FORMULA FOR SUCCESS inside the minds of formula sae
DAVE THOMPSON’S BUILT, NOT BOUGHT
THE PRESSURE OF PRANCING HORSES
INTRO TO SHILTECH
GBXM 2013 CARE OF THE YEAR IT’S THE 1.13 SUPER ISSUE!
THE SLIPPERY SLOPE IS INEVITABLE SAMURAI, FERRARI, BIKES, & WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT
IT’S MINTY FRESH!
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STARTER GBXM 1.13 | From uncertainty to epic-ness I came into this build week not knowing what to expect. Earlier in the month, I’d seen the chaos of a friend’s life and stepped in to lend a helping hand – now I had 100 pages of a magazine to put together and the nonexistent-watch on my wrist was ticking. I could hear it. As I came into the monumental task of Friday, I’d had the fears of a novice. “I don’t have enough time to get it done,” said one nagging voice in my head. “Your designs are gonna suck,” said another. (There were more, but I’ll spare you the grisly and vicious bickering of the critics in my skull…) Needless to say, I was extremely worried that I’d let everyone down that had a connection to the magazine – I’d even let the dog down and, dammit, that’s just impossible. Brian came in for the save by creating several of the pieces within. My husband saved the day by being awesome and letting me ignore him for my computer for three days (I’m sure he was very sad with his Battlefield 4, but GEARBOX MAGAZINE IS: whatever). Alex Waller even stayed up until 4 am, his time, to make sure I had all the required articles for my plans. This issue was so much more of a concerted effort than any in Gearbox history. PARTNERS Without any one piece this monumental 100 page issue of Gearbox Magazine wouldn’t have happened. The spirit of camaraderie and community has fueled the gearhead nation since the dawn of the vehicle and it is this same sense that has made this issue truly possible. Only a group of true enthusiasts could have banded together to make this happen – whether it was the writers, the editors, or the ones who inspire us to write (that’s you by the way).
+ [US] BRIAN DRIGGS + [NL] DENNIS DEJONG + [US] DEANNA ISAACS + [GB] ALEX WALLER
CONTRIBUTORS While your children, friends, or family are all playing with their new nifty toys, you can curl up with your favorite holiday brew and lose yourself in this collection of stories that will inspire you into the New Year. As you do that, + [US] ADAM CAMPBELL I’ll be relaxing with my husband and appreciating all the things I have going for me in life (and imagining the + [HK] PAUL TURNER future). + YOU? JOIN US. Now that this issue is completed, I have brakes on my Miata to attend to and the possibility of a few more repairs to make. I’ve got a few more days of peace and quiet until Winter quarter starts up again and I find myself flung into the chaos and insanity of senior years in college and I want to spend it doing what makes me happiest – writing, driving, and being with my family. I went into this build week thinking it was going to be the pits (it was but not nearly as bad as I thought it would be), but I came out on the sunny side a bit more prepared. I leave with a better understanding of what I’d like to do with my life (nope, it hasn’t changed), what I have to do to get there, and a greater respect for those that do it from a cubicle. Until the next concerted effort… May your roads be clear of traffic and full of friends,
we don’t do advertising. we prefer partners. Our goal is to help automotive enthusiasts build high performance machines & lives. If you’re a first class business which believes, like we do, that success comes from helping others achieve success for themselves, and are willing to work with us to empower our mutual customers, we’d like to talk to you.
Gearbox Magazine. Of gearheads. By gearheads. For gearheads. united.
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CONTENTS | what’s inside
the effing cover | FORMULA FOR SUCCESS
Our very own Deanna Isaacs takes you inside a few Formula SAE teams from around the world, including her own. Get a taste of why they do it, how it affects them, and what it takes for these students to compete in the fast lane.
42 NOTASRT4 | BUILT, NOT BOUGHT
Dave Thompson tells us of his passions for motorsport and how it all started, living by a “built, not bought” mentality. Take a trip down memory lane with David in this epic tale of building good looking cars that go as daily drivers.
50 more than you can afford, pal | pressure
Alex Waller takes us on a tour of Shiltech Performance Cars and the stable of aged horses they have stashed in the garage. Learn more about this independent Ferrari and Maserati shop based out of Loughborough, UK.
72 care of the year | stories that matter
As the year comes to a close, we round up the stories we feel mattered most in 2013. The first annual CARE of the Year award honors those who have made a difference all while sharing their passions for vehicles. 2 car 22: undercover part 4 | was paul’s cover blown? (ps, this is a true story.) 12 muddy buddy | jumpin’ jimney jehosephat. it’s our first suzuki samurai story! 18 oh-so fresh fr-s | kendall white’s minty mean show machine 26 inevitability | doctor tries avoiding operating on his daily driver 34 slippery slope | darin frow tells about catching the bike that got away 36 junkyard building 101 & 201 | adam campbel explains how to build on the cheap! 48 more good news! | alex waller’s dacia sandero is (minutely) turbocharged! 54 what it’s all about | people will pay good money to meet you, gearhead. 62 the road to rally | hard work is the reward for hard work. J/K. It’s rally. 66 isaac’s inner mind | saying goodbye to an incredibly important woman 72 gbxm presents: care of the year | the stories that mattered most in 2013 PLUS | roadtripping in finland, a year in review, paul walker, & an original comic!
GBXM|united, what we believe: Global understanding through automotive passion, different perspectives to consider, to see behind garage doors, to be united as gearheads, to find each other and help each other build high performance machines & lives. That is GBXM|united.
WE ONLY MATTER BECAUSE YOU MATTER. HIGH PERFORMANCE MACHINES & LIVES!
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cAR 22 One of the worst things about being undercover is that no one can talk to you about it. One of the best things about being undercover however is that no one can talk to you about it. And if they can’t talk to you about it, then they can’t bitch to you about it. Consequently, my shifts got changed and nobody said a word. Some unsuspecting Station Sergeant no doubt found himself inexplicably doing another week of early shifts whilst I was able to waltz in at three in the afternoon having been up until the early hours watching the football. I’m sure he complained. I’m just as sure he got told to get on with it; and I’m damn sure at the end of it all he stood bolt upright, said “Yes Sir!” as all the local officers did, and that that was the end of it. I felt sorry for whomever it was getting up at the crack of dawn to fill in for me. No doubt I would soon find out whom, but my thought process - and my privacy - was interrupted as Reiko Chan, a local Inspector from another Sub-Unit, came sauntering into my office clutching a cup of steaming coffee. “Why did they all have such stupid names” I asked myself? I knew why. It was the fallout from asking people to pick their own English names. Somehow it was wrong or unethical for a grown man to be choosing his future nomenclature from a book of baby names. So instead they chose any vaguely English names or terms associated with things they thought were cool. No doubt that was why we had a Manchester supporter called ‘United’ working in the transport office and a girl called ‘Chewbacca’ in the General Registry. Although I kind of suspected the poor girl in the registry had been taken advantage of in more ways than one with a name like that. “Have you heard of Charles Darwin, Paul?” asked Reiko in his usual academic tone, speaking as if he had just discovered gravity and was about to teach me the secrets of the universe. “Well I am British, Reiko,” I replied, “I’d be a bit of a twit if I hadn’t heard of him wouldn’t I?” “Darwin had a theory!” Reiko continued unperturbed. “I kind of think he had more than one!” I retorted, suddenly feeling quite bored. “He said,” droning on, “that if you return a modern day man to the wild, one of two things happen!” Reiko looked at me for a few seconds as if waiting for me to acknowledge his epiphany, which I didn’t, and then carried on. “Either,” he said excitedly, “he curls into a ball, unable to cope with the realization that he is helpless and alone, whereupon he goes into shock, starves, freezes, or gets eaten by a predator.” Reiko stopped again waiting stubbornly until …
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UNDERCOVER 4 BY PAUL TURNER
“Or?” I volunteered, rolling my eyes, praying for the pain to end. “OR!” he continued exuberantly, “he adapts to his environment, he makes a shelter, forages for food, kills his predators, and eats them. He overcomes his adversity and survives.” Reiko looked at me again as if waiting for me to digest this before taking a swig of coffee and pronouncing triumphantly, “Darwin called that Going Native!” “Reiko?” I asked painfully, “That’s incredibly interesting, but why for the love of God are you telling me all this at 3 o’clock on a Monday afternoon, when I’m trying to check the duty lists?” “Well,” Reiko continued as he turned and began to walk out, “you’ve just bought a house, you speak fluent Cantonese, you eat more Chinese than I do. Hell, you even give out ‘lai see’ packets at Chinese New Year.” “AND?” I yelled, as he reached the door. “Well,” he said, looking back with a wry smile on his face, “I think you went native years ago Paul!” And with that, he left. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was Reiko who had helped calm tempers down when an argument developed over who was going to fill in for me that week. He was the one who made the sacrifices to make sure the peasants didn’t revolt. He had no idea what was going on, but he’d figured out it was something important in spite of the fact (or probably because of the fact) that no one would talk to him about it. So he’d made it his business to have my back, to do whatever was necessary to give me room to deal with whatever it was that I was dealing with. Despite the fact he annoyed the hell out of me sometimes, the fact was he was a good man. He was one of the few people who actually gave a damn and it took me a long time to see that and to appreciate him for the sort of person he really was. Too long. The rest of that week was long and stressful. Despite Toby’s positive initial thoughts, John hadn’t called. None of them had called. I had my explanation ready. Toby had helped me to bolster my cover story. I felt confident that I could still pull this off, but I needed to appear calm, nonchalant even. I couldn’t be the one to phone up volunteering my innocence because I wasn’t supposed to even know that my cover had been called into question. By Friday, the situation was looking bleak. I spoke to Toby again. We both came to the same conclusion it was still in our best interests to act as if nothing had happened, but at the same time, we both knew that I had never gone more than a week without hearing from someone. Even though the motor vehicle examiners had returned all of our bikes, the phone remained ominously silent. “Give it until Monday then force their hand,” said Toby, “Just ask what’s
going on and see how they respond. If they put the phone down on you or just shut you out, we’ll just have to presume the worst, but if they are still unsure and you don’t make contact, it’s only going to arouse their suspicions more.” We both knew we might not bounce back from this one.
I slammed the phone down. Adrenaline was coursing through my body, my heart thumping, my hands shaking. I tried to calm myself down. I wanted to call Toby. I needed to call Toby, but even more than that I needed to stay off the phone. If John did call back and I was on the phone it was going to look suspicious. I could let it ring and not answer, but if he called back, the phone at least had to ring.
Something broke my sleep, pulling me from my deep slumber and throwing me into the confusing no mans land that exists between dreams and reality. My brain struggled to decipher the signals being sent to it, rolling over in the big bed trying to hide from the sunlight streaming through the curtains. What was that noise? I buried my head in the pillow, but less than a second later the sound from the next room made me sit bolt upright.
I waited and waited and waited. The temptation to call Toby was getting stronger. If John hadn’t taken the bait; I at least needed to let Toby know. I had no idea what else might be in the pipeline or what might potentially be at risk. Eventually, after what seemed like an eternity, the phone rang again.
The phone was ringing! I leapt out of bed, taking the duvet with me, pulling it around my naked body as I stumbled through the half open door into the living room.
“Sorry mate!” said John apologetically. He stopped for a second, waiting for me to respond, and when I didn’t he continued cautiously, “The guys at the test centre said you might be a cop. They said you live in a police quarter!”
“Yeah!” I said groggily into the mouthpiece as I yanked the handset off the cradle, holding it to my ear as I pulled the duvet around my shoulders and sat down on the sofa.
“It’s not a police quarter John. It’s a government quarter,” I barked, “I’m a teacher, in a government school. I’m a government servant for Christ’s sake. Where the fuck did you think I lived?”
“So you’re a cop?” said John from the other end of the line.
“I don’t know,” said John, “Everyone’s jumpy. We put two and two together and got six. I’m sorry!”
It was too early. I was still half asleep. I wasn’t ready and I missed my cue. How many times had I rehearsed this, how many times had I stood in front of the bathroom mirror watching my face as I practised my response? But nothing had prepared me for this. There was no lesson in the police training school that covered this. I froze. I tried to think, but the longer I thought, the longer the pause went on. The silence was incriminating and it had gone on far too long for me to pretend that I hadn’t heard him. Now I had to acknowledge his allegation, but whatever I said next had to be convincing and go some way to explain the long pregnant pause that was still hanging in the air. I was running out of time. Finally, like a cornered animal, I turned and struck. “You fucking piece of shit!” I yelled in frustration. This time it was John that paused. “What?” he started to reply. “You heard me, you fucking wanker!” I continued, cutting him off mid sentence, “You got me into this, John, remember that? You asked me to ride with you. I don’t remember you mentioning the fact that I might get fucking arrested and have my bike impounded? I don’t suppose you stopped to think I might need my bike to get to work did you? Where were you last week when I almost lost my fucking job? Lost my number did you? You came to me John - not the other fucking way around. And now you have the audacity to call me up, and say you and your friends suspect me? Did any of you numbskulls ever stop to consider the possibility that you got arrested because you drive like fucking prats?”
“Yes!” I answered, trying to sound as irritated as possible.
I remained silent, trying to give him the impression that I was still angry. “Come on!” said John, “I said I’m sorry! He paused again for a second then continued. “Look, I’m going up to the Bull on Hollywood Road. Why don’t you join me? Let me buy you a pint!” He sounded genuine. I let him wait for a few more seconds. Then threw him a bone. “Alright,” I said, “Give me an hour. I need to clean the bike. Those cunts at the test centre left it outside all week!” John gave a huge sigh of relief. “Alright,” he said, “I’ll see you in a bit then?” “Yeah,” I replied. Five minutes later, I was back on the phone with Toby. “Did you get me that employment letter from the Education Bureau?” I asked.
I waited for him to say something, but he didn’t, so after a couple of seconds I ended it.
“No! Not yet!” said Toby, “I wasn’t sure if we were going to need it or not.”
“I tell you what John, why don’t you fuck off, and go and tell all your pissy little mates they can all fuck off as well! I spend all day picking up after little kids at school. I don’t need any more fucking whining girls to look after!”
“Yeah well get your arse in gear and get it sorted. We’re back on!” “Oh you fucking beauty!” cheered Toby.
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Formula to succeed BY: DEANNA ISAACS | PHOTOS COURTESY OF FORMULA TEAMS IN ARTICLE.
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Some people get up early to get in line for the newest cellphone or gaming console, others bare the late evenings for movie premieres - for students participating in Formula SAE, though, the early mornings and late nights are for a simple reason: Race Cars. Full Disclosure: Deanna Isaacs is a member of the University of Washington Formula Motorsports team as part of the Press and Public Relations department and is also a reporter and partner for Gearbox Magazine. In the spirit of sharing a love of the cars our teams create, I’ve written this article. During the 2012-2013 school year, over 120 schools competed in either national or international events – pitting their designs and driving skills against their peers. It was ingenuity and engineering against
other teams and Murphy’s Law – so long as you did everything properly there shouldn’t be an issue and maybe you’ll win. What is Formula SAE? Some of you may be wondering what the heck Formula SAE is, exactly. Think Formula 1 cars, but much smaller, much less powerful, and created by students. That is Formula Motorsports.
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It’s about creating an atmosphere where students can apply what they learn in class – whether it is for engineers, business majors, or journalism majors, each student comes to apply what they learn in class in a real world scenario. Some of the biggest names in engineering come to Formula teams to recruit; Space-X, Tesla, Honda, TRD, Boeing, and more.
It first started back in 1979 as a variant on the mini Baja; it started out as Mini Indy (much catchier than Formula SAE, if you ask me) but soon changed its name to Formula SAE to better distinguish itself from Baja (a smart move, but still not ask catchy as Mini Indy). Each team is a fictional company that creates cars, think ‘faux-F1’, with the idea of selling formula-style race cars to the average citizen (with enough money to purchase extraneous, track-only cars…). Every team, whether real or fictional, begins the process over again each year – design, manufacture, build, test, compete (hopefully win), and repeat. Each year improving upon the last. Overall, many of the teams who replied to my request hadn’t seen huge changes overall – most of them were small changes to this part or that. The largest change for many was opting for smaller engine sizes. However, cutting edge technological revolutions is not what Formula is about.
