Money, brains, time, opportunity, and more money.
Everyone wants their car to be built exactly how they think they want it. Some have the time, others the money, and some lucky few have the opportunity to tie it all together. Rarely do we all have enough of all three of those necessary requirements to actually get our cars together in short order, which is why you often see people with builds that are three years old and really only a few upgraded parts.
One thing that is often overlooked as a requisite for putting together a tight car is a coherent end goal, which we here at Mediocre Motoring like to refer to as “brains.” Amateur builders tend to jump in and out of their builds and they often lack the amazingly useful skill of planning before doing. Typically they just start slapping on whatever their budget at the time allows without any real thought to what the overall goal of their build was. “I totally need a huge shiny 3.5 inch exhaust for my N/A 4cyl build. Awesome!” Sure you’ve gotten a new part, and yea it probably looks really cool for the time being, but as you start to progress through the build, your eyes start to open (hopefully) and you realize that exhaust piping that large with a canister large enough to house a Kennedy-sized family of stray cats isn’t really what you should’ve invested your meager funds into for a naturally aspirated car.
Sticking to the plan, or putting some serious thought into adjusting a plan, takes time, patience, and a willingness to admit you might’ve made a mistake.
Nobody likes to sit down and write up a plan when they have a couple hundred dollars in their pocket trying to fight its way out. They want to go out to their local performance shop, parts website, or swap meet (seriously, swap meets are where it’s at to get good priced parts) and grab the sexiest part they can afford at the time. The buzz killing process of making up a project plan can save you both money and time in the long run just so long as you put some actual effort into it. What you’ll end up with, is a plan that you can look at and refer to at all times during your build. It’s not that you’ll forget where you’re going, but it’s easy to get gently side-tracked until you look up and realize you’re not even close to where you originally wanted to be. Plans are also great ways to help you show other people what’s typically been floating amorphously in your head up until now. Using your plan is an awesome way to bounce ideas off of your friends and peers to sanity check your list. “You want an intercooler on your N/A car…really?” Make sure you really trust the people you’re asking though. (More on that in a later post)
Rich (MM’s VW editor) and I both have Excel spreadsheets for our projects that we’ve probably edited about 30-40 times each. After I do some research on a specific type of mod I go into my project plan and make sure everything in my list is still relevant to any of that new information I’ve uncovered. Not Supercharging the tC anymore? Maybe that TRD specific ECU reflash isn’t all that necessary anymore, for example. There have been plenty of times when I go in and look through the list just to see something that makes me say: “Seriously? How drunk was I when I put that on the list??”
If you’re not comfortable building your own, or aren’t sure were to start, here are some easy steps on how to make yourself a simple project plan for your build.
Step 1: Create a spreadsheet (I personally recommend Excel, but any spreadsheet program should work fine here)
Step 2: Create sections for each of the major parts of the build and break them out into different types.
-For example: Suspension, body(aesthetic), wheels/tires, drivetrain, engine, etc
Step 3: Put all your mods into the corresponding groups (make an “other” group for the weird ones) and attach prices and links to where to purchase them
Step 4: Go through your list and put a little asterisk in a new column next to each of the parts that are “NEED” and don’t put anything for things that are “WANT”
Step 5: …??
Step 6: As you buy parts and install them (or have them installed if you’re a sissy/wealthy) you can start to cross items off your list.
-This is the best part about a plan, honestly. Everyone knows how bad they feel when they think their build hasn’t made any progress and when you look back at your list you get to see how much junk you’ve crossed off you feel a lot better. Unless of course you really haven’t made any progress in which case you need to get a jump on that, homie.
Step 7: Profit
Sticking to a project plan and being willing to take the time to build/upkeep one is a big investment of patience and time, but this investment starts to pay almost immediately as you start to see your path to upgrading toward your goal. It’ll allow you to make decisions against the plan instead of just cranking a couple of beers and putting in your credit card information on some shiny new part everyone on your forum is talking about. There are too many sloppily put together cars that are high dollar, very well put together cars out there with mismatching parts. Don’t be one of those suckers, plan your builds!
(Seriously though, there are a ton of Kennedy’s…where the hell do they all keep coming from?)
We here at MM have a serious hard-on for delicious beer and we’re a little worried about the beer choices of some of our peers so we thought we’d dedicate a little time to talk about GOOD beer. There are many different ways to classify and rate beer and people actually do go to school to train to do that exact thing. The rating systems are very detailed and use quite a few points of science and reasonably logical comparisons as well as intelligent thought processes to make judgment decisions, but this is Mediocre Motoring and so we’re just going to moose our way through this and continue to be the untrained and over-opinionated assholes that we are.
