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.


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


Class legal modifications include headers (with a cat 6″ downstream), shark injectors, pulleys and an intake tube.


Oh, and some Moton Club $ports.


One last photo before surgery.


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.


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.


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.


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

Ground Control Bars

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 -3.5 degrees of camber in the front.


After a professional corner balance, she’s ready for battle.  I dialed in -3.7 degrees of front and -2 degrees of rear camber – a little more front and a little less than I wanted.  I’m also running a tick of front toe out and more than a tick of rear toe in.


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

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


Step 2: Replace the 50 lbs OEM battery with a 24 lbs Miata battery.


5/21/2017 – First race, first place.


The car was loose, very loose.  So loose that I didn’t push the tires to their optimal happy slip angles – but it was still fast as all hell.

I cannot run more tire in the rear (although I could run more wheel).  I started by dropping some compression in the front which seemed to help until it rained.  Next event I will drop some rebound in the rear and see what happens.  I can also add some more front bar, take out some front camber, or play with the pressures (which I didn’t even bother checking).  In addition, I could not be a pussy.

1993 Audi 100 CS Quattro

Posted: October 6, 2016 in Rants

It’s gonna be a race car.


Step 1: Add lightness


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


Step 3: Mount truck tires


Step 4: Race


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.


Rarr.  We also broke the exhaust.  One of the bolts snapped right in half.  Time for an upgrade?

2016 Volkswagen Jetta S 1.4t

Posted: March 23, 2016 in Rants

It’s an adequate car.


2003 Volkswagen Jetta VR6

Posted: February 5, 2016 in Rants

I purchased this car as my wife’s first car.  We got it from CDI in Victor.  Within 30 minutes of purchase it threw a check engine light, and they refused to return my calls.  Suffice to say I don’t think anyone should ever do business with them, ever.

jetta front

Immediately upon purchase I dumped the car to the ground on some cheap, garbage coilovers and installed a rear lip spoiler.

jetta rear.jpg

I eventually also added a Borla exhaust.  The sound of the VR with an exhaust is one of the primary reasons my wife kept this car for 6 years.

Now it’s mine.  I’ll admit its fun – compared to later Jettas the size is just right – its small and can squirt through traffic.  It has nice torque delivery but power up top as well.  It’s been fairly reliable with a few hiccups, usually when my wife was in New York City – which is why she got the new Jetta.

2013 Volkswagen Jetta SE 2.5

Posted: February 5, 2016 in Rants

My daughter’s expression pretty much sums up how everyone in my house feels about this car (seen in the background).


I picked the car up for my wife to drive, who refused to drive it – instead preferring to drive her 2003 Jetta VR6 (the other gray Jetta in the garage).

It’s got a torquey 1.8t automatic, two-tone white/black seats, nav, heated shit, NO SUNROOF, a lip spoiler, a lower sport suspension and 17″ wheels.  My wife is happy with it.


Image  —  Posted: January 22, 2016 in Rants

Cars That I Love

Posted: December 5, 2015 in Rants

Love is a strong word.  Originally, when writing this article I wanted to title it “Cars That I Like” but I thought back to a business coach of mine who once asked me to tell him about the parts of my job I enjoyed.  When I said “I LOVE x” his eyes lit up and he said “There.  That.  Love.  That is a strong word.  Do more of that.”  And you know what, he’s right – love is a strong word.  Love implies that I want more of that.  Here’s what I want more of.

Honda S2000


AP1, AP2, 2 liter, 2.2 liter, cable throttle, drive by wire – I don’t fucking care.  Every single one of these cars ever made is fantastic.  I know it’s cliche but this car is like driving a motorcycle.  You hear a lot of complaints about VTEC, but honestly, this motor is plenty torquey, especially with the way it is geared, and it really rips in the VTEC range.  Coupled to a stiff, lightweight chassis and you’ve got a recipe for awesome.


Let’s not forget that in addition to a fantastic chassis and amazing engine, you have a beautiful, timeless and classic exterior coupled with the fun of top down motoring.  Perfection.  Why’d they kill the car off?  Because the average American consumer is an idiotic philistine – why do you think the Dodge Challenger sells in any numbers at all?

Toybaru Twins


Following the simple recipe for pleasing me, we have two cars that are very well balanced, very light-weight, and near perfect.  Now, I will complain – the engine on these cars is a total let down.  Around town it is just a dog and there’s a big fat flat spot in power right in the middle of the powerband.  Toyota could have put something similar to the F20/22 in the S2000 or the 2ZZ-GE in the Elise – with a nice switchover and lots of top end power.  Instead, they let Subaru design the motor and what you got is essentially a tractor engine that sounds like its farting down the road.