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For me, that’s public relations. I work newsletters, press releases, and (sometimes) I even pitch to a magazine kind enough to publish my rants about how amazing Formula is. For others, it’s toiling away for hours on end, staring at ANSYS from a glaring monitor or snoozing on a heat transfer textbook because it’s 2AM and they haven’t gone home yet. It’s about more than just learning though, if it were just an instrument to an education then the endless staring at computer screens filled with ANSYS or the 2AM naps on a heat transfer text books wouldn’t mean as much – it’d just be homework and college life. More like this is the backbone of our educations; our final tests. Real world experience that isn’t tied to a class, a book, or a degree field, but a drive and obsession. It’s the center of our world For this article, I reached out to some of the international Formula teams competing at the student level and asked a series of questions. Even though I got answers from Washington State, Ohio, and even
Australia, overall, people didn’t join their respective teams for merely the experience, but also for the fun that comes with those experiences. “I think Zips Racing was inspired to succeed by an underlying motivation to be the best,” said Bergsneider of Akron. “Everyone wants to be the best, and we came together as a team to try and prove we can be the best, but we try to have as much fun as possible in the process.” When classes get hard, you don’t go for a run or a workout, you lose yourself in your part, your people. Your home. I won’t be ashamed to admit that when I hit a wall in classwork, I did the totally responsible thing and went out on a full day’s photo shoot with the race team as they tested the team and the cars in a far corner of a local airport. The fun you have, even if interspersed with break-downs and trial-and-error approaches, is what keeps you coming back year after year, after year. Anna Davies, a junior of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Akron (Ohio), on Zip’s Racing team joined the team to learn more about cars and how they were built. Being surrounded by people who work, walk, think, talk, and mingle cars seems to be making an impact. “Our team is made up mostly of gearheads,” Davies said in an email. “I would not consider myself to be a gearhead, but I think I may slowly be turning into one. When you surround yourself with gearheads and spend all your time working on a car, it’s very hard to not turn into one.” And isn’t that what being a gearhead is all about? Sharing the joys of what we do with those around us? Well, yes. But I suppose you could always further your career while you’re at it. Chris Bergsneider, also on Zip’s Racing team at Akron, joined for the electrical engineering experience and isn’t a self-proclaimed gearhead, but the answer is still the same. “Its’ fun (most of the time),” Bergsneider says in an email. “I learn more by being an active member of the team
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UW Formula Motorsports, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA Monash Motorsports, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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WWU Motorsports, Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington, USA Zipâ€™s Racing Team, University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, USA
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than I do in class, and it allows me to develop the skills I need to stand out amongst my peers in the job market.” Even those without the passion for thumping engines, it is time well spent, and not just for the learning. A year’s work rests on a few days As I mentioned before, there are three major stages to any formula team and, while each team is different and has different outcomes, they all go through design usually with a review stage, manufacturing where parts are made in triplicate (at least on the UW team), then assembled in order and tested to hell and back, all before pitting your car against other teams. “Our team competes for many reasons, but I would have to say the number one reason is for fun,” says Mike Rodzinski, the powertrain lead on Western Washington University’s Formula SAE team. “Competing allows us to see how other individuals solved the same problems with different solutions. All the different paths ultimately point toward the same goal, but who’s was the best? We use seasoned peers from the
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industry to let us know.” Another comment about competition also rung true from all the redfaced photos I saw from our team during their summers in Nebraska and Hockenheim, Germany. “Competition is full of fun, hard work, sunburns, music, and of course racecars,” exclaimed Bergsneider. The end result isn’t just being able to show off your team’s workmanship, but also to absorb ideas, make new friends (and stark rivals), and find inspiration for the next year’s designs – ‘Why can’t I do that, but better? No reason; let’s do it’ mentalities. The Future of Formula (SAE) Just as the big-guys (Formula 1), Formula SAE teams looking into hybrid technologies, whether fully electric or otherwise. This experiment into high-performance vehicles has also trickled into the student formula ranks. While electric cars have been competed prior to last year in the international stages, 2013 was the first year for electric competition in
me where my future lies. Not with the headache-inducing bickering of politicians, not the late-nights of breaking news or mainstream media, but in the garages of gearheads, interviewing them about their latest creation and sharing it with likeminded people. Being on the team has shown me my formula to success and it lies at my fingertips through the skills I’ve gained in my time with the driving force that is UW Formula Motorsports. It is in the octane-inspired stories I find in the automotive world and the places these engineering marvels have taken us. One of the things I always ask any of my formula interviewees has been “What is your favorite thing about formula?” I always enjoy the responses. People join for many different reasons and each gets their own enjoyment from the team, but the way their faces light up, their voices brighten, and their posture changes when they get to express what appeals to them the most is all the same. Eager, excited – hooked.
the US. UW jumped on that bandwagon like a kid being told there was an option for more frosting in the cake. (As if being able to build and test race car’s wasn’t enough of a push to perform, we got to make two?!)
Last year I interviewed a student who has gone onto the rest of her career, but Leslie Mikolaizik’s answer to this simple question has stayed with me and inspired me to continue to write about Formula and the automotive industry at large: “What’s my favorite thing about formula?... Everything is my favorite thing about formula.”
Other teams are looking forward to electric competition this year (and UW is looking forward to the friendly competition with our local rivals). “We placed 17th Overall at our last competition and failed to make it to the 1st electric competition this year due to some issues that were outside of our control,” said Rodzinski from Western Washington U. “My goal for the 2013 competition cycle is to win the EV class at Lincoln. We will have our work cut out for us, but it wouldn’t be called a competition if it was easy.” My experiences with formula are certainly not technical, though last year I helped primer a nose cone mold and I put stress testing components onto parts, but what I have learned on the team has shown
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Mud Buddy QUESTIONS: BRIAN DRIGGS | ANSWERS & IMAGES: TERRY ETHERIDGE
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Any American gearhead older than 30 remembers the commercials. “BEEP, BEEP! HI!” In 1985, the second generation Suzuki Jimny arrived in the United States with the ironic name Samurai. Strange thought it might have been to name a Kei-class, micro machine after the quintessential Japanese badass, the plucky little ute was good to go, and we bought almost 50,000 of them in the first year. Eventually, however, most of us grew up. We opted for larger, more powerful trucks. And just look where that’s got us crossovers. Ugh. Some car magazine even voted one of those car-based, should’ve-just-bought-a-station-wagon softroaders as SUV of the Year. Yet, every gearhead apparently has a soft spot for these tiny off-road warriors. You might be surprised how well they’ve held their value. Not accounting for inflation, some are even worth more today than they were
new! So when I happened upon a picture of a Samurai on reddit a couple months back, I asked the poster if he’d be up for an interview so we could learn more about them. The original poster never replied, but one excitable redditor put me in touch with his father, who generously offered to enlighten us.
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[bd] Introductions: Who are you, where are you, and what do you do for a living, mate? [te] My name is Terry Etheridge. I live in Castleberry, Alabama. That’s about 65 miles north-northeast of Pensacola, Florida, where I grew up. I work for a government contractor on Eglin Air Force Base, where I am an electronic technician and mechanical designer using Solidworks. [bd] Introductions: Tell us a little bit about your truck. How long have you had it, what have you done to it, and what do you do with it? [te] My toy is an 86 Samurai that I’ve owned for about 10 years. It was also the first 4x4 vehicle I ever owned. When purchased for $850, it had 31” all-terrain tires, a 3” body lift, and 4” re-arch springs. After towing it to the house and replacing the carb and alternator, I had it running. With the 31” tires, it had no performance in the upper gears. To remedy this, I installed a set of Calmini 5.13:1 transfer case gears. The gears were great for restoring top end performance, as well as increasing the crawl ratio. My only complaint with these gears is that they are noisy. Still not satisfied with the performance, I installed a 1.6L [engine] from a GEO Tracker using a Petroworks transmission adapter, then added a Calmini ceramic coated header and Weber carb. It is now capable of 70mph (120kph) on the highway and crawling slower than I can walk. I wanted a more substantial bumper. I looked on the internet and located a design I liked. After I got a MIG welder, I built the bumper I wanted. Just recently, I retrofitted the bumper to install a 12,000lb (5,400kg) winch from Harbor Freight. Overkill, I know, but the price was right. With the lift, it had a lot of bump steer. So I built a track bar for the front axle. It works well. I have open differentials and haven’t been able to afford lockers, so I added a second E-brake lever and cable and split the E-brake to work like cutting brakes; not as good as a locker, but its marginally effective and free. There is a privately owned off road park near my home. It is primarily a mud bogg with miles of trails. We enjoy riding there. My other vehicle is an 89 Jeep Wrangler. It is basically stock. We enjoy driving it to the Smokey Mountains and just riding with an open top. [bd] Why did you decide to get the Samurai? How easy was it to find and outfit to suit your needs? [te] The reason I chose a Samurai was because a friend had one and I was amazed at how capable it was. At the time, they were very inexpensive in our area. I actually had a Sami that my friend had given me after he had taken the transfer case out of it. I was looking for a transfer case when I found the 86 sitting in the weeds. I now have two running Samurais and two spare parts vehicles. My two grandsons nearby and granddaughter all love riding in Grampa’s Samurai. It gives me something Ican enjoy together with them and my wife. [bd] You mentioned being impressed by the abilities of friends’ Samis, then said “At the time, they were very inexpensive in our area.” Is this to say they’re no longer inexpensive today? Why is that, do you suppose?
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[te] That’s correct. I guess the increase goes hand in hand with their increase in popularity. In the southeast US, prices today are higher, but occasionally a bargain can still be found. Their popularity with the off road crowd is well known. With fuel prices through the roof, it makes sense to drive an economy vehicle. They are ready to take to the trails right out of the box. [bd] A lot of us gearheads, once we find a vehicle we really like, tend to pick up a couple; just like you’ve done with the three you’ve picked up since. How robust is aftermarket support for these little trucks? Is it easy to find off-the-shelf bits to build them up or do you really need parts trucks, “serious tools,” and a devil-may-care attitude to bring out the best in them? [te] The Samurai does have good aftermarket support. It can’t compare to whats available for the Jeep, but there are a half dozen or so suppliers that do a very good job. The hard parts we need are available on line. The best thing is that it is a simple vehicle, mechanically, that allows a person to experiment without risking a large initial investment. That being said one can never have too many spare parts. [bd] You’ve already told us quite a bit about how your truck got to where it is today, but could you tell me about a time when something went wrong or maybe about a particularly frustrating problem you had to solve with it and how you did so? [te] The factory carburetor is a pain. It is a 2 barrel with a dual microswitch controlled, vacuum actuated, secondary that only engages in 5th gear. It just starves the engine. The easy solution is a Weber replacement,
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which I currently have. I am currently prepping a 1.6L, 8 valve, fuel injected GEO Tracker engine to install. I took a running engine and transmission, harness, radiator, and fuel tank, and built a run stand for them. With the engine running on the stand and no dash fault indicators, I began removing unneeded wiring from the harness. I now have the harness I need for a fuel injected engine and just need a fuel delivery system and modified speedometer sensor to integrate into the computer. Then I will have the reliability and performance of a modern fuel injected engine. Please understand, I’m not special in this regard. I know many people who accomplish amazing things with common hand tools. When you don’t have the money to spend you find a way to innovate. Common hand tools and a MIG welder are all I have. ... [bd] We at Gearbox Magazine would like to respectfully disagree with part of that last statement, Terry. We think you’re pretty exceptional. Maybe there are all kinds of Samurai owners out there building custom wire harnesses after testing experimental engines on run stands in their garages, but you’re the first we’ve met. And that you’re exposing your grandchildren to the simple joy of making an old machine perform its best with common hand tools is certainly among the more noble things we think anyone can do. Thank you for sharing your story with us, sir!
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Oh-so fresh Frs QUESTIONS: BRIAN DRIGGS | ANSWERS: KENDALL WHITE | IMAGES COURTESY OF KENDALL WHITE
When you take a high level look at gearhead culture around the world, you see most of us have a lot in common. Some more than others, of course, and it would be foolish to say weâ€™re ALL one thing or the other, but one of the things the vast majority of us have in common is, ironically, a desire to be different. We want our machines to stand out from the crowd; to be unique. They are, after all, more than mere machines. They represent freedom. Freedom to explore the world and freedom of expression. And though we all want our projects to be unique, one-of-a-kind snowflakes, we tend to take our inspiration from one another, borrowing this idea or that style element from our peers in the pursuit of individual perfection.
IMITATION IS THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY Our performance and cosmetic upgrades clearly separate us from the cow-eyed, disinterested motoring masses, who clog our various countriesâ€™ roads with their commuter appliances, but even though we might pick nearly the same paint color or install one of the various turbosystems available for our naturally aspirated vehicles, the dreams and visions we have for our projects are essentially DNA. To the layman, your machine might look pretty much just like mine, but
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my own unique build no one could ever replicate. With the hours and days I work, free time islimited, and it was spent in my garage. My girlfriend has been supportive this whole build - she loves it! My first car was an Eclipse and I modified that also, so I have always had a love for building cars. I have a lot more to do to this one. Sometimes I have to go into deep conversation to explain everything, because not everyone knows what I’m talking about! I don’t mind explaining, I love it.
true gearheads know the stories and passions of the people behind the machines are what makes them truly unique. Kendall White is a licensed PIC Shore Tankerman for a barge company in Beaumont, Texas. You might recognize his Scion FR-S. Then again, you might have seen another one like it. But we’re about to explore the reasons why, even though there’s a chance you might spot a similar car, it’s clear his is one of a kind. [bd] Let’s get right to it. Introduce your car. Not so much with a mod list, but more a high level overview. (Imagine you’re telling someone with zero knowledge of the platform beyond “I think I’ve seen a couple of those around.” We’ll get into more specifics in a bit.) Maybe tell us what you drove before and the why/how you came to own this little rocket? [kw] My car is a 2013 Scion FR-S. I was actually the first person in Beaumont to buy one! I couldn’t wait to receive my red sports car off the truck. I had to wait six weeks! These cars are becoming very popular, but not many are show only like mine. A lot of people (people who aren’t into the car scene) ask me what is different. I tell them, everything! I gutted the whole car back in March of 2013 and began the build. I wanted a show car;
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[bd] A few months ago, I asked Jeremy at FT86 Speed Factory - a GBXM|united Official Partner - if he could put me in touch with a down-to-earth FT/BRZ owner whose car was nicely done up, but not over-the-top. The idea being, we’re not huge into the show scene - most of our readers either don’t have the scratch to go all-in right away on a new car, or don’t see the point - so we were looking for someone with more than a few mods, but nothing extreme. When Jeremy and I finally caught back up a few weeks ago, he told me the guy he had in mind for this story had recently gone all-in, building something really wild. Safe to say that was you? I’d like to get a sense of what your original plans for this car, and what lead you to do so much in such short order? [kw] To answer this question, since I ordered the car, I had all these plans - turbo, rims, seats, roll cage, steering wheel - I could go on and on. It takes time, and my girlfriend encouraged me. She always says, “We’re young and have no children. This is our child. BUILD IT!” [laughs] So I listened. I’m very close to Houston where there is actual show competition, so I decided to go full throttle and make a clean, classy build. Bri (my girlfriend) picked out the MINTY color. I loved it! Mint and carbon fiber just went so well together. Why mint? Because we wanted to bring back a more vintage color; mix classic with modern. [bd] What is a “PIC Shore Tankerman?” Can’t say I’ve heard that one before. Is it an interesting job? Anything you do at work which helps you in the garage? [kw] As a PIC Shore Tankerman, I go to barges near and far, transferring dangerous liquids from barge to shore or shore to barge. Is it interesting? I’d say at the least. Not many people know what my job is. Some product I load or discharge can be
very dangerous, so it’s a bit risky at times. Does it help me in the garage? I have a great strength for lifting heavy things? [bd] You mentioned wanting to build a car no one could duplicate. Is that really possible, given such a popular platform? And didn’t I see someone tag you in a picture on Facebook of another minty green FR-S? Not to discount your statement in any way! I’m just curious what you’ve done - or plan to do - which isn’t duplicable. And - if it is, technically, duplicable, how will your car stand apart from the rest? [kw] Honestly, yes you did see that on Facebook. That FR-S was a widebody. It is all stock versus the widebody, paint, and a few other things. Of course, this car is absolutely one of the most popular cars. Is my car replicable? In a way, anything can be duplicated. For example, there are several turbo kits for the FRS. Mine, however, is 100% custom built. Only three in the world like it! So yes, it can be duplicated - anything can really. I built my car for my own happiness and no one else. My paint
job is one of a kind, it will never be duplicated, because you can’t just type in a mint paint code and pull up my color! My car is something I have had to work for. Many people think my car is sponsored, but it isn’t. At all. I bought and paid for everything. So, my answer is yes, technically, everything can be duplicated, but I strive to have the odds and ends done that other people could miss during their build. [bd] To that end, tell us about a larger obstacle you’ve got to grapple with in the near future. Reflecting on challenges you’ve faced in the past, with this car or another, how have your past experiences prepared you to deal with this obstacle? [kw] Well, the FR-S is not exactly the easiest car to strip down. Haha! My first time to strip, the car was rather difficult! Now I know exactly how, so it won’t be so difficult in the first of the year while installing my new audio setup. Also, I plan to install air lift suspension. Why? People can think its so I can “slam” it. Wrong. I am doing air lift suspension be-
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cause I want to be able to actually drive my car places without worrying if I am going to break something, or rip another carbon fiber lip off the front end. My plans are to raise it to almost stock height when traveling to shows, then sit it down at the show. [bd] Why is it so important to you to modify your vehicle so extensively? How does all this work make your life better? [kw] Really, I just wanted to chase the dream of building a fully modded car. I recently won Best Scion at WekFest Texas. That makes 12 trophies in four months! I am happiest when I am showing my car. Regardless if I win or lose, I try to go to as many as I can. So my car is out there being seen and being loved. [bd] If you had to go back and do it all over again, what would you do differently? What’s the most important lesson you’ve
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learned through all this? [kw] If I had the chance to do it all over again, I would’ve chased my dream a little quicker! But as for the build, I wouldn’t change a thing! Now, what I have learned is to never fight fire with fire. My lady gives me the strength to ignore the haters, as do all my fans! Not everyone in this world is going to like my build, but that’s okay - I like it. I LOVE it! “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there is still going to be someone who hates peaches.” [bd] What’s next for this minty fresh weapon? [kw] Nothing. I am actually selling it! [laughs] Just kidding! The last show of the season was earlier this month in Houston, Texas, so, my minty machine is now under construction as I prepare for the upcoming show season.
I like to keep things I do #LowKey. That way I build up the suspense in people’s minds. I only let little sneak peaks slip until its show time. However, I will let you in on my upcoming mods! My next step? A fully customized audio setup. That’s all ya get! You will have to stay tuned! First show of the season is Import Face Off in Baytown, Texas, February 9th, 2014. Watch for it!
doubt, someone was skipping this article because he or she isn’t interested in bold-colored show cars, but that’s not the point! Each of us chooses a project based on what immediately appeals to us. Some like speed, some like show, some like preventing rust with spray paint after a week slipping over boulders in the mountains.
