RAT FINK’S ZOMBIE NIGHTMARE: THE VOLVO HEMIZON

Ok, I’m going to be completely straight with you. Before this shoot, I didn’t know a huge amount about gasser cars. So this was an incredibly cool experience. It also transpired pretty quickly that this wasn’t actually a gasser – simply a car that has elements of the style. Actually this car has lots of styles going on. So what is this Volvo thing, then? It’s a baptism of fire! That’s what it is!

Take a good look at this picture above. The car you see, is without a shadow of a doubt, one of the wildest vehicles I have ever got to spend some time with. Cars are sometimes considered to be pieces of art by some, but there’s no doubt in my mind that this jaw-dropping Volvo Amazon with Hemi motor deserves a place in the history of time. I genuinely think that this will strike a chord with each and every one of you.

One thing’s for sure: whether you’re a lover or a hater of this vehicle on face value, you can’t help but get drawn in by it. You immediately want to take a closer look. The first feelings for me were mainly that of confusion. I mean, what the hell is going on? That jacked-up front end, those mega-wide rear tyres and the monstrous intake up front… it’s a sight to behold. I mean, this thing looks hungry! It’s a scary looking contraption. I say contraption because it’s not technically a Volvo model any more. The Chrysler Hemi motor sees to that. So what is it then if it’s not a Volvo?

It’s a Hemizon! The huge Hoosier stock car slicks have been installed for one purpose and one purpose only: BURNOUTS! And that’s what this car is all about: going crazy! With that in mind, and like many Scandinavian builds, form is dictated firmly by function and the wheel fitment is proof of this. As I read that last sentence back it almost seems more sensible to use the term body fitment, rather than the usual wheel fitment descriptive. It looks to me like the bodyshell is almost an afterthought to the rolling chassis, but I can assure you that is not the case.

No, in fact, everything was an afterthought to the engine. I want to talk you though the car’s heart – its crazy soul – much more but I’ll come to that a little later on in this feature. First let’s explore the roots of this gorgeous-looking shell.

The owner and builder of this car is interested in things of the metal variety. Always has been. And it shows. Henrik Larsson is his name and he’s the owner of Larsson Customizing. Henrik’s a super cool guy with a great sense of humour. When I asked him why he liked gasser cars – he simply laughed and said that he’s not really into them! Or at least he wasn’t until this build. Henrik’s passion is Pro Street Cars and hot rods. But he has a very open mind.

A mind so open in fact, that he allowed Emanuel Sandél, who works for Larsson, to bring some gasser craziness into his thought process to create this hybrid of tuning styles. And crazy this build most certainly is. But it’s almost more stunning than it is crazy. It’s stunning in more than one way as well. Yes, it’s a visual assault, but it’s a visual assault that was almost never to be. Why? Because it was pulled from the junk yard. It was almost crushed. “There was no trunk, no fenders, seats, windows or any of the parts that made it a car. Just a shell,” Henrik explains.

So the shell itself has been brought back from the dead. The Hemizon is actually a zombie! If you’re familiar with gasser cars you will know that weight reduction is often employed to allow for fast quarter mile times, and items like fibreglass body panels and plexiglass windows all play a part of this build.

Often the new lightweight glass would be coloured for added stupidity. Henrik admits, laughingly, that the green hue can make you feel a little bit nauseous and disorientated after a long time of being in the interior. As you can see, the innards of the Hemizon are as radical as the exterior. The interior in Henrik’s creation almost looks poisonous though! But nothing is quite as intoxicating as the motor…

There are four pipes poking out of the wings and towards the sky, which suggest that this car has a serious bark.

Taking a step back and working your way around the vehicle brings the enormity of the motor into full view. It’s something to be impressed by.

And here is the imposing power plant. The size of it is actually considered to be small. Yes, you read that right – this is a 331 cubic inch Chrysler V8 Hemi motor from 1954. The engine was purchased from a customer who was removing it from his race car. At the time Henrik had no clue what he was going to fit the motor into, but he knew he had to have it. Why? Quite simply because of the noise it made. That, to me, seems like a perfectly good reason!

For quite some time, the 331 Hemi sat on a stand in the corner of Larsson Customizing. It wasn’t left unused though. Oh no. Every Friday, Henrik and his team would get some fuel and start it up on the stand to listen to the V8 roar into life and sing angrily until the fuel ran out.

“We love Fridays!” smiled Henrik. “What about the shop upstairs?” I asked. “They hate Fridays!” he laughed. So it was motor first and everything else later. It’s a plan that you’ve got to admire.

Facing the Hemizon square on is kind of scary. It looks hungry.

The super big intake could potentially eat you.

To hear this car start up is insane. To see the Hemizon move is a beautiful experience. It’s art in motion.

This ’54 lump is also kind of special because it’s the last year Chrysler made that motor. It’s also the only year that the extended bell housing wasn’t employed on the 331.

The pre-’54 motors had extended bell housings which could be more challenging to fit into other cars. The power output is beefed up by an old GMC 6-71 blower with on-the-top double Edelbrock 650 carburettors.

The power’s not huge: 400-500hp is expected once it’s fully developed. But it’s the brutal delivery that’s impressive. Just the bark of the motor displays how incredibly instant the throttle response is. This of course, makes this motor perfect for laying down rubber.

The front axle is an old hot rod set-up combined with some drag racing parts from 1960 which include some very skinny wheels of unknown origin.

The lightweight front axle is complemented by a small fuel tank which keeps weight down. Interestingly, Henrik is talking about fitting the radiator system at the rear to allow for a further transferring of weight.

As previously mentioned, Henrik’s passion is metalwork and the art of creating panels and parts. He showed us how it’s possible to make pretty much any body part for a car with just four tools. We’ll bring you an in-depth shop tour story detailing this impressive skill. But in the meantime I just want to show some appreciation for the lovely way this metal body has been crafted. It’s so raw and yet so well executed. Don’t take this the wrong way, but there’s something kind of sensual about metalwork like this. It’s honest and true.

Speaking of honesty and truth: Henrik opted to leave this classic piece of rot that almost all Amazon’s suffer from. The cars collect salt and the result of that is this corrosion just about the headlights. These particular headlights are convex items from the older Volvos. Henrik installed these because they look cooler.

The rear axle is an 8.75 Chrysler item from 1950-1960 and the back end is pretty sparse as you can see. There’s still a bit more development to go on out back. The language barrier was a bit of an issue, but from what I can gather from Henrik, his main objective is to do the very best burnouts possible!

The inside of this car is a beautiful array of metalwork fabrication. These door cards have been hand-rolled by Henrik to create what can only be described as a kind of faux-leather diamond quilt. Albeit made from sheet metal. They’re stunning and completely unique. I’ve never seen anything like it. The skill involved to create such perfectly crafted panels like this is very impressive. A dying art? Maybe so. But at least there’s people like Mr Larsson who are still extremely passionate about sheet metal. So much so, that I don’t think I’ve ever seen a vehicle with so much creative fabrication. Nothing is rushed with Larsson; everything is very thoughtful.

And so to the driver’s seat. This is where Rat Fink’s Zombie Nightmare takes place. Rod and Henrik joked that this car would be a super-intense dream gone wrong for Rat Fink. During his sleep Rat Fink would experience a succession of images, concepts, emotions and sensations. He’s supposed to be in a hot rod, but in actual fact he’s in this Volvo’s driving seat. This car breaks the rules and it’s so wrong – this nightmare drive shouldn’t be happening to Rat Fink!

This car is so off-key it just shouldn’t work. On paper it doesn’t add up. But Henrik Larsson’s managed to pull this off perfectly. It seems to me that the Scandinavian people love to break with convention. Whether this is on purpose or not, I haven’t worked out yet. I don’t know if these guys are even aware of the rules to be honest, or maybe they just don’t like them.

To me, though, this car isn’t a nightmare at all. It’s a vehicle that rhymes with sensory overload. I absolutely love the way Henrik and the team at Larsson Customizing have brought the shell back from the dead. I admire the skill involved and the fabrication work. And I’m very excited to see this car used with no mercy whatsoever. It might be Rat Fink’s Zombie Nightmare, but for me, and anyone that’s into fantastic stupidity in its greatest form, this Hemizon is positively dreamy.

 

Words by Ben Chandler
Twitter: @Ben_SceneMedia
Instagram: @ben_scenemedia

Photos by Paddy McGrath
Twitter: @PaddyMcGrathSH
Instagram: speedhunters_paddy
paddy@speedhunters.com

 

Rat rod stories on Speedhunters

Other gasser stories on Speedhunters

 

Henrik Larsson’s Hemizon

ENGINE
Early Chrysler Hemi 331 from 1954-1955, GMC 6-71 supercharger, double Edelbrock 650 carburettors, exhaust through front fenders.

DRIVELINE
Three-speed automatic transmission (TH350) from GM/Chevy with adaptor to fit from hotheads early Hemi parts.

SUSPENSION/BRAKES
Custom rear shocks and fully custom front end set-up from hot rod/drag car.

WHEELS/TYRES
15×10-inch Slot Mag wheels (rear) with NASCAR slicks, custom wheels and drag car tyres (front).

EXTERIOR
Volvo Amazon body, complete new floor, custom firewall, trunk floor, all manufactured one-off by Larsson Customizing.

INTERIOR
Full custom interior by Larsson with a really old steering wheel of unknown origin.

 

 

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440WHP 13B TURBO MAZDA COUPE

When it comes to rotary tuning, the exploits of two countries at the bottom of the world need little introduction. For as long as I can remember the Australasian region has been home to some of the fastest, loudest, wildest and most innovative rotary-powered vehicles on the face of the planet, and there are no signs of the infatuation slowing up any time soon.

It’s not hard to see the rotary’s appeal, though. There’s that hypnotic pulse for a starters, not to mention an ability to rev to catastrophic heights with an unparalleled smoothness. But it’s the seemingly limitless performance potential of these engines that leads many down the rotary route, and for good reason too. Small in cubic capacity they may be, but at the same time capable of incomprehensibly big things.

It’s a fact that Steve Ellicott – the owner of this 1970 Mazda 1300 Coupé – knows only too well. The Coupé is number seven or eight (who’s counting!) in a long line of modified rotary-powered street cars that have passed through the New Zealander’s hands. From the look on his face when it fires into life, I can guarantee you that it won’t be his last.

Although the 1300 didn’t leave the Hiroshima production line in 1970 with a twin rotor motor between its front struts like its performance sibling the R100 (aka Familia Rotary Coupé) did, under Steve’s ownership there was never any doubt that it would one day wind up beating to the sound of a rotary drum. And a big drum at that.

In a previous life (after being exported from Australia to New Zealand back in 1972) the 1300 was owned by a little old lady for close to 30 years. Steve’s owned the car for four years now, and although it wasn’t in the same factory condition shown here by a framed photograph that’s been handed down from past owners, it was a perfect blank canvas.

