Wrenchin’ and Beerin’ and Lowerin’ Property Values.

This is a thing we do, you see.

more driveway action

We get together, we have a few beers, we turn the stereo up, and we work on the cars. Obviously, there’s a heavy slant towards the Genesis Coupe in the group: I own one, and that’s how I met most of these guys. But at the same time, we’ve gotten into the larger community. On top of that, some guys are selling their ‘coupes and moving on. So we’ve got, a Kia Forte Koup, a slammed Hyundai Elantra, an occasional Nissan 350z, a Dodge Dart (Don’t ask), and basically… anything within the group is cool by us. We are, at the end of the day, car folks. Which means it really goes further than just wrenching on our own cars: we do basic maintenance on our friends cars, often enough, too: brakes, suspension, exhaust, etc. We do expect two things:

1] Bring beer. It’s the universal form of payment.
2] Be willing to get dirty and learn something.

The second one, that’s actually the most important. We have had problems in the past with guys showing up and expecting us to do the work for them, to save them money. But weren’t willing to get in and turn a wrench themselves. That goes… badly. We’re not free labour: we’re a community. If you’re not willing to wrench on your own car, you’re not likely to help anyone out with theirs, either. Which means you’re not welcome, except in special circumstances.

But it’s that time of year again.

If I had a hammer

On the docket already is:

  • Summer Tire Day. We do this pretty traditionally: Get everyone we know to show up, get a few jacks, impact guns, and yes, beer, and get everyone’s winters swapped off for their summers. This one is fun, it’s a good start to the season, and it helps our friends out. We don’t actually expect beer for this one, but we’re not against it arriving.
  • CR’s exhaust – one of the new guys has bought an RS-D exhaust. That’s what I had on my car. Needless to say, we know how to install it. that’ll be fun, and more material for the DrunkenWrench.
  • Whatever that damn Dodge needs – T’s got a ton of parts to put on, so, that’ll happen.
  • Anto’s suspension – the lowest of the low elantra has been upgraded to a …. new elantra. Moar suspension work! Moar DrunkenWrench.
  • My car! While I got the HSD coilovers on last year, I still need to set-up the rear pre-load properly.
  • my car! I also need to install the tablet and all the associated stuff that goes with it. That’ll be my big interior project this summer
  • my car! I still also have a Stage 2 Comp Clutch to install, and an ATQ short shifter. Gotta get to those, and they’re definitely drunken wrench material (what isn’t though?)


    I think there’s more, too. The upside is, there’s a second location now, which means I don’t have to continuously bother @30yearhouse with crowds of loud car people (and my neighbours, with tuner cars parked up and down the street, I guess) every weekend: pwned88 and Greg have a huge garage and driveway, known henceforth as “WrenchHaus”. They’re a couple kilometers away, which makes it really easy to change locations as required, and convenient.

    I think I need a banner this year, for the inside of the garage. Or two. I’ve run my life for the last fifteen years around the Bombshelter name, so, I think “Bombshelter Garage” is probably most appropriate.

    I think I need to clear out the empties, too.

    Early Spring

  • Forza: Horizons 2 Review

    Ok, so Forza:Horizons 2 has been out for ages now. I didn’t bother with it on Xbox360, because it was effectively castrated for that system: the only real way to play it was to do it on Xbox:One. And, I wasn’t buying an Xbox:One right away, because I need wheel/pedals to make it worthwhile for me.

    But then a deal came along, and I bought a used Xbox:One, with Forza:Horizons 2, Forza 5, HALO: Master Chief Collection, and Destiny. Now, I was definitely not interested in playing Forza 5 without a wheel/pedals, but as I just ended up with a copy of Horizons, I figured I’d give it a shot.

    I’m coming at this from negative space, right from the start. I didn’t like Forza:Horizons in its first iteration on the Xbox:360. I saw the Forza name on it, initially and thought “awesome! Open-sandbox simulator/racer! This is evrything I’ve been waiting for from Forza!”. And then it wasn’t. My general review of Forza:Horizons was “If I wanted an Need For Speed game, I’d have bought one”. The physics were arcade-y at best, sloppy at worst, there was none of the modification (parts) and tuning (set-up) that Forza is rightly famous for. Car’s didn’t feel particular different, and the modelling was pretty “meh” in general. I’m a car guy: I expect a lot from a brand who’ve made a name for doing car games, and specifically, a car SIMULATOR spectacularly well.

    And Horizons wasn’t it.

    So, enter Horizons 2.


    I LIKE IT, OK???

    I said for months, I wasn’t going to bother, it’d just be more of the same, because Horizons sold well, so they weren’t going to fuck with the model that worked: NFS-style apparently had a market in the Forza world. Depressing, but there it was.

    I was wrong.

    That’s not entirely true.

    The physics are not FORZA 4 or 5 accurate. But the Forza franchise is a spectacular evolution by Turn10, and Horizon isn’t made by Turn10. However. Turn10 do have a stake in it, and it’s primarily developed by PlayGround Games. It uses a heavily modified version of the new Forza Motorsports 5 engine. they physics are GOOD. They’re not awesome, but they’re good.


