Nissan ZEOD RC – “World’s Fastest Electric Racing Car”

Nissan ZEOD RC uses the same battery technology used in the Nissan LEAF.  It’s speed exceeds 186mph or 300km/h

Nissan revealed the ZEOD RC – “the world’s fastest electric racing car”, according to Nissan, that is expected to achieve speeds of more than 186 mph.

Standing for “Zero Emission On Demand Racing Car”, the ZEOD RC employs the same lithium battery technology used in the Nissan LEAF.  It will make its testing debut in the late summer of this year and will make its first race appearance at the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hour.

 

 

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source: japanesesportcar

OLE ORANGE BANG: TILL DEATH DO US PART

It saddens me everyday as I drive around Los Angeles, stuck in traffic surrounded by big metal things with four wheels. They are not cars, they are simply methods of transportation, also known as ‘mots.’

You don’t fall in love with a mot. You trade it in when it gets old, you smash it into things when you get bored. It’s a cookie cutter world and most people drive mots.

Speedhunters is about car culture and Ole Orange Bang is most definitely not a mot. It is a car, and it has become a living breathing part of my family. ‘Till death do us part.

On my wedding night instead of being ferried away in a fancy limousine, I drove my beautiful wife home in my 1970 SR20DET-powered Datsun 240z.

Since it had been sitting for a few weeks, I thought it was about time to take it out once again – not only so it could see the light of day, but also to do some much needed canyon carving.

Wedding burnouts really take a toll on the cleanliness of the car, so I wanted to make sure it looked its sunday best before I took it out for a stroll.

Nothing pains me more than seeing carbon fiber parts fade in the sun, so I always make sure to take extra care of my hood.

I am sure this is a familiar sight for you Speedhunters out there. It’s funny because my neighbors look at me weird and ask me why I don’t just take my car to a car wash. They just don’t understand because they drive mots.

Since my last post I haven’t done much to the car besides adding a new steering wheel. I really liked the wooden look of the stock wheel…

… but it was too large. That, and I’ve always wanted a premium steering wheel.

I left the Kazama shift knob alone because I actually really like the feel of it. It’s solid and quite heavy and as our fearless leader Rod Chong always says, one of the most important parts of the car are the surfaces that you touch when you’re using it.

Because I’m away from home for weeks at a time I end up having to jump start my car everytime I want to drive it. My wife took notice and bought me this trickle charger. You see why I married her?

I’ve made it a ritual now everytime I drive the thing. I have to unhook the battery charger…

… and I have to check all its fluids. As this is an old car, at one point or another everything has leaked.

The summers in Los Angeles get quite hot so I added some Red Line Water Wetter. I also figured I would put in some Fuel System Cleaner as the motor already has about 3000 miles on it now since it was built.

Just one last touch and I was ready to hit the road. This metal Speedhunters license plate surround will be available soon…

I’ve driven nice roads all over the world, but there is something special about a palm tree-lined road leading into the mountains.

With a full tank of fuel and the pre-flight check looking good, it was time to do some canyon carving.

I decided to hit up some local roads just a few miles away from my house. This road sign should actually read “Fun for the next 20 miles.”

The road is much less traveled as currently it does not go anywhere. You can check out the route (courtesy of Google Maps) here.

It’s located right next to the much more famous Glendora Mountain Road, also known as GMR.

On the way up you pass this beautiful recreation area. There are many places around here for camping and hiking, as well as one of the largest shooting ranges in the area, located in the mountains. This is America after all.

This area is also an off-road haven for the four wheelers and trail riders out there. You just have to pay a small fee.

Here are some of the trails that you can drive on. Just don’t get stuck.

It seemed like the ribbons of hot asphalt were never-ending on the lower portion of the road with many sweeping third and fourth gear turns. I always take it easy as there’s no way to tell what is going to be around the next bend.

As I was about to start climbing to around 7000 feet I left my AEM multi gauge on the water temperature setting just to keep an eye on it.

As I neared the top section of the road, the turns got tighter and tighter, which meant I was mostly using second and third gears.

In the winter time it actually does snow up here. It’s hard to believe you can walk on snow just a few miles outside of Los Angeles.

I’ve driven these roads before with snow banks lining the outside. It can be quite dangerous though, as they don’t use salt on them so black ice can form very quickly.

Since I’m covering events on the weekends the only time I get to take the Z-car out is during the week.

This road is practically empty with very little traffic during the weekdays. Sometimes I try riding my road bike up the same road, only to fail half way and turn back.

It was about 95 degrees fahrenheit down by my house, but up in the mountains it was a cool 65 degrees.

Many people come up here on the weekends to go fishing at Crystal Lake, and that’s pretty much the only traffic this road gets now.

This road used to connect to the other side of the mountain, but a few years back it rained very heavily and the road was damaged due to landslides.

Ever since then they closed the road to all traffic. It has created a sort of motoring heaven, as you don’t really have to worry about traffic.

Maybe in a couple of years they will fix this portion of the road, but until then I will continue to come here and enjoy the wonderful drive.

If you look over the cliff you can see the stretch of road leading up to the top.

The view from the top was breathtaking as always. You can see the smog in the distance creeping up the mountain, but the air quality was drastically cleaner up here.

Every now and then I could hear the note of a performance exhaust echoing off the face of the mountains, but it was quite rare.

As a tradition I always stop by the cafe located right next to the lake for a bite to eat.

They should probably just leave the needle on critical, as it always seems like Los Angeles is on fire in one part or another.

If you ever happen to drive this dream road make sure you spot by this little trading post – they make great tuna sandwiches. Everybody loves the tuna there.

My car is now 43 years old, much older that I am, but from the day I laid eyes on it I’ve taken good care of it. It has brought me so much joy and hopefully one day my children will be able to enjoy Ole Orange Bang…

What sort of dream roads do you guys drive your cars on?

 

Larry Chen

 

 

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source: speedhunters

Veyron of Hybrids: 2014 Volkswagen XL1

Feather Weight: With its ostrich-winged doors, Volkswagen’s new mileage champ, the XL1, is the Veyron of hybrids.

 

If you drove a Volkswagen XL1, you’d be unlikely to encounter anything like it coming the other way. That’s because VW plans to build only 250 copies of its 283-mpg hyper-hybrid, and also because GM long ago crushed most of its EV1s, from which the XL1 looks almost entirely plagiarized.

Here’s another example of VW chairman Ferdinand Piëch going to extremes—in this case, to show his many critics in the German Green Party where to stick it. The XL1 is 1800 pounds of carbon fiber, aluminum, and plastic propelled by a two-cylinder turbo-diesel engine sharing the trunk with an electric motor. As of this writing, this Karmann Ghia of tomorrow may be sold or leased, VW hasn’t decided, but any sticker price should exceed $120,000. Sorry; European distribution only.

Just 45.4 inches tall, the XL1 is half an inch lower than a Lambor­ghini Gallardo, and it would be impossible for anyone but Tom Thumb dipped in Vaseline to enter through conventional doors. Even so, normal people climbing in have to bow deeply under the forward-winged hatches, step over a sill that is nearly a foot wide, and drop into a body that clears the ground by a mere three inches. If you expect this Volks­wagen XL1 to be a sports car, with its proportions and ultra-lightweight carbon-fiber tub with attached aluminum crash structures and body panels, you are mistaken. Push the starter button to see.