Somewhere along the line the car had parted ways with its original four-cylinder running gear and had its rear end cut up to make way for a four-link suspension arrangement and wheel tubs. It was half way to becoming something pretty cool, and although there was a lot of work left to get it back on the road Steve had a vision to complete it, and good bunch of friends willing to lend their skills for the cause.

Although the rear-end c-notching and tin work had been completed, Steve opted to redo some of the modifications: swapping custom mild steel bars for chrome-moly, and designing a suspension system around QA1 adjustable coilovers. Inside, a drag-spec half cage with a harness and driver door bar was also fitted.

With custom front suspension built around coilover Bilstein dampers and featuring ToyShop Engineering adjustable camber plates and RCAs, the Coupé has a meaningful stance, helped no end by some serious tucking at the rear. It took two sets of three-piece Work wheels to create the custom-width Equips, but I think the finished outcome was worth it.

Of course, fitting big wheels on a car of this size can throw up all sorts of issues if you’re after a low-slung appearance, but the 1300 pulls it off nicely, and all the while retaining plenty of suspension travel and a full 80mm of clearance beneath the chassis. Although the front end of the car stays true to its 1300 roots right down to the grille badge, the R100 tail light treatment is a nice touch, don’t you think?

But it’s under the hood where things have really got exciting…

Although there were many different rotary engine configuration roads he could have travelled, Steve found what he was looking for in a tough two-rotor package that’s home to around 500 wild ponies. I probably don’t need to tell you that that’s a lot of power for what is essentially a very little car, let alone one that’s predominantly used on the street.

At the heart of the package is a 13B engine built around FD3S RX-7 rotors and housings, bridge-ported series five FC3S RX-7 plates, and a cross-drilled eccentric shaft. For reliability’s sake, unbreakable apex seals, three-window bearings and a stud kit were also used.

Although the 13B was originally run with a smaller turbo and more boost pressure, the current set-up revolves around a custom manifold-mounted GT42 blower, GFB EX50 wastegate and a PAC Performance intercooler destined for an RX-3, but modified to fit the smaller front-end proportions of the 1300 Coupé. On the fuel side of the equation there’s a custom 65 litre drop tank, three litre surge tank, and a Carter lift pump and Bosch 044 pump supplying pump gas via braided lines to 12A Turbo primary injectors and 1600cc secondary injectors. Four Bosch coils light the fire.

Only 15psi was used for rotary specialist Green Brothers Racing to realise 440whp on the dyno via the Mazda’s MicroTech LT10S engine management system. But even at that mild setting there’s easy low-to-mid ten second strip potential waiting to be exploited here. To date, Steve’s only ever run the Mazda down the quarter on street rubber, and not surprisingly all that’s resulted in was an excessive amount of wheelspin and a 12.5 second slip.

Steve’s alright with the wheelspin part though, because what the car currently lacks in 60 foot times and trap speed, it more than makes up for in its ability to skin a pair of rear tyres with relative ease. In the Coupé only third and fourth gears are required for that particular pastime, and it’s not only the pavement that bears the scars of a good old fashioned burnout. You can see and hear it in action here.

The interior space has been the subject of a complete, almost industrial, makeover with safety devices that allow it to run to 9.00ET should Steve ever get serious on straight lining. After chewing through four Toyota W-series gearboxes – two in one weekend alone – the driveline now benefits from a bulletproof Toyota R154 five-speed mated to the engine via a series five FC3S RX-7 bell-housing and a PAC Performance sourced adapter plate. Rounding out the heavy duty driveline is a Tilton twin-plate clutch, a Toyota Hilux (Tacoma) rear end upgrade and big axles to boot.

Looking back into the cabin you can see that it’s strictly a two seat affair these days, with the wheel tubs taking over much of what was originally the 1300′s diminutive rear seat space.

Although rowdy, the Mazda seems a lot more tractable at city speed limits than I thought it might be, and when opportunity knocks it puts the power down to the ground rather well, all things considered. According to Steve, it’s only when the car really starts to generate some serious speed that its wheelbase – or lack of – starts to become a factor in the way that it hangs on to the road.

I guess it’s all part of the driving experience afforded by a 40-something-year-old chassis when you stuff it with seven times the output that it was originally designed for…

… but guys like Steve wouldn’t have it any other way though. For the sake of unique rotary-powered creations like this one, and the Australasian rotary scene as a whole, that’s a good thing.

 

Brad Lord
brad@speedhunters.com

 

1970 Mazda 1300 Coupe

Numbers
440hp at wheels

Engine
Mazda 13B, full-cut bridgeport, RX-7 S5 plates, RX-7 S6 rotors and housings, three-window bearings, unbreakable apex seals, cross-drilled eccentric shaft, lightened and balanced, stud kit, three-inch exhaust system, AdrenalinR mufflers, custom turbo manifold, Masterpower GT42 turbocharger, GFB EX50 50mm external wastegate, dual blow-off valves, modified PAC Performance intercooler, custom intercooler pipes, aluminium radiator, PAC Performance oil cooler, 4x Bosch coils, MSD leads, Bosch Motorsport 044 fuel pump, Carter lift pump, three-litre surge tank, custom 65-litre fuel tank, electric water pump, braided fuel lines, XRP fittings, RX-7 12A turbo primary injectors, 1600cc secondary injectors, MicroTech LT10s engine management system

Driveline
Toyota R154 five-speed gearbox, Tilton twin-plate clutch, 10lb flywheel, RX-7 S5 bell-housing, PAC Performance gearbox adapter, Toyota Hilux rear end

Suspension/Brakes
Custom Bilstein coilovers, ToyShop Engineering adjustable camber plates and RCAs (front), custom four-link rear, c-notched chassis, QA1 coilovers (rear), RX-7 S6 calipers, RX-7 S5 discs (front), Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 calipers/discs (rear), hydraulic e-brake, Wilwood pedal box

Wheels/Tyres
Work Equip 17×8.5-inch wheels, 185/35R17 tyres (front), Work Equip 17×9.5-inch wheels, 215/45R17 tyres (rear)

Exterior
Factory Mazda 1300 body work, Mazda R100 tailights, custom bare metal respray

Interior
NZDRA-spec half-cage, Racepro seats, RJS harness belts, Sportline steering wheel, custom dash and centre console, Auto Meter Pro-Comp Ultra-Lite 160mph speedometer, 10,000rpm tachometer, boost pressure gauge, oil pressure gauge, water temperature gauge, voltage gauge, fuel level gauge

 

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A 1500HP GT-R STREET CAR THAT RUNS 8S

Getting a 3700lb (1675kg) Nissan Skyline GT-R down the strip in eight and a half seconds flat on its very first outing since an intensive, yet short lead build, is not any way, shape or form an easy proposition. But behind the wheel of MGAWOT II, New Zealand-based but internationally-renowned Nissan RB-series engine builder Robbie Ward has just made it look effortless.

If you know anything about GT-R drag racing you’ll probably recognize Rob’s name. If not, you should recognize his company’s, because for the last decade that modest workshop in a small city at the center of New Zealand’s North Island has been turning out some of the quickest and fastest Nissan RB-engined street and drag cars on the planet – many of them for international customers. The Bayside Blue BNR34 – unofficially dubbed MGAWOT II – is arguably their greatest work yet. It’s certainly the most powerful Skyline to have ever emerged from the RIPS (aka Rotorua Import Pro Shop) lair.

I caught wind of the Skyline-based drag project earlier in the year, not long after RIPS blew everyone away with its original MGAWOT machine – the company’s own Nissan Stagea station wagon which ran a 9.0-second pass on its very first pass down the strip and high eights ever since. MGAWOT II promised that and more, and during the course of last weekend RIPS delivered on its word in more ways than one. Not only did it a turn an 8.64 ET and a new NZDRA national class record on its debut run off the trailer, but it backed it up with a succession of 8.60s, then an 8.57, and finally an 8.51 at 162.5mph for the IHRA drag national class record too.

For the sake of anyone wondering, MGAWOT is a play on megawatt, which in power terms equals 1000 kilowatts, or 1341 horsepower. Truth be known, MGAWOT II has a little more than that, and more impressively makes its power on off-the-pump E85 biofuel. Equally remarkable, just seven short weeks ago the GT-R was nothing more than a rolling body fitted with a roll cage and a parachute. It arrived that way from the UK, but now, a couple of days after its debut racing weekend, it’s locked up in a shipping container and on its way back.

It’s not the first Skyline that’s been sent halfway around the world for Rob and his team to work their magic on and it’s unlikely to be the last. When it comes to RB engines – custom-engineered RB30s to be precise – RIPS has an enviable reputation. But it didn’t come by chance. Rob isn’t the sort of guy to ever shy away from a challenge, and he certainly doesn’t do things by halves. Too much power is seemingly never enough for this guy, and if that custom humped vent on the hood doesn’t speak volumes in that regard, lifting it up certainly will.

Like all of RIPS’ high-power builds, MGAWOT II’s engine is RB30 based. In this instance though, it’s pushed out to 3.2 litres courtesy of a Nitto Performance Engineering stroker kit featuring a 4340 billet steel crankshaft, 4340 I-beam rods, and a set of JE/Nitto forged T6 2816 alloy pistons. Not only do the upgraded internals give the engine the strength it needs to handle high horsepower loads, but they also allow to it to rev more freely, and to a 10,000rpm-plus altitude.

Of course, to achieve those big numbers you need a cylinder head that’s equally up to task. RIPS’ close associate Kelford Cams got that job of delivering a race-prepped and fully-flowed head from a brand new RB26 casting. On the subject of flow just look at that beautiful hand made intake plenum that the compressed air blows through.

Then there’s the turbo: a Garrett GTX47-series compressor sitting on a custom-built tubular manifold and running a pair of Turbosmart PowerGate60 wastegates. To give you some reference for size, that heat-wrapped pipe running out the back measures five inches in diameter. Large? Yes. Scary? A little…

If the engine was methanol-fueled and not destined to be street driven, the package could have sufficed without the need for an intercooler, but seeing as it’s designed to run on E85 and will soon be put back on the road in the UK (yes, you read that right!), a custom-built water/air charge-cooling system has been employed.

The set up pumps ice cold water stored in a custom designed and fabricated 50-litre boot mounted tank, through hoses to the ARE intercooler behind the front bumper. According to Rob it’s working perfectly to keep the intake temperature in check. The 18-litre tank on the left-hand-side hold the fuel, with a trio of Bosch Motorsport 044 pumps feeding the supply to the engine through six 2500cc injectors.

That’s not the only fuel the engine feeds on, though.

RIPS has always been a big fan of N2O, and while the Nitrous Oxides Systems set-up has the ability to deliver multi-port shots in the future, it currently only operates a small fogger nozzle for a 75hp hit that’s primarily used to bring the engine up on boost.

