Today is my birthday. While I don’t personally care too much about birthdays, I do recognize that people like to celebrate their (or others) successful entry into the world so I’ve decided to break out of my drought of posting to give a little wave to the world.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, Mediocre has been a little slow since the middle of Februrararary and if it weren’t for Jeff’s post about turbos (see Tuesday’s post, and the incoming conclusional post on Monday) we’d still be a little quiet. I’m sure you’re asking yourself “Why so few posts recently?’ and here’s the quick answer: “We’ve all been busy, and winter sucks around here.”
(This is basically what we see here in Seattle for 9 months straight, except with less blue sky)
Now that’s not to say that we’re done with Mediocre or with working on/racing the cars, I’m just saying that constant rain and clouds takes a surprisingly large amount of energy out of you. What’s planned for the incoming months? Let’s take a look at the quick list for each of MY cars. Jeff and Alex might chime in later if I can convince them to contribute.
(Fix carb, full brake replacement, suspension overhaul, fix rusted floorpan, repair/rechrome bumpers/trim)
Check out the full “photoshoot” here: http://mydigislr.shutterfly.com/celica
(Motor mounts, oil cooler, maybe a new exhaust, maybe a retune…we’ll see)
Now, it’s my birthday so I get to keep the stage for a few more minutes. Who am I kidding, if you suckers read this far you’re going to keep reading anyway…suckers. While this little blog has had some ups and downs, periods of TONS of posts and periods of drought, we’ve always maintained a pretty good audience and some consistent readers. We’ve grown a lot (looking back at my first few posts, I’m a little ashamed at the quality) and we’ve still got a lot of growing left to do. In the end I just really wanted to thank everyone for their support, either in being a reader or being a contributor, and say that I really appreciate you guys taking time out of your days to read our little corner of the interbutts.
Now get off my website, I’ve got work to do.
– It’s Steve’s birthday and he’ll be sappy if he wants to
I’ve chosen – and purchased – a secondary car for daily driving duties. If you remember before I had mentioned that I was looking into a Porsche 911 (996) and then more recently, I had been looking at FC RX7s. Well, neither of those ended up being the car I chose and neither of those are anything like the end result. What did my travels, research, and emotional connections lead me to buy? A 1974 Toyota Celica ST of course!
(Betcha didn’t see that coming)
A little background to my choice. I’ve always loved the Celica line of cars and when I started doing some research into the ones that I knew the most about (5th, 6th, and 7th gens) I started to find little trails of intruique regarding the origins of the name and beginings of a long line of successful cars.
(It’s a Celestial Dragon, not a viking longship)
What started out as a clone of the very popular Mustangs of the time, the Celica eventually evolved into a smaller and faster coupe that would grow from its RWD roots, to an AWD rally destroying powerhouse, to a fun and sporty little FWD street tuner. The Celica line has seen many changes and while it has always retained a little 4cyl it has changed bodies, drivetrain layouts, and purposes throughout its history.
(Perhaps you’ve heard of my WRC dominance? …also we got caught cheating once…our bad)
Enough about the line of Celicas, let’s talk about my car. I’ve nicknamed the new old girl Project Terrier a bit as an homage to my little Boston Terrier puppy, Mila, and a lot of respect to the fact that the car is 37 years old and is still holding together beautifully. Sure there are little bits of rust and the engine needs some work, but all together this is a perfectly functioning car that is doggedly maintaining life with a tenacious – terrier like – attitude. Project Terrier just seemed to fit.
(That’s one pretty 37 year old lady)
The project isn’t going to be anything like Lil’ Dirty (the tC) and the car will undergo only the most basic of changes for the time being. Mainly, I’m going to be updating and replacing the braking hardware, giving the suspension a look over, and fitting a better carb (which needed to be replaced anyway), but that’s pretty much it. The car is going to go through a slow and methodical OEM/OEM+ upgrade path until the car is reliable to be driven daily. The end goal of course is to take the tC off the road as a DD and turn it into a fully dedicated track star. It’s still some time away for that to happen, but we’ll get there.
-Steve likes his new dragon boat badged car
I’m stealing someone else’s searching powers again, Motoiq.com had this as one of their posts a while ago and after watching it again, and again, I just had to share it here. This is just a lightning round update, there will be a full post on Monday.
As we all know I’m a sucker for this type of video, but you can be pretty sure that if you aren’t moved by something like this you probably weren’t born to race.
– Steve was born to use hyperbole
Too often we find ourselves talking about the small details and comparing “the numbers” or basic formula of how a car “should” be set up to be awesome. Sometimes we lose sight of what it really means to be awesome rather than achieving what it should mean to be awesome. Numbers on paper are all fine and good, but what it all really boils down to is how fun the car is when you’re driving it.