With that out of the way, let’s talk about what’s good.  Feedback and steering feel.  Communication.  Playfulness.  Grip is actually not that high, especially in stock form – which makes them more fun.  While these cars completely suck on the street, once you get them out on the track or at the autocross they come alive and you “get it.”  You can’t understand them without pushing them to these limits.  But once you start to understand them and realize what it is that Toyota actually did hear, your cold, dead heart begins to grow two sizes too big.



I know it’s been said, but really, these cars are special.  They are just amazingly well sorted, well balanced, and well screwed together.  I’ve owned a fair number of them and had the privilege of driving a ton of them.  It isn’t shocking to see this car on the list.  It also shouldn’t be shocking to hear me say that they’re better than the 911.


The biggest problem, as we all know, is that for years Porsche refused to give these cars the balls they deserved.  Now, with the new Boxster Spyder and Cayman GT4, Porsche has decided to listen to customers and give them the power they deserved.  Porsche did this before in the 80s (with the 944 turbo, which outperformed the 911 of its era) and the results were spectacular, as they are again.  With their shift to 100% turbo power, I can’t wait to see how these cars wind up.

Lotus Elise/Exige

elise california

Simplify and add lightness.  Are you listening?  This is hands down the easiest way to improve performance.  Sure, more power will make you faster in a straight line, but less weight will make you faster everywhere.  It’s demonstrated to perfect here.  The Elise weighs under 2,000 lbs.


Lotus gives you a high-revving, charismatic engine built by a reliable Japanese manufacturer and mates it to a super stiff, lightweight chassis tuned by the experts in Hethel.  The results are quite possibly one of the best cars of all time.  Throw in a blower and some aero and you’ve got the Exige.  And now they’ve grown a pair and stuck the supercharged V6 from the Evora into it . . . .

Porsche GT3


Remember how I said the Cayman and Boxster were better than the 911?  They are.  But the GT3 isn’t a 911.  The GT3 is perfection.  You see, the standard 911 is rather soft and floppy, and it isn’t until you add the M030 sport suspension (or X73, or whatever the hell they call it these days) before it starts to get rather good.  But even so, the company refuses to give the lesser 911s the good stuff like the ability to adjust front camber, dry sump oiling, limited slip differentials, or engines that won’t commit suicide (disclaimer – at this time of this writing I’ve owned 4 cars with the M96 engine and none of them blew up).


What we have with the GT3 is a car that will do 155 mph down the back straight at Watkins Glen one day while comfortably taking you to Trader Joe’s for groceries the next day.  It is light, it is powerful, it is well appointed – yet it is ferocious and ready for hard driving.  If Porsche has to build 1,000,000 Panorama monstrosities to afford building this car, I’m ok with that.

Mazda RX8

2009-mazda-rx8-r3 _10_

The Mazda RX8 is a real gem.  Often overshadowed by its contemporaries – the faster, lighter S2000 or the more powerful (yet slower everywhere but in a straight line) 350Z, the RX8 was still a fantastic vehicle.  Ignore the fact that it had four real doors, room for adults in the back, and a trunk that could store at least one dead hooker (ok, one dead Asian hooker) – the car had everything that I could ask for.


Light, agile, stiff, revvy – all of the things I love.  Could it have used more power?  Absolutely.  But to be honest I autocrossed one for over a year and at no point on course was I ever clamoring for more power, such was the speed one could maintain through the corners.  This was Mazda at its very best and I cross my fingers that the rumors of employees staying late and disobeying orders to continue work on the rotary engine are true.

I’m sure at this point you’ve noticed a theme.  Light, rear wheel drive.  Proper.  What do I want to see more of?  Light, rear wheel drive cars (that are also affordable!).

Right now, there’s hope.  Two car companies are listening to people like me (i.e. – people with taste).

Toyota SFR


This ugly little mutant checks all the boxes for me.  Small displacement turbo motor, sub 2,200 lbs, and around $20,000.  That’s everything I want.  Are you listening Mazda, with your $32,820 Miata?

Yamaha Sport Ride


The Yamaha Sport Ride concept is exactly what I’m looking for.  750kg (that’s 1,650 lbs for you backwards hillbillies) and allegedly powered by one of Yamaha’s larger displacement motorcycle engines.  This thing needs to be a reality today.