Remember what I was saying about attention to detail? It’s evident wherever you look, right down to CNC engraving on most of the custom-made items. The Tali Lomu insignia came at the request of the car’s owner – a huge rugby supporter with an immense respect for one of the sport’s most revered players of all time. New Zealand All Black great Jonah Tali Lomu, himself the owner of a couple of fast GT-Rs, was well known for his ability to steamroll anyone who got in the way of his 6 foot 5 inch, 280lb frame, so it’s a fitting name for a car that’s been designed to mow down the competition on the 1320.

With a conservative 1500hp on offer the RB32 definitely has the credentials to get the job done, but what surprised me the most though is how civilized the overall package is. Off the trailer all it took was one twist of the key to fire the engine into life from cold start before settling at a raspy, but even idle. Maximum effect, but minimal fuss.

That mantra follows through to the driveline, where alongside reliability, ease-of-use and driveability are key design traits. Unlike previous builds where OS Giken OS88 six-speed sequential gearboxes have traditionally been RIPS’ transmission of choice, MGAWOT II benefits from a ProMod-style two-speed, manually-shifted automatic that’s been significantly modified to integrate with the GT-R’s four-wheel drive underpinnings. The idea behind the auto transmission, which was initially developed in the Stagea, was to remove driveline ‘shock’, where immense torque loads plus a hard launch can equal expensive breakages. In a complete turnaround from the accepted norm, this GT-R catapults off the line smoothly, and even more surprisingly with just 6psi of initial boost pressure.

Getting the car out of the hole and on its way to a eight-second slip is a simple proposition Rob tells me. Looking at the left side of steering wheel, the top button purges the nitrous system while the bottom one engages the transbrake. On the right-hand side the top button activates the Leash Electronics Bump Box, while the bottom button triggers the N2O.

To heat the rear tyres before a run, a manual torque split controller alters the drive from full four-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive and can be adjusted to anywhere between.

After the burnout, the lever with the blue button is pumped back and forth to reinstate pressure back into the system and four-wheel drive for the launch.

That Bump Box I mentioned a couple of pictures back is a useful device in a set-up like this. To trigger the second set of staging lights, a driver normally has to be off the gas pedal to inch forward and fire the beam, which only leaves a split second to rebuild boost in time for the lights to drop. With the Bump Box, a microprocessor in conjunction with the transbrake does all the work, allowing the car to ‘bump’ into stage without the engine having to come off boost.

On the subject of boost, this is the first time RIPS has employed a CO2 system in one of its cars. The technology, which utilizes air regulators, is perfect for this application where boost control is critical, and pressure needs to increase as the car makes it way down the strip.

That said though, with its current Link G4 Xtreme engine management system tune the big RB’ is only operating at around 85 percent of its ability according to Rob.

It doesn’t take a genius then to work out that this car has a lot more in it yet, and that’s before you even start thinking about removing weight, like its heavy electrics-equipped steel doors and factory dashboard from the equation. It’s also running old circuit-spec coilover suspension, and the list goes on… Seven second potential? Without a doubt.

In the meantime however – if its debut performance is anything to go by – the Skyline should be at the top of the game when it hits up the Street Class of Santa Pod’s Jap Drag Racing Series, which coincidentally just kicked off for the 2013 summer season at the same time MGAWOT II was being shaken down in a far away land.

Given New Zealand and the United Kingdom’s geographical divide, chances are I’ll never get to see this car run again, and that saddens the inner GT-R worshipper in me. At the same time though, I know for a fact that this won’t be the last fast Skyline from RIPS, and that said, I can’t wait to see what Robbie and his team cooks up next. MGAWOT III? Watch this space…

 

Brad Lord
brad@speedhunters.com

 

New Zealand Sport Compact Drag Racing on Speedhunters

Other Skyline stories on Speedhunters

 

Nissan Skyline GT-R BNR34 ‘MGAWOT II’

Numbers
1500hp; 0-400m: 8.51 @ 162.5mph

Engine
RIPS RB32 build, Nitto Performance Engineering 3.2-litre stroker kit, JE/Nitto forged pistons, 4340 billet steel I-beam rods, 4340 billet steel crankshaft, RB26 DOHC 24V cylinder head, Kelford Cams cylinder head race prep/flowing, Kelford Cams camshafts, custom tubular exhaust manifold, Garrett GTX47 turbocharger, two Turbosmart PowerGate60 60mm wastegates, five-inch exhaust, ARE air/water intercooler, custom boot-mounted ice box, 18L custom fuel cell, three Bosch Motorsport 044 fuel pumps, braided fuel lines, RIPS plenum, RIPS throttle body, RIPS adjustable fuel rail, Turbosmart adjustable fuel pressure regulator, 2500c injectors (E85), RIPS/Ross Performance dry sump system, NOS nitrous oxide system, ViPEC engine management system, CO2 boost control system

Driveline
RIPS modified ProMod 2-speed automatic transmission, adjustable torque split, transbrake, limited slip differentials (front/rear)

Suspension/Brakes
Tein adjustable coilovers front/rear, Nissan BNR32 GT-R calipers/rotors, parachute

Wheels/Tyres
15-inch Advan RG alloys, Mickey Thompson 26.0/10.0-15 (front/rear)

Exterior
NISMO front bumper, Do-Luck rear bumper, custom turbo vent

Interior
Full rollcage, Jamex drivers seat, harness seat belt, Sparco steering wheel, B&M Pro Bandit ratchet shifter, Leash Electronics Boost Leash boost controller

 

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MEET THE MCLAREN F1 LM

What do you do when you meet your hero? Do you talk to them, say hello, shoot the breeze, or stay at a distance, just hoping to catch their eye for a subtle sign of recognition? What if it’s an inanimate object, like the McLaren F1? Then things can get really weird… especially if other people are present.

There are a number of cars that still stop me dead in my tracks, and this is one of them. Since its release, my love list has included the McLaren F1, in any and all of its guises. I might have lusted after the Countach, collected dozens of Matchbox Porsche 911s and had my brain overloaded by the Porsche 956 and Lancia LC2 Group C cars when I was a kid, but the F1 launched at the perfect time, hitting me squarely in the sensory overload portion of my brain just as driving was becoming a fundamental part of my life.

I’d rediscovered Le Mans specifically and sportscar racing in general (having repeatedly stayed at a hotel on the Hunaudières straight on family holidays through France as a child), but here was a car that was overtly, deliberately a road car first and a racer second. That seemed improbable: there are so many cars released ‘for the road’ which have been nothing more than to tick a homologation box for a racing programme, resulting in admittedly exotic but completely out-there cars which were barely fit for purpose. But the F1 was different. Even if I knew I’d likely never drive one, the F1 seemed somehow more… of the people. Less ostentatious than other supercars.

The idea of a favourite supercar is a subjective thing. With so few of us having the opportunity to actually drive one of these mythical machines, we have to base our opinions on what we see with our eyes, mostly through photographs, and perhaps in combination with what has been written by the lucky elite who have got behind the wheel (and subsequently pressed the starter and hit the throttle, I should add).

This doesn’t downplay our involvement with them though. Supercars are works of sculptural automotive art, after all, and not only can but should be appreciated aesthetically as much as from a driving standpoint.

Every so often you get the chance to see one up close. A motor show like Geneva perhaps, or a festival like Goodwood. You can then engage with the car on another level: appreciate the quality of both design and construction, and if you’re lucky add a second aural level when you hear the engine turn or even a third visceral level when you see and feel it move.

We’ve previously looked at a number of supercars from the 1970s, and you’ve discussed at length what makes a supercar in the comments of Mike’s post. I don’t think there can be any question that the McLaren F1 is a definitive supercar, up there in the annals of all-time greats. If the Countach made the ’70s its own and the F40 the ’80s, then perhaps the F1 can be said to be the supercar of the ’90s. The last of the true driver’s cars, an organic joining of eyes, hands and feet to engine, rubber and road.

I’d had two previous experiences with this particular car, but they were glances exchanged across a room compared to the amazing access we got for this shoot. Firstly I’d seen it during the launch of the MP4-12C back in 2010, gently rotating behind glass in its own protected enclosure. Let’s face it, I wasn’t the first to be smitten by XP1 LM’s ample charms: this is the car Lewis Hamilton lusted over since his first teenage visits to McLaren HQ, and the one promised to him if he delivered back-to-back F1 World Championships (much as I like Hamilton, I’m glad he didn’t win for the selfish reason of this shoot).

More recently, XP1 LM was brought out into the wild for the Geneva Motor Show, to provide a direct and overt emotional link between the new P1 and the original McLaren road car. It was a brave move, made braver by XP1 LM sitting in an angled cut-out of the McLaren stand, just waiting for a hapless VIP guest to fall into the loving embrace of its carbon bonnet (which several almost did). It survived both Geneva and the guests, and here it was, just for us.

Let’s back up a bit. An enjoyable part of this particular liaison was the build up to seeing the car in the stark environment of the McLaren Technology Centre itself. We’ve already visited the MTC before, back for the aforementioned 12C launch and look at the prototype production line, but this time the nature of our entrance was different.

The experience begun at the main gate, where Rod, Suzy and myself picked up specially coded entrance passes that would get us through the various barriers and to our designated entrance pod. With the yin/yang interlocking shape of the MTC and its lake, the normal guest entrance is via a curving path that follows the circle of the lake and delivers you to the main atrium entrance. But for our visit we’d be following the footsteps of McLaren employees, and taking one of the four external rear entrances for staff (and non-important visitors like us) that sat apart from the main building, connected by underground tunnels.

Parked up, the card swiped us through the first airlock, down the helical staircase and into the decompression corridor – for that’s exactly what this is. The fundamental concept behind these long and starkly lit passageways is for employees to divest themselves of the worries of the outside world and to immerse themselves in the day ahead.

The McLaren badge on their shirts has to mean something; pass through the imposing double doors and your focus has to be on the inside, not the outside. There are World Championships at stake, road car customers to satisfy, electronics industry clients to keep happy. For us, it just built the anticipation.

Though being children, we couldn’t help but gleefully pick up on the similarity between the signage and a certain popular computer game…

Especially with this lift awaiting us at the end.

The main atrium was awash with classic Marlboro-liveried McLarens and portraits of their famous drivers: Hunt, Lauda, Prost, Senna… But we had little time to take them in: the F1 we were interested in was downstairs, behind a door with this ominous sign…

The F1 LM was positioned in the same build hall that had seen the initial production of the 12C prototypes – and now housed the P1 line just the other side of a set of dividers, awaiting transfer to the new McLaren Production Centre across the way (more on that facility will be coming up tomorrow). This was XP1 LM, sitting patiently, waiting for us.

We were, naturally, quite excited.

Some even more than me in fact. We had joined the list of those who had sat in an F1. The day could have ended there and we’d have left happy.