Instead of engine yowl, an indicator at the bottom of the central speedometer ­simply reads “READY.” Pull the lever of the seven-speed, magnesium-case, dual-clutch automatic to “D,” and push the accelerator. The electric motor integrated into the ­gearbox gently whirs like a blender, and the XL1 moves off. The low-rolling-resistance Michelins sound like grinding millstones—they are sized 115/80R-15 in front and 145/55R-16 in back, and no, that is not a misprint. The front rubber, just 4.5 inches wide, is inflated to 44 psi.

slim fastThere is no single silver bullet for creating the world’s most efficient production car. No, it takes a flurry of them, and the XL1 relies on meticulous optimization of aerodynamics and weight to meet its audacious goals. Steel and iron account for less than a quarter of the car’s 1800-pound weight, and the 0.004-inch-thick coat of paint is 50 percent lighter than a typical carbon-fiber paint job. Other details:

The skinny tires provide a comfortable ride up to city speeds. As the car accelerates on electric power, an orchestra of mechanical noises plays from the wheels and the transaxle. Every push of the brake pedal is accompanied by the rumble of pads sanding the ceramic discs. “We did not use any insulation,” says VW development engineer Ulrich Mitze, stating the obvious. “And the side windows are made of polycarbonate.”

Saving weight was the major developmental target for the second most extreme project within the Volkswagen Group after the Bugatti Veyron. The goal was a saleable “1-liter car,” or one capable of averaging 1.0 liter/100 km of fuel consumption. That’s a target of 235 mpg, nearly five times better than a Toyota Prius’s EPA combined rating. And VW claims to have beaten it.

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source: caranddriver

New Corvette Stingray turns 12-second quarter-mile

2014 Corvette Stingray Price and Performance GM
The 2014 Corvette Stingray will go 0-60 in 3.8 seconds on its way to a 12-second quarter-mile.

The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray with an available performance package has been rated as the best performing standard Corvette to date.

The 2014 Vette with the performance-exhaust system can make the 0-60 sprint in 3.8 seconds. Braking from 60-0 mph takes just 107 feet, and the Stingray can sustain 1.03g in cornering.

A Corvette with the performance and magnetic ride-control package lapped the 4.2-mile Virginia International Raceway Grand Concourse in 2 minutes, 51.78 seconds. To achieve those figures, the Stingray was modified to include a racing seat and harness, and fire extinguisher system.

The Corvette equipped with the performance package is priced at $56,590. The Stingray goes on sale this September with a base $51,995 price (including destination charges).

The $2,800 optional Z51 performance package adds an electronic limited-slip differential; dry-sump oiling system; integral brake, differential and transmission cooling; and aero package.

Magnetic Ride Control with Performance Traction Management is a $1,795 option.

 

By: Angie Fisher

 

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source: autoweek

Kia Cross GT Concept revealed at Chicago Auto Show

Kia Cross GT Concept Kia
The Kia Cross GT Concept is an evolution from the Kia GT we saw in Frankfurt.

The Kia Cross GT Concept made its debut Thursday at the Chicago Auto Show. The concept is the next version of the Kia GT that we saw in 2011.

The Cross was penned in the Kia Design Center America in Irvine, Calif., the same shop that drew up the Track’ster, KV7 and Soul’ster concepts and the 2014 Kia Forte.

The Cross GT is a crossover with a long wheelbase, short overhangs and a wide stance. Kia says the Cross GT is of the same bloodline as the Sorento SUV, but with an additional 15.7 inches of wheelbase, 8.4 inches of length, and almost 5 inches of width. The roofline, though, is lower.

The rear doors open suicide-style, offering better access to the back seat. We’d be floored if those made it to a production version. The cargo area opens like a clamshell with a separate tailgate and glass hatch. Multi-paneled, hexagonal skylights dot the roof.

The hypothetical powertrain for this car — which is strictly a concept — is a 3.8-liter V6 combined with an electric motor, producing 400 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque. It would be connected to an eight-speed automatic transmission and a torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system. Kia says the concept could go 20 miles on electric power alone.

Inside the Cross GT, four seats are anchored to the center tunnel, which makes them appear to float in the cabin. Reclaimed American walnut covers the instrument panel while renewable wool is used for touchable surfaces. Heating, radio and navigation functions are controlled with a touchscreen in the dash and mouse pad on the steering wheel.

We rate the chances of this car going into production at close to nil. Even Kia marketing chief Michael Sprague concedes that this is only one direction the company might try.

“Our customers are looking to the Kia brand to offer relevant vehicles in the premium segments that take value to new levels of sophistication,” said Sprague. “The Cross GT is the next logical step in that evolution. And while only a concept today, it signals one possible design direction we may explore for the future.”

Kia Cross GT Concept Kia
The Kia Cross GT debuted at the Chicago Auto Show.
Kia Cross GT Concept Kia
The Kia Cross GT has a hypothetical powertrain making 400 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque.
About the Chicago Auto Show

The Chicago Auto Show is held every February at McCormick Place and bills itself as “The Nation’s Largest.” Pickup trucks traditionally have had a big showing in Chicago, as have green and small cars. This year marks the 105th Chicago Auto Show; press days are Feb. 7-8 while public days are Feb. 9-18.

source: autoweek

Global Time Attack at Road Atlanta

Global Time Attack Road Atlanta GTA Professional Awesome Racing Dan O'Donnell Jason Dienhart

Road Atlanta and Global Time Attack are a match made in heaven. If you combine a 2.54 mile road course that rolls through the green hills of Georgia with an open rule set where maximum speed and minimum lap times are all that matters, you’re bound to have an incredible event.

Thanks to GTA series sponsors like Continental Tire, Whiteline Suspension, Garrett Turbo, Spec Clutch and Meister Watches, the battle for Road Atlanta certainly did not disappoint, with new competitors in the mix, newly set fastest lap records, and even big crashes!

Global Time Attack Road Atlanta GTA Professional Awesome Racing Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 7 Evo7 Dan O'Donnell Jason Dienhart

From the perspective of Professional Awesome Racing, Road Atlanta was a shakedown and tuneup for the heavily revised 2001 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII. Gone were the Active Center Differential and Super Active Yaw Control rear differential, replaced with mechanical differentials front, center and rear.

Having switched from Street Tire to Limited class at the Global Time Attack finale in November 2012, it was also a time to learn the nuances of driving differences of the Hankook Ventus TD in comparison to the Ventus RS-3.

Global Time Attack Road Atlanta GTA Professional Awesome Racing Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 7 Evo7 Dan O'Donnell Jason Dienhart

Unfortunately, Day 1 proved to be a challenge from start to finish. Chasing issues of excessive oil consumption, the car would not run consistently enough to put together one flying lap. Having a never-say-die attitude, team members Grant Davis, Mike Lewin and Jordan Gilsinger embarked on a parts search throughout the greater Atlanta area, devising a solution that proved to work extremely well by the end of the day.

Global Time Attack Road Atlanta GTA Professional Awesome Racing Tony Szirka Unlimited Class Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Jason Dienhart Kyle Lewis

With the problem solved, the crew proceeded to help fellow competitor, Tony Szirka, replace a transmission in his Unlimited Class Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.

