2018 Ford F-150

Posted: April 28, 2018 in My Cars

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I swear, I was only looking for something to replace my Range Rover as a light truck that would fit my son’s go-kart . . . so I was just looking at a basic 2.7 Ecboost – but after the truck I chose had issues with the key fob Henderson Ford hooked me up with a fully loaded 3.5 Ecoboost.  Aside from having more technology than I know what to do with, this thing has more power than I know what to do with.

Well, I figured out at least one thing to do with all the power.

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1998 BMW 318ti

Posted: June 16, 2017 in Rants

I paid more for my last suit than I did for this car.

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I used this car throughout the winter as a fun little runabout, and as soon as Spring came around I swapped out the all-seasons on stock wheels for some Rival S 1.5s on ultra-light flow formed D Force wheels in 17×9 at all four corners.

In preparation for some casual autocross and light DE use I slightly lowered the car, added some slotted rotors with Hawk DTCs and had an alignment performed to my specifications.  They also performed a slight paint correction which really brought this 20 year old car back to life.

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I had it at Watkins Glen for the first time in June 2018.  It was SUPER soft and squishy, and could definitely use some stiffer suspension.  The brakes were fine for 5 laps or so.  The car hit a wall at 110 mph – nothing left at that point.  Otherwise fun, easy to drive – a pleasure actually.

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1998 Subaru Outback Sport

Posted: June 8, 2017 in Rants

I purchased this car for my wife to learn how to drive.  No, I didn’t marry a child.  She’s from a place where people don’t need to drive.

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It was a completely rust free example from a less than reputable local dealer.  Of course as soon as I drove it off it had a check engine light and multiple small issues, but I didn’t pay much for it and I was prepared to deal with them.

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As I tend to do, I immediately debadged the rear and took the stickers off the sides.  I installed swaybars, adjustable shocks (with stock springs) and taller snow tires for added ground clearance.  Of course I did the obligatory DIY autozone air intake and an APEX’i N1 cat back exhaust.

For the summer, I used BFGoodrich g-Force Sport Comp tires, which are a solid summer tire for street use.

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For the winter, I chose Firestone Winterforce.  These are studdable which means they have a slightly stiffer sidewall than a standard snow tire, although I never studded them (because a studded tires performs worse on all surfaces other than ice).

I went an entire winter without plowing or shoveling my driveway.

Here’s the thing with Subaru’s AWD system – its schizophrenic.  It understeers on entry, oversteers on exit, and arbitrarily switches between the two during sweepers and transitions.  Now, obviously this car isn’t an autocross (or even a rallycross) car – but the lack of predictability from the AWD system was infuriating in my daily driving.  As you know, flat out – that is how I drive.

The nail in the coffin for this car wasn’t the haphazard handling.  Rather, it was the deplorable build quality.  This thing was built like a tin can.  I simply did not feel safe putting my child in the car – and I’m notoriously cavalier about my children’s safety.

2008 Honda Civic SI

Posted: June 4, 2017 in My Cars

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In anticipation of the birth of my first child, I picked up what I thought was a reasonable, reliable family vehicle.  Four doors and modern safety met a sport suspension, 8,200 rpm, and a front limited slip differential.

I quickly proceeded to do what any self respecting owner would do and removed the VTEC stickers and Civic badge from the car.

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And then I started to race it.

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Competing in the “G Stock” class, I cut my teeth with a fat, torqueless, understeering pig of a car.  It taught me nothing about driving but I had fun.

Once I acquired an actual race car I bought some wheels and lowered the car slightly.  I was really disappointed with the Eibach springs and this would teach me that aftermarket spring manufacturers design their springs to create even more understeer so that the car is “safe.”  From here on out I would consult an engineer and customize my spring rates when possible.

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During my ownership the car never broke, but it did develop a rust spot on the rear passenger fender.  Honda refused to cover this under warranty because the rust hadn’t worn a hole through the fender.  Accordingly, this was the last Honda I ever drove.

2005 BMW M3

Posted: October 6, 2016 in My Cars

Less than 24 hours after registering at the DMV and she’s got slicks and race numbers on her.

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I blacked out the grille and gills.  The boys at PAD gave it thorough cleaning.

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Class legal modifications include headers (with cats 6″ downstream), Turner SCCA T2 tune, pulleys and an intake flare.

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Oh, and some Moton Club $ports.

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One last photo before surgery.

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The headers went in with some work.  You have to remove about 1/4 of the engine bay to access all 18 bolts holding on the factory header.  Then, you have to remove all of the factory studs and replace them with the aftermarket studs.  Finally, you have to jack the car up and insert both headers simultaneously from a vertical angle.  I’m telling you this because it took me about 3 weeks to figure all of this out.  BUT – the eBay fitment was perfect and HOLY COW does this car rip with the headers and tune.

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Installing the shocks was not difficult.  Routing the remote reservoirs was a little more work.  For the fronts, I removed the fender liners and snaked the reservoirs up into the engine bay, mounting them to the radiator shroud with zip ties, because I’m classy like that.

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Mounting the rear reservoirs required full removal of the bumper.  There are plastic vents that I removed and made small cuts to allow the hoses to fit through.  I mounted the reservoirs to the trunk brackets – with zip ties of course.

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The Ground Control bars were a bit of work as well, but they are so fancy and so adjustable.

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With the factory 19×8/19×9.5 wheels and 26″ diameter tires package, fitment was troublesome.  With my race setup 18×10 front and rear with 25″ diameter tires, fitment was a little better, especially once I learned how to do an alignment in my garage and dialed in 4.2 degrees of camber in the front.

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After a professional corner balance, she’s ready for battle.  I settled for -3.7 degrees of front and -2 degrees of rear camber – a little more front and a little less rear than I wanted.  0 toe all around is my preference for every car that I drive and helps save the tires.

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The car weighed in at 3,476 lbs.  Time for a diet.

Step 1: Replace heavy ass leather/power seats with manual/alcantara.

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Step 2: Replace the 60 lbs OEM battery with a 24 lbs Miata battery.

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My preferred tire pressure settings are 33 psi front, 29 psi rear

2 compression front and rear.

4 rebound front and rear.

May 28, 2017 from Ricky Spanish on Vimeo.

A full season of racing took its toll on the front bumper.

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I also bought some Ikea seats on eBay that required me to assemble them myself, without any provided hardware.  They were cheap and included brackets that actually fit (and worked with the stock belts and wiring), so that made me happy.  They’re also light as all hell.

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For 2018 I resprayed the front end.

I weighed myself at the Finger Lakes Championship Tour:

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Unfortunately the car is dramatically outgunned in STU, especially since they opened up boost to the turbo cars.

1993 Audi 100 CS Quattro

Posted: October 6, 2016 in Rants

It’s gonna be a race car.

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Step 1: Add lightness

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Step 2: Add power with a “custom” intake.

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Step 3: Mount truck tires

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Step 4: Race

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We added a little more lightness during our first event by ripping off two fog lights and the front grille.  We also discovered that 1st gear is more than enough with the tires.  Finally, our suspension travel not only makes for a pillowy smooth highway ride but also works rather well in an off road setting.

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Total racecar.  Send it.

2016 Volkswagen Jetta S 1.4t

Posted: March 23, 2016 in Rants

It’s an adequate car.

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