Number 1: Your beer sucks.
I’m sorry, but it’s true for the vast majority of American beer drinkers and likely if you’re reading this with a beer in your hand, you’re drinking a shitty beer. It’s statistics really. Most high volume beer companies do not produce high taste beer. Follow this simple made up way to determine if the beer you’re currently drinking is delicious or not. High Volume + Easy to find = Boring beer. Low Volume + Sort of easy to find = Better beer. Low Volume + Hard to find = Probably awesome beer. While this isn’t true for everything, it’s a pretty accurate way to judge a beer by its cover, and we all know that our mothers told us that this is the right way to make decisions.
Number b: You’re probably not drinking enough beer.
I don’t care what anyone tells you, beer is something to be enjoyed as often and as liberally as your liver (and wallet) can withstand. We’re not telling you to go out and become an alchy or anything that stupid, but beer is a beverage that contains massive flavor and it’s a great way to connect with people socially. Who doesn’t like things that are delicious and help you make friends at the same time? There are so many different kinds of beer out there that if you can’t find a reason to drink a beer, you might be at a funeral or your kid’s 3rd birthday party. (For those events you’ll likely want to switch to hard liquor). Meanwhile, If you even remotely thought about the consequences of beer’s effect on your health, please go ahead and just click that little red or gray “X” box in the top right hand corner (Left hand corner red circle for you Mac nerds) of your screen so you can get the hell off my damn website, you don’t belong here.
Number 6: You’re not trying enough beers.
This point is a little different than the last one because it speaks to diversity instead of volume. There are probably enough beer types in existence right now that you could drink a different type of beer every day the next 10 years of your life. Why the hell are you still drinking the same beer you were drinking since college? Get out there, find a new beer and see what you’ve been missing. Heck, you might even be missing some pretty awesome variations of the same brand that you love. Even some of the super-mega-ultra beer companies have some pretty small little niche type products that are actually surprisingly good. You might be surprised by what some of the big companies are capable of making. If you don’t want to buy a full 6 or 12 pack, the next time you go out to your favorite beer serving establishment, order at least one new beer each time. If you don’t like it, finish it up and then order your regular favorite beer and continue on with your life. Chances are that you’ll quickly find what type of beer (Pilsner, Lager, Ale, Porter, Stout, IPA, etc) you like the best and then you’ll find at least one new company that you really really like. If you don’t, no big deal at least you still have your old faithful favorite beer to fall back on.
Number 9: Find your flavor
As I mentioned in number 6, there are lots of different types of beers and each of them has a typically characteristic type of flavor to it. Basically everything breaks down into two different categories, Ales and Lagers. From here, there is a dizzying array of different types of beers that you can choose from and if you can’t find at least one type of beer that you like you might want to find your local mortuary and ask them how much their cheapest coffin is as you are likely deceased in the soul.
Number 8: Go to a local brewery
If you’ve never been to a brewery and you tell people that you’re a beer fan, stop telling people that because you’re doing it wrong. Breweries are the best way to go to the heart of a beer maker and really see what it’s all about. They typically have delicious food and at the very least they often offer a short tour of the facility. The BEST part about going to the actual brewery is that you get to sample all the beers. Some will let you do this for free (Sam Adams brewery tour in Boston is a $2 suggested donation that goes 100% to a local charity and then you drink for free, for example.) Even if they don’t have food, you can usually find some specialty brews that are only available at the brewery and might end with a flavor explosion in your mouthy-hole.
Go onto the intertubes, type in www.bing.com , then type “ (Name of your city) brewery” in the search box and it’ll spit out a sweet little list of the breweries near you. Ten seconds on the internet and I found 8 breweries within a 15-ish mile radius from my apartment. If you happen to live in a more rural area, don’t fret, there is probably still about 1-2 breweries within 30 minutes of your house. Here’s a contest for the comments page. Let MM know how many breweries bing found near you and if you’re super rural, let us know how far away the closest brewery is to you. Winner gets an imaginary pat on the back, but just so you know, I’m probably going to win because I plan on cheating.
Ok, so there you have it. I’ve taken some time and broken down how to become the epic beer snobs that we at MM pride ourselves on being. Get out there, drink some good beer, talk to some pretty ladies (or pretty dudes if you’re so inclined), make some mistakes, make some excellent decisions, and order one in honor of Mediocre Motoring. Cheers!
– “It’s beer o’clock” Molloy
My girlfriend must hate it when I open my mouth. Pretty much everything I talk about is something to do with my car or my motorcycle and I’m a bit of a chatter box so you can imagine how rapidly her patience must expire. It’s sometimes hard to take a step back, stop thinking about what degree cams I should put into the tC and be able to wrap my mind around the idea that not everyone is as involved in cars as I am. Yea sure everyone drives a car and some people say they like cars, but often they only mean they think some cars are better looking than others. Not everyone is interested in the little nuances that make cars into works of art instead of the utensils that most people treat them as.