This is a privilege, to be dismissed only by the arrogant and the cynical. Back to the art analogy, this is like seeing one of the rarest, most beautiful paintings, but being unmolested by crowds around you. A private gallery, where we had time to drink in all the beautiful detail from every angle as well as the overall timeless design.

XP1 LM was the first of five F1s made to celebrate McLaren’s victory – at the first time of trying – at the Le Mans 24 Hours, a race they weren’t even aiming to compete in. The story had started back in 1988, when McLaren chief Ron Dennis and design head Gordon Murray were sitting in the departure lounge of Milan’s Linate airport. An offhand discussion about designing a road car somehow snowballed into a project proper, and five years later the first F1 was unveiled to a stunned world in Monaco in May 1993.

The car had been hand-drawn rather than computer designed. A coupling of Colin Chapman-influenced light weight and focus on performance, with Murray’s design flair and cutting edge technology, the F1 might not have been designed to chase records but by god it got them anyway.

It had the highest power to weight ratio of any previous production car; the bespoke, 600hp, 6.1 litre BMW engine produced one of the highest specific outputs for a large capacity normally aspirated unit ever made; it made 150mph faster than most cars got to 60mph; the top speed was 240mph; the carbon-fibre tub was a first for a road car; active aerodynamics kept a constant centre of pressure…

Murray was quoted as saying: “It’s not a case of going one step beyond. This is an entirely new starting point for supercars.”

Just as with the recent 12C, the F1 was never planned as a racecar but inevitably ended up as such. Customer pressure led to the 1995 F1 GTR racer, a three-car assault on the BPR series, seven GTRs at that year’s Le Mans 24 Hours and nine cars in total being built. Le Mans fell to the GTR, as did the BPR.

The F1 was now not just the greatest supercar of the decade but now the most successful British sports racing car.

So what to do now? That’s where the F1 LM arrived. Five limited edition roadcars were built, three painted in the papaya orange of company founder Bruce McLaren.

Where the GTR was effectively a slightly detuned road car for the track (though it delivered even more phenomenal performance thanks to its improved aero), the LM would be a barely detuned racing car for the road.

They used the same racing engine but with the FIA restrictors removed to boost power to 680hp – in a machine weighing just 1,062kgs. They were the fastest of any F1 to be made, whether race or road variant.

And what a sound it made, using a tuned quad-exhaust system that made a unique, raucous howl.

The body retained the full ground effect aero of the racecar: stick a livery on it and a decent pedaller inside, and this would likely out-race anything you cared to match it against, a GTR included.

18-inch Oz magnesium alloy wheels – wider than the standard car at 10.85 and 13 inches respectively – sat in each corner…

…with outboard Brembo ventilated disks (12 and 13-inch) hiding behind the spokes.

The carbon rear wing bore the words ‘GTR – 24 Heures Du Mans Winners 1995′ etched into the endplate.

Inside, the central driver’s seat was carbon fibre with material padding, and both passenger seats were moulded into the monocoque.

The centrally mounted driving position was a stroke of genius, providing optimum weight distribution and visibility. The driver really did take centre stage in every sense.

For your right hand, a stubby, purposeful lever for the six-speed gearbox.

For the left, the functional girder handbrake.

For your feet, these beautiful drilled pedals.

This is what it looked like from the other side of the pedal box at race speed.

The interior trim was minimalist: carbon and Alcantara, though the carbon was allowed an almost decadent lacquer coating.

But this was still a practical car – seriously! The latches in the door sills opened the bonnet (big enough for a helmet or small bag)…

…and the actually quite spacious side lockers that hid in the recesses of the flanks. A screwdriver secured in the aperture underneath the righthand passenger seat was there for opening the rear deck.

Ah yes, the passengers… There are a couple of caveats to the idea that this is a practical car that you drive to the local restaurant or golf club. Your friends will have to be pretty trim for a start, and definitely not have any back problems. It’s snug, to be polite. Standard belts keep passengers in place, as opposed to the five-point harness of the driver. Get the idea that the people wouldn’t ask for a lift twice?

Well, for all the talk of practicality this was still basically a racing car: each occupant had a set of headphones connected to the car’s radio system, which gives an indication of the interior noise. There had been a CD changer in the original road car; here, the music of choice would be the BMW V12.

The LMs are the most exclusive, expensive and sought after F1s. This one is not likely to leave McLaren – it means too much. In 1999, Le Mans driver Andy Wallace took the F1 LM to new records in acceleration, braking and what the human body can endure, going from zero to 100mph to zero in 11.5 seconds and just 852 feet.

Oh, and remember this was a car not designed to go fast. Murray: “It’s just a consequence of the other things it does.”

The shoot dragged on, as I kept finding excuses for just one more shot. Eventually, we really had to go. I’d met my hero, and it hadn’t disappointed. Much as I didn’t want to leave, I didn’t need to look back.

 

Jonathan Moore

 

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RUN WHAT YA BRUNG: DRAG MEET 2013

As you saw in our Nostalgia Immersion: March Meet 2013 coverage, there were plenty of mega-buck Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars at the March Meet, but they were far outnumbered by the hobbyist drag racers and their production vehicle racecars. These are cars that we mere mortals might have a chance at owning and racing. Larry and I chose a few different models with the idea of showing the range and variation in which they are built for the purpose of quarter-mile racing.

Let’s kick it off with a Kaiser: the Henry J model to be more precise. Being a ’50s American compact, drag racers have always been drawn to them, making this the Kaiser model most car guys know. This one has a fairly stock body, and we know it runs in the nines because it’s in the C/Gas category. Obvious mods are bumper removal, a heavy rake and some interesting rocker panel aero that incorporates an exhaust cutout.

With a driver behind the wheel you get a sense of the car’s scale. Notice the headlights and glass are still in place, evidence that this could be a pretty quick street-driven car…

…but not as quick as this purpose-built version. Here’s a dedicated race Henry J. It reeks of Funny Car, with the wedge-shaped body and exaggerated rear quarters.

With a custom-built fiberglass body inspired by a Henry J, surely there are no Kaiser parts left. This type of build reminds me of a toy R/C car, where you can swap on your body-style of choice. Notice the headlight stickers and painted-on grille, also the wheelie bars, wide open headers and chopped roof.

Moving more towards the mainstream we have another American compact: a Chevy II Nova. Have you ever had a daily driver that slowly turned into a project car, to the point that one day you realized it was no longer street-worthy? The Currie Enterprises Nova appears to be right on the cusp. On one hand it still has lights, bumpers and door handles, and the four-inch cowl hood looks pretty street too. That Lexan windshield is getting hazy though, and peeking through the grille we can see that the front wheelwells have been gutted. It’s hard to say whether this one gets driven or strapped to the trailer.

This one’s a little easier: it’s gotta ride on a trailer. The Dzus-fastened, six-inch cowl hood is probably hiding a BBC, and the open exhaust and stickered-on headlights would make it rough to go more than 1,320 feet. The lack of door handles suggests the door shells have been swapped for lighter fiberglass versions.

Drag racers value speed over glamour, so an unpainted one-piece composite front-end is entirely acceptable. Check out the engine set-back and tire-to-fender proximity.

Even if drag racers don’t prioritize aesthetics, it’s hard to argue with the profile of a slammed and raked Chevy II. Form follows function.

Now we’ll go full mainstream with the token hot rod, a Tri-5 Chevy. D/Gas means he runs tens, which is very quick for a completely steel full-size car. It still has all the glass and trim, a dashboard and a license plate frame. I’d call this ’56 pro-street.

C/Gas is one second quicker, and nine seconds means a ’chute. The big wing and Lexan windows also mean business.

The lift-off fiberglass hood is held down with Dzus fasteners. I was a bit surprised at the mag-style front wheels on such a quick car though.

As they get faster we see more attention to aerodynamics  Since B/Gas cars can break 150mph it starts to count. The one-piece front end on this ’55 has a definite slant to it, and this time even the bumper is painted on!

This is supposed to be a nostalgia race though, so we better check out a gasser ’57 too. From the nose-bleed stance to the white fenderwell headers this machine absolutely nails it. Radiused rear fenders make room for slicks and the solid front axle suspends the nose in the air for faster weight transfer off the line. At least that was the theory when these cars were built in the ’60s.

Not only does it look the part, the craftsmanship is show quality. All the lettering and decals were hand-painted and then sealed under the clear coat. Look for a feature (with an extra twist!) as soon as Larry can get back out to Bakersfield.

I have a thing for oddball hot rods, so we’ll close out with the UK-built Ford Anglia. Anglias were true econoboxes in the late ’40s and early ’50s, so naturally drag racers dropped in big engines and took them to the track.

We found this one in the car show, although it looked ready to race with a blower, cage and tilt front-end.

A more stock version was sitting in the pits. This is the commercial model with a squared-off, windowless rear.

Surprisingly there was another Anglia in the car show. This is definitely built more as a street rod, but it still has a drag-inspired stance and wheel choice.

And finally, the full-blown race version of an Anglia. We’ve seen the same treatment on the other cars we looked at: no lights, fake grille and giant hood scoop.

The lightweight Ford Anglia can haul the mail with a big engine, but their short wheelbase also makes them a handful to get down the track.

In no particular order, and chosen just because we like ’em, these are four completely different models that racers have embraced over the years.  Cars like the Anglia are favored for their size, but guys will still race a heavy Tri-5 Chevy simply because it’s such an icon of hot rodding.

These are cars with full bodies and doors that latch. I think what I like most about them though is seeing the different approaches to building the same car for the same purpose – blasting down the quarter mile.

 

Words: Keith Charvonia

Photos: Larry Chen

 

 

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RB30 POWERED HOLDEN PREMIER

It was only right that among all of the stunning cars that we shot during our Sydney trip, that one of them at least was going to be Australian. The Aussies know a thing or two about modifying cars, that’s for sure, but having seen plenty of stunning Japanese and European rides it was time for something a little different. It was thanks to Ian Baker over at Hi Octane Racing that we came to hear of a legendary, freshly rebuilt classic Holden…

…a true Australian car, that hides a little something special under its classic sixties lines. So on our last day in Sydney, Casey and I grabbed the Nissan 370Z and drove across town to meet up with Ian at his shop.

The owner of this 1964 EH Holden Premier, Matthew Johnston, was originally toying with the idea of going for a modern engine conversion, something that would yield good performance but at the same time reliability. A near stock Nissan RB25DET would have done the job nicely, with plenty of power on offer and just about the perfect size to squeeze into the EH’s engine bay. He then made the mistake of talking to Ian. To make a long story short, the original idea kind of remained but the result…

…ended up, ehm…a tad more extreme than initially planned! Powering the immaculately restored Premier now is a fully tuned RB30…

…supplying a massive 606 HP @ 7,800 rpm to the rear wheels with bucket-loads of torque. The moment this car rocked up to HPI’s HQ, Casey and I couldn’t believe the sound that was coming from it’s straight through exhaust and with a somewhat limited amount of time before the threatening dark clouds were due to unleash some serious rain, we quickly began shooting away.