Global Time Attack Road Atlanta GTA Professional Awesome Racing Tony Szirka Unlimited Class Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Jason Dienhart

Szirka and Professional Awesome have a long history of working together under the most adverse circumstances to fix record breaking cars at the last possible moment!

Global Time Attack Road Atlanta GTA Professional Awesome Racing Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 7 Evo7 Dan O'Donnell Jason Dienhart

A threat of rain was in the forecast for the second day of competition, but feeling confident that all major issues had been addressed, Professional Awesome hit the track hard looking to gain lost time from the previous day.

Global Time Attack Road Atlanta GTA Professional Awesome Racing Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 7 Evo7 Dan O'Donnell Jason Dienhart

The car performed flawlessly in the first sessions of the day, and I with became even more comfortable with the vehicle changes as the day progressed. Minor tire pressure and alignment changes were all that was needed to maximize grip and to dial in the balance for optimal performance, though a new issue had peaked its head.

The car was running perfectly, but low on boost at only 22psi. The car had already set the new limited record with a time of 1:31.717, but quick adjustments were made to the tune to see if more power could be coaxed from the Evolution. Based on the previous year’s data, the team believed a 1:29.xxx  lap was possible and expectations were high for the fifth session.

Global Time Attack Road Atlanta GTA Professional Awesome Racing Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 7 Evo7 CRASH Dan O'Donnell Jason Dienhart Kyle Lewis

The fifth session proved to be the final session of our 2001 Evolution’s life.

Following another 1:31 second lap, I entered turn 1 and lost control of the car after an outside tire dipped into the Georgia clay. A hard crash ensued, but luckily I walked away with only minor bruising and a good headache.

Global Time Attack Road Atlanta GTA Professional Awesome Racing Dan O'Donnell Jason Dienhart

Following the crash, the final session ran and everyone prepared for the awards ceremony.

Global Time Attack Road Atlanta GTA Professional Awesome Racing Dan O'Donnell Jason Dienhart

At the podium ceremony, champagne was sprayed, big checks collected and fast lap Meister watches given to competitors.

Global Time Attack Road Atlanta GTA Professional Awesome Racing Dan O'Donnell Jason Dienhart

Much to the surprise of Professional Awesome, new Limited Front Wheel Drive record holder Doug Wind (left) gave his event winnings to the team to help the rebuilding process and Tony Szirka (right) followed suit, also donating his winnings.

Global Time Attack Road Atlanta GTA Professional Awesome Racing Dan O'Donnell Jason Dienhart

It was an incredible ending to an incredible event which saw competitors from the West Coast, East Coast and everywhere in-between.

New lap records were set in Street Rear Wheel Drive, Front Wheel Drive, Limited All Wheel Drive and Limited Front Wheel Drive which will give new goals for 2014 competitors to strive for.

Global Time Attack Road Atlanta GTA Professional Awesome Racing Dan O'Donnell Jason Dienhart

At the end of the day, it was amazing to see how tightly knit the time attack community is, helping out fellow competitors from start to finish! We look forward to seeing what will happen in November at the Global Time Attack Finale in Central California’s Buttonwillow Raceway on November 15, 2013.

MotorMavens has thousands more photos from GTA Road Atlanta! Stay tuned to MotorMavens for the next GTA photo update!

:: Dan O’Donnell

Mad Max Honda At Speed Ventures

Honda N360 N600 Vintage Mad Max Time Attack Car Streets Of Willow Speed Ventures

Can you guess what kind of car this is? If Mad Max drove a vintage Honda in a time attack series, is this what you would imagine his car to look like?

We were carspotting at the most recent Speed Ventures event at Streets of Willow, and saw this old school Honda with monstrous box flares, front lip spoiler and a huge front bumper. Let’s not forget the big wing up top, and the center mounted driver seat and steering wheel!

It looks something like a classic Honda meets time attack car built by Mad Max meets a dekotora meets Mater from the Pixar film Cars. This thing looks ridiculous, and we LOVE it.

Can you think up a good caption for this photo? The winner gets props and a shout out on our Facebook page and/or Instagram!

 

 

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source: motormavens

THE WEKFEST LA SPOTLIGHT-O-RAMA

Now that I’ve given you guys a broad look at Wekfest LA 2013, it’s time to close out my coverage with a Spotlight-o-Rama featuring some of the most interesting cars from the show. The result of my hunt has brought a mix of clean street cars, mad stance machines and some cool engine swaps. Let’s begin with the RHD EG Civic pictured above.

With so many high quality Honda builds appearing at events like Wekfest, it can be hard find the cars that really stand out. But there was just something about this particular Civic that I really liked.

The car was in immaculate condition inside and out, and the right-hand-drive cockpit was set off with with a few cool details like a wood-rimmed Nardi steering wheel. I also like the use of the factory seats rather than aftermarket buckets. How can you not like those cool 1990s seat patterns?

The wheels on the EG were also quite special: 16-inch Desmond Regamaster Evos that have been custom-widened into some very aggressive sizes.

All in all, this Civic is a perfect example of the extreme attention to detail you find on so many cars at Wekfest. It was certainly one of my favorite Hondas of the day.

We’ll be sticking with the Honda theme for the next car – a CE1 Accord Wagon from the City Stars Crew. I might be slightly biased because I used to own one of these things, but the I absolutely love the long-roof version of the Accord.

Before I continue on with the Spotlight, just a little piece of trivia on this generation of Accord Wagon. Did you know that even the Japanese market versions of these car were actually assembled in Ohio before being exported to Japan and labeled as the ‘US Wagon’?

Anyway, this particular wagon was really built as a perfect cruiser. A set of old school Volk Racing mesh wheels are a fine choice to go with the 1990s style – although the fitment and stance are something that’s a little more contemporary.

Inside, a simple leather interior was complemented by a few small bits like another wood Nardi wheel and a classic bubble shift knob with Crown Royal boot.

Good style, tons of room for passengers or parts hauling, and bulletproof Honda reliability – it’s not hard to see why the Accord Wagon makes such a good daily driver. I’d love to have another someday.

I know some of you guys have expressed concern over the lack of Toyota MR2s on Speedhunters, so when I saw this Nevada-based SW20 I knew it was the perfect chance to do something about that.

Then again, the car was cool enough on its own merits to warrant a spotlight. In my eye this example seemed to have the perfect balance of aesthetic and performance modifications.

It was also in fantastic cosmetic shape, as evidenced by this view of the cockpit.

As for wheels. the car was equipped with a set of staggered Work Emotion XD9s – a perfect match for the subtle body upgrades and hunkered-down stance.

There you have it – some much needed Speedhunters MR2 love. I suppose the fact that an awesome mid-engined turbo sports car is somewhat ‘overlooked’ really shows just how good Toyota was back in the ’90s.

Next up, we have a car that just might incite some colorful conversation in the comments section. In fact, it almost seems like that may have been the intention with this build.

And whether you love it or hate it, the BMW Z4 from the Low ‘N Slow Crew certainly stops people in its tracks. If there was a negative camber award at Wekfest, this car would have taken it home.

I do have to say that the sweeping body lines of the Z4 are actually a pretty good match for this sort of cartoonish ride height and wheel fitment.