(If I could still fit in this, I bet it’d be the most fun car…ever)
I’ve been skimming around and trying to decide on a second project car so that I can eventually turn my tC into a race-only car and have a fun daily driver. This searching has brought me across the RX7/8 LSx conversion. Basically you take out the existing rotary engine (which probably has a broken apex seal by now anyway….zing!) and put a V8 motor in its place. While I can practically hear rotary fans gurgling with barely contained rage about breaking the ‘purity’ of having a Wankel in the engine bay I’m not too worried about it. The swap has been well received by those who are open to having a better motor in an excellent chassis and it’s a relatively cheap and effective swap.
(Wait a minute…that’s not a rotary!)
When discussing this Alex and I got into discussing the handling characteristics of how the change would affect the chassis. In the conversation we got into the ever-present debate about achieving the holy grail of weight distribution and attempting to maintain the car’s 50/50 balance. My argument here is about looking at the big picture though, and while we were bickering back and forth about the impact of the slight weight increase of the V8 we lost sight of the bigger picture.
(The big picture is that you might get to do something this rad some day)
My main point is: Who cares what the numbers say? If the weight distribution changes to 48/52, but the car gains +150 horsepower, a much more enjoyable/usable torque curve, and is really fun to drive…who cares if you lost the 50/50 distribution. Will you have a minor impact to handling? Possibly, but you’re going to be out driving that car all the time and if you do end up bringing it to the limit and you start to get a little understeer, use the new-born torque to kick the back around a little more. Problem solved.
(See, this guy knows what I’m talking about)
In the end it’s all up to preference and what you want. If you want to build (or buy) a car based on the numbers so that you can quote them out to people at a car meet, by all means you should do it. I personally like to get into a car and actually drive it to figure out if I want to keep driving it. Which do you prefer?
– Steve loves unpopular engine swaps
Fair warning to prepare yourselves: This is going to be a long post about something I feel passionately about.
I use the word community pretty often in some of my less focused posts and I feel like some people don’t really understand the concept. I’m not aiming this specifically at the readers of this site, but really just taking a shot at the greater group of people who are into the car modification world. You affect your community in almost everything you publicly do. This could be anything from sharing thoughts to a friend, to posting a response on your favorite car forum, all the way down to writing a crappy automotive blog. *cough* *cough*
(Self deprecating humor? Check)
Because of this awesome power you wield without knowing it, you might not realize when you’re accidentally destroying someones hopes, dreams, or even just off-the-wall ideas. Why is this important? Mainly because hopes, dreams, and off-the-wall ideas are how this industry survives and how we all enjoy our hobby. When people want something, companies step in to fill the need. (Thanks Capitalism!) The problem is, when you squash someone’s dreams of…buying a body kit for their car, let’s say…you’ve stopped that person from positively reinforcing the company that built the body kit. When they don’t get positive reinforcement (i.e. sales) they get no money or incentive to try to create something new and innovative. What they’ll do is figure out what everyone is buying, even if it’s old or derivative, and keep making that until everyone gets bored and moves on. Hooray! Nothing happened! We’re still at square one!
(The Square One mall in Saugus, MA. Nothing to do with cars, I’m just homesick)
The internet has been the biggest benefit and the biggest hindrance to the car modification world. It hinders and limits us because of the incestuous idea sharing, clique mentality, and the inherent anonymity of internet forums and bulletin boards. While it has connected our community/communities, it has also let people accidentally (or intentionally) step on the afore-mentioned hopes, dreams, and off-the-wall ideas. On the internet people have a wonderful shield of anonymity to hide behind and when doing so they feel safe being aggressive or rude to their peers. There’s no real ramification that can be felt so really there’s no harm…right? Just because you can’t see the damage you’ve done and there is no punishment for what you’ve done means it didn’t matter…right?
(I’m not hurting anyone, I’m just pulling a lever that drops things. Levers don’t hurt people)
When you shut someone down on an idea you’ve squashed potential growth both of that idea and any future ideas that would’ve spawned off the original. With that in mind why on Earth would someone try to shut down an idea? Here’s why: Growth might not be something that is widely approved of and there have been plenty of huge leaps forward that people originally hated and fought, but ended up being awesome or further leading to something even more awesome. Want an example? Lets talk about fiberglass. When it first came out circa 1950’s and was first being used in automobiles (I believe it was the Corvettes that first used it extensively) it was so strange and new that people couldn’t look past its strangeness to see that it was a million mile leap forward.