The motor was built by Leon McHugh at Turbos R US who certainly didn’t do things by halves. The RB30 bottom end, fitted with Argo connecting rods and CP pistons has been mated to a fully ported and polished RB26 head. Oversized Ferrea valves work with 280º Tomei camshfts and springs to help get just the right amount of compressed air into the six cylinders. The externally gated Garrett GT25R single turbo supplies the necessary 21 PSI of boost to crank out the 600+ horses.

The pressured intake charge, after being cooled appropriately by the front mount intercooler passes through the big Hypertune throttle and into the intake manifold of the same brand.

An engine like this obviously needs its thirst quenched and that is where the uprated injectors and Tomei fuel line come into play.

There is less than a centimeter of clearance between the cam angle sensor and the radiator’s fan shrouding. Now that’s what a tight fit looks like!

The EH has been completely restored down to the bare chassis, repainted and every nut and bolt replaced, along with all seals, glass and pretty much everything else you could think of.

The presentation is outstanding and Matthew likes to keep things nice and clean. The car is currently doing the rounds at shows and exhibitions before it’s to be put through its paces down the drag strip.

The sound pretty much gives everything away, but when parked up on the side of the street it just looks like a really well restored Holden. The body has been painted in Balhana green with the roof section sprayed in Fowlers Ivory.

Check out how the custom fabricated exhaust system ends well before the actual bumper line, hiding under the car, not giving any clues as to what has been done up front.

The Centerline Telstar wheels, whapped in Mickey Thompson drag radials at the rear…

…and Yokohama 352s up front. Hiding behind the chromed front rims are Alcon 4-pot racing calipers while the rear has been fitted with Commodore brakes.

This is one mean Holden sedan! Matthew has fitted Koni dampers all round with King springs to give the Premier a good compromise between comfort and performance.

Open the chunky steel doors and you are met with a superbly accessorized interior starting with the Momo Corse steering wheel….

…and a full line up of AutoMeter gauges replacing the stock instrumentation.

I really liked the blend of modern equipment and the sixties switchgear!

Sending drive to the rear wheels is a full manual Powerglide two-speed auto by Northmead Auto. Gears are shifted via this B&M Pro Ratchet shifter. At the rear the EH runs a 9-inch diff with 35 spline Mark Williams axles and a 4.11 final.

The AutoMeter Digital Pro Shift System controller sits neatly between the seats, within easy reach so Matthew can set up his shifting points and have the shift lights go off at the right rpm.

The leather and alcantara upholstered Recaro seats are fitted with RCI 5-point harnesses…

…which are anchored onto the cross bar of the custom fabricated roll-cage.

Rear seats have been finished off in the same combination as the front and thanks to the unobtrusive roll-cage are fully useable.

The trunk holds the race-spec fuel tank and the battery as well as the amplifier for the audio system.

Is something like this classic sixties Holden sedan the perfect sleeper? The wheels and exhaust note might give something away but who would ever think there is a 600 HP RB30 lurking under that stock exterior!

 

Hi Octane Racing

 

-Dino Dalle Carbonare

 

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PROJECT 86: YOU GOTTA START SOMEWHERE… AGAIN

When I got the memo asking whether I could start putting together a project story for the site every month, I got pretty excited. Why? Because many years ago (at least six or seven at a guess) I took a chance on a rather sorry-looking ’83 AE86 hatch. The Toyota had been exported from Japan to New Zealand in the early ’90s and since then had changed hands multiple times and racked up hundreds of thousands of kilometers. Although I already had a couple more AE86s in my garage at the time (call me greedy!), they were both JDM import Levins GT-Vs, and I had always longed for a JDM pop-up headlight Trueno in GT Apex spec.

My original idea was to build an Initial D-style car – not so much an inch-perfect replica like the car that Mike showed us the other day – but simply a stock-bodied AE86 finished in panda paint scheme and sitting on a set of gunmetal Watanabe wheels. The classic AE86 combo, if you like.

Of course, there were plans for modifications too. I wasn’t interested in building a drift car, but more of a fun street car that was set up to go, turn and stop equally well. Right from the start I resigned myself to using as many Japan-sourced aftermarket parts as I could, and where possible encompassing trends from my favourite era of Japanese performance tuning: the early-to-mid ’90s.

I got a little way down the road with the project but then other stuff called, like paying a mortgage, and appeasing my long-suffering missus by remodeling our home. Turns out there’s only so long you can store your collection of 114.3mm old school wheels in the bath tub! But if I thought restoring a 30-year old was an expensive enough challenge, my 80-something-year-old house well and truly taught me otherwise!

Suffice to say, up until a couple a months ago when we finally pulled the covers back off the car, the Trueno had been sitting idle for a long time. But given that the car is exactly 30 years old this year, now is time to right that wrong and get the car finished and back on the road where it belongs. But before I delve into the work that’s been completed thus far, I thought it would be a good idea to show you exactly what I’m working with. As I’m sure you can tell from the pictures above, which were taken when I first picked up the car after purchasing it sight unseen, the exterior wasn’t in a very good way at all. In keeping with that, neither was any other aspect of the car…

Apparently the 86′s factory engine had been just rebuilt and only run for a few hours, but I’m not so sure. The condition of the 4A-GE didn’t really matter though as I had already planned on piecing together another one based on a latter AE92-spec small-port head/seven-rib block engine. I’ll have more on that build in an upcoming post.

It’s often said that less is more, but I really wish that the previous owner hadn’t done this to the interior. He told me that he was planning to rally the car (hence the rally ride height and tyres), and therefore set about stripping and binning the interior in preparation for a roll cage which never eventuated. The good news is, I’ve been able to find all the bits needed to get the front part of the interior back up to its oh-so-’80s burnt red and chocolate brown factory spec, including a pair of the correct door cards without aftermarket speakers holes hacked into them. Believe me, that’s not been easy!

While the car obviously never saw a proper rally stage, it was thrashed up and down a hedge-lined gravel driveway, which goes some way to explaining the multiple scuffs and scrapes that ran the length of the bodywork. As dirty as it looked though, once all the dust and mud was washed away, I was very pleased to find a rust-free boot cavity and no signs of any previous rear-enders. Surprisingly, it still had its original wheel jack intact too!

As I thought it might – or at least hoped it might – although the AE86 looked rough on the outside (and inside), beneath its dulled and oxidized red paint, dents and scratches seemed to be a pretty honest car with no previous real damage. That’s something that we were able to confirm later at the body shop, where digital tools were used to accurately check all of its underbody measurements. The perfect starting point for a restoration? Well, not quite, but for the money I paid it was definitely close enough for me to bite the bullet and get the project under way.

And so a gratuitous spending frenzy ensued. It started off innocently enough with a phone call to Toyota New Zealand to see what new parts were still available for the AE86 ex-Japan. Turns out there was quite a lot…

Of course, it all added up quite quickly and before I knew it I had spent more of my savings on new OE parts than I had on buying the car in the first place! But that’s okay though. When the project is finally finished I think it’ll be the little details, like brand new lights on every corner, that’ll really make the car.

Not everything I’ve purchased has been new though. I was pretty to happy to find this hard-to-find little device along the way too, and in New Zealand even. A’PEXi never made a Power FC specifically for the AE86′s 4A-GE, but its specialist offshoot AP Engineering did.

Body-wise, Toyota New Zealand was able to supply me with every bolt-on panel except the two front fenders. However, a couple months spent scouring Yahoo Auctions turned up a mint example for each side, which were fitted up to the body (along with the new hood, new doors and new rear hatch) to make sure everything lined up nicely. As you’ll be able to tell from this shot, outer rear three-quarter panels were also on Toyota’s inventory, so I made the call to have both outers replaced. I was happy I did too, because removing the outer fender revealed a bit of rust on the edge of the inner fender, which was able to be taken care of before the panel was welded back on, along with a new rear tail light panel too.

Immediately the car went from looking all beat up and bent like this…

… to this, courtesy of Auckland body shop Westside Panelbeaters.

Before any welding happened though, I decided to paint the inside of the fenders. Why? Because rather than try and piece back the original interior in the rear of the car, I’ve decided to keep this end stripped bare. In keeping with the ’90s Japanese street theme, a Safety 21 bolt-in roll bar – which I’m well aware holds no real safety merit –  will fill some of the void. It should look pretty clean in here once it’s all white and shiny.

Even though getting the bodywork back in shape wasn’t a cheap exercise, I definitely feel that it was money well spent. Japanese cars from the early ’80s aren’t renowned for their resistance to rust – at least where I live anyway – so knowing that there’ll be no horrible surprises in that department any time soon is good peace of mind.

So this is what I’m working with, or at least it was a month or so back. Although I think the Trueno will end up largely the way that I first envisaged it would, some of my ideas have changed along the way, and some details are still yet to be decided. So I’m kind of excited to see how it all pans out in the end. What would you do if you were in my shoes?

There’s a bit more primer to lay and some final prep work to be done before I drop out the front crossmember and suspension, and detach the entire rear end. Then it’ll be off into the booth. I know it’ll be a good feeling to finally have it back home and wearing a brand new coat of paint. But more on that next month!

 

Brad Lord

 

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How A Coilover Works

Making your car handle better isn’t easy. Camber, caster, toe, roll centers, motion ratios-suddenly building a show car sounds like a pretty good idea. Aside from tires, your coilover shocks are the single most critical component to your car not handling like a turd. But if selecting the right coilovers were easy, show cars would be in short supply. Besides the more conventional type of coilover shocks that are standard equipment on most cars, there are also high-performance versions, slip-fit coilovers and full-bodied coilovers. The choices don’t end there, either: preload, material options, damping adjustability and the whole mono-tube versus twin-tube enigma is enough to make anyone care more about stuffed animals dangling from purple tow hooks than going fast.

More Than One Coilover Exists!

Coilovers Threaded Body Design

All adjustable coilovers feature a threaded body design that allows spring height and prel

Not all coilovers are created equal. In fact, there are three kinds: OEM-style spring-over-shock assemblies, slip-fit coilovers and full-bodied coilovers. OEM-style spring-over-shock assemblies are based off of a conventional shock, or strut assembly, that’s surrounded by its own coil spring. Such all-in-one coilovers are typically non-adjustable, feature fixed-length bodies and are precisely what you have no interest in reading about. Slip-fit coilovers are marginally more exciting and only slightly more complex. These consist of a hollow, threaded (usually aluminum) tube that slips over and sits on an existing shock’s perch and, with the help of a series of jam nuts, compresses or decompresses its spring to alter ride height. There’s virtually no performance gain to slip-fit coilovers, but they can be a quick and inexpensive way of dumping your car.