Just look at the way the fenders literally sit on top of the Work Schwert SC2 wheels. Whoa.

Before you go nuts over the nonfunctional suspension setup remember that the car does have “Low ‘N Slow” written down the side of it after all.

Moving in another direction now, we have a car that was clearly built for a little more than just looking pretty on the grass. From a distance it looks like a nice clean example of a first generation RX-7…

… but then you look under the hood and see that the car is powered not by a rotary, but a Honda F20C from an S2000.

To be honest, I’d never really thought about how good of a combination the SA22C and a high revving VTEC powerplant would be. After seeing this car, it all makes sense.

Besides the requisite S2000 instrument cluster, I also really liked how the owner fitted a vintage Mugen steering wheel – just to further throw people off when they peek inside.

So yes, contrary to the beliefs of some commenters there were plenty of cars at Wekfest that were about more than just aesthetics.

Last but not least we have one of the coolest and most unique cars in the entire show. Actually, it’s not even a car but a first generation Honda Odyssey built by Fast Eddie’s Racing.

From certain angles the van looks like your typical cruiser, but the looks are really just scratching the surface of what this minivan is all about.

Sure, there are cool style details like a set of 1990s-era Racing Hart wheels, but you have to look at the engine bay to really see where the magic is.

Under the hood, you’ll find a Honda H22 swap – but not just any H22. This motor has a totally trick reverse head setup based on the Honda Accord touring cars of the 1990s. The front-facing individual throttle bodies really make for a strange response when peo0ple walk by.

So there you have it – a little sampling of the kind of machines found at Wekfest LA. Some were built to go fast, some were built raise eyebrows and some were built to do both.

 

Mike Garrett

 

 

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source: speedhunters

DREAM DRIVE: THE KLAUSEN PASS

It all started with a phone call. Back in April when I was planning out a few Speedhunters Dream Drive stories, I called up my friend and regular Alpine pass expert Martin for ideas for the potential routes worth featuring. I remember him vaguely mentioning a petrolhead friend of his, Michael, who owns a Porsche 996 GT3 RS. With only 682 built, it is quite a rare car, so on the eve of one of the German public holidays a couple of weeks back, I rang him up and asked if he could arrange to meet me the next day.

I knew we were going to have an exciting day when the trip idea was green-flagged within a couple of hours, but as soon as I arrived at the meeting point next day on the outskirts of Zurich, there was a second car in the lot – a Mercedes Benz C63 AMG wagon. Both of the cars are owned by Michael. One is the daily driver, the other the track tool. I’ll let you take a guess at which one is which…

After a short brainstorming session, we decided to take a run up Klausen Pass which is a tight mountain road that cuts through some amazing scenery and sleepy villages. The route started from the town of Glarus and wound its way up and down the mountainside and ended the approximately 40 miles (64km) later in Altdorf. But there was little time for looking at maps – we had two cars and some challenging corners to carve.

Every now and then we would pass a tunnel when Michael would both drop a gear or two and let the engines sing.

The mix of a howling race bred flat six and a shouty V8 provided all the soundtrack I could have ever asked for. It was a perfect duet.

Warning bells were ringing in my head as we drove up the road. Snow in mid-May? That can’t be good…

… a point that was hammered home just a few minutes later. But, as we soon found out, due to fallen rock and snow being cleared from the road, the crest of the pass was closed to the public.

Although this wasn’t ideal, we had the cars for a few hours so we decided to head up the mountain and see just how far we could get until the road closed down completely.

Of course, given that the road was going to run out, we made the most of the often-technical winding ascent. As the Porsche gripped and darted through the hairpins with the C63 on its trail, I could constantly hear the tyres crying in agony.

Eventually the trees opened up and we were greeted by this jaw-dropping view. It suddenly felt like we were in a different country altogether.

This little village was peppered with cottages and huts, with the sky-kissing rocky cliffs providing a grand backdrop. This was mother nature at a scale I wasn’t used to.

About a mile later – and just as we were getting into the groove of the pass – we reached the roadblock where we were forced to turn around. I jumped out for one shot from the furthest point up the pass we had gotten to, overlooking the spectacular road we’d driven up.

Since our trip was cut short prematurely and there was no traffic at all, so we decided stop so that I could take a look at the cars in detail and soak up some of the atmosphere.

The GT3 RS came with two color options – red and blue – but only for the wheels and stripes along the side. This might not seem like much until you understand that it pays direct homage to the the legendary Carrera 2.7 RSs of the early ’70s.

The RS stands for Rennsport, or ‘racing’ in German. Race-bred technology can be seen everywhere on the car.

For example, the rear windows are made of polycarbonate, like that used in most race cars.

Lightness is a theme that is pervasive across the car. We’ve all heard how the GT3 RS features a badge sticker rather than enamel in order to save weight. That might seem live overkill, but for this race-ready road car a whole lot of small savings end make a big difference.

Inside, a big centre-mounted tachometer dominates the gauge cluster, with a redline at 8000rpm. The higher the red needle went, the better the car sounded.

These keyrings are often overused, but it seemed rightly-placed in the Porsche.

In comparison, the C63 comes with a healthy dose of practicality. Four hundred and eighty-plus PS, seats five and a big boot – what’s not to love about that sort of specification?

The chiseled fender flares give the car some menacing character. I drifted off for a while trying to pick one car over the other but even after quite a lot of heavy pondering, I still couldn’t decide. Would these two cars make a perfect two-car garage? I think so.

I swapped cars and jumped into GT3 RS. I say jumped, but in reality it was a fairly elaborate process getting in and putting the six-point harness on.

My time with the cars was running out and it was time to say goodbye to the C63. Following it through tunnels was just pure joy. The throaty V8 sound filled the hillsides.

Our trip came to a conclusion in the town of Linthal nestled in the valley. The unexpected end to our planned drive had me wanting for an experience of the full extent of the Klausen Pass. Which, of course, leaves me without a choice. I’ll be back. And soon.

 

Alok Paleri

 

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source: speedhunters

KUSTOMS UNDER THE SUN

I’ve been to more car shows in the last year than at any other time in my life. Between debuting my own car and coming on board with Speedhunters, I’ve been fortunate to hit major shows nearly every month – a petrolhead’s dream come true. An unexpected benefit of this recent and rapid exposure has been the opportunity to compare some very different events. Let’s be honest, nothing sucks more than attending shows that all feel the same – especially when the same cars show up over and over… and over.

I was excited to attend the Cruisin’ Nationals in Santa Maria because it’s known for having a strong contingency of my favorite genre: the traditional kustom.

Walking in the gate, Larry and I immediately had our socks knocked off by all the shimmering pearl electrified by direct sunlight. We both just walked off and started shooting the sun-charged masterpieces in their natural habitat, regrouping every so often before making our way to another set of cars.

Many of the major rod shows are indoors, a tradition that dates back over 60 years. It gives builders the chance to put their best foot forward, with a perfectly-polished and detailed car sitting in a display to complement it.

Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the prestige of a national indoor show as much as the next guy, but the Cruisin’ Nationals reminded me of what you miss while your brain is being numbed by artificial lighting.

With the natural light enhancing every voluptuous vintage curve, we could truly appreciate the finest kustoms and rods on the west coast.