[bd] Where can people find you online and connect?
Though we do different things with different vehicles, we all know why we do it; we all know how it feels when the machines we bought become the machines we’ve built. It’s exciting, isn’t it? The thrill of bringing all the pieces together, of making those automotive dreams a reality. There’s so much about “playing with cars” that matters. We hope you think Kendall’s FR-S is as awesome as we do, but we also hope you turn the page thinking, “Yeah. I know why he does it - and I respect the hell out of that.”
[kw] Follow my Instagram: @stayminty or @briannahstillwell, go to Facebook & Like my page! www.facebook.com/StayMintyFRS ... Like Kendall says, “You can be the sweetest peach in the world, but there will always be someone who hates peaches.” No
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inevitability QUESTIONS: BRIAN DRIGGS | ANSWERS: ERIK NILSEN | IMAGES: ERIK NILSEN
Those lamenting the dearth of small, RWD sports cars were granted a reprieve recently, as the BRZ/FR-S/FT-86 platform finally made its way to dealer showrooms. We’re seeing more and more of these pocket rockets and, since we believe stories of people who actually own the cars are always more important, asked our friends at FT-86 Speed Factory to introduce us to some. The first owner we met? Erik Nilsen, a 43-year old Optometrist in Richmond, Virginia, who owns his own practice. When he’s not enjoying time with his family or working on his business, he’s either working on or thinking about track day related car stuff. In this interview, he
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shares what lead to his purchase decision, how he ended up in the deep blue specimen you see before you now, and how this little car is both causing and scratching his itch to get back out on the track and turn a few hot laps.
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[en] Thanks for reaching out to me. I’d be happy to communicate with you regarding tracking the BRZ, but honestly am not sure how interesting my story would be. I am certainly a gearhead and enjoy the culture and friendships that exist around modifying and tracking cars. The BRZ/FR-S is such a great platform for the gearhead culture. It’s unique enough and accessible enough to remain both interesting and attainable for many street tuners and track enthusiasts. Bone stock, It feels pretty good thanks to smart engineering - lower weight, low center of gravity, and good steering feel. Those attributes add up to great fun! Yes, it lacks power, but that feeds the gearhead community, providing the opportunity to enjoy modifying it, for better or worse. I’ve tracked a [Porsche] Cayman S and 911s, and though those platforms are desirable, modifying them can get expensive quickly, which limits enjoyment at the track. I sold the Cayman and built a Spec Miata and had way more fun while learning how to actually drive. The BRZ is a logical platform to build a big following around because, as I said before, it’s attainable and fun. Street tuners can do cosmetic or performance mods and end there, or choose to take it to the track to really add excitement. It will take several years and several thousand more BRZ/FR-S sold for it to happen, but I do think in time, a spec series using these cars will exist and be extremely popular. I really haven’t tracked the BRZ much at all so I may not be the guy to talk to. As far as I’m concerned, I am excited to run the car more next year, but so far have been holding back a little. I didn’t want to be the guy prototyping parts and set ups, potentially building it all wrong.
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That said, I have not been able to resist doing some things that I think are pretty well thought out. I installed basic, one-way adjustable coilovers with a race alignment on track wheels/ tires/ pads. This, predictably, yielded huge benefits; faster laps and increased fun at VIR [Virginia International Raceway]. Without rear camber adjustments, it was twitchy under braking and in high speed transitions, due to asymmetric rear camber and not optimal toe or thrust angle. Good aftermarket rear LCAs [lower control arms] really helped settle things down. For entry level track day enthusiasts, stock brakes with race pads would be fine. I was getting brake fade which was unnerving and, though I could have just tried different pads, decided to purchase Essex AP Rac-
ing Sprint kit. Can’t wait to run on these brakes. Jeff Ritter at Essex is incredibly knowledgeable and customer service is fantastic. I have done some other things as well, including the Essex harness bar with a Sparco Evo2 seat with 6-point harnesses. Yes, it’s less civilized for the street, but still comfortable enough to drive daily. It’s also way more fun and safer than doing track days without harnesses and a HANS. Once you get used to harnesses, not having them just doesn’t feel right. One big thing for track days in general, and particularly with the BRZ, is understanding the old saying that it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow. This car is fantastic and yes, it’s not fast. With coilovers, track tires and upgraded brakes, the lack of power only becomes more apparent. It certainly can handle more power and tuners will be offering better and better options; naturally aspirated (NA) and forced induction (FI). I have been the FI route and ran Porsches that were faster, but the Spec Miata was just so much more fun! If your goal is better lap times, then there are plenty of Porsches, Corvettes and M3s to choose from. Personally, in regards to the BRZ, I strongly recommend staying NA and learning to drive the snot out of it, which will put a huge smile on your face. Instead of buying a supercharger, pay for a pro driver like Tom Long from the Gran-Am Racing series (Freedom Autosports/ Longroadracing Racing) to coach you and you will go much, much faster! If I have a goal, it’s probably to just have fun, using the BRZ as a platform for a street legal car that turns and stops as well as a Spec Miata. It would
be nice to get 25WHP and torque over stock, as the chassis can certainly handle it. That would be sweet and seems to be around the corner with header/ECU tuning coming from Nameless Performance and others. [bd] You’ve already shared quite a bit about what you’ve done to your BRZ, but why and how did you end up in one? Were you among those on waiting lists to get them right away, were you converted from something else? My wife and I had enjoyed living in a rural setting where I had space for my track car, trailer, tow vehicle, etc. for years. We made the lifestyle choice to build a house in town and in doing so, realized there would be less space to store my gear. As this was happening, I happened to get an offer to buy my Spec Miata so I sold it. Within a week, I was in full-on track car/ track day withdrawal. I started looking for a new toy and read about the BRZ, which wasn’t out yet. It appeared to be the perfect solution - reasonably priced, fun to drive, and begging to be turned into a track day car. It’s a fun and interesting challenge (perhaps illogical as well) to try to build a good track day car that remains a street legal daily driver. I’m enjoying the process as friends are having fun at my expense, saying it’s only a matter of time before the interior gets yanked out in favor of a full roll cage. I guess we’ll see. I wasn’t on a waiting list, but did encounter several dealers charging market adjustments upwards of US$5,000 over MSRP. I wanted a WR Blue Limited 6-speed and the only one was in Brooklyn, New York, so I bought it sight unseen, paying MSRP. I hadn’t even driven one yet, as
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they weren’t available. I had read enough about it to know it was something I’d enjoy and it’s more than lived up to expectations. [bd] So you paid full retail (skirting the BS dealer price gouging, I hope) sight-unseen, and then what? The car showed up in your drive on a trailer? You went to pick it up? What was your first drive? What was your first impression? My dad lives outside of NYC so he came down to Virginia for the weekend and we drove up together to get the car. I picked it up and drove home the next day, about 800 miles round trip. The dealership was very friendly and didn’t charge a market adjustment. First drive was interesting. Once I escaped Brooklyn roads and traffic, I couldn’t get myself to just stay on Interstate 95 south for seven hours. I got on and off 95 a bunch of times, taking secondary roads to vary RPMs for break in and to have fun. My first impression was how impressive the seats and seating position was. I was also pleasantly surprised at how good the steering feel was; really excellent, especially considering all the knocks against electric power steering in general. Then I noticed that the engine/exhaust sounded more like an old vacuum cleaner than a race car which was disappointing. [bd] In your initial response, you inferred you don’t really track the car much, but go on to point out you were in full on track car/track day withdrawal. The fact that you even mention stripping and caging it says something about how you’d like to eventually use it. There’s something to be said about how well the car bridges the gap between street car and track weapon, and what will ultimately lead to one end of that spectrum to the other. Can you speak to that? (Admittedly, I had a little trouble forming this question, but I think it’s an interesting topic.) That’s a great question. This past year was a very busy one for me both professionally and personally. I tried to take a break from the track, but it’s just so addictive that I couldn’t stay away. It’s not just the driving but the process of improving the car that I’m hooked on. Every change seems to have it’s pros/cons. A very cool mod I did was a 4.67 gear ratio final drive swap. It improved acceleration when exiting some corners but the shorter gearing caused me to run out of revs both entering and exiting others. This coming year, with each consecutive track day, I expect the evolution from street car to track weapon to progress. The cool thing is that if you have limited time and resources but still want to go to the track, the BRZ is a great and rewarding platform to get you there. Just upgrade to race pads and Michelin Super Sports and go shred some tires! On the other hand, if you want to build a track weapon, start researching and watch out cause there’s a lot of options on the way and no shortage of enthusiasts to fuel the fire. I plan to run the car in some time trials this year. It slots well into NASA’s TTD class if you don’t go too crazy on mods. If a spec race series evolves, I will have a hard time resisting the temptation to build it into a full race car. That should take a few years at least so I guess we’ll have to wait and see. BTW, What do you think of a moderately modified FT-86 platform spec series, maybe 2,400lbs (1100kg) / 200WHP (12lbs per HP)? In stock format, the car is about 2,750lbs (1250kg) / 165WHP or about 16.5lbs per HP. I think that would be pretty interesting.
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[bd] Man, I should probably find a way to get some seat time in one of these things. I’m growing more and more fond of the way they look with beefy r-compounds and race wheels by the day. Sounds like a lot of fun. More fun, even, than my wife’s Juke (which is a lot of fun)! [en] Too funny. You’ll need to throw some R compounds onto a set of Enkei RPF1s and give them to your wife for her birthday. My friend was on a business trip and sat next to two Nissan engineers on his flight. He asked them what was the most fun car they have in their current production, not counting the GTR and both said the Juke. It’s awesome! [bd] I think a lightly modified spec series would be a good idea. These cars seem to attract a lot of enthusiasts who enjoy spirited driving. Probably a bit too new to generate a large enough competitor base to make it a national thing, but given a couple years, I bet we’ll see it. How would you go about adding 35whp and 350lbs of lightness? To get 35WHP NA, I would do an e85 tune with header/ full exhaust. With e85 not readily available by me, I am waiting to see what header/ tune combos hit the market early next year. I will do something for sure, but would prefer to stay on 93 [octane], as long as it can get a legit
25WHP, which may be ambitious. 350 pounds lighter? I like that you’re going for it! What a huge difference that would make. Most people just want to add horsepower and fail to realize what a huge difference less weight makes. My Spec Miata weighed 2,150 pounds (975 kilograms) without a driver. When I took a 185 pound passenger out for hot laps, the difference in handling/ power was huge. Anyway, as I digress and fail to simply answer your question... To lose 350 pounds: • • • • • • • •
lighter wheels and brake kit (I have 17” OZ Racing Alleggerita/Essex Sprint racing brake kit) Braille battery (11pounds, saves 19 pounds!) A/C delete stereo sucks anyway, ditch that for sure remove all carpet, insulation, rear seats, seatback, head liner, spare tire, tools remove most interior panels except for maybe door skins, I still want it to look a little civilized remove driver and passenger glass and air bags only if full race car replace factory front seats with carbon fiber race seats
If still not there, add carbon fiber hood, trunk lid and lexan rear window and prepare to sleep on the couch for a week when my wife sees the credit card bill. [bd] Speaking of modifications, Jeremy Boysen of FT-86 Speed Factory put us in touch for this story. They’re one of our Official Partners. I was curious how they’ve impacted your BRZ. What have you bought from them and what was that experience like? Jeremy/ FT-86 Speed Factory is a tremendous resource for the community. As I’m sure you know, they don’t just sell parts. They actually own
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and track two FR-Ss, and even did the One Lap of America this year. Man, I really want to do that next year! Jeremy’s company has had a significant impact on the choices I’ve made. It’s challenging to set up such a new platform as the BRZ for the track. There’s lots of options out there for parts, but not much that’s track proven. FT-86 has really helped. Their website is well done, customer service is fantastic, and they have a tremendous inventory of almost everything you could need as a street tuner or track day enthusiast. I recently needed wheel spacers in a hurry and Jeremy somehow got them to me in a day, even though he was at SEMA. Glad they exist and strongly endorse them as a resource. I have bought from them: Essex Sprint racing brake kit, several different race pads, Sparco Evo2 race seat, side rails and seat base, M Factory final drive, drop in panel filter, Essex harness bar and Sparco 6-point harnesses, wheel spacers (because stock wheels didn’t fit after brake kit went on), Spiegler stainless steel brake lines, BC Racing BR coilovers, Cusco rear LCAs.
or exaggerated style adjustments will always be there, it’s nice to know the BRZ/FR-S is what it is. Could these be the next darlings of the spec racing scene? Time will tell. ... [bd] We’re not comfortable publishing people’s email addresses, but if you track one of these and would like to get in touch with Erik, drop us a line on our website. If you’d like to know more about our GBXM Official Partners Program - and how it aligns with our no advertising policy - check out the “Our Partners” page on the website. http://gearboxmagazine.com/official-partners/
I’m pretty much where I want to be except for drivetrain/ horsepower. Certainly am hoping that a proven 25+ whp/ 25+ torque NA option comes about other than e85. [bd] What kind of gearheads would you most like to meet, and where can they find/connect with you? I am a bit of a dinosaur in regards to social media so email is best. I wouldn’t mind communicating with any gearheads who want to talk about performance improvements, particularly when it relates to track applications. Cosmetic mods are not my thing, but I still enjoy seeing and reading about the cool stuff people come up with. Take an already fun-to-drive sports car, add a little power, add a little lightness, add a little practice, and you’ve got a great piece of machinery at your command. While the temptation to make ridiculous power
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26 years later, he reflects on why he had to have the LC
BY DARIN FROW [bd] In recent years, I’ve come to view Darin Frow, founder of Mitsubishi Lancer Register (MLR) as something of a mentor. The small online community he started for old Lancer owners has grown into a truly international brand which organizes dozens of motorsport events each year. As I see it, he’s living the dream. But he also dreams of motorcycles. Today, Darin has many bikes. How many? Many. This is the story of one of his favorites. (And pictures of some of the others.) ... Rewind to the magical year of 1981 and more importantly the 25th November. I’d reached the enlightening age of 17 and after a few months of patient waiting was finally (and legally) allowed to ride my Yamaha RD250C. Of course, being young and impetuous and not needing sleep at that time of life, I was up n’ out at 4AM, waking the neighbours, as I’d arranged to meet a mate of mine for a very early morning thrash before any inconveniences such as traffic spoilt our fun. At the time, my mate Pete was on his ‘big bore’ 80cc Suzuki GT50, a right nippy little thing which sounded great and went like stink . . . or did alongside the moped which had given me freedom over the previous year, until I’d swapped a month earlier for the RD. His Suzuki was also nicely illegal with him riding it as he was still 16! However, at 4AM that morning the ‘power’ tables had turned as the RD gave the chance to exact revenge on my mate, turn up the wick and watch him disappear in my mirrors. Of course, being a poor 17 year old, I divided the little money I had between fags and petrol, whilst trying to save a few pennies for expansion chambers (exhausts) and other “RD must haves”. Over the next 6 months my dark metallic blue RD became everything I wanted, with all the mods any self-respecting 17 year old would want on their bike. All my mates were on similar bikes, but one day and without warning another friend rocked up one evening on what appeared to be a brand new Yamaha RD250LC – the absolute cutting edge of Japanese 2 stroke technology and sexiness. However, all was not what it seemed! Yamaha in their infinitive wisdom
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had built a 250LC and a 350LC – identical apart from twin front discs on the 350, as opposed to a single disc on its little brother - so to add insult to injury the smug git had actually bought a 350LC and threw 250 side panels on it, so he could visibly get round the 250cc law for learner riders that was in place at the time. In fact he must have been one of the first geezers on the planet to have done it the cheeky scamp – but hell, he got away with it, so happy days! We were all over it like flies on shit – it was a thing of beauty and went like the proverbial scalded cat off a chrome shovel (or something like that!) Seriously, that thing might have been stock as a rock, but it was mental compared to our leadweight coffin-tanked strokers - it was like night and day . . . and we all wanted one!! In fact we wanted THAT one, but the trouble was it was his, and we couldn’t afford it anyway. Over the next 12 months, I had a pair of later model RD250Fs – with the last bike being blessed with a set of Allspeeds. I still can’t believe how perfect they looked and how they ‘made’ a great bike perfect (in my opinion!). Unfortunately both bikes got crashed – neither of which were my fault I hasten to add – but because of this I decided to quit while I was ahead (read: alive) and go to four wheels . . . if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! Fast forward nearly 20 years to the turn of the new century and the young impressionable 17 year old is now a not so young, but still impressionable, 36 year old who, for some unknown reason, one day wakes up and thinks, “Hmmm, I wanna buy a bike.” The bike in ques-
tion actually ended up being an old Shovelhead Harley which had been restored and mildly customised to knock it back to the ‘50s with fishtail pipes, Corbin seat, and thin whitewalls . . . not everyone’s cuppa tea, but exactly what I wanted at the time. I’m not sure what happened then, but I seemed to find myself on he proverbial “slippery slope.” One bike became two, which in turn became three! It appeared I’d rediscovered my teenage roots, but with a bit more wonga in my pocket, a slight addiction for ‘strokers’ (especially the oddball ones) and before you ask; no wife to stop me, I started a period of bike-buying-freefall – and yes, it WAS enjoyable! I tripped over a magazine feature for the Kawasaki KR250 and before I’d finished reading it my head was already off searching the classifieds, but at the end of the article I found the owners contact details – he seemed to have the same condition as me, so I got in touch and asked him if he knew of any for sale. That guy was Tim Wilks and after meeting up at Stafford in 2005 and realising there were none of our bikes at the show, we decided to set up Diff’rent Strokers, purely so we could put that right and bring a breath of fresh air – or stinky 2-stroke air - to mix it up and shine a beacon of originality into the same old displays of same old bikes. If I say so myself, I think we’ve done quite well over the past few years, having always taken something diff’rent to the shows, thanked massively by the fact we’re not restricted by being a one-make club! By now I was an impressionable 40 year old – jeez, time really does fly when you’re having fun! – and although there were a few more bikes in the stable garage, the collection still didn’t include an Yamaha LC. I don’t know why either because I was looking at Evilbay like everyone else, but that ‘right’ bike never seemed to materialise, or maybe it was other bikes I was buying instead were just getting in the way?!
