One of my quiet and distant auto senpai once told me that modding cars was a game for children.
Being a child at the time, I took this as old man talk. His logic was the following…
How can the engineering resources of even the greatest tuning company possibly compete with those of a multi-billion dollar company like Porsche? (his specific example) Never mind the resources and skills of an individual tuner and driver like yourself!
His logic was surely sound. After all Porsche, or Toyota or Subaru… or any major builder… has billions of dollars, decades of development and thousands of engineers invested into their products.
My counter at the time was something along the lines of… “yah but these companies are engineering cars for the general public, and my personal demands are something else.
And yet, my FR-S just went 100% base model, and it’s fantastic. Level up complete! I am now officially an old man.
The Tomei 60S cat-back exhaust that I had installed, saved me at least 40lbs. It also turned the volume to a level that I quite enjoyed at events. At auto-x, where everyone gets measured, the car spit out about 90dB (sans pea-shooter silencer). In race car terms that is far from loud, but the car definitely made more noise than the average road going vehicle. That’s annoying, when picking kids up from school. It’s even annoying when ordering Pizza while cruising down the highway on the way home from the track.
And so the stock pieces are back on. Have I given up some power? I can certainly see how I might have given that the stock parts are small and bit kinky. Do I care? Certainly not on the road. On the track? Meh.. I can think of better excuses than being down 2hp.
On the side of footwork, my TRD parts are gone. The optional lowering springs have been swapped for the normal spec coils. The performance benefit of the TRD springs has been questioned by all who have used them. The idea of a reduced ride height and stiffer spring rate suggests “better handling” to everyone who fantasizes about tuning. In fact, the ability to put these on a street class car caused a HUGE uproar in the solo community two years ago. This year, that uproar finally resulted in the non-TRD equipped cars being bumped DOWN a class. I’ve been skeptical from the start though, as the pieces really didn’t seem very well engineered to me. The drop in ride height was about 20mm, but the bump in spring rate hardly seemed proportionate to the decrease in available bump. The car was very often, and very obviously on the bump stops. That’s not the end of the world… but it certainly had negative side effects on drivability.
Impacting practicality… the car around town rode like hell. In my mind it was probably not too far off a low down racey AE86. It also liked to dig the nose into the ground on ramps and driveways. I don’t know how anyone daily drives twins that are properly low. Now that the car is back at stock ride height, not only is there more comfort, but also more predictability. Both of those things make the car a lot more fun in pretty much every situation that doesn’t involve me standing outside the car and looking at it.
Not that I really notice a difference. The car might actually be better proportioned with some extra wheel gap when it’s on skinny 7J wheels.
Probably the real advantage of the TRD suspension package, was the ability to run two big sway bars, and actually gain some roll stiffness and balance that way. The stock rear sway bar (coat hanger) is now back on the car, and I’ve chosen to re-install my front Hothkis bar.
Since making these changes, the car has gone from something that hides in the garage most days, to something that only stays home when I need the capacity of a bigger vehicle. That has been a great reminder that driving from A to B can actually be truly enjoyable. That… as you can imagine, has caused me to reconsider all sorts of things…
…Toyota branded wheels among the worst of them.