Full-bodied coilovers are what you’ve been thinking of since paragraph one. Full-bodied coilovers replace the entire factory spring and shock assembly and feature a threaded shock body for easy ride-height adjustments and, often times, adjustable damping. Similar to slip-fit coilovers, ride height adjustments are made through a series of jam nuts and by compressing or decompressing their springs. Higher-end coilovers also feature threaded lower bodies and lower mounts that can be screwed in and out for further ride height adjustments, essentially shortening the shock without altering spring compression. Another characteristic of higher-end, full-bodied coilovers is a shortened shock body, which allow for an even lower ride height without the risk of bottoming out.

Aside from the shock body, spring, jam nuts, and lower mount, the full-bodied coilover assembly may also include bump stops, dust boots and an upper mount assembly. Upper mount configurations vary depending on whether or not the suspension is based upon a double wishbone or MacPherson strut layout. Double wishbone layouts typically feature fixed upper mounts with rubber or polyurethane bushings while upper mounts designed for MacPherson setups typically include pillow-ball assemblies with camber and caster adjustability.

The Shock Body

Coilovers Full Body

Full-bodied coilovers typically feature two-way height adjustment by means of spring compr

At the heart of the full-bodied coilover is the shock. Like any shock, the coilover’s upper mount connects directly to the chassis while its lower mount connects to its lower A-arm in double wishbone layouts or the knuckle itself in MacPherson strut configurations.

Shocks control unwanted spring oscillations and reduce vibrations caused by the wheels and chassis. When you hit a bump, the suspension’s springs compress and decompress, absorb vibrations and transfer energy to the shocks through their upper mounts, into their pistons. As a result, the shocks dampen the vibrations, making that bump virtually unnoticeable. The degree to which all of this happens depends on the shock’s internals: stiffer shocks slow spring movement while softer shocks do the opposite.

Shocks do more than just reduce vibrations and control spring movement, though; they also eliminate rocking, pitching, dipping, wheel spinning and all sorts of other things that aren’t supposed to happen when turning or stepping on the gas or brake.

Inside the shock lies a hydraulic fluid-filled tube and piston. The piston pushes high-pressure fluid through the shock’s valves, controlling how it responds against the spring. Kinetic energy harnessed through suspension movement turns into heat energy that ultimately dissipates within the shock’s fluid. Valving is based upon small orifices perforated into the shock’s piston that allow hydraulic fluid to bleed through as the piston travels up and down.

Mono-Tube vs Twin-Tube

Modern coilover shocks are offered in two configurations: mono-tube and twin-tube. Mono-tube shocks feature a piston and rod assembly housed within the damping case where both compression and rebound duties occur.

Coilovers Bushings Nuts Collars

Full-bodied coilovers are made up of several components, including the shock body itself,

Twin-tube shocks feature two cylinders-the inner cylinder where the piston and shaft move up and down, and the outer cylinder, which serves as the hydraulic fluid reservoir. Twin-tube shocks allow for increased piston stroke, which can benefit ride quality and handling, but seldom overshadow the mono-tube design. Compared to twin-tube shocks, larger-diameter mono-tube shocks have the ability to displace more fluid, resulting in increased sensitivity to small suspension movements at low shaft speeds. The increased flow also allows for more consistent damping forces when compared to less expensive, twin-tube shocks. Most mono-tube shocks also run cooler than twin-tube designs because of their missing outer tubes.

Shock Travel

When selecting coilovers, making sure you’ve got enough shock travel is key and will help prevent bottoming out. In case you didn’t know: bottoming out is bad and defeats just about every single suspension modification you’ve made. The more travel, the better a shock can do its job. Spring choice also determines how much travel you’ll need. Stiffer springs require less travel since the shock won’t be able to compress as much.

Compression & Rebound

Full-bodied coilovers are available with three types of damping adjustability: manufacturer pre-set, single and double adjustable. Manufacturer pre-set coilovers are, not surprisingly, pre-set according to what the manufacturer thinks you need. Coilovers like these are typically valved for whatever springs they’re paired with.

Before looking at coilovers with adjustable damping, it’s important to understand what’s being adjusted: compression and rebound. Compression occurs when the shock’s piston moves into its body, compressing the hydraulic fluid in its chamber below. Rebound happens when it’s pulled away, again compressing its hydraulic fluid. Generally speaking, compression controls the motion of the car’s unsprung weight while rebound controls the motion of its sprung weight. In other words, compression controls how fast weight is applied toward the tire while rebound controls how fast weight moves away.

Coilovers Skunk2

A shock’s innter workings are fairly complicated and include a series of passages and valv

Shaft speed-the rate at which a shock’s valves perform-is also important. Low and medium speeds typically influence handling while higher speeds contribute to better performance when traveling over bumps. A good shock is designed with various speeds and situations accounted for.

Single-adjustable damping controls both compression and rebound strokes together while higher-end, double-adjustable, or split level control, systems manage compression and rebound independently. Depending on the manufacturer, adjustments can range from eight all the way up to 32 different user-set positions. Single-adjustable damping typically affects low-speed rebound and only slightly affects compression, if at all. Still, these changes can improve cornering provided the rest of the suspension wasn’t found on Craigslist. Adjustments are made with an externally mounted knob attached to a shaft that adjusts preload to a spring-loaded needle valve, which controls internal fluid flow. If you’re looking for dramatic changes, be sure to explore proper tires, shock and spring rates, and anti-roll bar options first. Damping adjustments are typically best left for fine tuning and specific chassis balance.

The Spring

It’s the springs that absorb bumps and control body roll, not the shocks. They do so by compressing and expanding to absorb individual wheel motion. It’s the springs’ job to prevent the chassis from bottoming out, control the tires when traveling over bumps, and manage body roll when cornering. They control squat while accelerating and reduce diving while braking. Springs also establish the car’s ride height and center of gravity, which directly affects handling. Spring rates should be selected carefully. If they’re too soft, the shocks will bottom out. If they’re too stiff, any given tire’s contact patch won’t be fully utilized when cornering.

Preload

Coilovers Inner Shock

A shock’s inner workings are fairly complicated and include a series of passages and valve

Preload is the amount of pressure applied to the springs based on how far they’re compressed. Generally, a given amount is required to achieve specific operating characteristics. Adding preload can help mechanical grip by improving tire contact when turning, but excessive amounts will hurt performance. The problem with slip-fit coilovers and full-bodied coilovers that don’t feature adjustable lower mounts is that ride height is adjusted dependent on preload. You can’t change one without the other. If your car is mainly driven on the street or sees the occasional track day, then this is likely an acceptable tradeoff.

The Set Up

Installing and properly setting up full-bodied coilovers to best take advantage of their benefits requires a bit more foresight than a simple shock and spring installation. Before placing them on the vehicle, each spring should be slightly and equally preloaded-just enough to keep them from bouncing around within their assemblies. Next, thread the lower shock mounts onto their bodies in equal amounts. Refer to your installation instructions, but you’ll typically want to make sure that the shock body threads into its lower mount at least one full inch. This is your maximum ride height. Install the coilovers, set the car on the ground, and assess its ride height. Reduce ride height as necessary using each shock’s lower mount. Avoid pre-loading the springs further to achieve an even lower ride height unless the lower mounts have completely maxed out.

Coilovers might seem mysterious, but keep in mind that all shocks try to accomplish the same thing. The major differences can be found in their design, materials, wear, reliability and rebuilding potential. No matter how much adjustability a given coilover offers, if they weren’t designed properly from the beginning, no amount of knob turning or spring compressing will help. In fact, a cruddy set of coilovers can bring out the worst in an otherwise good suspension. Unless you’ve studied suspension dynamics, you’re better off choosing a brand you trust and hope somebody there does know a thing or two about all of this…and doesn’t have a stuffed animal dangling from a purple tow hook.

source: superstreet

ALMS Long Beach Street Circuit

ALMS Long Beach Grand Prix American Le Mans Series

The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach kicked off this morning with the American LeMans cars circling the track. At 7:30AM, the pleasant sound of birds chirping was interrupted by an even better sound – a symphony of exhaust notes produced by the thirty three competition cars of the ALMS Series. All the people in the neighboring apartments definitely woke up to the sound of screaming engines if they weren’t awake already!

The Streets of Long Beach get transformed into a race track about 2 months before the annual Long Beach Grand Prix and as it gets closer to race day you can almost feel the excitement in the air. This will be the last year in which the ALMS will be running as a stand alone series, merging with Grand Am racing in 2014, and ultimately becoming the United SportsCar Racing Series.

If you get a chance to see ALMS racing this season, I urge you to go out and get out to the racetrack!

ALMS Long Beach Grand Prix American Le Mans Series

This morning, right before ALMS practice ended, the engine of the Dyson Racing Lola B12/60 started smoking right as it approached Turn 9, and as it passed under the Firestone bridge, I noticed these flames erupting from the rear of the car! Our friend Rex Torres told us it was caused by an injector O-ring! Man, such bad luck… :(

ALMS Long Beach Grand Prix American Le Mans Series

The GT class has to be one of the most interesting to watch because there are so many different manufacturers competing with essentially a race modified street car! The class consists of car manufacturers from Ferrari to BMW to Chevrolet all competing at the same time as the GTC, P1, P2, and PC classes, which are a group of various cars from Porsche GT3 Cup cars to Prototype racecars.

ALMS Long Beach Grand Prix American Le Mans Series

This yellow topped SRT Viper GTS-R is being driven by Jonathan Bomarito from Monterey CA and Kuno Wittmer from Montreal QC. Both of the Vipers sound pretty mean out on the track!

ALMS Long Beach Grand Prix American Le Mans Series

This Weathertech Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 is being driven by Cooper MacNeil and and Jeroen Bleekemolen. Everyone at MotorMavens LOVES Weathertech. We were invited to the Weathertech party at SEMA, and it was seriously one of the best parties we attended all week! (And we attended at least 10-12 parties that week!) They had awesome entertainment and an amazing seafood buffet with mountains of jumbo prawns and tuna sashimi! Oh, and Weathertech makes awesome weatherproof floormats too! :)

ALMS Long Beach Grand Prix American Le Mans Series

The two Ferrari 458 Italias competing this year are clad in more traditional colors than last years Tequila Patron Liveries. They look REAL good this way! This 458 is being campaigned by Risi Competizione, North America’s leading Ferrari GT team, privately owned and managed by Giuseppe Risi. The Houston-based team has competed with the Ferrari 458 Italia GT in the GT class of both the ALMS and Grand-Am series.

ALMS Long Beach Grand Prix American Le Mans Series

Here’s a slow pan from Mike Kim, which helps to illustrate the speed of the 458 Italia as it rockets through Turns 9, 10, and 11. If only the photo could capture the SOUND!

ALMS Long Beach Grand Prix American Le Mans Series

Through the break in the fences, I captured a rear shot of this TRG Porsche 911 heading into the sun. I’ll have to check it out closer in the pits.