Never mind though, eh? It was quickly forgotten and the search halfheartedly continued with the aid of emailed links to bikes for sale from Tim and other “helpful friends” all keen to spend my hard-earned. Then a few months later another ‘perfect LC’ cropped up on the devil’s site, but before I knew it, the bike had sold. A week or so later, and as if by magic, it was back – it turned out that it hadn’t sold due to being slightly mis-described. His loss was my gain though and, after a quick call, I drove up to look at a white and red LC which had been rebuilt from the frame up, and came with required three spokes, USDs and Allspeed pipes! All boxes well and truly ticked!! The bike looked great and although I could see a couple of things that needed some fettling, it was exactly what I’d been searching for. That was all before the seller fired it up, but when I heard the sound of the Allspeeds, I couldn’t get the damn thing in the van quick enough! Whilst speaking to the owner about the LC, a few things started to cast my mind back to the bike in Scotland and unbelievably it turned out to be the same bike I’d seen a couple of years earlier but hadn’t had time to look at. Funny how things work out eh?! So, 26 years after the all encompassing envy washed over us when my mate rolled up on his new black & red LC, I finally had my own. To be honest, that was the easy bit - I now need to find the time to ride it, along with the others in the collection. Of course, this hasn’t stopped me buying one or two more pieces of ‘garage art’, but thankfully space and money have now called ‘time’ on my 2-wheeled habit and, if anything, I now need to consider selling . . . well, only to make space for something else of course! [bd] You can find Darin at LancerRegister.com
The funny thing was I never wanted a standard LC like my mates bike all those years ago, but a full on special with RGV swinger wasn’t on the cards either. My perfect LC would simply need to have two things; three spokes and Allspeeds - and if it had a USD front end so much the better – oh, and it would have to be a 350 and in good nick too! During my regular Ebay travels, I tripped over a few possible candidates, but a couple of years ago I saw a white/red LC in Scotland which was my perfect bike. The only trouble was it was in Scotland and, being at the other end of the country, it couldn’t have been further away, and I didn’t have the time to look at it so I had to walk away. Bugger!
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My first vehicle was a junkyard truck that I bought with two payments of $200 when I was 16 years old, barely held a job, and had no automotive experience. I was able to make it work, and since then I’ve had a soft spot for vehicles on death row. I’ve built a few rigs from pieces over the years with great results. Here’s how you can too. Ever find a car in the bone yard that doesn’t deserve to be there? Ever think about giving it a new lease on life? Whether buying from the salvage yard directly or buying from a private seller (a car slated for the crusher), you can build on a budget and have a better end result than buying a fixer-upper that is already on the road. First off, do some research. Look online at the classified ads for some cars and visit some salvage yards to get a feel for what’s out there. Figure out a base price for what you want and start your search. It’s
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not a bad idea to get familiar with your local salvage yards, either. The more you show your face around the yards, the better deals they’ll give you - and the more they’ll be willing to haggle with you on prices. More than likely, the yard you buy your “roller” from will be your best resource for parts after your purchase, so look for multiple cars of the same type for your build. Remember some yards won’t sell whole cars so ask ahead of time.
BY: ADAM CAMBPELL | PHOTOS BY: ADAM CAMBPELL
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SELECTING THE RIGHT VEHICLE In your searches, you’ll be tempted by rare classics and highly desirable wrecks. Stay away from these for the most part. You don’t want something that has been wrecked, picked clean, or sitting since the 70’s. Instead, look for straight bodies, mostly complete interior, full suspension, and a complete wire harness. It’s not a deal breaker if your car is missing its motor and/or transmission; chances are it was junk anyway or it was a good car to begin with and someone just used it as a donor. Don’t be afraid to do a little work out in the field, either. If your car is missing a few things, make it complete before making your purchase. This won’t change the price of the car, but if you have to go back later, you’ll be charged for it, so grab the sun visors, door cards, relays, switches, knobs or lights from the car next to yours and install them. Remember that highly desirable wreck I said to stay away from? Take the desirable parts and put them on your less desirable model. You could have a VR4 in an SL trim level car for example.
you did in the yard beforehand can offset these. Oh, and make sure you have wheels and tires on your car before they bring it out to you, it’s about to be picked up with a forklift and you don’t want them to damage your rotors. NOW WHAT? Once you get your new junk home, clean it up and do an inventory of what you need. Then compile that into a list. Here’s where you’ll find out how good of a job you did out in the yard, and with your car all clean, you’ll feel better about the purchase and be more motivated to work on it. Do an inspection; look over your suspension, checking the hardware
In the case of no motor and/or transmission, research the prices for complete units in known good condition. Chances are you can get a lower mileage setup than what your car would have had anyway. The other option is to ramp up the power and buy that race motor or turbo engine you’ve always wanted. MAKING THE PURCHASE Depending on current scrap prices, you may be able to score a deal, and chances are the guys at the yard know you’ll be back to buy more stuff for your build, so they should be willing to work with you, this goes back to the rapport you’ve established with them. The yard might hit you with some random taxes and charges - this is normal so make sure you hit them back subtlety with your bundling ability - but the “upgrades”
as you go. Check the fluid cleanliness of your should-be sealed systems like brakes, clutch, and power steering. Give your easier-to-get-to wiring a once over because some people will cut the plugs off the harness to get a relay rather than unplug it. BACK TO THE YARD Now, using your checklist, search for your missing parts in order of importance. You want to be running as soon as possible to avoid losing interest, or forgetting where you left off because you’ve been sitting on the project too long looking for the right color ashtray. Good resources for finding parts are the enthusiast forums, Car-part.com and eBay (try the international sites as well). Building on a junkyard budget is easy, but it’s also easy to get burned. Make good choices and, if you think a yard’s prices are outrageous, they probably are.
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cobbled it together and, to our surprise, it started right up and ran like a champ. It was late, so we decided we needed to take it out for a test drive in the morning. BLENDING IN No license, no insurance, no registration. “Well we can put on this old license plate to blend in with the other cars on the road.” This was good enough for a 200-mile road trip to Tucson, AZ, to test out the 4WD. We set out first thing in the morning towards our destination; Chivo Falls, just outside of Tucson. The truck drove perfectly, felt solid and, out on the highway, pulled itself up to 75mph (120kph) with no issues. On to our destination, we arrived in Tucson. There was a light rain and I was happy I had sealed up the hole in my windshield. Out on the trail, the truck continued to handle itself like it should, and being my first time off-road, it more than compensated for my lack of skill. To the falls and back. Not only did my newly operational vehicle get us to our destination, it cooked us lunch as well! Manifold hot dogs. YUM! We finished the trail back to the beginning and made it all the way back home without incident. This truck continued to be reliable though out the time I owned it, minus a few minor carburetor issues. Over the years, I’ve saved many vehicles from the crusher, and all of them did the thing I needed them to do. I’ve been more cautious with deploying them out in the world, and the adventures have been less risky both on the legal and safety sides of things, but I still manage to have a lot of fun doing it. Currently, I’ve got one year running on a Montero that had been sitting since the early 90’s, and I recently inherited a Toyota Hilux that was rolled seven times. YOU CAN DO IT TOO. Anybody can build on a budget from a junkyard. I did it with no automotive experience. The hardest part is staying motivated. I find that, when money is tight, you need to shift your focus to the little things. Get the small, cheap or free stuff out of the way. These small victories will keep you going.
So you’ve got your junkyard car roadworthy and you’re ready to take it out for a test drive. Now what? Normally I’d say take it around your neighborhood and stay off the surface streets, slowly ease it out into the real world. Get your insurance and registration in order and then, after you establish some reliability, take it on an awesome road trip. At least that’s how I would do things these days. What I actually did with my first car (yes my first car was a junkyard build) was much different. I had never turned a wrench before, and the fact that I got my truck running at all was a surprise. My first vehicle was a 1988 Dodge Raider, aka: Mitsubishi Montero (aka: Mitsubishi Pajero). I found it at a salvage yard and bought with two payments of $200, which is a lot of money when you’re 16. The truck needed a cylinder head and a carburetor. Luckily my friend/roommate had the parts, so it was just a matter of putting the pieces together. We
The saying “the last 20% will take as long as the first 80%” is very true in junkyard builds, but the more you work on the little things in between or while saving for the big things, your efforts will pay off in a big way. Not only will you have more finished, you’ll have a better understanding of what you have and what you need. Nothing worse than realizing you need something you saw on a donor car a month ago that has since been crushed. It may take a while, but in the end, it’s worth it for the experience. If you are currently bringing a car back from the dead - one you picked up at a junkyard or out in a field - I’d like to hear about it. Send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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NOTASRT4 INTRO: BRIAN DRIGGS | WORDS & IMAGES: DAVE THOMPSON
BUILT. NOT BOUGHT
You see it all over the place, “Built, not bought.” Perhaps the ultimate in street cred, for many, this simple statement symbolizes what it means to be a gearhead. Even in non-English-speaking countries, you’re likely to find this phrase emblazoned on windows and sheetmetal alike, various colors of vinyl highlighting the fact the machine before you, more than the sum of its parts, is the result of direct personal effort - not credit limit.
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When I asked Dave Thompson if he would be up for an interview for the now scrubbed issue 1.11 last month, he dove into the project head first. Where my brief, initial request is often met with a friendly, “Sure,” or “Just tell me what you need,” Dave jumped off the line strong, delivering more than 3,500 words to my inbox.
in school no doubt see that number as something arduous; a lengthy piece one must endure rather than enjoy. To those people, I offer this question: Isn’t your own automotive story just as substantive? We don’t publish this magazine to sell advertising. We do so to show the world myriad ways in which gearheads matter.
Those who struggled with reading and writing assignments
This magazine is about more than just cool cars and stories
we can all relate to. It’s about connecting with our brothers and sisters around the world because, when we share how much our machines - and the ways in which we make them our own - mean to us, we tap the power of WHY we do this. And when we connect with each other around WHY we do this, those connections are unbreakable. We give you Dave Thompson’s 2002 Dodge Neon SE. In his own words. Keep reading. You’ll understand.
BUILT, NOT BOUGHT “Built, not Bought.” these three words have been my motivation throughout this ten year build; having pride
in something you yourself have created. That itself is worth more than trophies, or super-fast time slips at the track. Shaving five seconds off a car’s quarter mile time is impressive, but doing it yourself? That is what I care about. From building the engine, to changing suspension parts, to learning to sand and paint parts - doing things yourself. The first time, things may not work out exactly how you planned, but that is the way you learn; not relying on a shop or thousands and thousands of dollars in just labor to get what you want. That is what the car modifying hobby is all about in my eyes.
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IT ALL STARTED WITH A 67 MUSTANG Back when I was younger, I was into old Mustangs, owning a ‘67 after high school. I worked on and detailed them, I installed floor pans, lowered, and did a little exhaust and bodywork. This was my first “fun car,” the car on which I blame my addiction. Learning as I went, doing a timing chain, tuning a carburetor; all learned by trial and error, but as most young people do - buy, buy, buy until you can no longer afford it - I was forced to sell the car. I vowed to never get into debt on a project again. “The next project’s parts will be paid with cash,” I thought. In 2003, the Mustang was gone, and I was trying to sell my Jeep Liberty to get into something more affordable so I could move out of my parents’ house. My friend owned a lightly modified, first generation Neon, and had a 2GN (2nd generation Neon) for his daily driver. He told me I should look into a Neon at the local dealership where he worked. Being 6’6” (2M) tall and riding in his car, I knew I would fit okay. A 2GN WITH A WARRANTY I went to the dealer and talked to the salesman. He had no ‘02 Neons on the lot at the time. (That was the bumper style I wanted, because I liked that bumper better than any other Neon.) He found me one a week or so later - a black ‘02 SE, manual transmission with zero options. Manual windows, a tape deck with no cd player, 5-speed manual transmission, and only 22,000 miles on the odo, meaning I still had warranty. Being only a year old, the car was perfect. I drove it bone stock about a year, getting bored with the car and its lack of performance. I started getting some parts around; a spare cylinder head and MOPAR performance parts from the friend that got me into my new ride. Soon, the car got a port and polished head, a MOPAR six horsepower cam, stainless 1mm oversized valves, and an adjustable cam gear. After about three months saving up for parts and machine work, I had the head ready to install. At the same time, I installed a cold air intake and exhaust system. After getting those three little things done, the car was fun again! With my newfound interest in the car, I decided to start doing little exterior things; aftermarket wheels and tires would eventually follow. Having little money and wanting a low stance, I even put an eBay sleeve coil over kit on to give it a nice low look. (Later found out it was a huge mistake.) I then had to make a very important decision - what do I want to do with this car? Show or go? THE BIG DECISION: SHOW OR GO? After thinking long and hard about it, I decided, “Why exactly can’t I do both show and go? Why not take this very plain Neon and turn it into a car that I can reliably drive, take to some shows, and be able to compete at those shows?” The wheels started to turn, and the build officially started. “Doing both will not be easy,” I thought. “I cannot go crazy with the car in either show or go. I have to keep things simple on both ends.” A year passed, and while working at a local auto parts store, I met a guy named Dave Giles. A good friend now, he helped me do some
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crazy things to the car exterior-wise, helping me learn the bodywork side of car modification - things like wet sanding and painting. The first modification was a Subaru-type hood scoop molded into a stock Neon hood, then with Dave and some friends crazy ideas a night before a show, we painted it to resemble carbon fiber. I even ended up attending my first show with paint that was still wet! After that project was a success, I wanted to shave the rear deck lid’s third brake light and add a lip spoiler. Dave got that done with great success, and after everything held bodywork-wise, I had a crazy idea that, out of anyone, Dave can help me it pull off, I wanted the 03+ headlights, but keep the 02 bumper. After about five different changes, the bumper was complete, and a masterpiece to keep my Neon different from all the rest. With a Honda front lip, shaved marker lights, and new headlights with filled in turning signal panels, we continued the modification with things like shaving the antenna hole in the passenger side fender and adding a MOPAR lip kit all the way around. The car now had an aggressive look, keeping true to my personal style of being different and doing things mostly myself, or at least learning as I go. Besides the modified body panels, the car still has its original paint. Someday I hope to get it all painted, but that I would give to the pros to have a flawless job done on it. After all the exterior work was done, and I finally had the car looking like I wanted at the time, I decided to do something different with the interior. The next quest was finding two bucket seats for the rear instead of the bench seat originally in the car. I then began building stereo system boxes before building a custom console with two ten inch Infiniti subs between the two seats. Changing things here and there, the setup got done. With a 4-point cage installed, the interior was where I wanted it for the time being. MOPAR By this time, I had grown so used to the performance of the car, it felt slow again, so a turbo kit came together. Not having the money to just buy a kit from Hahn Racecraft, I decided to build a kit myself. After over a year, I got the money and parts together to do an “Economy Build Turbo Kit.” Running RRPFR (rising rate fuel pressure regulator), I got the car running for the first time after winter. I had also saved for a $300 winter beater to keep my car out of the winters and salt of western New York. After some research online about fuel and injectors for my new turbo kit - a turbo setup I had never done before - and then later finding I had false information - I was only able to build 2psi of boost. I began to get frustrated. Knowing I could not afford the parts to get the car running properly, the car sat for several months. I knew this Neon was going to be a force to reckon with someday but that day was going to have to wait. Then, after rolling change, working side jobs, getting used parts online, and anything else I could do to get the parts needed to get my car running top notch, I finally got the car running at 8psi by the end of summer. As always, the car got old by the end of the season. This time, the car
would go away for a couple years. Hoarding parts, finding good used parts online, researching and researching, trying to find a fuel management system which would still pass New York State inspections took considerable time. NOTASRT4 “NOTASRT4” was born from all of these frustrations and failures. The first turbo build was fun, but I wanted to make sure that people who thought my car was a SRT knew it was not, instead to find the car being just a base model 2.0 SOHC car. The problem came in to how to do it? A lame window sticker? No, that is not for me. Then came the idea to use the license plate. To this day, the plate says “NOTASRT4”, which is much cleaner than a sticker, much cooler than a decal. “NOTASRT4.” Most people do not get it. The people that DO walk up and realize, “Wow, this is a SOHC car, cool.” Or if they don’t know the difference, they will ask “so if it is
not an SRT then what is it?” I will always explain the difference, even though I get a good laugh about it later on. When the car was down, I was finding good deals online, but perhaps the best was a deal on a built short block. Researching bottom ends at the time, I had to jump on it. Waiting for the price to drop, I ended up getting it cheap and was happy to get it so cheap, but part of me was worried about buying something and getting taken on it. When I got the shortie, I had a machine shop look it over. After a thorough inspection, Larry at Kirkums Automotive said, “You got a great deal on that, Dave.” When I got it to my house, I started buying things like ARP Headstuds, MegaSquirt 2 (MS2), a new turbo AMM intake manifold, gasket sets, timing components - everything to get the car up and running again. After discovering the turbo that was on the car had a cracked housing, I went with a Turbonetics Turbo. Then came the process of get-
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ting everything installed besides the fuel management system (I was still trying to find out how to get it to pass inspection in NY).
next time the car came out to play, it had to be what I was looking for.