’49-’51 Mercurys are by far the most legendary of all kustoms – it’s just the go-to bodystyle for customizing – so this earlier ’48 model with canted Buick lights was particularly refreshing.

Being a kustom-centric show I thought we would see tons of chopped and dropped Mercs, so I was surprised by the overwhelming number of slammed Chevys.

This one had plenty of intricate paintwork on the roof – a theme we would see a lot more of throughout the show.

Here’s another with the mild custom treatment – slammed, shaved and flaked – but not chopped.

Plus a nicely detailed original straight six. I hope this one gets finished.

Traditional doesn’t always have to mean dumped though. I’m sure some would argue that this stock height Ford roadster is more traditional than any of the bagged and candied kustoms being built today.

I took Gene Winfield’s metalworking class with a few guys who are now making their mark on the scene, like the owner/builder of this car, Bear Metal Kustoms’ Jason Pall.

Jason showed us the trick four banger he built with an NOS Cyclone racing head.

It seemed like the nicest cars were always clustered together. This row started with a bagged, subtly flamed Chevy…

… next to a traditionally-styled Merc…

… next to yet another Merc from Celebrity Customs

… bookended by John D’Agostino’s latest creation: Sophia.

We first saw Sophia at the Grand National Roadster Show, but it just wasn’t the same as seeing her out in the daylight. We’ve just confirmed a full feature shoot on this car for next month, so stay tuned!

I watched the matte painted ’57 Ranchero in the background as it was built on the HAMB. Between this car and Keith Weesner’s renderings, a ’57 Ranchero is now on my short list of must-have cars. It’s always cool to see a car like this in the flesh for the first time.

The Loco Banditos CC were lined up front-and-center by the stage.

We’ve been trying to tee up features for these cars since we met the guys at March Meet. In the meantime, look for a Spotlight on the ’60 wagon very soon.

There were surprisingly few under-construction vehicles at the show, but this bare metal Chevy deserved to showcase its fine metalwork.

Who would have thought white could look so bold?

This ’40 Merc looked like it fell off a page of Rodder’s Journal.

Wide white bias plies are as traditional as it gets. Some guys cheat (myself included) and run radials on a full fendered car, but obviously this owner wanted to go all-in with his traditional build.

It’s funny how such an extreme build can start to look tame in a sea of candy colored customs.

Here’s a nice slammed Pontiac, with matte paint glowing under the bright sun.

The switchbox for the air ride is the only tell-tale that this picture was taken in 2013 and not 50 years earlier.

White, chrome and color-matched carpet makes for a fresh interior.

Two doors are generally favored, but these sedans loaded with factory accessories looked absolutely perfect with nothing more than a slammed stance.

I wouldn’t change a thing.

This ’54 Chevy came down from Canada and had a slightly different vibe…

…with a tame but nicely appointed six banger…

… plus full trim and wires, creating an upscale, sophisticated feel.

Here’s another Chevy that I would put in the sophisticated camp. The owner really restrained things, resulting in a very clean build.

This little pickup was quite the opposite.

Loud and in your face.

Another little hot rod in a sea of kustoms, this time a Modified on narrow bias plies with open headers.

I hope he wears those goggles when he drives.

This pair of Chevrolets was a good demonstration of two different styles. The matte blue Tri-5 had a mean ’60s street race vibe, while the earlier shoebox Chevy was more of a SoCal lowrider custom.

I spotted a period metalflake Mooneyes steering wheel inside the Tri-5 too. You’ll see why I had my eye out for these soon enough.

Guys used to showed off their hydro pumps behind acrylic, now it’s air compressors.

As Larry and I finished lunch I realized there was a whole field behind us that we hadn’t even seen yet.

I instantly spotted the Kaiser from across the grass. I looked for the owner but he wasn’t around, so I threw my card on his seat. You just don’t see chopped Kaisers very often.

Nor do you ever see a chopped Nash Metropolitan!

While I was checking out these custom oddities, Larry had slipped away again. I found him shooting this amazing scene – a patina’d two-door Chevy sitting alone in front of a barn.

It was an interesting layout at back of the show.

It seemed like people just parked anywhere, resulting in some unexpected backdrops.

Larry was having his own private shooting session with the cars and barns.

I know he wouldn’t let an opportunity pass without pointing his lens and making some poster-worthy images.

Before long the rumble of engines got our attention.

I dragged Larry away from his impromptu photoshoot so we could see what was left in the back field. We spotted this LaSalle grille’d ’40 Caddy.

I was glad we walked the field before everyone left because we caught two really nice bullet birds.

The ’61-’63 Thunderbird is another car at the top of my must-have list.

The factory customs don’t need much to be show stoppers.

I’m pretty sure this Willy’s was the only gasser at the show.

Check out the diversity of styles in this shot. The ’50s, ’60s and ’70s are all here and each representing a unique traditional genre.

As the cars rolled out we got one last reminder of why we were here.

After months of attending high-zoot indoor shows…

…we finally got to see some show-stopping kustoms where they belonged, under the California sun.

Nismo GT-R GT3

Nismo GT-R GT3 Nissan

Nismo’s Nissan GT-R GT3

When tuning your own car it’s a good plan to take influence from other top cars, but it’s a risky business as just because somebody else has done something doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best way to do it. One way to be almost assured of choosing the best way is to take your tuning influence from a race car, as they have had insane amounts of development and testing; if they are doing it, you know it works.

The thing is though, a lot of race cars these days are so far from the road going version they’re just not relevant enough to take influence from, and we’re sure a lot of you turned the page and thought to yourself; “Why the hell is a carbon body race car in Fast Car?”. Well wonder no more, as unlike most world class race cars, the Nismo GT-R GT3 really is just a modified version of the Nissan GT-R production cars you see on the UK’s roads. The sceptics among you are probably still thinking; “Yeah right, I doubt there is any standard parts left on this beast”, but even we were amazed how closely related this thing is to a standard road car. There’s no carbon fibre space frame chassis here, the shell is straight off the production line at Nissan, and things like the chassis rails, sills, floor pan, suspension turrets, inner arches, screen pillars and bulkhead are totally standard; which in fact is more than we can say for a lot of modified road cars we know and love.

Nismo GT-R GT3 Nissan

The ‘surprisingly standard’ theme continues under the bonnet, where the engine looks pretty standard, as to be fair, it is. The Nissan GT-R road car comes with a 3.8ltr twin turbo VR38 engine pushing out 545bhp, and this car comes with the very same engine, albeit with a quoted power of “500bhp+”.

Nismo GT-R GT3 Nissan

The reason for the vague power  figure is because in GT3 racing they have what they call the ‘Balance Of Performance’. This basically means, in an attempt to keep the racing close, the organisers can at any time choose to restrict power on winning cars, and allow slower cars to up their power levels. The guys at JRM who build these cars for Nissan’s motorsport arm Nismo, fully admit they could easily make the car so much wilder in every aspect, but the ‘Balance Of Power’ rules means they can’t go too crazy, but the potential is there should they be allowed to.