ALMS Long Beach Grand Prix American Le Mans Series

Everyone who follows Falken Tire on Facebook has seen this 911 GT3 RSR, which is being driven by Wolf Henzler and Bryan Sellers. This is probably one of the most publicized cars in the ALMS Series!

ALMS Long Beach Grand Prix American Le Mans Series

This #52 ORECA FLM09 prototype car driven by Luis Diaz posted a 1:34.763, the best lap of the session in the PC class!

ALMS Long Beach Grand Prix American Le Mans Series

We’ll end this installment of Long Beach ALMS coverage with a rear panning shot of this SRT Motorsports Viper GTS-R with a Fast & Furious 6 sticker on the door. Ironically enough, the car is being driven by a certain Dominic Toretto… oh wait, I mean Dominik Farnbacher… and Marc Goossens.

I guess we better get back to the track now… there are more cars for us to shoot!

:: Antonio Alvendia

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TAS2013: THE TUNER SELECTION

It’s time to dedicate a bit of time to the true tuner cars that were dotted around the vastness that was the Tokyo Auto Salon this year. Performance is the name of the game here and if there is a bit of style thrown in for good measure you can rest assured it’s all driven by functionality. Ever since my first TAS I have always started shooting show from the RE-Amemiya booth. If you enter the Makuhari Messe from the parking lot side of the the exhibition centre the rotary tuner’s stand is the first one you will find and always a great spot to get started from as “Ama-san” always seems to surprise.

He swore that last year’s NA Super 7 would be his final full-blown conversion based on the FD and most assumed this meant no more wild cars from him all together, but of course that is just not going to happen, not from Amemiya-san! Instead he used an old Lotus Europa project he started years ago and decided to finish it. The result is this FD-faced, 911-headlight wearing, Lotus hybrid creation thing. It’s strange and cool at the same time and if the looks don’t do it for you then what is under the engine cover should…

…because this vintage Lotus chassis is powered by an NA 20B!

Kei cars have always made the streets of Japan all the more unique, and it’s been a while since a new yellow-plated car has been such a hit with tuning shops. The Honda N-One, which borrows its retro-ish front design from the Honda N360, is obviously the Kei car of 2013 and there were lots of modified versions around like this particular example built by Endless and running their compact 6-pot front calipers.

As you probably saw in our team spotlight-o-rama post Mugen came up with the coolest one of the lot but I also like the Blitz one, slammed on a set of BRW Profile 16-inch rims, matte black of course to match the grille and blacked out headlights. It will be cool to see what kind of engine tuning parts will be developed for this car.

I have a feature coming of the Pit Road M Mitsubishi GTO, so I won’t say much except it’s one of wildest GTO’s ever built.

Phoenix’s Power has established itself as one of the must-go-to shops for R35 upgrades. On top of a ton of bolt on goodies they will cater to your every need…

…including shipping your car to Italy so it can participate at the Option Magazine organized Nardo’ top speed challenge later in the year. That’s exactly where this 1200 HP customer R35 has been sent off to today! Sounds like a cool event!

Art Tech Hanatsuka may not be the most well known name in JDM tuning but since having surfaced at a few other events in the last few years it has quickly stood out for coming up with some cool cars, much like this awesome Z-tune kitted BNR34. I really must make the trek up to Tochigi and shoot this beast!

There was plenty on show at the RH9 area, like the T-get san-yon above and the Marche BRZ.

We will be seeing more of the HKS Kansai Service R35 track car at the Premium Day at the end of the month but I thought I’d show you at least one picture of this awesomely tuned GT-R. It’s hard not to like the 20-inch white Yokohama RCs

Unlike SEMA there were only a few of GT-Rs wearing the BenSopra kit at TAS, but seeing it painted in yellow and fitted to a JUN customer car certainly gave it a very different feel to the white and bronze demo cars that BenSopra had on show last year.

I know I keep saying this, but if Mizuno-san and his team at Nissan don’t make a limited edition version GT-R wearing a GT-3 inspired widebody…

…they will have failed the GT-R brand as a whole. The “R” in the GT-R stands for “racing” and aside from a sort of failed attempt with the SpecV I feel every version of the GT-R has been too much “GT” oriented. So more “R” means a more spartan interior, half a roll cage…

…and of course slight blisters around the fenders as well as race inspired styling. Hell even RWD to make it more like the race car! It’s what Porsche does with the GT3 and the GT3 RS, or the GT2 and GT2 RS so Nissan PLEASE, this is something you have to do.  Maybe the soon to be opened, all-new Nismo might be able to give a few ideas!

I mean come on, even a Suzuki Twin comes in an RS version…thanks to Ducks-Garden.

Impulse as ever had some impressive AE86s on display like this spotless street example…

…running a highly tuned 4AG.

More cool Kei car tuning thanks to Prest with this Mira slammed on a set of green Meisters.

Garage G-Force has worked wonders with the CZ4A and the 4B11 that powers it. On top of building the fastest time attack Evo X in Japan, it has recently put the finishing touches to this more street oriented car. Highlights include a 500+ HP tune, SST dual-clutch transmission for everyday drivability and a set of the brand new Volk Racing TE37RTs.

These “Rigid Tuned” rims are actually 16 grams heavier than the popular TE37SL but 6% stiffer for better performance all round. These wheels will initially be available in red but more colors will follow.

They were also joined by the TE37TTA “Tokyo Time Attack” which now feature a machined Volk Racing logo, a great way to make it harder for suspect companies to copy the real thing.

Joining the top of the line forged monoblock Volk Racing wheel are the more affordable cast Gram Lights with this new 20-inch 57FXX wheel…

…as well as the multi spoke Volk G25s which were a big hit with tuner cars last year.

Now here is a car that really made me smile. Built in Italy by Team Ciociaro Corse this racing Fiat 500 shares only a few parts with the actual car it’s based on…

…as it’s built around a bespoke tubular frame chassis, FRP removable body…

…and powered by an Aprilia RSV4 V-4 bike motor. It kind of reminded me of the Mini Quattro I shot at Gatebil! What an awesome little car!

There are no doubts that the BenSopra 380SX stole the show this year, much like their GT-R did in 2012. The project has been put together by Ueta-san in order to compete in the Option top speed challenge in Nardo’. On top of an all-new aero created for BenSopra by our good friend Miura-san of TRA Kyoto…

…Ueta-san and his mechanic made sure that it would have enough power to reach their goal of getting as close as possible to the 400 km/h mark (248 mph). More on this car soon.

Another 180SX that really stood out at the Option area in the North hall was this beautifully widened example built by Spirit and sitting on a set of Work Meisters…

…with plenty of aggressive offset. It looked especially good form the rear!

The 13B is renowned for requiring regular and at times expensive maintenance, not to mention having questionable reliability when highly tuned. So, for a dedicated drift car a more reliable option may be a better choice…

…as this Sexy Knights, Chiba Damashi team FD shows with its 2JZ swap.

For those into Honda, and in particular S2000s there were certainly some pretty inspiring cars to feast one’s eyes on starting off with this carbon masterpiece built by J’s Racing.

Under the hood this AP1 sports a 2.4L bottom end and a highly tuned head good for 320 HP.

Check out the rear view of the J’s Racing GT widebody conversion! Plenty of aero to keep this beast glued to the track.

Not too far from the orange carpeted Option and Option 2 areas was this Racing Factory S2000, a little more street-oriented than the J’s Racing demo car…

…but with plenty of attention having been given to the performance side of things too.

And to finish up a this third S2000 built in collaboration with Evasive Motorsports, running Gram Lights 57Xtreme and a superb aero package that gives the car a very modern feel.

Next up from Tokyo Auto Salon will be a look at the VIP and Vans side of things, a very important part and growing aspect of the show. Make sure you check back soon!

 

Tokyo Auto Salon 2013 coverage on Speedhunters

 

-Dino Dalle Carbonare

 

 

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source: speedhunters

UPDATED NSX CONCEPT REVEALED AT NAIAS

Hot on the heels of the Corvette unveiling at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Honda have showcased the latest evolution of their Acura NSX concept. Unlike the Corvette, that at least tries to hand down some of the family likeness to the new sibling, Honda have had no such qualms about a complete reinvention – mid-mounted V6 aside.

This new version is little changed from the original concept shown off a year ago, with its low and wide stance, short overhangs front and rear and angular lines. But the body has has been subtly streamlined and adds carbon fibre elements, and the nose and tail have been lightly refined with new grilles.

More angular, throwing-star shaped carbonated rims have also been added for 2013.

The 3.5-litre V6 engine is supplemented by a full hybrid powertrain: what Honda call the Sport Hybrid Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive, which is rather a mouthful. It adds three electric motors, one on each front wheel and a third integrated with the transmission and powering the rear wheels. All these systems are tied together with a torque management control system that dynamically delivers power where needed.

A potential new plush interior treatment has been shown off, with a high central tunnel providing a clear definition between the driver and passenger compartments in the cockpit and a simple, driver-focussed set of instruments to minimise clutter.

All this is still being touted as a ‘possible direction’ for the NSX, not the final product – which isn’t due until 2015 – so further developments can be expected as the design evolves. It’s going to be a long two years…

 

Jonathan Moore

 

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source: speedhunters

THE DAY THAT I WISHED WOULD NEVER END…

My favorite event ever.

I suppose that’s a strong statement considering how many great automotive gatherings I’ve had the pleasure to visit, but if someone asks me what my single favorite event is I’d easily answer with “the JCCA New Year Meeting”.

There are so many different words I could use to describe the New Year Meeting experience, but I think the best one is “overwhelming”. I mean overwhelming in its most positive form. Too many amazing sights and sounds for the mind to process. The New Year Meeting spans the course seven hours, but if I had my way it would last seven days.

And I don’t mean that just in the sense that the event is good, but in the literal sense that a one day is not nearly enough time to see everything the New Year Meeting has to offer. There are just so many different sides to this gathering. So many storylines in this vintage automotive opera in the middle of Tokyo Bay.

I think most of the regular attendees come to the New Year Meeting for a specific purpose. Some come to see rare foreign and exotic classics. Some come to hunt for parts and collectables in the swap meet, some come only to cruise and hang with their buddies in the parking lot.

For a wide-eyed Yankee like myself though, it’s almost too good. 2013 marks my fourth New Year Meeting experience and it just gets better each year. Where do I even start?

As I learned when I attended this event for the first time several years ago, the parking lot is just as good if not better than the show itself. This year I decided I’d head straight to the parking lot upon arriving at Odaiba in the morning.

The main gates of the show hadn’t even opened yet and already the lot was jammed full of exciting machinery. I think many of these cars gathered before dawn to make the trek down to the Odaiba, or perhaps they headed here right after a night of street running?

Whatever the case, the New Year Meeting parking lots are unbelievably awesome. Every sect of Japan’s vintage car scene can be seen here, from full-on works replicas like this flared Mazda Savanna.