Building the car out of my garage was hard; it was not surprising, however, to find me out in my non- heated garage when it was below 20 degrees (F, less than -7Â°C) out, with limited tools, working a lot on jack stands and on my back, pulling the engine and transmission for the first time EVER. I was honstely not sure if the car would ever run again.
Being a little scared on tuning, my girlfriend and I traveled to Ohio to meet up with Erick to have him help me tune the car. That day was not kind to me though. After having problems with untested intercooler piping, I got a good idle and could drive it safe on the new fuel management. Erick was great - helpful and really knew his stuff - just some of my inexperience caused intercooler piping issues.
Doing all the timing on an engine stand, head gasket, intake manifold, routing of intercooler piping, I knew now that the car was going to be fun and hopefully reliable. After two years, the car came out again to hit the streets of my small town, running 8PSI again. The new, bigger turbo gave me a good feeling of higher RPM horsepower.
To end an already frustrating trip where I could at least finally drive the car on MS-only, it snowed! Might I add, the car does not have the heater core hooked up (cleaned up the engine bay and did not reinstall the lines). That was by far the longest and coldest drive of our lives. My girlfriend and I still talk about it to this day!
As always, when you build cars, things happen, though, and I was hoping that running a dual friction clutch would handle the power I was making. I found out after a month of driving I was wrong. The clutch came apart and, when it did, it took my transmission with it. I did a lot of searching but, could not locate a stock 3.55 [final] transmission.
I learned how to tune the only way I know - by doing it. I got the car running well after getting the IC piping fixed and got good MPG too. And much more power than I had ever owned in a car before! Running 10PSI, the car was fun. With more and more tuning experience, I decided to up the boost to 18-20PSI. I was literally smoking the tires off the car at 80mph on the very first pull. Knowing this is a street car, I decided to de-tune the car and drop the boost back down to 15PSI. Now I only lose traction at 50MPH.
After having to settle with a 3.94 [final] out of a PT Cruiser, it was back up and running with a new ACT6-puck, un-sprung clutch. Knowing that would hold the power, I was happy. Getting the new clutch in, I decided that it was time to get my MS2 installed in the car so I could start building more safe power. All that was standing between me and running MegaSquirt was finding a way to keep things setup so I could go back to stock computer during my NY inspection. With some brainstorming and, most importantly, help from Erick at ASP Turbo, we came up with a way to keep it legal and fun. Wiring was the key. Finally getting help from someone with direct experience and knowledge who wasnâ€™t not giving me bad information like I had previously found on the forums, the car was up and running the next winter on MS. That same winter I found a guy selling a brand new Borg-Warner S256NET [turbo] with ASP manifold and I knew I had to jump on it. I ended up selling my old Turbonetics to get the money to afford the new turbo. After a couple months of doing payments with the seller, and selling some parts out of my basement, I get the turbo at my house. After that, ordering parts like gaskets and a new Tial 38mm wastegate, the
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BACK TO RARE After the new performance was done, I decided I was going to look for rare Neon parts. First came a set of SRT ACR BBS 16-inch wheels, then a rare [instrument] cluster out of the UK model with black faced gauges and tach to match my other gauges. After that, I found a stock leather back seat with adjustable headrests in a junk yard. I grabbed it and the setup I had worked so hard on with the bucket seats was eliminated. Sparco Speed Racing seats were also added to give me some nice seats in the front of the car instead of the now well-worn front seats. Losing the spot for the subs in their old location, I decided to try to save some weight and just put one ten inch sub in the back. Behind a wall with the battery in the trunk and the cage, along with a Nitrous bottle sitting next to it, the trunk was clean, simple and perfect for me. DAT HOOD The next rare part I always wanted was called a Grip Touring hood.
Made of perforated stainless steel, it was one of the coolest hoods I had ever seen. Looking for multiple years and never coming up with leads to the 20-ish ever produced, I met a guy from Canada and, after knowing him for a while, one day just randomly said, “Man, I really want a Grip hood.” He said, “Really, I have one?” I thought he was joking. He wasn’t. Working on a crazy build, he needed time to see if it was going to fit his car or not. After saving money for a couple months while waiting, he contacted me. He said, “If you want it, it’s yours.” Having the money ready for that day, I said “Lets meet up then.” We met a month later. We had never met before this, and when we met to trade hoods, we finally got to meet face to face. The coolest and most ironic thing about it is, yes, I got the hood I was looking to get for years, but the best part was finally meeting and becoming good friend with Ash Pratt, the owner of Ground’d Customs. THE NUMBERS I had the hood of my dreams, the interior clean and good looking as ever, the exterior being what I had always wanted, and the car I had started had to be put away for winter. No more hoarding parts for winter, no more money spent. I thought I was finally done. This lasted a season. In 2012, a friend of mine wanted to take his Covertee to a dyno to see what kind of power it made. I wanted to know what my car put out for real. I also wanted proof of what I’d accomplished. Not just saying “I think it makes about 300WHP on my street tune.” We went to a GM LS engine shop. I was expecting to get some slack for bringing a 4-cylinder to an LS performance shop. Mike at Nu Era Performance in Rochester, NY, was talking to my friend about his Corvette, and he asked me “What do you think your car will put out?” I said, “As long as the first number starts with a 3 and has two digits behind it I am happy!”
GOOD SHOWING The 2GN has done well at shows such as NOPI, HIN, and Battle at the Border just to name a few. Even though the car has never taken a first place at big shows, 1st place does not matter to me. If one of the judges sees something they like, I did a good job. It’s about pride for me, no one else. Taking 5 seconds off the original 18-second, quartermile ET on street tires, the car is done... for now. ARE YOU THE GUY WITH THE NEON People will walk up to me in my hometown and ask, “Hey, are you the guy with the Neon?” I always get a kick out of that and will talk to the person, usually having no idea who they are. I am known for this car. I am all about working hard for what I want. No, it is not a $100k car. It is not perfect. It is driven and not a trailer queen. It was built BY ME FOR ME. It is fast. It is fun. It turn heads, It gets respect. It always puts a smile on my face. From working late, getting it ready for a show the next day, the friends that have come into my life because it, the compliments I have received, the respect I managed to earn - all the hard, physical - and financial - work I’ve put into this car has been worth it. UH-OH. TWINCHARGER I thought I was done. I was closing the book on this car just a few months ago. The car would have just been driven, with no more major mods, BUT, me being me, the car has taken a whole new turn. This winter and next, my car will be going through a transformation no one has ever seen on a Neon - a twincharged setup. I am all about being different and this may be just the ticket to put me over the top. 400whp twincharged setup… COMING SOON. [bd] What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from this journey?
The biggest lesson I learned is the importance of having an outlet in life. Life is not always easy. It is very important to have an out; something you can do to forget about everyday stuff. Mine was this car. When life “sucked” or I was stressed from work, or even if I was flat broke, I found myself in the garage. After a few hours working on the car, detailing it, sometimes just leaning against the work bench listening to music and admiring what I’d created, I found myself in a better mood, ready for what life has to bring.
“I don’t think it will make that. “Maybe 250.”
[bd] Where can people find you and connect online?
Kind of disappointed, I said “Well let’s find out,” with my tuning laptop on my lap. First pull, 268. That is not impressive at all for me. Mike got out of the car, he gets back in and said “Let’s try it again.” I was confused but agreed. Next pull, 304whp. YES! He said “And I guess I am mistaken, not bad Dave. The dyno cut out on the first pull, and I did not realize it.”
People can contact me on Facebook, or 2gn.org: dtjackten.
We are sitting in the car and he looks at me and says “What engine?” I said “2.0, SOHC.” “How much boost?”
Super happy with my hand built car! The numbers, the looks, the blood, sweat, and tears I had put in the car over ten years had paid off. Yes, I know the number is not crazy high. Seeing as the stock Neons only put about 100HP to the ground stock, I have more than tripled the power of the car, while getting about the same highway fuel economy as a stock, base model Neon.
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MORE GOOD NEWS
DACIA SANDERO TUNING & TINY TURBOCHARGERS
BY ALEX WALLER My car has not been show-room fresh for a period of time now, maybe since I first sparked up driving it at 30 miles, although it does scrub up well. So I bring you more Good News: 3800 miles in I have decided to modify it. Things have happened which mean I can’t bring myself not to, and here is why. Lots of non-car people don’t understand why we want to modify our cars and why we think we know better than the large wellfunded company that made it in the first place. The fact is that we do know better because we can see the technical compromises our cars have, and so we tune things, unless it’s something of an investment. I haven’t taken the service plan out to have the car dealer maintained for monthly installments, so it means I can fiddle. Incidentally, my investment is pretty screwed already. Or it feels like it is after I covered almost 3000 miles with a gouge in my nearside rear door! I caught the corner of a skip when I tucked in on a narrow street: it could only have been worse if it was more than that one panel. Due to my age, keeping my no claims bonus is more vaulable than actually using my insurance to fix something. So if I have to pay for it out of pocket, why not do something different to make it a little less plain? It’s borderline a new doorskin: the wafer-thin steel has warped in more than one place, it wouldn’t be smart repaired. The plan is to fill and make smooth the gouge, and then wrap all four doors and
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the bonnet in satin black. It will hopefully be cheaper than having the filler painted and blended. Also, the Sandero is deceptively large and slab-sided for a small hatchback. Beneath the spartan curves it shares broadly similar proportions to a Scion XD. Unlike that car, because the panel shapes aren’t as square, I think the wrap will visually shrink the car a little bit, like on a Veyron.The tops of the front doors wrap around the A-pillars, then form a line from front to back with the rear doors. This is a natural line on the car. The creases above the rear door handles to the wheelarches will stand out more in metallic if the doors are wrapped flat. The rear edge of the back doors is almost vertical, and the angle in the curve in the bottom corner should complement the A-pillars opposite. I’m fairly confident this will turn out well sometime next year. I recently lost a wheel trim and so binned the others. I have other priorities than the wheels, such as the existing 185/65x15” tyres. They should go a size wider and lower profile on the same wheels, but it’ll probably void the warranty or something. A set of 16s might come along in due course. The gearshift feels much less like a stapler than when it was unworn and now has a postitive soft snicks into place. It isn’t quite as nice as on a Clio courteousy car I drove, but then again if it was nobody would buy a Clio. It wouldn’t take anything too drastic to make it a
much more interesting car out of it: there is potential with the engine: a boost controller would allow the wick to be turned up and a breathing system would help. Eventually it might It’s used half-way off minimum oil already, probably because I like revs and boost. It is very pleasant to drive and hustle along through town traffic: the gear ratios allow 30mph at peak torque in 3rd gear, which is how I am trying to drive it as that is the engine’s most efficient speed range. The turbo kicks in at about 2000rpm and I never drive it off boost, still get 41mpg: a way off from the claimed 56mpg. I can rev-match it between gears easily enough, yet it is still quite wallowy to drive fast. Some reviews even alluded to it being dangerous. I don’t agree, but the tendency to power understeer from lifeless steering will probably cause some front tyres to be got through. So that got me thinking: How basic can you modify a modern car and still drive it legally on the road? I want to convert the steering to non-power assisted with a linear rack. This could present problems with the computer system, but none that can’t be ironed out. Perhaps at some point after I have paid for it I could even channel the body like a DTM car. Drastically strip and lower into a proper racing car, like a Seat Leon Supercup, albeit lighter. I have always wanted to build an ultimate version of a daily car and this might just be it...
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tHE pRESSURE OF pRANCING hORSES ALEX WANTS TO GET HIS HANDS DIRTY. CAN’T SAY WE BLAME HIM.
BY ALEX WALLER Alex recently dropped in to visit his friend Kyle Shilton at Shiltech Performance Cars, where they specialize in higher end restoration and repair. In the coming year, Alex is looking to spend more time at the shop, helping out where he can, and learning more about the stunning machines which pass through their skilled hands. ... When it comes to being a car mechanic, some jobs and owners are easy to please. Generally the more humdrum the car, the less the owners care about the well being of their daily transport appliance. You know which ones apply in your local area – as long as it passes a test and the clutch they prematurely eviscerated gets replaced, any accidental minor damage in the repair process is not a big deal. Some drivers do not notice if their car is running out of oil, never mind if the radiator fins were bent a little when the alternator got replaced. It makes the dayto-day job a little easier for most mechanics who deal with slightly apathetic customers. But here, tucked away on an industrial estate in Leicestershire, the stakes, running costs and expectations are much higher. Shiltech Performance Cars Limited is a Loughborough-based independent Ferrari and Maserati specialist with a good name for servicing, racing and custom work for the more exotic end of the automotive spectrum.
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Founder Geoff Shilton’s enviable reputation with Ferraris was earned over three decades. He started at a local Ford garage, but knew that he wanted to work with Ferraris from an early age. A position became available at Graypaul Ferrari, and through years of hard work he become their chief engine builder. During this period he was seeing many rare and beautiful cars for various celebrities, plus the odd racing car. From the company website, he says: “My favourite has to be the 330 P4, I enjoyed every second working with that engine. I also restored a 625 Grand Prix for Eric Stewart from 10cc, what a machine that was!” In 1995, he took the opportunity to set up his own shop. He began using all his skills and passion to build his own business, with his son Kyle joining in 2001. Between them and a small staff of technicians, plus an in-house detailing firm, Shiltech continues to expand and goes from strength to strength. Recently, they have started performing concours-level rebuilds of classic Ferraris, signed off to Ferrari Club of America standards. This is stringent even down to the correct braiding of the fuel-hose. On certain V12 Ferraris, it has to be a rubberised pipe inside and braided around the outside. However, because it’s an absorbent material wrapped around a fuel conduit, in the event of a fracture it can cause fuel to pool and subsequently catch fire over a hot engine, but to change it would be incorrect. Even knowing that fact adds to the appeal of them somehow.
With the recession feeling like a thing of the past, more people are looking for cars to buy as investments, and Shiltech have seen a wave of old cars bought in for complete restoration. To work on cars like this for a day job requires that all the work you do is practically perfect and invisible, down to the last hose, stitch and bolt. I went past the elegant Maseratis in for servicing and found Kyle inside the grey 1971 365GTC/4 that you see here on axle stands. For starters, a double workshop full of Italian sports cars is a very happy place to be. One or two debatable exceptions aside, these are all very good looking cars, understandably loved by their owners.
Dotted around the 365GTC/4 are all the nuts and bolts, neatly laid out on paper towels, in order from where they came from. Simple components on other cars are often needlessly complicated on vintage Ferraris. The suspension bushes alone are a collection of awkward brass and steel components that make for awkward assembly. The thrust washer goes into the other race, both of them are the same size, and there are some pins to keep it together. Pins which do not have a part number, and are similar for different cars but for different lengths, so it’s a case of putting it together over again until the right ones are in place. As Kyle puts it, “We have no luck in this place, it left a long time ago...” It goes without saying that all of the stock parts were sold out years ago, so it can take some ingenuity to get hold of certain parts. If there is anything they can’t find or make in house, they have custom parts fabricated. Those hexagonal strengthening rods which go between the wishbones were one such example – with restorations like this, no expense is spared, although subject to condition as much is left original as possible out of convenience. The bolt heads on the cam cover are easier but more of a pain to get polished. Which might be why not everybody looks after or even repairs a Ferrari properly. “One guy came in with a 330GT that was rattling...” When Kyle had the engine on a stand, he found that two of the valves to one piston were stuck closed, with very little oil inside due to the sump being hardly bolted. It’s staggering that someone would make crucial mistakes with such a valuable car. “The owner of the Daytona wanted me to run it for a week to see what
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was wrong with it. I convinced him that being a £500,000 car, this was a bad idea. Still, it goes alright for an old girl.” With more than 50bhp over the Dayona from half as many cylinders, Kyle’s daily driver is a show-winning R33 GTST – built by his own deft hands with 400bhp+ at disposal. It’s almost heart-warming to see that a Japanese-turbo-nutter-mobile in a Veilside bodykit is so rightly capable of ruining other cars, even for a Ferrari mechanic. Kyle also has a very rare Nissan Silvia Varietta, which after not getting on with the peaky N/A engine he is looking to sell – only because modifying it would ruin the value! And the value of the 365GTC/4 he has spent weeks working on? Probably around the £400,000 mark. “Nobody else has laid a spanner on this car, it’s all my own work” beams Kyle. I have no doubt it will be worth every penny to someone. The Daytona will undergo a similar nut-and-bolt rebuild. Over the coming months I’ll be there for Gearbox to track Kyle’s progress with another exquisite automobile.
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wHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT WORDS: BRIAN DRIGGS | IMAGES: BRIAN DRIGGS, ADAM CAMPBELL, JOHMNY B FROM PEORIA
Have you ever attended an event so far from home you had to find a place to stay the night and return another day? Maybe you drove something like eight hours or took a plane to get there? How did the experiences you had at that event change your perspective? How badly did you want to do it again? If you’ve done any of the above, you’ve had a taste of something special; a taste of what it’s all about. For all the time and money we spend customizing our vehicles - making them uniquely ours - the machines, despite all they mean to us, are still just that - machines. They are fleeting, temporary possessions. As much as we enjoy the continuous improvement - in man and machine - the additional power, handling, and off-road prowess, the increasing number of compliments we get from all those people drawn to our machines to see them up close and learn more about
them - it’s the people we meet on our automotive journeys who really make this pursuit so rewarding. Thinking to all the online communities in which I’ve been active over the years, I’ve seen proof of this. Some of the “O.G.s,” (original gangsters, as we tend to borrow from the hiphop vernacular) move on to new projects yet, for some reason, remain relatively active in communities dedicated to platforms, pursuits, and places they no longer own, pursue, or call home. Why is this?