Perhaps I’m being a snob here. You don’t HAVE to know the intricate workings of a car to like it. If you think it’s a good looking car and would like to buy it that doesn’t make you any less of a car lover, but it doesn’t necessarily make you a “car guy”. For example, my girlfriend likes cars, but would likely rather take a car to a mechanic than bother working on it herself. I suppose the difference between a car lover and a “car guy” lies in the type of connection you have to the car. We here at Mediocre Motoring work on our own cars and we like to consider ourselves pretty serious car guys. We waste our free time by picking up a wrench, ignoring our significant others, dodging cones, going WOT on the front straight at Pacific Raceways, and getting everything around us – including ourselves- dirty as all hell. (Sorry for putting those very grimy handprints on your garage’s nice white walls when we put in the tC’s coilovers, Alex.) If something breaks down on our cars, we very much intend to get in there and hit them with enough hammers in the right spots until the motor starts purring again. Car guys, right?
In our car guy-ness we talk to each other as fellow car guys (or girls, I know you’re out there) and we don’t worry about sugar coating anything because we assume the other guy will know what we’re talking about. If he doesn’t understand what we’re talking about he’ll do one of two things, he’ll either be polite enough to pretend he does until he can figure it out from context OR he’ll pretend he does know it so he doesn’t lose any car guy cred and then go look it up online later. Regardless of which response the car guy gives, someone who isn’t interested in cars will have a completely different reaction to what we’re saying. They will try to be as polite as possible until we finally sandpaper our way through their patience and the conversation goes downhill. Here’s how most of my conversations with people go. Names have been changed to protect me from ridicule.
Oblivious car guy – “In an intereference setup, if the timing is wrong the valves will still be open and extended into the cylinder which is dangerous because the piston head will hit them and bend the heck out of them.”
Bored non-car person – “Mmmhmmm, interesting. Oh, you don’t say. Wow, that’s fascinating.”
Oblivious car guy – “If you liked that, wait till you hear about how to calculate relative horsepower by measuring the how much CFM a head can flow!”
Bored non-car person – “Actually, would you mind if we talked about something else for a little bit?”
Oblivious car guy – “…so…you, don’t want to talk about motors?”
Bored non-car person – “Well my cousin DID just get married…”
Oblivious car guy – “Oh yea that reminds me that I forgot to tell you about my cousin. He’s got a Ford 5.0 that he’s thinking of getting a stroker kit and supercharger for.”
Bored non-car person – “I kind of hope you choke a little bit…”
I’m sure more than one of you guys reading this realized that it sounded quite a bit like a conversation you’ve had with someone before. I’m also doubly sure than any casual friend or significant other of yours who is uninterested in cars has been in this conversation as well, much to their chagrin of course. There is this big divide that can form in conversations and sometimes it creates tension in the moment or in the relationship itself. Just remember, if you’re as big of a car nerd as we are here at Mediocre Motoring, you’re going to need to tone it down a couple notches until you’re in the company of some fellow car guys.
We all want a magazine cover car, but let’s face it: none of us own one. We certainly don’t, we’re not that kind of website and we know how you feel.
Mediocre Motoring is a group of guys who love cars, beer, video games, women and everything else that is awesome in this world. However, in our love for all of these things, we are experts at not a single one. We’re basically as average as the rest of the average population and that’s where we pull our name and inspiration. There are so many sites and magazines out there that show the top 2% of the cars out there and the regular jerks like us that make up the rest of the 86% (screw the bottom 2% they’re morons) will never have cars that are up to that level. It’s not that we’re not smart enough, but likely the majority of us have other things going on in our lives that prevent us from being super awesome sauce. Jobs, significant others, siblings, debilitating venereal diseases, you know…the normal stuff.
I don’t know about you guys, but I’m tired of seeing show cars that were base cost of $30k and then have $80k worth of parts and labor put into them. That isn’t real life, that’s the dream world of what we all aspire to accidentally join. Time to wake up and realize that you’re as average as statistically possible and there’s nothing you can do about it. Embrace it, baby. Live happily in your mundane existence. Come to us for comfort and camaraderie and a fun little way to see how the rest of us sheep live. We’ll show you the project cars that we’re working on, take some average quality pictures of some local car shows that we go to, and talk about things that we like. Sound like a plan? Good. Welcome to Mediocre Motoring!
– Dr. Beard-o-tron 9000