…to impossibly low street machines like this Z10 Toyota Soarer – a perennial favorite of the shakotanists. While there were very few of these cars within the main JCCA show, the parking lot was brimming with them.

“Sexy Night”, proclaims the windshield banner of this Celica XX kaido racer in full competition colors.

70 chassis Corolla? Plenty of those too. This sedan was looking very tasty dumped low on Equip 03s. Ready for battle.

Of course the S30 Fairlady Z could also be found in every style imaginable. I wanted to salute this Ibaraki-based kaido racer style ZG with its stars and stripes paint work.

Meanwhile, this stunningly beautiful Z432 presents a completely different take on the S30. I especially like the modest, works-inspired front chin spoiler.

If I had time I could do several posts full of nothing but Hakosuka Skylines. Hiking around the Odaiba area on Sunday, you’d encounter everything from fully restored GT-Rs and tough looking street replicas…

…to mind blowing kaido racers like frame-dragging Shinshi Racing KGC10 on its dramatically widened steel wheels. Scrape scrape!

I certainly wasn’t the only one hunting around for cool cars in the parking lot. The Ebina Racing 910 Bluebird was stopping everyone that walked by it. As you can see, it’s been built as a rather convincing replica of the Autobacs Super Silhouette racer from the early ’80s.

Corolla perfection. Not only did this 70 sedan have the style down, it was so clean you could eat off it. Unbelievable.

Of course the New Year Meeting isn’t just about Japanese cars. Vintage imports of every type could be found mixed among the sea of domestic vehicles. Here’s a beautiful Lancia Fulvia HF I stumbled across.

Elsewhere I caught this ’70 Road Runner sporting a pretty wicked stance. The Kawasaki number plates proudly state the cubic inch displacement of its big block Mopar V8.

Speaking of rumbling V8s, at one point I was walking down the street and heard the distinctive song of a Ford small block winding up. I turned just in time to catch this ’67 Shelby GT350 disappearing into the afternoon sun. Sensory overload.

Yes. All that, and we haven’t even gotten inside the actual show yet…

By early afternoon I finally headed inside the gates and joined the massive crowd of people enjoying the “official” New Year Meeting

While there are plenty of amazing cars that enter the show every year, the big crowds and the tightly packed spaces don’t make for the most ideal photographic conditions. I wandered the rows for a bit and shot what I could, then headed for one of the greatest parts of the event…

…the fleet market and vendor booth areas. After past year’s experiences I’ve learned to keep my wallet light at the New Year Meeting or risk blowing my entire trip budget on car parts or other rare goodies.

Of course even if I did bite the bullet for a set of wheels, over fenders, or something else, the logistics of getting them back to my garage in the states would be another challenge entirely. Maybe I should be thankful for that?

Oh sweet temptation. I’m not even going to talk about how cheap some of these wheels were compared to what they sell for in the US because I’d just regret not buying a set even more…

Then again there were plenty of lighter, less expensive things to blow money on as well. Vintage model kits anyone?

Steering wheels too. More of them than you can imagine.

Speaking of steering wheels, the Datsun Compe wheel is a legendary piece among classic Nissan owners. Peek inside any properly done S30 or Hakosuka and there’s a good chance you’ll see this wheel.

I’m a sucker for old magazines, so there was a lot to like here…

Again it became an issue of time. I could have spent hours just digging through these boxes of mags, but then I wouldn’t have had time to photograph any actual cars…

The same goes for the thousands of rare diecast cars being sold by various shops and individuals. I felt like I could have spent days hunting through these things. I did end up buying a few though, which I’ll share with you guys sometime later.

Stickers! I quite liked these Ossan (old man) and Niisan (older brother) decals. Fitting, given the type of cars we are talking about here.

With so much to see and so little time, I’d be completely happy if I woke up in a Bill Murray Groundhog Day scenario where every day was the JCCA New Year Meeting. Unfortunately when I woke up this morning in my hotel it was just another Monday….

No worries though. Lots more to come from Odaiba.

-Mike

 

 

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Video : 2013 Pro Winter Top Fuel Drag Race

Exclusive BangShift.com VIdeo from the 2013 PRO Winter Warmup Top Fuel and Funny Car Event at Palm Beach International Raceway. John Force, Courtney Force, Jack Beckman, Ron Capps, Cruz Pedregon, Robert Hight, and all your favorite professional NHRA Nitro class drivers running record breaking ETs and Speeds.

STYLE MAKER: NAGANO KOUBOU

Ever since running across Nagano-san and his creations at past Nagoya Exciting Car Showdowns, I’ve been wanting to drop by his workshop in the outskirts of Kyoto for quite some time. It’s hard to put a finger on it all but Paint & Cutting Make Nagano Koubou has been extremely influential in creating the very unique Kansai drift flavor we have seen over the last few years on a lot of cars.

Nagano Koubou primarily deals with the aesthetics of a car, so the selection and preparation of body parts, the fitting and molding or modifying, and finally the painting of course. But for a one-manned body shop this little garage has churned out some pretty wild and recognizable cars…

…some of which happened to be parked outside when we stopped by. The Rose Bud Onevia…

…and the green S13 next to it are two dorisha that we are all very familiar with, built to not only showcase the unique style of Nagano-san…

…but to be used hard at local drift tracks like Meihan.  Sitting extremely low and sporting riveted on overfenders they both manage to exhibit a very 90′s inspired style spiced up with some modern stylistic touches.

Nagano-san lifted the hood open on the Onevia to give an idea of the amount of work that has gone into turning this into a very capable slider. But we won’t get into all of that quite yet, you will have to wait for a feature on the car to indulge in its rough yet purposeful drift set up. It’s the shop we are here to see now…

…so let’s continue on with our little tour. Outside the garage, which is located right at the bottom of a dead-end street, there are countless cars sitting there either waiting for a full make over or in to get a little bit of touch up work done. There are tons of used tires stacked up along with old and damaged bits of aero, all waiting to be picked up and disposed of.

As I head inside the actual workshop itself, it’s the details that I am drawn to like the old pictures on the walls of the old projects that Nagano-san worked on which include his old Civic kanjo racer, one of the most popular cars to race back years ago in this particular area of Kansai. Actually TRA Kyoto and Miura-san, another ex-kanjo racer, is only a five-minute drive from Nagano Koubou.

No self-respecting workshop would be without a sticker bombed fridge…

…or tool cabinet!

During our visit Nagano-san was in the process of prepping an aero kit for a customer’s Soarer…

…which would soon be receiving a bit of a make over.

A souped up Radio Flyer always comes in handy!

For any painter and creator of new styles his workbench is probably the most important are of his shop. This is where custom colors and finishes get mixed and devised…

…before being applied by hand with one of these little gadgets.

Nagano-san of course doesn’t limit himself to any particular style, in fact as of late – like a lot of shops in Japan – has begun embracing the more USDM influence that has been steadily flowing into Japan, from the whole stance movement to its various interpretations.

He actually had a customer’s imported Scion bB in for some work…

…serving as a good example of what other type of projects he is involved in.

But there is only so much one can take in from visiting a body shop like Paint & Cutting Make Nagano Koubou, as his creations would speak far louder than any behind the scenes look into his activity. So, to do just that…

…you can expect a feature on one of his latest projects, a Onevia that perfectly illustrates the continuous fusion of styles that is occurring right now in Japan.  So I leave you with a few desktops for now, but don’t forget to check back shortly for a detailed look at this very pink S13!

 

Paint & Cutting Make Nagano Koubou

Nagoya Exciting Car Showdown Coverage 2013

 

Dino Dalle Carbonare

 

 

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THE PRANCING HORSE DESCENDS ON SUZUKA

You may remember that I featured a very special and unique Ferrari F40 around this time last year. I titled that feature ‘An afternoon with a legend‘ – a rather fitting choice of words I thought, considering my particular infatuation with Ferrari’s rawest ever street car. Today, at Suzuka circuit, I counted a total of 12 F40s, three 288 GT0s, three F50s, three Enzos and eight 599 GTOs…shall I keep going?

But this being Japan, and today’s event being the first day of the Ferrari Racing Days, such a mouthwatering turnout was to be expected.

Tomorrow will actually be the main day, but there was no way I was going to hit the sack without sharing some of the awesomeness I witnessed today. On top of these sort of views in the paddock…

… were views of practice and the first qualifying session of the Asia Pacific Challenge series.

This international mix of 458 Challenge drivers will be pitching their race cars against each other…

and a very special guest…

… who will starting from the very last place on the grid and attempting to work his way up towards P1. Any ideas who it might be?

Ferrari Japan has done an incredible job putting this event together.

No matter if you are a die-hard Cavallino enthusiast…

… or just there to enjoy the sights and sounds of some of Ferrari’s rarest limited edition creations.

These privately owned cars were neatly lined up in the paddock for everyone to see and enjoy…

… but Ferrari had also prepared a variety of display areas inside the pits, like this beautifully-lit selection.

Unfortunately Ferrari’s latest hypercar, LaFerrari, wasn’t present, but the official launch video was being projected onto a big screen in one of the pits.

Seeing that Ferrari’s history hadn’t been forgotten was a very welcome surprise. Cars like this 1957 250GT Tour De France…

… sat along side other greats, like the 1967 375GTB/4 Daytona.

Ferrari is attempting to create a stronger and more accessible bond with its fans, and allowing them to get up-close-and-personal with its current line up is a great way to show everyone first hand what Ferrari design and quality is all about. Its latest front engined V12 beast, the F12 Berlinetta, which represents the true essence of modern day Ferraris, was one of the cars that people could check out.

It was probably by mid-afternoon that the action on track intensified. In between the various Challenge practice sessions…

… Ferrari Japan’s own press fleet was used to give lucky fans a quick spin around Suzuka.

Customers that had signed up for the soukoukai session had a chance to drive their cars hard…

… but no matter how good of a driver you are, you should always remember to warm up your tires first. This 599 GTO ended up in the kitty litter in its out lap, understeering out from the “S” curves. Luckily no damage was done.

In a closed-off pit four FXXs were being prepped for their short outing on track tomorrow. I can’t wait to hear their unbridled V12 engines scream down the Suzuka straight at full noise!

The Challenge series continued to race right until 6pm tonight…

… the drivers attempting to string together a fast lap during the first qualifying session of the weekend. With the possibility of rain for tomorrow’s final qualifier, getting a good time today was a must.

Shooting at tracks up and down Japan almost on a weekly basis sort of tones down your enthusiasm for the cars you get to see. But today was very different. Seeing all these cars lined up…

… and then blasting around Suzuka really put a smile on my face. Talk about a once in a lifetime opportunity. Which I why I am still up at 2am putting this post together…

… so I could share this first selection of images from the unique day with you. A day where I found a little slice of Italy right in the middle of Japan.

I’ll be back soon with more from Suzuka, but in the meantime make sure you download some of the desktops below.

 

Dino Dalle Carbonare

 

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source: speedhunters