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The answer is simple. Friendship. Nay, brotherhood. Though we get to know each other online, initially as simple as recognizing one another from pictures of our vehicles, our interpersonal connections grow stronger over time. We are exposed to new content and ideas because we associate clever screen names and handles with quality; we develop trust and appreciation for what these people bring to the table. And when we finally meet these people in the flesh, when we look them in the eyes and shake their hands, something magical happens. We see just how important we are. From the random crossing of digital paths online, we come face-to-face with our own humanity. Our shared interest in the automobile results in an exponential improvement in quality of life. Suddenly, it all makes sense. Together, we are important. Together, we matter. Together, we can do anything. When we return home, everything has changed. We look out at the automotive universe in a new light. That nasty, built Eclipse with the “VIOLTR” vanity plate isn’t “DarkOne” anymore. It’s Dino. Father of three, metalhead, and Linux/Unix expert. The neon green, CY0 DI-D Lancer isn’t “fallingviking.” It’s Ingmar, the guy who stayed close the whole day in Germany to help you communicate since he knew your Deutsch ist schrecklich (German is terrible). Going to a meet or race or whatever on the far side of your own country is a great way to turn your favorite forum into something more mean-
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ingful. It makes us all feel just that much more important. This hobby of ours, “playing with cars” as some would discount it, is suddenly important. It’s given us reason to expend time, energy, and money to go somewhere out of the ordinary. This isn’t a waste of time. This is a purpose. It’s a way of life. I’ve been saying for a couple years, now, that even though that new turbocharger or locking differential or coilover setup is definitely something tangible you can open and lay your hands on, even though it’s going to make an immediate and obvious improvement in your vehicle, every once in a while, you have to put that money into a serious trip somewhere else in the world to meet other gearheads. “Man would rather starve than dine alone.” I have no idea who said that - and Google isn’t telling me! Suffice to say, if I spend US$3,000 on my truck, man, it’s going to be awesome, but as much as I’ll love all the new toys that money buys, it’s not a whole lot of fun go out alone. There’s a time and a place for playing with yourself, but I think we’d all agree it’s better with someone else. Some of us are so in love with our vehicles we’ll never let them go. Most of us, however, will reach a point where our tastes change, where we find ourselves wanting to try something different. When we sell our machines, depreciation means we lose most of the money we put into them. Money spent on travel and experiences, on the other hand, tends
to appreciate nicely. GEARHEADS ARE STARTING TO GET IT In 2010, my wife and saved our nickels and dimes and flew to Germany for two weeks. On a whim, I checked Mitsu-Talk.de to see if there would be any Mitsubishi guys near where we would be staying who would like to get together or something. Turns out the Baden-Wurttemberg Mitsu-Friends would be celebrating their club’s first anniversary the night before we left. The whole story is here if you missed it. http://bit.ly/gbxmtref Our whole world changed that day. So much so, in fact, that we barely made it a year before we were saving up again to go back to Germany. As it happened, it was cheaper to fly into London than Frankfurt, so I thought, “If it worked in Germany, why wouldn’t it work in England?” Next thing you know, we’re driving around southern England in a brand new Mitsubishi press car, sleeping in a 1,000 year old Abbey, and touring a WRC-level race shop. Just look at what we did with friends new and old. http://bit.ly/gbxmwt12 You show up thinking, “I hope this goes well. I don’t really speak the language.” I mean, you’re pulling into a parking lot in a foreign country, heart racing, sweaty palms. “I don’t really know any of these people.” What you don’t yet understand - and even when you do, you still struggle with it a bit - is that you’re paying these gearheads one hell of a compliment. Think about it. How often do people spend thousands of dollars to travel halfway around the world to hang out with you? I’m not saying you aren’t anything important. Not at all. But think about it for a minute. How would you feel if someone from the far side of the planet told you he wanted to spend that kind of money to meet you and your friends and get a taste of what it’s like to be in your shoes? Tens or hundreds of millions of people in your country, and someone out there says, “Forget all the TV, movies, and magazines have to say. I want to get the facts from YOU.”
That was January 2010. Unfortunately, when Vanessa and I were in Germany a few months later, Bodo’s schedule didn’t allow him to make the five hour each way drive to meet us. We still had a good time, but there’s a strange sense of missing out when you’re so relatively close and can’t make it happen. I finally met Bodo face-to-face at Elbetreffen on Day 8 of our 2012 World Tour. We shook hands, agreed this was really exciting, and then he had to run off to help someone who’s turbo diesel Pajero had thrown its timing belt. I think we crossed paths briefly once or twice more that weekend, but never really had a chance to sit and talk. Again, a fantastic trip - one I will NEVER forget - but that feeling of “If only we’d been smarter with our time while we were there,” ya know? As tight as our budget has been in 2013 (never been tighter, frankly), I clung especially tight to my memories of partying with my European gearhead family. Who knows when I’ll be able to go back. Out of the blue, I get a message from Bodo on Facebook. He’s going to be visiting some friends in California in December and what were the chances we could get together if he managed a couple days in Phoenix. YES! THIS IS WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT! I told Bodo I would clear my schedule. I would MAKE time. (Again. Dude’s going to fly halfway around the world and would like spend even more money to pay me a visit. Who wouldn’t do everything he could to be available?) It wasn’t long before we had dates, and I was taking a Friday off work. Babysitters were arranged, and a random text to Adam asking if maybe we could organize a trail run that Saturday turned into the biggest AZ Crawlers Montero/Pajero meet in years. A ridiculous fight with the skid plate on the front of my Pajero (seriously - it fought me hard), meant I left the house in a hurry, with grime up to my elbows and not a single tool packed for the off-road adventure we had planned for dawn the next morning. I pulled into the cell phone lot at Sky Harbor at the exact minute Bodo’s plane was supposed to land.
Hey. 99% of us aren’t in a position to drop a few grand on extravagant world tours whenever we want, but the neat thing is, from time to time, we CAN make a basic trip abroad happen. And, as gearheads, we have friends all over the world who would consider it an HONOR to pick us up at the airport and show us around. These people fast become family and those precious few days or hours we spend together end up being some of our most treasured memories. It’s really a win-win situation. Either you’re the envy of your friends and co-workers back home because you’re off to the far side of the planet to do exciting things they’ll probably never do, or you’re important enough that someone is willing to drop serious money in order to spend a couple days with you. ENTER BODO I first talked to Bodo a couple months after launching this magazine - http://bit.ly/gbxmbodo.
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Funny, it wasn’t listed on the giant sign at the end of the lot - at all! That’s when I pulled out my phone. Had I checked before leaving the house, I would have seen Bodo’s Facebook message there was something wrong and they had to switch planes. He was delayed. When he finally landed two hours later, we were ready to get him checked into his hotel, drop his luggage, and find some authentic Mexican food. BIER Bodo brought me the gift of Bier. Astra Rotlicht, from the red light district of Hamburg. (You should Google it. Their ads are pretty funny.) Unfortunately, one of the bottles leaked all over the inside of his suitcase, so after lunch, we went back to my house to do a load of laundry. Yeah. That’s right. Barely two hours into an international gearhead meeting, we’ve lost a beer and are doing laundry. It’s how we roll. While our phones charged and the laundry was washing, we sat on the couch in the living room and continued talking about cars, life, the universe. Remember that guy with the Pajero at Elbetreffen Bodo was running off to help? Turned out he mentioned it to a Polish friend, who asked his fall-down drunk Polish friend to have a look. Dude took it apart and fixed it at dawn the next morning. He refused any payment, and Bodo had to all but force him to take an brand new, official Mitsubishi Ralliart Dakar Rally service crew uniform as a thank you. After moving the laundry to the dryer, we stopped in to check out a smaller car show in my area which is ordinarily packed with old hot rods and muscle cars, only to find there was hardly anyone there. Bummer. At this point, we were a little thirsty and decided to hit Rock Bottom, a local brewery, for some non-corporate, American beer. First microbrew on the menu was a Kölsch, which happened to be one of Bodo’s favorites, so we ordered up a couple. The look on Bodo’s face as he took that first sip was priceless; it was almost as if he suspected I was pulling a prank on him. Definitely not a Kölsch by his standards. Too fruity. I enjoyed it, anyway. THE ROAD TO CROWN KING The next morning, I picked up Bodo at the hotel and we hit the road to the meeting point north of town. After a quick stop for coffee at Quick Trip, where Bodo was once again surprised at how there were 50 varieties of coffee - but no plain coffee and milk - we found ourselves in a gas
station parking lot where it seemed everyone was staging for a run up the back road to Crown King. Originally a mining road, this trail is one of the more famous off road destinations in Arizona. It begins among the Saguaros near Lake Pleasant, then winds its way some 6,000 feet (1,800 meters) up to the small town of Crown King. I’d heard stories, but never drove it myself. This would be a first for both of us. Our group of eight Monteros, a Jeep Comanche and Grand Cherokee, and a full-sized pickup, rolled out around 9:45AM, determined to not get stuck behind the group of 20 Toyota Land Cruisers, 4Runners, and FCs we heard were planning a run at 10AM. They would roll past as we were airing down our tires at the trailhead, but fortunately, we then rolled past them a little further up the trail where they were airing down and regrouping themselves. As luck would have it, Bodo is actually a highly skilled trail driver who instructs various members of local emergency services back in Germany. Still very much a rookie - this was my second ever such trip - I sincerely appreciated Bodo’s guidance; choosing the right line on the trail, the right gear and engine speed up technical climbs, and overall advice on how best to drive the truck under a variety of circumstances. We hit the first two obstacles - steep, off-camber climbs over mixed surfaces which cut switchback corners - and completed them on the first attempt. My truck might be named Rocinante, after Don Quixote’s horse, but on these climbs, he might as well have been named after a stubborn mountain goat. I was amazed at how surefooted the truck was in these situations. We came to the third obstacle, which was even steeper, with larger boulders and steps to climb, and watched as Johnny B from Peoria, Ryan Y (featured in a previous issue, the guy with the Miata, too), Adam, Jay, and others with LWB Gen 2 Monteros pointed their trucks skyward and clawed their way to the top. Even with less than half the power and no locking differentials, we gave it a couple tries, but just couldn’t get beyond halfway. There’s no harm in backing down to the road and going around on the bypass if you’ve gave it your best. And, considering the way it feels to see nothing but sky out the windows, with the front wheels flinging dirt higher than the doors, as your entire truck lurches and slips, struggling for traction as it crab walks to the passenger side such that you think it will surely tip over any minute, it also feels pretty damn good to know you took your machine to the limit and back without issue. At the fourth and final obstacle (although, admittedly, the final third of this trail is an obstacle in and of itself), we watched how difficult it looked for even those with far more prepared machines than mine and decided the smart move would be to bypass and watch from above. DAY OF DAYS At the halfway point, we paused for lunch and some pictures. Bodo coordinated the trucks up into the trees and we all enjoyed as the Toyotas finally caught up, several pausing to take a picture from the road. Of course, within 15 minutes of resuming our own drive, we passed them at another staging area, though I would have a sweet, old FJ40 right behind me the rest of the day.
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From there on, we generally stayed behind John Hughes in another SWB Gen 1 Pajero , from whom I bought my truck in 2012, as we snaked our way along the perilous switchbacks near the top of the mountain. We’d round a bend to find three “dirt toys,” those dune-buggy-atv hybrid-type vehicles almost hanging half off the side of the mountain to give us room to pass. Then there would be a couple dirt bikes coming straight at us, on the brakes, half sliding down the road in a display of what I can only describe as a not-as-much-fun-as-promised experience for someone.
izing examples, we in America might wish we could have the Autobahn in America, while our German brothers and sisters might wish they could do half the modifications we do to our vehicles. We might wish we could make a weekend trip to the Nurburgring or Le Mans, but they might wish they could do so to Las Vegas or Talladega. The only way to truly appreciate any of this is to get out there and meet each other in person.
Next thing we knew, we were splashing through icy puddles and admiring the snow still accumulated in the shady spots which never see direct sunlight on the north side of the mountain. We came to a stop sign, made a left over a one-lane bridge, and were in the middle of Crown King, Arizona.
There will always be another part to buy. There won’t always be an opportunity to strengthen the loose connections we have in the world right now. You’re reading this magazine because you believe building high performance machines is important. We’re publishing this magazine because we believe that’s the foundation for building high performance lives.
It was a day of days. The most extreme thing I have ever done behind the wheel, and I did it with one of the most stock vehicles in the group - and with a good friend from another country coaching me every step of the way. The $5 breakfast burrito and cigarette at the top of the mountain, surrounded by friends who had all come together to help give a brother from the far side of the planet a truly unforgettable experience which cannot be found in any forum post, YouTube video, or travel website; it’s an experience only another gearhead can provide. AND THE CONVERSATIONS WE HAD Over the course of the weekend, Bodo and I compared notes on how various aspects of our countries compare and contrast. I could tell you he has universal healthcare which covers everything without waiting and that it costs him less than 20% of his paycheck, and how, done correctly, it will hardly bankrupt a country, considering Germany has provided the bulk of the funds used to bailout the likes of Greece, Ireland, and so on multiple times. I could tell you how Germans gets a minimum of 18 vacation days each year - and how most get closer to 25 - on top of medical leave and holidays, and how companies tend to treat their workers right because, if they don’t, their workers will go elsewhere, but this isn’t supposed to be a political piece.
With the new year right around the corner, do yourself a favor. Think about some of the gearheads you know who live far, far away. If not on another continent, on the far side of the country - someplace you’ve never been before (or haven’t been in a long time). I bet you know at least a couple. Get in touch and let them know you’d like to maybe plan a trip out their way to check out the scene where they live. Even if you can’t make it this year, I can almost guarantee you a satisfying response. I mean, you’re telling a fellow gearhead that, when you get the means to do so, you’d like to get together sometime to do car stuff. You’re showing your fellow gearhead he or she matters to you and you might be surprised what develops. Who knows! Maybe one day you’ll get an email from a friend on the other side of the world asking YOU the same thing. We might not drive the same machines the same way in the same place or even speak the same language, but we know a fellow gearhead when we see one. And, in that moment, we know we have something powerful in common with each other. I dare you to tap that power in 2014. You won’t regret it.
The grass really is greener on the other side. To use simpler, less polar-
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oN THE ROAD TO RALLY QUESTIONS: BRIAN DRIGGS | ANSWERS & IMAGES: JESSE YUVALI
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Jesse Yuvali was born Sehsuvar Yuvali in Reutlingen, Germany. His mother says his first word was “auto,” and growing up - like the rest of us - he played with cars for hours. Within two years, his family would move to Istanbul, Turkey, where he would complete elementary and high school. 19 years later, Jesse would return to Germany to attend college. Though his father wanted him to study textile engineering in preparation for taking over the family business, he understood and respected Jesse’s desire to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering.
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I have a fully built 1991 BMW 318is I bought for $900 two years ago. It still has the original M42 engine with 136hp, with which I will participate in the 2014 Sandblast Rally with my longtime friend Cengiz Nomer. If 136hp doesn’t satisfy me on the stages, I have an S52 out of a 1999 M3 ready to be swapped. I also have a 2003 Mitsubishi Evo on the back burner which I’m working on as an eventual stage rally car. [bd] When you moved to the US, did you do so with plans to open your own business? Was the garage the dream from the very beginning? How difficult was it starting a business in a new country? [jy] My father liked cars. He changes his car every other year, and he let me drive on his lap, letting me hold onto the steering wheel. When my feet could reach the pedals, I was driving on dirt roads. Oh, and no automatic cars, by the way. [bd] Were you always into rally, or was it something you discovered here in America? How did you come to find the sport? [jy] I met Ali Bacioglu - who won the Turkish Rally Championship four years in a row - in 1977 in Konstanz, Germany, where we happened to be going to the same college. He was driving an Opel Kadett GT/E. That was my luck to get a crash course in preparing cars and driving. My first rally as a driver was in 1983 at the Bosphorus Rally, with a 1976 Ford Escort Mk2. There was so much pressure to finish that first rally, and I did. After that, I raced as a co-pilot in Turkey, Bulgaria, and Romania. Rally racing was getting so professional and expensive, though, that after getting married in 1986, I quit racing to focus on family and business. [bd] You mentioned moving to the States from Istanbul 13 years ago. What brought you here? [jy] In 2000, I moved to the United States, after retiring from the family business. When I looked at the rally scene here, I saw how amateurs and grassrooters could compete and have fun without spending a fortune. Opening up my own repair shop - Jesse’s Garage - in Sarasota, Florida, helped a lot toward building my own race car. Then, after seeing Bill Caswell in WRC Mexico, I decided I had to go for it myself. Where else can you race as an amateur in the same event as the biggest names in the sport? I started shaking off my rust in Florida RallyX with an E36 BMW M3 in 2012, and by co-piloting for my friend Murat Okcuoglu at High Desert Trails rally in Ridgecrest, California (where we blew the differential on the first stage).
