drivers were the ultimate drivers. Sure, they don’t hit the same speeds as F1, and sure they have a co-pilot literally telling them what they need to do – but the trees, cliffs, and mixed surfaces make the stakes seem so high, and their reactive driving skills seem so transferable to the real world.

I had decided that rally was the ultimate drive. And Subaru was making a rally car for the streets!

If I had been a bit older – or nay, just a little bit connected to the car community – I would have known this was not the first time Subaru had cross-bred it’s special stage cars with the sales floor. All through the 90’s the 2.5RS was bringing rally fashion to the streets with it’s big scoop and hood vents, along with as-big-as-your-face-sized fog lights. But the WRX badge was as absent from the North American market as turbos [and a HP rating that started with a 2] were absent under those hood scoops.

The Fast and the Furious has grown to be Universal Pictures biggest franchise because they captured the attention of a multi-generational, multi-demographic following. And that summer, Subaru did the same thing. The release of the WRX in North America created an icon for the USDM that bound Subaru’s past and future. In my opinion the Bugeye WRX is the most iconic car that Subaru ever made.

The 2005 STi might be the best USDM model.

The GC chassis might be why they are known for WRC championships.

The SVX might have been Subaru’s most memorably ‘wackadoodle’ release.

But I’m saying that the 2002 WRX was The One car that allowed people to focus all of their Subaru love onto a single point. It represented Subaru’s heritage of quirkiness and ability. It celebrated their success overseas and heralded a new era of daily driving joy in North America. It creates a chain that unites the feelings of Leone and BC Legacy enthusiasts with the enjoyment of a 2008 hatchback. It is a Singularity that contains the very essence of Subaru. It is The One to rule them all, and BIND them!

Or maybe I was just really impressionable as a teenager…

I saw that commercial in the summer of 2001, and I spent the next 13 years in a state of constant desire.

Couldn’t say why it took me so long, but I finally got The One car I’ve always wanted.

Lying Up

February 28th, 2015

fuelpumpNo joke… for the first time today I told someone how “good” my Dodge truck was. Moments later it died and wouldn’t re-start.

The truck is now scattered across my yard… with my shop too small to both house it, and at the same time grant access to, and space to maneuver very large and separated components there are no real options but to get my red neck on. It’s very painful when it’s -20 outside, and work is already incredibly busy.

Dynamic Entry

February 21st, 2015

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Note: This is Andrew’s writing. He and I are former roommates and long time friends… and as he suggests, I have dragged him into an often tortuous car life. I’ve been bugging him for a while to contribute here, mostly because he does some cool stuff (like lap the real actual ‘ring and chase hashirya down Irohazaka) but partly because I occasionally feel guilty about the times he slays me in my own car and I make believe here like I am un-defeatable. Stand up and defend yourself mang! As the images suggest, Andrew now owns my old GDA. He and I will be running the ZN6 in C street at local auto-x in 2015. Q


a building joined to or associated with a main building, providing additional space or accommodations.

10 years ago I made a new friend. He taught me that it is OK to take cars apart and put them back together again. And even better than OK to put things back together differently.

I learned that is OK to buy a car sight unseen from another province, another country, another continent – as long as you can see the potential [fun/art/glory] in it.

During the last ten years I have been more of a wanderer than a property owner, so I never had my own space to occupy. Along the way I have managed to sneak many projects into the [qr] barn and some even onto this site. Some were gloriously simple (I still want Trackick/Funrunner in my life some days), some never saw the light of day (SVX wasn’t actually “mine”), and some will haunt me (I owned an e34 for 9 years and never managed to make it worth driving – literal shame).

Things have changed now and – although my garage is not actually wide enough to take wheels off both sides of the car at the same time – I have added garage space to the [qr] realm.

The amount of wrenching, fabricating and modification that occurs here will likely be proportinate to the square footage – but at least I finally have my computer plugged into The Source now.
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Regressive Revolution

February 21st, 2015

penske-regressiveHaving first read about this two years ago… there is no breaking news here. At the time of first reading though, the concept of shock valving was only vaguely meaningful to me, and I didn’t fully understand what I was reading.

Car design is often about compromise. Want a great camber curve? Jack that roll center up. Want negative lift in the corners? Add some drag on the straight. Want 600hp out of 2.0L? Create a very narrow power band. Want minimal body roll in transition and cornering? Just add harshness over bumps.

regressivepiston2Enter Penske’s regressive shock piston.

Don’t understand what you’re looking at? The vertical axis shows damping force, while damper piston speed is on the horizontal. Historically, shocks were linearly valved…. meaning the harder you hit them, the harder they pushed back. Since body roll, dive and squat act on dampers at much lower piston speeds than bumps and other impacts, racers needed horribly stiff shocks that barely worked at all over bumpers. Rally, and off road racers that needed dampers that worked in rough terrain, were forced to give up control of body roll and pitch.

And then digressive damping came to the “rescue”. Different piston design allowed fairly aggressive damping at lower piston speeds for high performance body control, while still allowing some compliance over rough terrain. Digressive pistons are found in basically every high performance racing shock these days.

…Except for Penske’s which recently introduced (and patented) a regressive piston. The curve is obviously not perfect (at mid speeds it is perhaps over damped) but it is certainly closer to the theoretical ideal, with the potential to provide a lot more roll and pitch control! Now two years since its release, regressive damping is become quite widely accepted… Originally it was accepted for use in rally and off road racing, but now road racers and even auto-xers seem to be using it.

Not sure how relevant it really is to auto-x, where roll and pitch control are basically the only concern… but for street and circuit where there are gutters and curbing…

Not that I can afford Penske products…