Nismo GT-R GT3 Nissan

GT3 rules also mean while the engine and turbochargers have to be standard size, there’s no problem with monkeying about with the turbo internals, and while exact specs are secret, it’s safe to say they are pretty special inside, and more than capable of pushing out big power if the race organisers decide to allow it! Power is only one part of tuning though, reliability is another, which is why despite almost factory power levels, the engine runs two huge intercoolers, a big alloy rad, and a huge oil cooler too.

Nismo GT-R GT3 Nissan

Another big difference compared to many tuned road cars is there is no show under the bonnet of this car either, it’s all go. No fancy hose connectors, no polished parts, just good old rubber pipes and Jubilee clips; things that JRM and Nismo know can withstand even a solid 24 hours of hard racing with no problems at all.

Nismo GT-R GT3 Nissan

The final thing worth mentioning about the engine is the exhaust system, which in all honestly sounds flippin’ incredible. With heat-wrapped 2.5-inch exhausts from each turbo travelling along the inside of the side skirts and exiting under each door, the GT3 is not only pretty damn loud, but the rapid-fire pops and bangs on the over-run make a WRC car sound tame; it really is the best sounding GT-R we’ve ever heard. Some things on this car are far from standard, most notably the absolutely awesome looking bodywork. Before you start to wonder, no, the carbon Nismo wide body kit is not available for sale at any cost! “We get calls and emails on adaily basis asking to buy the kit” Mark from JRM laughs, “But it simply isn’t available; thankfully there is plenty of bodywork and tuning options available via our sister company, Sumo Power”.

Nismo GT-R GT3 Nissan

Every exterior body panel, including the roof and doors, are made of carbon fibre, and while they keep the original GT-R looks, they seriously pump up the styling thanks to the massive arches, aggressive bumpers, a vented bonnet, rear diffuser, huge front splitter, and one of the biggest rear wings we’ve ever seen. The amazing looks are why they get so many requests to buy it, but the real reason for the bodywork is pure performance. The lightweight bodywork helps this car weigh almost half a ton less than the standard GT-R, every vent and duct helps channel cold air to and away from all the vital components, and the front splitter, rear diffuser, and rear wing are just three of many parts that help push the car to the ground with enormous downforce, so much so that the rear wing is attached to the chassis; if it was attached to the boot lid like most cars it would simply crush the lid down at speed! And those wheel arches? Well they are to house a set of very serious wheels and tyres…

Nismo GT-R GT3 Nissan

The GT-R road car wheels are massive, 20-inches in fact, but this is for looks reasons rather than performance, and because of this the GT3 car has more conventionally sized 18-inch rims. Smaller diameter they may be, but they are ridiculously wide; 13-inches wide front and rear! Proving the bigger isn’t always better when it comes to alloys, we think the 13×18-inch Volk Racing VR G2s the GT3 car runs looks far better than standard rims, and when it comes to grip, the lightweight Volks wrapped in 310mm wide racing slicks are on a whole different planet. Even removing these wheels are a piece of cake, thanks to a giant centre wheel nut replacing the usual fi ve studs, and no need to struggle getting a trolley jack under the low body kit either; simply plug an air line in to a fi tting on the back bumper and the car instantly jumps high off the ground on its ultra-trick air-jacks.

Nismo GT-R GT3 Nissan
Behind the super-wide alloys are brake discs that are the same size as the standard GT-R items at a pretty huge 380mm, but the front calipers are Brembo racing units with the thickest brake pads we’ve ever seen. On the rear the calipers are actually totally standard; like we said earlier, if it’s good enough for a top race car, it sure don’t need changing on a road car!

Nismo GT-R GT3 Nissan

While this car has an amazing amount of similarities to the standard road car, one big change is it’s no longer four wheel drive; every last bit of power is channelled via a carbon propshaft and rear mounted sequential gearbox to those huge rear tyres.

Nismo GT-R GT3 Nissan

Despite the lack of four wheel drive, the GT3 can launch, corner, and brake far better than a standard GT-R, even in the slippiest of weather conditions. This is thanks not only to the aforementioned upgrades, but also two things a lot of people hate on tuned road cars; ABS and traction control. The reason for this is while standard ABS and traction control setups are intended to stop doddery old ladies crashing in the wet or accidentally doing rolling burnouts, this car has super fast reacting motorsport systems. These are fully in-car adjustable via dials on the dash, enabling the driver to adjust the amount of help he gets from them depending on track and weather conditions. This means he can drive as hard as possible without worrying about either the electronics interfering with his driving, or falling off the track when on the limit.

Nismo GT-R GT3 Nissan

With similar power to the standard GT-R you might think the GT3 accelerates about as quickly too, but in fact it’s far faster. While the production GT-R weighs 1750kg, thanks to a serious diet this car weighs just 1300kg, that’s not much more than a Corsa VXR; and we’re sure you can imagine how fast a 550bhp Corsa would be! Another way of looking at it is the standard GT-R has about 314bhp per ton, but despite having no more power this beast has 423bhp per ton; more than even a Ferrari F50.

Nismo GT-R GT3 Nissan

So, despite being unable to buy the body kit, having an engine that’s nearly standard, not being road legal, and costing around £375,000 to buy, this is still, without doubt, the coolest god damn Nissan GT-R on the planet, and the perfect one to take influence from when tuning your own car. Do we all want one? Hell yeah! Now, where’s that lottery ticket…

Nismo GT-R GT3 Nissan

 

Nismo GT-R GT3 Nissan

TECH SPEC NISSAN GT-R GT3
ENGINE
‘Production based’ Nissan GT-R VR38DETT 3799cc V6 engine with variable cam timing, twin standard size turbos with uprated internals, standard blue injectors, standard twin electronic throttles, twin 2.5-inch titanium side exit exhaust system with two straight through silencers per side, Samco turbo inlet hoses, high capacity twin front mount alloy intercoolers, top mounted oil cooler, PWR alloy radiator, single AFM conversion, Pectel SQ6M race engine management, ATL race fuel tank, solid engine mounts, lightweight race battery, oil breather system and catch tank, adjustable fuel pressure regulator, in-car adjustable ECU with four maps.

TRANSMISSION 
Rear wheel drive conversion, Hewland six speed sequential transaxle dog engagement gearbox, semi-automatic steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, lightweight carbon fibre prop shaft, lightweight drive shafts, ultra-light flywheel, quad-plate Sachs racing clutch, rear mounted transmission oil cooler, in-car adjustable traction control with 7 position controller.

SUSPENSION
Ohlins TTX race coilovers, adjustable bladed front and rear anti-roll bars.

BRAKES 
380mm racing brake discs front and rear, Brembo 6pot front race calipers, standard Nissan GT-R rear calipers, race brake pads front and rear, AP Racing in-car adjustable brake bias controller, Bosch Motorsport M4 in-car adjustable race ABS system with 12 position controller, carbon fibre brake ducts in front bumper and rear arches.

WHEELS+TYRES 
13×18 Volk Racing VR G2 centre-lock wheels front and rear with 31/71×18 Michelin slick tyres.

EXTERIOR
Production Nissan GT-R steel chassis, complete carbon fibre bodywork, including doors, wide front and rear arches, front and rear bumpers, vented bonnet, roof, front splitter, and rear diffuser, carbon rare mirrors, Plastics4Performance polycarbonate lightweight windows, quick release bonnet and boot lid with aero catches, three way adjustable carbon fibre rear wing, rear wing supports bolted directly to chassis, race air jack system, carbon rear window strengthening bars, ATL twin race fuel fillers.