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In 1969, I watched the movie Bullitt. I wanted a black charger so badly. Still do. Then, in 1972, the theatres were showing Vanishing Point in Istanbul. Now I was older and could understand more. Man, I was Kowalsky. Not the drug part or suicide part - the driving part - and, of course, wanted a 1970 Challenger so badly. Still do. And when I watched American Graffiti, it was the ‘55 Chevy I wanted - and still do - or maybe the ‘58 Belair. Those were the memories in a less telecommunicated world, especially in Turkey back in the 70s. When I went to Germany for college, I started to repair my Volkswagen Beetle and learned more about cars. Since my family had a textile business, though, I soon shifted to the business world and had less time for my cars. After being a successful international businessman, running a 38-year old textile business, for a time, things took a turn for the worst. We
happiness or love - they’re not for sale - and if you do, you’ll be disappointed very quickly. [bd] It’s funny to think we were at the same event this year (High Desert Trails), but did not actually meet. Once you get the BMW back together - since that seems like it will happen before the Evo - what are your racing plans beyond Sandblast? How do you see yourself competing or otherwise enjoying the car through the next year? [jy] I will be coming to High Desert Trails to co-pilot for my dear friend Murat Okcuoglu again in May. Small world, we didn’t meet, but like I said, we were struggling with a broken differential at the first stage.
couldn’t compete with China on prices and had to close our doors, putting 200 people out of work. It was then I had only one thought on my mind - the land of opportunity - with which I had already been doing business with anyway. This time, I picked a warmer location - Florida - and started work in a repair shop specializing in exotic cars just three weeks after moving to Sarasota. For the first time in my life, I realized this was the only time I got up to go to work and never complained! But the money was in construction in 2001, so I ended up primarily working construction until 2007. I always maintained my European car clientele, though. I repaired their cars in my driveway or theirs. I started out being a mobile mechanic for like three months, advertising on Craigslist. Soon, I had so many customers, I had to open my own shop. With the help of my wife’s marketing skills, and my personalized service, knowledge and attention to detail, we’ve come a long way in a few very short years.
My goal is to keep the cost down in rallying. Don’t DNG, have fun, and make sure the spectators have fun too. I think a RWD car can do that best. I’d like to finish in the top 10, but I don’t think the 150hp I might get out of that M42 engine in the BMW will be enough. [Editor’s note: At last check, there were more than 60 entries for Sandblast this year.] Still, I will run the car and see how it goes. Maybe I’ll show up at Rally West Virginia or New York with a 250hp S52 under the hood. And I’ll keep working on the Evo, too. ... I’m looking forward to Jesse in person at High Desert Trails this spring. He sounds like our kind of people. Work hard, take care of your customers, and pursue what you love. The rest will simply fall into place around you. You can catch up with Jesse on his Facebook page: http://bit.ly/ fbjessesg
[bd] Being you were a gearhead before you were a US citizen, how do you think your passion for motorsport and mechanicals helped you grow your business? How did it help you transition into a new place to live? What’s this experience taught you? [jy] What helped me in this country is my discipline and hard work. Showing up on time and working countless hours (which I learned in Germany) made opening up a business no problem at all, even though I didn’t have any business capital other than first month’s rent and security deposit. I never had a dream to open up my own garage, but what I’ve learned is, it’s possible to work and have fun at the same time. Find your own field and never give up. Money is liquid energy. You can buy stuff, but be careful not to try to buy
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Isaacs Inner Mind Saying GOodbye to AN IMPACTFUL PASSENGER (AND BACKSEAT DRIVER)
BY: DEANNA ISAACS | FAMILY PHOTOS COURTESY OF LAURA, JEFF, AND MICHAEL DORR | CAPE PHOTOS BY DEANNA ISAACS
One of our first homework assignments from her that same weekend was to go up to Hurricane Ridge, a national park only a few miles from the town of Port Angeles. The road up in our white, bug-eye Subaru sedan (which was laid to rest in 2009) was spent having fun with a BMW M3 who couldn’t keep the road to himself without watching us catch up to his butt in his rearview on the corners. We went home to Grandma’s that night and told her of the beautiful, snow-capped vistas she had seen thousands of times before, the deer wandering around the parking lot only an arms distance from interested humans, and the geologic time record that sprawls across the valleys, hills, and snow-line slopes in piney peace to horizon. Grandma D always loved adventures You see, she had an adventuring soul that took her and her children, and grandchildren, to southern California, clam-digging along the Washington coast in January, to the Alaskan wilderness in summer, or even on cruises of the some of the seven seas.
In my life there was an obstinate and unbelievably opinionated, yet loving and kind, old woman who went by the term of endearment of ‘Grandma D’. She was the center of my familial world, the center of Port Angeles (yes, that same small Washington town now famous for sparkly, prissy vampires and people) for those who knew her, and now she is gone, leaving a hole in our hearts and in PA, but first I have to back up. I first introduced Grandma D to my husband almost a full year after we’d been married. I had met Robert in Misawa, Japan - when we were stationed on the same base, but not the same command – and she instantly made an impression by calling ‘Bullshit’ on all of his stories. No one can get shot in the head and live, right? Wrong (and bullshit) according to grandma. It was an instant rivalry – my husband had found his arch-nemesis. Even though they took opposite corners of the argument’s ring, they enjoyed every second of conversation; a head butting of equally engaged intellects that they both loved as much as they cared for each other. Grandma D knew that he was from the other side of the States, born in upstate New York (nowhere near The City; the tallest landmark in his neighborhood was the barn across the street, dwarfed by the trees surrounding it), pretty much as far from The City as you can get and still be in NY State. She’d been to upstate NY before and knew the terrain – while they have mountains, the Appalachian range had been milled down by millennia of erosion, the age of the east coast mountains stunted their height but not their grandeur. However, Grandma D wanted him to see the area and fall in love with it like so many east-coaster’s in her life had (including my father, via Rochester, NY, and Germany…).
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When younger, she and grandpa took my sister and I to the Pacific Ocean, along Highway 101 (a coastal highway dream for any gearhead…though not in the monstrous RV they piloted around the countryside). We went with aunts and uncles in their own RV’s, making bonfires at night, and listening to salty sea stories from ex-Sailors and Marines as the waves of the ocean crashed along the sandy beaches just beyond the campsite. Always a passenger in any vehicle because she never, not once in her lifetime, got a driver’s license - the few times she took the wheel she just didn’t like it. This abhorrence of driving never stopped her from getting on the open road, though - it just wasn’t Grandma’s cup of tea. Even after grandpa passed in the mid-90’s, she still took to the road though with different company, her ‘chauffeurs’. Her sister-in-law, Audrie, her son and daughters, childhood friends, or even myself.
She liked to listen to Rob and mine’s stories from Japan (her favorite was the story about our 4th of July trip that almost ended at a gate, I’ll tell it to you all eventually...) and all the places we visited in the two
and columnist for the school’s student newspaper The Daily (where I have a car column, Cars & Collegians, and an outdoors column, The Outdoor Dawg [our mascot is a Husky…]), as a press relations, blogger, and communications major for the UW Formula Motorsports Team (see ***** in this issue), and all the studying that goes along with it, there is little time left for family outside of federal holidays. I’ve been busy studying for 4 years, finishing my associate’s degree in English, setting up my college years at the UW, and then winning all over those effort-filled evenings at the UW to obtain a high GPA; I’ve gotten in pat with many of my professors and faculty with hair-brained ideas for documentaries, media startups, and more; that I haven’t had time to spend with Mom, Grandma, or much of anyone else. My husband has ‘family-time’ with me as I sit in front of my computer doing homework (even as I write this…).
years we lived there and owned cars (a black, boxy Toyota Supra and a silver 94 MR2). Not a weekend sans-watch went by without us going off on an adventure and Grandma wanted us to continue that adventuring spirit, but closer to home. Her second task was to take him to the Ocean, wave to Japan and our friends we left while there instead of waving to our family back in the States from Japan. She wanted to hear about our trip, about the weather, the roads; everything. Life got in the way While Grandma D has always inspired her family to get into the outdoors by taking them on hunting, fishing, hiking, and other kinds of adventurous trips as youths, she always encouraged us to get an educa-
There’s not enough room in my mind, not enough time in the world, for all the things I want to accomplish in my lifetime and Grandma D understood that. She listened to all of these things, usually on the phone because I couldn’t get out to PA most of the time, and she reveled in my desire to become independent of America’s commercial media. Her favorite paper had been the Seattle Post-Intelligencer before it went defunct and then the Seattle Times (she smiles the day before she passed, when I told her I’d gotten an article in one of their blogs). You see, my grandmother has inspired me from those bon-fire tales to spread stories of those I meet to those I haven’t met, yet. Those nights I spent with her and grandpa, the aunts and uncles, listening to salty tales of seamen (I’m ex-Navy, the double entendre is absolutely intended) inspired me to set sail on the seven seas and explore unknown continents. It was because of my desire for higher education, that I hadn’t fulfilled a promise to Grandma D before she passed. Saying goodbye to a great woman On Saturday, November 30th, a Hawaiian conch shell blew to the four winds by my Uncle Bob, Grandma D’s brother and retired Naval Master Chief, and thirty people waited in the rain. As tears streamed down his cheeks, Uncle Ward, Grandma’s only son, shared his regret. In his arms, Ward clutched a red-white-and-blue cloth like it was his childhood blanket, the flag over his heart and his hands crossing his chest to the corners of the square-folded flag. Never wanting to let it go. Ward stood there and shared his sorrow of not finishing the pole so Grandma could see the flag fly next to his house that she visited so often (they were in the same town of Port Angeles). As he stood there and told of us his err, I realized mine: I’d never taken Rob to see the Pacific Ocean.
tion. That desire for higher education has always fueled me to greater deeds and, now, I go to the University of Washington – one of the highest rated colleges on the west coast, the US, and the world. Going has its drawbacks, though.
An itch in my soul grew until I just couldn’t let it stand anymore. I spent time with family afterward the wake, retrieved some belongings from Grandma’s house (like a ‘Navy Grandma’ mug I gave her after my bootcamp graduation or the Bluejay candle holder and Japanese-themed address book I’d gotten for while living her in Misawa), and then I honored Grandma D by doing what she enjoyed: going on an adventure with the ones I love most.
With all the learning I’m doing, not just in class, but also as a reporter
It was decided. We would head to Cape Flattery – the most northwest-
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ern tip of the Olympic Peninsula, that horn that gives Washington State its unmistakable handle. Seventy-eight and a half miles from Port Angeles, 156 miles from home (312 round trip), lie rocky, wind and sea battered out-croppings that jut from the seafloor like skyscrapers of the sea. But I’m getting ahead of myself. There’s a roadtrip there, too. Waving back We headed out from Port Angeles around 1pm. The skies were turbulent grey, the roads were wet, the sun would be setting in only 3 hours, and we’d both had about 5, equally turbulent, hours of sleep – not the best way to start out a small roadtrip, but it was quite necessary to do it. We’d already come 77 miles via Highway 101, an epic roadtripping route I plan on tackling this summer, to get to Port A. This time we were going to head east farther still, via Highway 112. The first several miles were straight, rather boring, but still beautifully tree lined and steeped in hillbilly. My tiny Miata largely outweighed, outheighted, and outnumbered by trucks of varying makes and models (though thier stares were still not as memorable as the friendly Canadia, “What’s that car, eh?”) – their tires towering over my cloth top. To the left (heading east, making ‘left’ south) were tree-filled hills that morphed into rocky cliffs held together by the sparse foliage. To the right (north), roiled the Strait of Juan de Fuca – the lifeblood of the Puget Sound and Seattle, the home and hider of orcas, humpback whales, and giant squid. Ninety-five miles of saltwater, anywhere from 11 to 17 miles across, that forms the international boundary between Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula and Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada which maintains a chilly 45 degree (F), or near to it, all year long. Not something I’d like to go for a swim in (though I’ve done that, too, on many
occasions), most definitely not on a night like tonight, though. We drove along the Scenic Byway that is Highway 112 that was less scenic than it was slogged in rain. The miles of evergreen and deciduous trees of the lowlands rolled away and the hills by the sea sprang into life – hairpin after hairpin of oil-slicked roads made slicker still with the sign of coming winter, fallen leaves and icy surfaces - and my rear-wheeled, two seater Miata wanted to come to life, too. The whole way I sat in my seat wishing it were summer – that the roads were dry as a bone, that the sun sparkled off the Strait, my top would be down, and Grandmother would be complaining from my passenger seat that I was going too fast, that my car was too small, too low to the ground, that the sun was too bright, but the cape would be great. My husband would be driving his MR2 behind me and we’d all be heading out for a day together. Even if grandma elected to stay in PA, we’d still have taken two cars – what’s the fun without some friendly RPM’s? My driving daydream was disrupted, though, by the downpour and the deceptive streets. One corner had a 10 MPH cautionary speed – I did 5 MPH and my wheels still slipped around the road. Seventy-five miles of rain swept roads by the, so-called, Salish Sea. A two and a half hour drive took well longer than it should have, though it’s much better to know one will make it home. National forest faded away and tribal lands sprang into being. The Makah people have been living in the Pacific Northwest for around 3,800 years, if archeological record speaks true. They call themselves the Kwih-dich-chuh-ahtx, or ‘the people who live by the rocks and the seagulls’; an apt name for the village by the sea, where many gulls (and a few bald eagles) filled the sky, their caw’s heard through my cloth top. The village disappeared behind an even twistier road with black patches where it once washed out, the road having been reclaimed by the sea for a little while, at least. It narrowed, and narrowed; twisted, turned, and hairpinned for twenty miles until finally ending in a small
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parking lot beneath towering pines of old-growth forests. There was a half mile walk down a dirt-paved or log-bridged path until we reached the northwestern most point of the contiguous US and the crashing waves that beat at the rocks hundreds of feet below us. The cold and biting wind howled, making the rain sting our cheeks, the fog was still thick enough that we couldn’t see but an outline of Tatoosh Island only half a mile to the north, it’s foghorn heard, it’s lighthouse unseen save for a flash now and then. We stood on the deck looking out at where the Salish Sea meets the Pacific Ocean, eddies roughing up the rocks, and we waved to our old home in Japan. We waved to the humpback whale we, apparently, just missed. We waved to Grandma D, wherever the afterlife had taken her. We waved and we cried as the seas thundered below us and the skies wept, the weather matching our moods even as elated as we were to be in a place of such awe-inspiring beauty. After we were sufficiently rain-soaked, Rob and I walked the half mile back to the car and, in true Grandma D fashion, made friends with a woman who waited in the parking lot. Please forgive me as her name escapes me, though her smiling face and cordial demeanor will stay with me forever. She was from Montana and had recently moved to Gig Harbor Her daughter and granddaughter were out at the Cape to see the sunset even though the clouds and fog would surely obscure the sight – her knees couldn’t have made the trip with them. One look at our footwear (we wear toe-shoes year round) and she was inspired to try them for herself. As we parted she said she was going to tell her family that while they were watching the waves, she was parking-lot-inthe-middle-of-nowhere Christmas shopping with new friends.
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We stopped in town for a quick ‘cheers’ over some caffeinated (nonalcoholic) drinks for the 5 hour drive back to Seattle. On the way home, the fog was so thick that I couldn’t see more than fifty feet in front of us, at times my pop-up headlamps were reclaimed by nature. The gaps of clearings often blinded by people heading toward whence we came. My one fear was that deer would spring out in front of us as a car passed and my vision was limited – luckily the ones we saw in just that situation stayed in the ditch they were gazing at me from (alive and as happy as a deer can look). We averaged 30 mph for over 3 hours until we reached Port Angeles, where much of the fog faded away into the night. Clouds still crowded the skies and rain still fell, but at least we could use our high-beams to see anymore four-hooved friends that might think of crossing our paths. It was still empty, though - there was no Grandma D waiting to hear our tale in Port Angeles. Grandma, I’m sorry I never got to share our tale of the Pacific Ocean with you – I’m sure you would have laughed at, and chided, Rob’s miser comments about the cold and the wet, even though you would have known he enjoyed it by the smile that comes to his face when he talks about the mystery of the sea engulfing the rocks of the Cape that day. He will miss you calling ‘bullshit’ on his gripes of non-gripey log-boards on the trail, because we don’t make shoddy stuff in Washington… Nope. Only top quality here. However, Grandma, I’m hoping that my tale of tire-filled adventures will inspire others to head out onto the road and enjoy everything the world has to offer on the off-beaten path, so that we can all follow in
the footsteps of life-changing woman like you. As to our readers, in the epic style and colloquialism of my grandmother Charlotte Dunscomb: Bullshit (for whatever reason is holding you back from exploration, now get your asses out there and adventure. Post Script: After the trip, we noticed a slight burning smell, so you can look forward to fun filled articles about hating clutches and the bloodsacrifice required when Rob and I repair any Japanese-made vehicle.
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2013 Care of the year
Our first annual celebration of the people behind the cars At the end of a year, many outlets reflect on the vehicles which stood out to them. We at Gearbox Magazine, however, like to look at things from a different perspective. It’s not the cars that change things, it’s the people behind those cars. Therefore, we reflect on the stories which stood out to us.
filling our wonder-filled eyes. Can you believe he was randomly linked to his dad’s old car up for sale all those years later?
Throughout the year, we report on or hear of stories which show people committed to furthering not just the community of gearheads, but truly impacting and inspiring those around them These actions of the few reverberate through the world like wild horses straining to free itself from the dyno.
CARE of the Year: NPR - Lady Mechanic Initiative
This is our first year doing this, and there were a number stories we cared about, and we hope you care about them, too. These stories have given us a better understanding of just how much the world needs gearheads. Take a break from the eggnog, the social gatherings, and the car of the year stuff to check out this short list of meaningful automotive stories.
We all know how relatively rare women seem to be in the gearhead community. And, as an auto journalist – a field our own Deanna Isaacs feels has nearly as many women as coal mining – Deanna said, “I feel this woman’s desire to expand the expectations of other women and inspire them to do whatever they want in life.”