(1953 Corvette. Fiberglass body makes for some serious sex appeal)
Do you know what would’ve happened today if someone had squashed the use of fiberglass in automotive applications? No carbon fiber. Yup, sorry to drop that nightmare on you all, but carbon fiber is a direct descendant of fiberglass and without FG, there’d be no CF. Sure carbon fiber would exist still and it’d be used in other fields, but the fact that fiberglass was given a chance to exist and allowed to show how effective it could be lead directly to the extensive adoption of carbon fiber car parts.
(Carbon fiber makes everything better. Even plug panels)
Now am I saying that encouraging someone to buy a body kit is the equivalent to the scientific leap forward that fiber reinforced materials were? Of course not, and stop asking such smart ass questions. What I’m trying to say here is that you need to be aware that your opinions and feedback are changing our community and not always for the better. I’m not telling you to change how you think or what you like/dislike. I’m just asking that you understand how your actions have reactions and that hitting “reply” on a message board can damage our community.
– Steve wants a pair of carbon fiber underpants
People always talk about “the car bug” or “the bug bit me” or “stop punching me in the larynx, I’m a nun!” and so I felt it necessary to let you all know that “the bug” has re-bitten me. Yes, as you all well know, I’ve been bitten a few times by the urge to upgrade my car and to work out all the little details until everything is exactly how I want it. If you’ve paid any attention to the site semi-recently though, you’ll have noticed that I was somehow cured of the bug bites and was in a bit of a lull. I don’t know what the hell changed, but I think I was bitten again.
(nom nom nom nom)
Seriously though, I’ve spent the past three hours skimming parts websites and looking up track time for the coming year. I’ve set aside some money and am now planning on setting aside more because I cannot help quell the urge to push myself and my car even further.
(Different kind of pushing…although I was doing this to my car when I had to bump start it)
What’s on the menu? Safety gear, drivetrain upgrades, and maybe even a little more power gear. Let’s talk safety fist: I’m looking into a head and neck restraining (HNR) system and am weighing the pros and cons of going with a HANS brand or the newer challenger the Neck DefNder. Both are great options and both make sure your noggin stays close to its normal operating range, it’s just a matter of preference and features really. I’m also going to be upgrading my racing helmet which is currently just my SHOEI motorcycle helmet pulling double duty. As there’s no way to get the HNR mounting pegs onto a motorcycle helmet, and moto helmets aren’t designed for in-car use, I’ll likely be upgrading to an SFI approved helmet sometime soon as well.
(DefNder. The e gave its life to make the N so large)
Drivetrain upgrades you ask? Limited slip differential, I reply. While I’ve got the drivetrain out, it’d make a lot of sense to get a lighter flywheel and a clutch that can handle more power than the OEM unit that I’m currently punishing. While I’d feel fine doing the clutch and flywheel install, I’ll likely take the whole pile of parts to a transmission shop as differentials are tricky little buggers and I’m not interested in destroying a brand new LSD just because I wanted to save a few bucks. Considering it’ll all be apart anyway for the clutch/flywheel install, the whole thing shouldn’t cost too much to be done at a shop…I hope.
(expensive, complex, and just about the best pound for pound upgrade you can make)
Lastly there are power parts. Now I’ll be completely honest with you here; I rarely even use my high boost setting as the low boost setting is more than enough to get me into some serious trouble. The tuning bug has taken hold of my senses and made me want to push beyond the current limits though so I’m looking into a new intake manifold, larger injectors, a return fuel setup, and a full 3 inch exhaust.
(Shiny and bigger means I want it)
I don’t know what causes the mod bug to bite, and I usually have no warning before it strikes, but goddamn this bug is worse than poison ivy. It hits, spreads, and itches until you buy parts to soothe the burn. The car gods send their plague upon you and it is up to your wallet and emotional fortitude as to whether or not you can endure their torture. I can’t. Clicking “buy” right now…
-Steve prefers to nibble, not bite
Normally there’d be a fully written out post here on Monday morning and if all things worked as planned, there would be. Right now we’ve got two posts that are currently stuck in the queue waiting to be published, and I’m currently wrestling with the wordpress functionality to let me post them without mucking up the formatting.
Fear not! This week and next week are going to have properly sized posts replete with full pictures and intelligently placed snark (and perhaps a boob or two…no promises).
(Two boobies…but probably not the kind you were hoping for)
Stay tuned, I’ll have at least one of the posts pushed out hopefully by today or tomorrow.
– Steve is working his technical wizardy…searching for “boobie birds” on Bing