Archive for the ‘My Cars’ Category

2008 Honda Civic SI

Posted: June 4, 2017 in My Cars


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.


And then I started to race it.


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.


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.


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.  First in class and 3rd/53 for raw times.

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.

So, for the next event, I spent some time at test and tune the day before.  I dropped tire pressures to 29 r/33 f and I am running 2 compression front and rear with 2 rebound front and 4 rebound rear (factory suggestion is 3 compression front and rear and 4 rebound front and rear).  The results?

May 28, 2017 from Ricky Spanish on Vimeo.

First in class and 2nd/98 in raw times (I got beat by the damn Formula car).

Throughout the season I continued to drop both compression and rebound in the front and the rear.  The car is currently sitting one off full soft in compression and rebound at front and rear.

After chewing through a set of RE71rs, I flipped them on their rims, but the wear continued.  I bought new tires and went to 0 toe front and rear.  I actually like how the car drives better without any toe.

In addition, a full season of beating has taken its toll on the front bumper.


Plans for the winter included a custom single exhaust, pulleys, some maintenance, a “custom” intake like on my 318ti – and perhaps some bodywork.  Or not, since it’ll just get messed up again next year.

My welder wasn’t available this winter, so I clamped together an exhaust that included a catalytic converter for class legality.  Eventually I’ll use real bends instead of flex pipe and actually weld things, but for winter storage this will do.


My wife hates this exhaust.


I also did the pulleys.  Not worth posting pictures.
Finally, I 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.










Being stupid enough to purchase an old English sports car doesn’t mean that I’m stupid enough to try and do the timing belts myself.  That work has been subcontracted out.

lotus esprit v8 918 engine timing belts
Gentlemen, behold!

And after a brief jaunt with some friends . . .


She goes to sleep for the winter.


In Spring 2016 I started driving the car around and experienced the hot start issue.  I immediately took the engine apart with the help of some friends and replaced the injectors (leaky injectors cause the hot start) along with plugs, wires, and air filters while I was in there.  It took about four days of work.  Not easy, but not overly complicated.


I also had a few professional photos taken.



1999 Porsche 911

Posted: April 27, 2015 in My Cars
Tags: , ,

In October of 2014 I made an impulse purchase of a blue 996 c2 – for those of you who don’t know, this means a watercooled, narrow body, rear wheel drive Carrera.


She’s a pretty little thing.  The car came with a refreshed suspension and some outrageously expensive Champion RG5B wheels wrapped in Hankook RS3v2s (235/40/18; 265/35/18).  It also had the IMS addressed, new brakes and a new clutch.  Of course, the rear main seal is still a bit wet but nothing unusual for these cars.  There’s also a pesky vacuum leak that pops up now and then and sets off a CEL.

Winter came so I promtply put on a set of hollow spoke Sport Techno 18s with Continental all seasons and drove it all winter long, mainly on days when the roads were clear but occasionally on some light snow.


As soon as the weather cleared I went through the car, cleaned it up, mounted the wheels on and took out some extra weight in the form of silly stereo equipment.
My first autocross saw disappointing results.  6/29 (beaten by my co-driver by 0.05 seconds, who took 4th in class – that’s how tight things were).  The A-Street PAX index for my car is set by the Corvette Z06, so it’s a pretty brutal place to be in, coupled with running year old tires, which are last year’s technology (about 1 second off the mighty HoosierStones on a 60 second course), in a stock car.  Well, I can’t fix the tire problem yet since they don’t make them in big boy sizes, but I can go full nuclear on the rest of the car.

According to the April Fast Track, Porsche Exclusive options are now legal in the Street class.

Options XSE, XSF and XSN allow the addition of GT3 seats front and rear and the deletion of rear seats.  Since my son likes to ride in the back, I kept the back seats.

XSE XSF XSN photo 1


I can pick these seats up with one finger.  Suffice to say that was not the case with the stock seats.

In furtherance of weight savings, Ross Temple built me a custom exhaust.

exhaust 1

The weight savings are substantial.  As you can see, we deliberately left room so that another muffler or resonator could be added.


It sounds alright.

No traffic laws were violated in the filming of this video.

I’ve been autocrossing the car with limited success on the Hankooks.

Lift off oversteer is a thing. I’ve got it fairly tamed with alignment and shock settings but it can still get you if you aren’t careful.  The RE71R tires on it are fantastic.

The tires are FANTASTIC in the rain.