After careful consideration of a handful of stories bookmarked over the course of the year, we narrowed down our list to just THREE stories. Check them out. Be inspired. ... 3rd Place: Petrolicious - Spirits Still Race the Nürburgring’s Forgotten South Loop Christer Lunem takes us for a magical ride through the forests on the south loop of the Nürburgring, no longer in use for racing. We loved this one because it reminds us that even the biggest names in the best machines at the pinnacle of the sport eventually fade into history. It’s a new perspective on one of the most iconic venues in car-dom. One of the best perks to this bit is that it’s free (aside from owning your own car, insurance, and the gas to get there). You need only arrive and drive – which is what we’re all about here. How will history affect you? Petrolicious here: http://bit.ly/nurburgsouth Runner Up: Michael Banovksy - Fathers’ Day 914 Earlier this year, Gearbox Magazine presented the tale of a son who gave his pops one killer Father’s Day. Michael Banovsky shares an unbelievable story with us - the struggle to reclaim a memory from his childhood and share it with the parents who inspired him to be an enthusiast.
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We’re giving this the number two spot because it takes us back to when we were young and staring at the cars of our parents, and those which passed us by,
Grab a tissue. Banovsky’s exclusive here: http://bit.ly/gbxm914
This is it, our first annual CARE of the Year, and it comes courtesy of NPR. They introduced us to Sandra Aguebor-Ekperuog, an inspired woman in Nigeria who is trying to change the world – one wrench at a time.
This holiday season, we wanted to share this story of inspiration and community because this is what being a gearhead is about. Over 300 women have graduated from the Lady Mechanic Initiative, and those women’s lives are better because they know how to work on cars. Hopefully this will inspire more girls and women. It’s often overlooked that the skills many of us use for recreation, skills often discounted as being merely diversionary or hobby-related, are absolutely life changing elsewhere in the world. It gets Brian Driggs thinking, “I really hope we can make Gearheads Without Borders happen in the next couple years.” Get inspired to make your mark on the world! Check out NPR: http://bit.ly/nprladymech ... We hope that, next time you see one of those Car of the Year headlines, you’ll remember this article and how we do here at GBXM|united. Yeah, all those new cars are nice. We love ‘em as much as you do, but we love the people who are using their automotive passions as a springboard to better lives more. So here’s to the ghosts of the Nürburgring, reminding us to appreciate the moment, to Banovksy, for sharing the most sentimental of dreams come true, and to the Lady Mechanic Initiative for helping those less fortunate move onto better things and for inspiring us to recognize our automotive skills as being truly life-changing. If you find or have an inspiring story you’d like to share with Gearbox Magazine, please let us know! email@example.com
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DUDE, WE ALMOST HAD YOU
BY BRIAN DRIGGS | PHOTOS OWNED BY UNIVERSAL STUDIOS
Now that all the news outlets have scooped each other and had their ad impressions, now that all the seo consultants have tied his tragic death to some asinine life lesson in pursuit of Google page rank, it seems a good time for those of us to whom Paul Walker really mattered to say something about his - and Roger Rodas’ - tragic passing. I remember all the excitement in the sport compact slash import tuning community surrounding the arrival of The Fast and The Furious all those years ago. Finally, there was a car movie featuring the machines we loved. Yes, it was based on illegal street racing and yes it was rife with technical inaccuracies, but it was as close as Hollywood ever got to making a movie about us. For us, it all began with a fresh-faced guy in
seconds of the film, this auto-journalist sees the subtle smile of a gearhead come to realization of what really matters in life. Ask any gearhead - any REAL gearhead. The friends we make “playing with cars” often end up being more like family. We live our lives one modification/race/show/trail/trip at a time. Nothing else matters: not the job, not the bills, not the politicians and all their bullshit. When we’re among gearheads, we’re free. To some people, Paul Walker was just another young actor caught out by false confidence and fate. To some people, the Fast and Furious franchise was just poorly written automotive fantasy. But to some of us, TFATF was a subtle reminder that who we are, what we love, and why we love it matters.
a neon green Eclipse.
Brian O’Connor was the knock around guy with eyes on starting a family and settling down. He thought he needed all the trappings of modern, commercial society. Over the course of 12 years, he left the corporate bullshit behind in pursuit of real meaning with his gearhead family. Not that I endorse street racing or any of the other illicit activities romanticized in the series in any way, but while society and business continues to imply automotive hobbies as a waste of time, we know otherwise, and few Hollywood characters distilled it as well as Walker.
Looking past the highway robbery, drug cartels, bank heists, and Race Wars, I think a lot of us came to view the Fast and Furious characters as family. Every gearhead, it seems, knew people in real life like those on the screen, if not personally identified with one of them in some way. For me, that character was Brian Earl Spilner, played by Paul Walker.
And he never lost his cool. He was true to his gearhead family in character. He was true to his gearhead family in real life. Life, like any project or race, is fleeting. To our fallen brother Paul Walker - and his good friend Roger Rodas, who is therefore a friend of ours - we say, Dude. We almost had you.
When the first FATF came out, I was driving a non-turbocharged, second generation (2GNT) Mitsubishi Eclipse. Being named Brian and living in Arizona, I immediately identified with the guy, even if it was all just his cover in the first film. Over the course of the series - a solid 12 years, can you believe that? - we saw characters come and go, switch sides, and blur the lines between crime and punishment. As Brian O’Conner, Paul Walker began the series as an outsider; deep undercover to investigate consumer electronics theft. By the end of that first installment, however, he hands Toretto the keys to his 10-second car, allowing the focus of his investigation to escape. In the final
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PAUL WALKER 1973-2013
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oNNELLISTA uUTTA vuotta! hAPPY nEW yEAR! varo porotu bECAREFUL OF rEINDEER
BY ALEX WALLER Two old friends of mine, Beth and Jake, recently tied the knot with an unforgettable day, from what I am able to remember of it. Beth is an art student and has organised a trip for us all to Finland. Jake is a photography student who took those photographs of my Dacia for issue 1.09. After Christmas, nine of us in total are travelling to the picturesque Cloudberry cottage in Lapland to see the new year in. It is in the heart of reindeer country, where they are free to roam across a beautiful untouched landscape of snow, pine forests and lakes. As for the itinerary, well, there’s a national park not too far away, a cross country skiing track and a shared rowing boat – but it may well be too frozen for that! An open fire, booze and the company of some cool people will complete what is my first time abroad since 2006. We land in Helsinki at 2300 on the 27th of December, but we are staying in Ruka, just outside of Kuusamo. Our plan for the first night travelling is to sleep in the airport for sake of economy – I’m told it’s a lovely airport, too. The following morning, at 0500, the rest of the party are taking a domestic flight North to Kuusamo. I looked at this part of the trip on a map, and, naturally, I could not bring myself to pass up the opportunity to drive instead of take the second flight. I knew a bloke who drove across the US and recommended that 10 hours in a day is probably a wise limit for a road trip. This journey is 850km one way, or about 530 miles. I should manage it in about that time, allowing for plenty of breaks and photos. I have spent longer at the wheel in one day once before, but never as long in a single stint. For the first time, I’ll also be on the wrong side of the car on the wrong side of the road. And it will be dark most the time due to the season. What
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could possibly go wrong? There are two possible routes, with only 20km of driving distance between them, despite going along one side of the country or the other. The Eastern route would take us due North from Helsinki through central Finland’s vast lakes, through to the Arctic city of Oulu on the East coast. The Western route takes us along side the border with bleak Russian tundra and is slightly shorter. Since I have a return journey I’ll probably do both, chosen at random. I will be driving a Skoda Octavia or similar, partly because I am an exSkoda owner, and also because it was only slightly more expensive than an Opel Astra Estate, which a fellow traveller has booked to get in Kuusamo, we need the space for people, luggage and possibly skis. Snow tyres are mandatory, so front-wheel drive shouldn’t be a problem. Both cars are essentially what we here in Britain would call minicabs: common family cars more commonly used as taxis. This trip is a fine example of how it doesn’t really matter what car you are driving. It’s the places you go and the things that you do with it. The unusual peril in the Finish highway code seems to be reindeer, and it looks like a fantastic place for finding some wilderness and driving. There are many masterful rally drivers from Finland, such as Ari Vatannen, Tommi Mäkinen and Marcos Grönholm to name just a few. Many of them cut their teeth through the snowy pine forests and across the frozen lakes. If I can pull off a nice Scandinavian Flick before we leave, the trip will be a success.
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From Amatuer to Alcan
Deanna Isaacs’ year in review BY: DEANNA ISAACS |PHOTOS BY: DEANNA AND ROBERT ISAACS
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This time last year was a monumental moment in my life. I’d just finished my first quarter of my 4-year degree at the University of Washington, I’d gotten onto the Formula Motorsports team at school, and I realized my passions in news writing aligned more towards those wheeled vehicles we love, the places they take us, and who they take us there with. To that end, I’d started a column at my school’s student newspaper (hey, don’t knock it – The Daily is the second daily newspaper in the entire Seattle metropolitan area) called “The Outdoor Dawg” – (note: our mascot is a Siberian Husky, thus the terrible pun).
I started the column with the idea it would just be about the parks in Seattle that were close to campus, thus making it easy for students to experience something more natural than their dorm room, and a few people associated with it, but my columns have expanded. During the winter quarter (the one starting in January), I interviewed a woman who worked as a UW biologist during the day and moonlights as a rallycross participant and stage rally captain at night, along with an avid outdoors woman who hikes and bikes (even competes in cyclocross). Her story inspired me to write about the things I’ve always enjoyed. I was inspired to really make a chance in my career choices.
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I was inspired to include more automobiles. So I went for it. The next rally that came around I hauled my husband two hours south to Shelton, Wash., to attend Nameless Rally as press. It was the most excited I’ve been in my (journalistic) life. I had a press pass to a rally! I was driving my Media-Miata… on a stage rally course! While I was doing some b-roll, I was even pegged in the back by half a broken rock. How do I know it was part of a rock? I can see the offender being shot out of a tire as one of the rally cars zips past, it hits the ground and you can see it fracture – then only miliseconds later I yell “OWE, *insert Sailor-borne expletives here*”. And I wouldn’t have changed a moment of it. It wasn’t just the cars screaming past, it wasn’t just the people that I got to meet (journalists, course workers, viewers)... It was the whole shebang. I felt like I knew where my writing should take me. Maybe it was also the minor success that I had getting a photo of a Dodge Colt into a certain magazine… All I know (no it’s not the Stig), is I wanted more. Lots, lots more, and not just of rally, either, but I didn’t have the courage to ask about going to many other races – nervousness, in a journalist? Yeah… Then came Geology. (And now
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you’re confused, it’s ok… Geology confuses lots of people, me included at some points.) There were forced fieldtrips – oh, no… driving in my car; I’m sure you can hear me crying about now. I knew one of the five roads the fieldtrips offered and decided to head out to Hurricane Ridge, near Port Angeles, Wash., and the deliciously curvy roads I knew came with the asphalt that lay ahead. Luckily I got lost. Not on the way to Hurricane Ridge, I’ve been there enough times to drive there in my sleep, but I missed a turn in the directions had didn’t realize that I’d missed an hour’s detour south. I got
to the roads leading toward the national park and continued to have my way with the corners and curves just before the park pay station. A good hours’ worth of fun on a section of road no longer than a mile – it was heaven. In the time I took while there, I decided to pop a camera onto my rollbar and have my way with that, too. The GoPro was dead so I took the Canon 5D Mark II I had borrowed from school and ziptied it to my roll bar – don’t worry, I had three 100-lbs tested zip ties, so the $5,000 camera was safe (unless I rolled). And ensued more roadroving. Then came my teacher and the convoy of 16-person vehicles. Was it the zip-tied camera that gave him the clue as to my hobby? The bigdog, SCCA-quality roll bar? The fact that my car kept disappearing and reappearing behind the last van in the convoy? A combination of those and the massive smile that was planted on my face as they rolled up – after an hours wait? Either way, my teacher noticed and we got onto the topic of cars – as it happens, he races an old ’69 Saab in LeMons races and I was invited out to that, too. I went. It was incredible! The engines weren’t powerful, the cars weren’t sleek (except for the Lambo, 3 Lotus’ [Lotusee? Lotusi? Lotusoosles!], and the beautiful E-type Jaguar), and 95 percent of them sure weren’t pretty. But I was surrounded by likeminded gearheads, I was surrounded by the scent of (often improperly burning) gasoline, and I couldn’t be happier. I was in heaven. From those experiences, I decided that I knew where my future lay – Automotive and travel journalism. I don’t want to go to those nice romantic getaways, I want the octane filled vacations where you go and oil up to your arms. I want to write
about the places that these cars take people, whether it’s the bottoms of trails, the tops of mountains, or the local track for a romp. I got serious about auto-journalism and asked to go to Pacific Forest Rally, in Merritt, BC. We all know how that went (WINNING!! That’s how it went.)
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Where I am now I couldn’t be more pleased with how the last 12 months have taken my career. Even my family is behind me, not just in journalism, but my husband has agreed to be my backup cameraman for many of the events I go to.
Already I’m working with the Rainier Autosports Club to cover their TSD rallies, such as Raindrop (paved roads) and No Alibi (not-so paved roads). The most exciting of these TSD’s that I’m hoping to cover in the next year is the ALCAN 5000, a 4,310 mile (6,936 km) trip from Kirkland, Wash., to Anchorage, Alaska, via some of the most remote roads in the Americas.
I’ve covered so many things, and gotten leads for so many great stores I have never imagined previously, that I can’t help but be thankful for everything that I have and am doing. For a husband who supports me, a family that hopes I succeed, for a school that has my back in doing what I love doing.
I’m SUPER excited about this prospect, but even more excited about doing it myself (as in, in my own car). Whether I go via participants or participate myself, I’ll be needing the money to fund it – so watch out for a GBXM sponsored crowd-funding drive in the first few months of 2014.
I may not work at a big-named magazine with all the audiences, but I work at a magazine where I do what I love in pursuit of my own happiness. I don’t have the greatest gear (my camera can’t get more than 4 frames a second which is bad for fast cars, my computer can’t compute more than a 2 minute video, and my car… she’s awesome, but not a rally car), but I don’t care.
GBXM wouldn’t exist without gearheads like us. From inspiring one another, to lending a helping hand, we know what the meaning of community is down to our lugnuts. I love sharing those tales and there is no place I would rather be than writing for Gearbox Magazine and you.
I love what I do. I love why I do it. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Year in Preview I’ve already been invited back to Nameless Rally and I’ll even be going to it’s predecessor, Olympus Rally. If I’m not too busy with schooling, I’ll even attempt to hit up Oregon Trail Rally and Idaho Rally, if not a few more too.
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ORIGINAL ART BY JACE TUTTLE | JACETUTTLE.COM @THEJACET
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LESSONS LEARNED high performance machines & lives
Here’s a quick overview of what we’ve learned in this issue: 1. WHEN YOU FINALLY FIND PEOPLE WILLING TO WORK JUST AS HARD AS - IF NOT HARDER THAN - YOU ON YOUR LIFE’S WORK, ON YOUR DREAM. THERE’S A VERY REAL SENSE OF FEAR THAT YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO TRULY PAY THEM WHAT YOU KNOW THEY’RE WORTH. 2. “BUILT, NOT BOUGHT” MEANS PRETTY MUCH THE SAME THING TO EVERY GEARHEAD, BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN EVERY GEARHEAD IS BUILDING A DRIFT R34 WITH A 40,000HP 2JZ (NO SHIT) UNDER THE HOOD. RESPECT WHERE IT IS DUE. 3. AND WHO DO YOU THINK GETS PAID THE BIG BUCKS TO BUILD FOR THOSE WHO PREFER TO BUY? TRUE CRAFTSMANSHIP IS A SIREN SONG CALLING OUT TO ALL OF US. 4. ANYONE CAN PICK A CAR OF THE YEAR, BUT SOME STORIES REMIND US WHAT REALLY MATTERS. YOU PROBABLY THOUGHT IT WAS A TYPO, BUT IT WASN’T. :) 5. SUZUKI SAMURAIS ARE GETTING HARDER TO FIND, BUT WHAT FINDS THEY ARE! 6. SOMEONE OUT THERE WILL MAKE A CAR ALMOST IDENTICAL TO YOURS. IT’S THE TIME AND ATTENTION TO DETAIL WHICH WILL MAKE YOURS SUPERIOR. 7. IT’S POSSIBLE TO BUY A FANTASTIC-HANDLING COMMUTER CAR THAT YOU CAN LEAVE ALONE AND NOT TURN INTO A GOES-TO-11 TRACK SLUT. LIKELY? THAT’S ANOTHER STORY. 8. IN TIME, YOU CAN GET THAT BIKE YOU WANTED WHEN YOU WERE 16. 9. THERE’S VERY LITTLE STOPPING YOU FROM BUYING YOUR NEXT PROJECT CAR. tHERE’S EVEN LESS KEEPING YOU FROM BUYING IT AT THE JUNKYARD. 10. WE ARE ALL WHO WE ARE BECAUSE OF THE PEOPLE IN OUR LIVES. APPRECIATE THEM 11. PEOPLE ARE WILLING TO SPEND BIG MONEY TO COME VISIT YOU. 12. PAUL WALKER WAS ONE OF US. SO WAS ROGER RODAS.
thE BIG TAKEAWAY THIS MONTH: THIS ISSUE WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED - INDEED, THIS MAGAZINE MIGHT HAVE FOLDED COMPLETELY - WERE IT NOT FOR THE EXCEPTIONAL EFFORTS OF DEANNA ISAACS AND ALEX WALLER, BOTH OF WHOM PULLED MULTIPLE ALL-NIGHTERS TO MEET DEADLINES WHICH ONLY SURPRISE TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES PUSHED THINGS BACK.
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GEARHEADS UNITED RITSUGYO BOEKI
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