INTERIOR
Full FIA weld-in six point roll cage including door bars and roof reinforcement, Nismo GT Pro III carbon racing seat with cool air ducting system, flocked dash, Motec digital dash, height adjustable steering column, fully heat shielded floor pan, ducting from bonnet vents to standard interior air vents, carbon fibre trim panels, reverse lever and brake bias control on carbon centre console, dashboard mounted dials for ABS, Traction control, and ECU maps, AP Racing race pedal box, four point bolt-in rear bulkhead brace.

Nismo GT-R GT3 Nissan

 

 

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MEET THE SEAT LEON CUP RACER

As you might know, Wörthersee is much more than just a gathering of the crazed folks from the European dub scene. The VW Audi Group itself plays a big part in the event and often uses it as the place to debut some of its most exciting new cars and concepts. Among the debuts this year was this new Leon Cup Racer from SEAT.

SEAT has made it very clear that the Leon Cup Racer is not a show car, but the first test car for development of their next generation racing program. Based on the five-door Leon model, the body of the Cup Racer has been designed for maximum aerodynamics and the track is a full 40cm wider than the street model.

SEAT is planning to build two versions of the Leon Club Racer – a normal model and then one designed for endurance racing. Both will be powered by turbocharged two liter four cylinder motors making 330ps, but the endurance version will replace the standard DSG transmission with a six-speed sequential gearbox and mechanical diff.

Naturally the Cup Racer will come with all the required safety equipment to get on track, including a high strength roll cage and a racing seat equipped with a HANS device. You also get a multi-function steering wheel and a TFT instrument display.

The car has been designed for use in popular racing series like the ETCC and VLN Endurance Cup. SEAT also says there is a strong possibility of a 1.6 liter model that can be used in the WTCC.

Prices for the Leon Cup Racer will start at €70,000 for the regular version and €95,000 for the endurance model. The plan is start getting the Cup Racers into the hands of customers in time for the 2014 season.

-Mike

 

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TOYOTAFEST SPOTLIGHT-O-RAMA: SWAPS ‘N CLASSICS

When I set out last Saturday to round up some cars for a Spotlight-O-Rama post from Toyotafest, I wasn’t specifically looking for a selection of vintage cars. But as I made my way around the show, it just seemed that all the cars drawing my interest were from the 1980s and earlier. I guess the appeal of properly done classic is just too hard to ignore? Whatever the case, here’s six vintage machines that caught my eye at Toyotafest.

Let’s begin with this 1987 MX73 Cressida that was representing with the Sparkle Garage crew. In contrast to some of the more pristine show cars of the day, this Cressida was wearing its battle scars with pride. You could easily sense that this thing gets pitched sideways often.

Helping to get those rear tires spinning is a 1uZ-FE V8 swap mated to a W58 five-speed transmission from a Lexus IS300. The quad cam V8 just looks right at home in the Cressida’s engine bay, doesn’t it?

The car was also sporting an aggressive set of 15″ Volk TE37Vs with their bronze finish perfectly matching the Cressida’s tan body color.

It’s a unique and tasteful looking car with a cool engine swap that’s also driven hard regularly. Hard to get much better than that.

The chance to see rare cars is one of the big draws of Toyotafest, and the word rare can certainly be used to describe this 1972 TA12 Carina. Because it’s one of those models that was only imported for a couple of years, it’s easy to forget the Carina was actually sold in the United States.

It’s fitting then that this particular Carina has been kept largely original – with the exception of a few tasteful exterior modifications…

…like a set of 14″ Hoshino Impul wheels with a pristine finish that leads me to believe they were recently restored.

The same theme carried over into the interior: mostly original with a few changes, like a Mooneyes shift knob and a cool vintage steering wheel that I’m struggling to identify at the moment. Any of the old school experts have any ideas?

In comparison with some of the other cars in this post this Carina is very mild, but that’s actually one of the big reasons I liked it so much. Sometimes simple and clean is just the way to go.

Next up, we have another rarely seen Toyota model from the early 1970s: a ’74 Corona Coupe. I think I’m just a sucker for the sleek hard top lines that these cars have.

The Corona also looked to have a gone through an thorough restoration, with a keen sense of detail both inside and out.

Under the Corona’s hood sits a twin cam 18RG with with forged pistons, TRD cams and a very mean looking high rise header set-up. Thank goodness for smog-exempt cars in California!

Inside there are a pair of old school Recaro seats with, the rest of the upholstery done to match. The old TRD steering wheel is another nice little touch.

The modestly sized BBS RS wheels probably won’t win over any stance freaks, but they actually suit the car quite nicely. To me it’s high quality restorations like this that define what Toyotafest is all about.

Next up we have Eugene Garcia’s ’84 KP61 Starlet: a car that was drawing a lot of onlookers not only with its tasteful period correct ’80s styling…

… but with its very impressive engine bay. That’s a fully built 4A-GE setup based on a low compression GZE block with an HKS GT2540R turbocharger.

Eugene told me the setup is good for about 300 horsepower, which is somewhere around four times more than the car made when it left the factory. Yikes.

The Enkei wheels mounted on the car aren’t something you see often in the US, but Eugene says they were quite popular in the Philippines: a place that’s well known for its love of old Toyotas.

A very clean and tasteful KP61 street car with a big horsepower turbo under the hood. Definitely one of the standouts from this year’s show.

Next up we have a very subtle-looking 1975 RA22 Celica coupe that I would certainly classify as a sleeper.

Why a sleeper? Well, for starters the original brown interior doesn’t do much to hint at the car’s performance potential. The steering wheel is really the only non-stock item that sticks out.

The same goes for the factory type steel wheels with trim rings and center caps. If you look closely though, you’ll see that they have been enlarged to 15 inches – a cool and subtle touch.

But then you look under the hood and see that a 1UZ-FE V8 has somehow been wedged into the engine bay. When it comes to bang for the buck, it’s really getting tough to beat the 1UZ. They are cheap and extremely plentiful on the used market thanks to the thousands of  junked Lexus models equipped with them.

I imagine this car gets some pretty strange reactions from people on the street who think they’re looking at a nice restored Celica and then hear that wonderful four cam V8 sound.

Last but not least, we have a car – or truck that is – that’s been seen on Speedhunters in the past. In fact, Sean included this 2JZ-swapped Toyota Hilux in his Spotlight-O-Rama from last year’s JCCS event.

But seeing as how this truck is clearly an on-going project, it’s always nice to check in and see what sort of progress has been made.

As you can see, the turbo setup looks a bit different from before, with the HKS mushroom filters replaced by a pair of pipes ready to shoot giant gumballs at anyone who comes to close.

When Sean saw the truck at JCCS, the bed was not installed. Now it is, and you can also see some of the additional work done to the truck’s rear-mounted cooling system.

This goes without saying, but I think we’ll have to get a hold of the completed truck for a full feature once it’s finished.

I think that’s a good note to close out this Spotlight-O-Rama and also my event coverage from Toyotafest 2013. Hope you’ve enjoyed it.