I originally had the car on the market for a reasonable price to fund my next purchase, but took it off because it really didn’t owe me anything – it is solid, fun to drive, fast, reliable, etc . . . but I received an offer I couldn’t refuse and now it’s gone to a good home.



1999 Range Rover P38

Posted: February 24, 2015 in My Cars
Tags: , ,

I’d been searching for a Land Rover / Range Rover for a few months.  Every time I went to buy one it got purchased out from under me.  I found one which I thought was nice, and had my brother in law buy it for me. IMG_1393



The car has a brand new Electronic Air Suspension, a very solid 4.0 liter engine (despite being badged 4.6 HSE?) and a nice transmission.

It drove beautifully on the way back from Westchester, only to refuse to start the day after I got it home.

About two weeks later my friend came over with his P38/GEMS program and an OBD-II cable to scan the car.  Everything was in sync, so we set about fiddling with electronics connections, cleaning things, etc.  One of the tests included me setting the car to max high, crawling underneath in the melting snow and putting my hand on the starter as he tried to start it.  PULSE.


I bashed on the starter with Range Rover Repair Tool #1 (rubber mallet), re-tightened the battery connections and she fired right up.

Later that evening I loaded my son into the car to get a wash.  Waiting in line we played with the monster rally lights, the raising and lowering suspension, and even the rear fog lights (so that’s what that button does).  He quickly declared “this is the coolest car of all time!” – this coming from a kid used to being chauffered around in V12 BMW Supercoupes and Porsche 911s.

I took the car in for an inspection and the shop also had a detailer on premises.  I paid for an interior detail and all I can say is wow – totally refreshed and like new – they told me because the leather was high quality to start out with it came back to life super nice.


The car pretty much refuses to die.  I believe that as long as people make fun of it and joke about when it will die, it will continue to run.  Only when people finally respect it as the fine, durable machine that it is will it decide to finally kill itself.

Along those lines, I took the truck off-roading.

Its performance was exemplary.  The Jeep guys couldn’t believe that it hung with them (on all-season garbage tires nonetheless).  The only place I got stuck, another heavily modified Jeep also got stuck.  I can’t imagine what she would do with real tires . . .

. . . so after getting a flat I used this as an excuse to replace all of the garbage Kumho all-season tires with some real BFGoodrich KO2s – and let me tell you – these tires are the real deal.  They are nearly unstoppable in anything I’ve thrown at them.  More importantly, I went subtle with OEM sizes instead of that garish “look at me and my big ass tires” look – mainly because I already have an above-average sized penis, and I also have 5″ of height adjustment so no need to look foolish all the time when I can lift the car with the push of a button.  These things have kevlar in them to survive brutal contact and all sorts of crazy tread and sipes – even in the sidewall.  Where I would hit the brakes, engage ABS and slide on the old tires this thing just stops.  Amazing what modern technology can do.

The downside?  Car is slower because they’re definitely heavier.  And fuel economy has dropped from 14 mpg mixed to 11 mpg mixed.  But then again, only poor people care about fuel economy.


1979 Porsche 924

Posted: November 17, 2014 in My Cars


In early 2009, my grandfather’s second cousin died.  Part of his estate was a 2003 Toyota Camry XLE, 4-cylinder, automatic.  If you ever wanted to know what it felt like to be the walking dead, just drive this car.


The XLE is the top of the line 4-cylinder trim blessed with god knows what options or features.  I don’t know.  I didn’t really care.  You wouldn’t care or be able to tell anyways.  However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

You see, driving this car had a redeeming feature – you get in, turn it on, and your brain shuts down.  Then, miraculously, you arrive at your destination.  Yes, this car warps space and time rendering it perhaps one of the greatest transportation appliances of all time.

The car is also rather good when you think about it.  It’s dead reliable, it’s fuel efficient, it’s aerodynamic, and frankly the handling isn’t that horrible – it sort of rolls and holds a set in a safe, secure, and predictable way that’s sure to get the drones of the world to their windowless offices.  Throttle response isn’t so much a thing as something which they decided to engineer out.  Acceleration can be rather scary to the average driver, you know.

So, as much as I hate on this, I find it hard to actually hate the car.  It just does everything it’s supposed to.  I think part of the reason I hate so many cars is that they advertise themselves as Sporty and wind up being tepid, or as luxurious but wind up being cheap.  There are no false pretenses with the Camry.  Every Camry buyer knows what they’re getting, which has helped make it one of the best selling cars in America for as long as I can remember.

It’s just not for me.