 

Mike Garrett

 

 

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MEET THE GANGSTER OF DRAG RACING

I was in full Speedhunting mode when I attended March Meet last month, scouring Famoso Raceway to bring you the best the nostalgia drag race world had on offer. Of course there were gobs of old school dragsters and gassers, but I was looking for that one special car that stopped me dead in my tracks. I found it – but I hadn’t a clue how far down the rabbit hole it would take me (and a whole crew of my fellow Speedhunters too).

I spotted Randy Winkle’s ’57 Chevrolet gasser in front of one of the paddocks and was sure I’d just struck feature car gold. As I crawled all over, around and under the car Randy walked up and we made our introductions. I told him about Speedhunters and that I was looking for drag cars to feature, to which he responded, “Oh this isn’t the race car, I just built it to tow that one around the drag strip…” Wait. What?

Randy invited me to step into his personal garage space (on track premises I might add) to say hello to his little friend – a 1967 front engine dragster (FED) named O’ Black Betty.

I worked my way into the garage and slowly circled the baddest FED I’d ever seen. With each question answered it became apparent that this guy was legit.

He was there when it went down the first time around, and he’s seeing to it that history is preserved. This matched pair is the proof: FED racer and Chev gasser.

Specifically designed to complement each other, the combo just couldn’t get any more gangster. Can you imagine the intimidation factor when this set-up rolls through the pits?

Most race teams get by with a daily driver Chevy pickup to tow their race cars on the weekend. I think Randy’s level of commitment to keeping the scene alive is pretty evident at this point.

He’s even started an exclusive club for like-minded racers, called the Famoso Mob. They recently returned from a trip to New Zealand where they schooled the Kiwis on vintage American quarter mile machines.

As if that weren’t enough, Randy and his Famoso Speed Shop were consulted as nostalgia racing experts for the upcoming movie Snake & Mongoose. Randy and his good friend Stormy Byrd are even behind the wheel in several scenes, and O’ Black Betty makes a cameo appearance as well. I think we’ve found the right guy to show us what this scene is about.

I know it’s a strange way to start a car feature but we’ll begin with the FED’s tow hook, specifically the finish. Famoso Speed Shop isn’t just building period-correct race cars, it’s building them on a show-worthy level. I’m sure the chrome bill for this build is ample evidence of my assertion.

So let’s get the necessary stats out of the way: 179″ wheelbase, 800hp, 750lb/ft and 1300lbs. It’ll go 7.40 in the 1/4 mile…

…if you have the stones to strap in and hit the loud pedal.

That’s a 383 of 1971 vintage, stuffed with race parts and pressurized by The Blower Shop. The blower restraints are necessary by today’s rulebook, but notice he went with silver so they disappear against the chromed engine.

Sitting behind a blown small block running at full tilt isn’t the safest place to be, but the restraints and belt guard will keep parts from going airborne if something pops. There’s a reason dragsters are built with the engines in the back now – to avoid getting sprayed by stray engine parts, fireballs and hot oil mostly.

To be honest though, it’s the aesthetics that intrigue me most; like the matching cowls at the front of the engine and driver’s compartments, and the way the three ribs on the blower scoop match the three red stripes on the bodywork.

The visor on Randy’s helmet even echoes the shape of the cowls and has gold lettering too. It’s probably coincidence, but still cool.

I’ve always liked nostalgia dragsters with a little bodywork on them, especially since each body is hand-formed to its respective chassis.

Not only does the bodywork enclose the updated roll cage, it also shrouds the ‘chute and hides the mounting points for the wheelie bar.

Check out how the character line flows down and forms a nice angle of attack. I wonder if Famoso Speed Shop knew it was using car design tricks when forming the sheet metal.

The tail fin formed into the bodywork is what really grabbed me though. Famoso Speed Shop’s Mike Alspough put considerable effort into crafting a beautiful body for this nostalgia racer – and succeeded quite nicely.

That’s a handbrake to the left and a shifter on the right, custom built with giant ball bearings welded on the ends. Remember that chrome bill I mentioned earlier?

Inside there’s not much of a seat, but you don’t sit there long anyways. The green button on the steering wheel activates the trans brake and launch control.

The term nostalgia dragster might make some of you think these guys are running outdated technology, but really it refers more to the layout and the spirit in which these machines are built. Randy said they have updated a few things for the sake of staying competitive, like the MSD distributor which allows them to use launch control by omitting spark to certain cylinders while the button is pressed.

The Wilwood brakes hiding out inside the 16×12-inch E/T rear wheels appear to be late model as well, but disc brakes have been used in drag racing since the mid ’60s so they get a pass.

No brakes on the front though, since it barely has tires anyways. I love the juxtaposition of the massive slicks out back with front tires that are barely suitable for a bicycle.

Randy lists them as 17-inch spokes. I’m guessing they’re 2-inch wide, maybe. Check out the typeface on the sponsor logos too.

All of the logos were applied by hand using period-correct fonts. That’s real gold leafing, edged with hand-painted pinstripes, then finally sealed under plenty of clear coat. Pretty good for a race car, eh?

Let’s not forget that badass ’57 gasser that got us here in the first place though.

Despite Randy’s claim that it was just built to tow O’ Black Betty we think it’s a feature car in its own right, so stay tuned.

I have a hard time choosing a favorite between these two, as each is amazing in its own right. We’ll let you be the judge once we show you the ’57 gasser in greater detail.

It does a pretty fine job of pulling the FED around though, doesn’t it?

 

Words by Keith Charvonia
Instagram: SpeedhuntersKeith
Email: keith@speedhunters.com

Photos by Sean Klingelhoefer
Instagram: seanklingelhoefer
Email: sean@speedhunters.com

Additional photos by Larry Chen
Instagram: larry_chen_foto
Email: larry@speedhunters.com

 

Randy Winkle’s 1967 Front Engine Dragster – O’ Black Betty

Numbers
Max power – 800hp, max torque – 750 lb/ft, weight – 1300 lbs, ET – 7.40 sec

Engine
1971 Chevy 383 ci, 8:1 compression, AFR head machining, Scat camshaft, Manley valves, springs, push rods, retainers and lifters, ARP head bolts, copper head gasket, double roller timing chain, Crower connecting rods, ARP connecting rod bolts, Scat crankshaft, Famoso Speed Shop engine mounts, The Blower Shop intake manifold and supercharger, Enderle fuel pump and fuel rail, Lemons headers, NGK spark plugs, MSD spark plug wires, coil and distributor, Excel battery, wiring harness and cosmetic modifications by Famoso Speed Shop

Driveline
Powerglide transmission, Ford 9″ differential, SFI flexplate, gearing: “I will never tell!”

Suspension/Brakes
Solid mounted rear suspension, chrome front suspension links, Wilwood rear disc brakes, parachute

Wheels/Tires
17″ spoked wheels with Avon tires (front), Rear – 16×12 E/T wheels with M/H Racemaster slicks (rear)

Exterior
Famoso Speed Shop customized chassis and hand-formed bodywork, paint by Mikey and the Paso Boys, graphics by Jamie and the Paso Boys

Interior
DJ Safety harness, unknown vintage steering wheel, Kurtz steering hub and quick release, Famoso Speed Shop shift and brake levers

 

 

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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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source: speedhunters