    Upgrade and tuning system is identical to Forza Motorsports. GIMMIE HALLELUJAH! This was my big thing: Forza Motorsports allows very specific additions and changes to the cars, it’s what makes it fun for me. I tend to opt out of the super-, ultra-, and exotic-cars, and racecars. They’re not that fun for me. I get the appeal for people, but again, I’m a car guy: I get more out of making something slow, fast, than just having something fast from the factory. Which means I’m far more likely to pick a 1967 Fiat Abarth 131 (Class D) and build it my way to Class A, than to buy a 2014 Corvette (Class A), in game. Tuning is the same thing: I choose my gear ratios, suspension settings, etc based on experience and knowledge, (and, honestly, I learn a lot from doing it too, about what works and what doesn’t). I want the Front Wheel Drive car I’m using to drop some of its understeer and rotate a little in teh corner? Take a few pounds out of the front springs and sway bars, add a few pounds to the rear, and remove some rear downforce, then test drive. Drive, tweak, drive, repeat.

    And that was the bailiwick of only Forza Motorsports.

    The good news is, that’s all now in Horizons. you don’t HAVE to do it, to win races. But if you want it, it’s there.

    Better, if you’re a fan of the franchise, it’s familiar. The parts and tuning segments are lifted wholesale from previous Forza games. Awesome! So, I can make an All-wheel-drive car that balances perfectly in the corners, and I can make the same car oversteer madly if you look at it funny. Last night, on a super-tight street course, I had to turn my final gear ratio up from 3.56:1 to 6.5:1. Why? I wasn’t getting out of 3rd gear, and the engine was bogging down. I finished the race in second (just too little power to really pull it off) and was using 3rd, 4th, and 5th gears for the majority of the race, keeping the revs in the powerband.

    Yes, the tuning is just THAT good, and that accurate.

    The environment is beautiful, and put together brilliantly. YEs, there are “hard walls” occasionally, where they don’t want you to go. But most items are deformable (ie. you can hit them with a car and destroy them) and if they’re not, they’d realistically not be in real life (ie. you’d deform the car first). The sandbox is staggeringly huge. I’ve not seen all of it yet, and I’ve covered well over 1000 miles / 1400km. The roads are well thought out for free roaming, but also tighten down into courses really well. There’s a solid breakdown of on/off road races, and you really have to think ahead before you go into a race. This is where the tuning comes in: you’ll want to have at least an on-road and an off-road tune, for any car you use regularly: you can load the tune at the start of the race, and it swaps in tires, suspension, etc, that’s appropriate to the race you’re doing. Trying to do a cross country race on road race tires is an effort in absolute futility. Speaking of racing and free-roam, the AI is excellent too. I don’t really know how the whole “Driveatar thing works, but it really DOES work. I’ve built up rivalries with AI “Players”. Some of us just get “bumpy” with each other in races.

    So, where does it fall down?

    Like I said, the physics aren’t Forza Motorsports good: they’re probably… I’m going to say 70% of Forza Motorsports, and 30% NFS/Arcade. Which, honestly, broadens the appeal. I don’t have an issue with this, as long as it doesn’t flop over into the simulator that is Forza Motorsports. I think having the two products is a really good idea. So, not really a failing, just not as hard-edged as FM5.

    The interface.

    one of the “challenges” specifically is both really fun, and incredibly irritating, all at once. Early on, you’re assigned an easy to way to make a few bucks: take pictures of unique cars: you get credits for each one, and a bonus for every twenty.

    The problem is that it takes forever to get in and out of camera mode! And you might do it three or four times on one stretch of road. It’s incredibly intrusive on the game play.


    You see a Ferrari you’ve not collected yet.

    You hit “pause” to go to the menu.
    Across twice to “camera mode”
    Wait while it loads.
    move the camera sight around to get your shot.
    Click the shutter.
    Click “OK”
    Wait for it to save.
    Click “B” to go back to the camera
    Click “B” to go back to the menu
    Wait for the menu to load
    Click “B” to go back to the road
    Wait for the game to reload itself and put you back in the drivers seat.

    Now, do this 200+ times (I’m currently at 218 cars captured on film).

    Given how important the camera usage is within the game, there must be an easier way to go in/out of camera mode that doesn’t take up five minutes of your time.

    ON a personal level, for me, the game still loads too heavily to “high end” cars, as well. I’d love to see more low end stuff, and have challenges specifically for it. The game is definitely directing me to start higher and higher, if I want to progress, and I’d rather work one car up from the bottom. I’m probably in a minority in that, however, as most people just want to get in and go.

    So, all in all, it’s a good game, if not a perfect one. I can see it go either way in terms of the sliding scale between arcade and simulator. Obviously, I’d love to push the slider closer and closer to “simulator”, but at the end of the day, I’ll be happy if it just doesn’t go any further back to “arcade”. That was the primary failing of the first game, on the Xbox360. The simulator side of things is what really makes this special, I think.

    I’d give it a solid 7.5/10. There’s some flaws, but they don’t ruin the game by any means. there’s also room to improve. But this is a seriously solid bridge between arcade and simulator, and should continue to do well, and attract both sides of that coin.

    I retract my previous statements about the Horizons franchise. I like this game, they’ve done well.

    Talkin’ about Cars: The Acura Edition

    First things first, wheeeew, it’s been a bit of time. I keep writing things, then not finishing the links, etc, so they never got posted. This? I WROTE THIS IN FEBRUARY.

    Better late than never, right?

    Ok, so out of the way, I still love my Hyundai Genesis 2.0T. It still hits all my buttons.

    But, some days, I miss my Acura (of course, some days, I miss my old ’80 Pontiac Parisienne, too). The Acura was pretty sweet. Actually, it was very sweet.

    2003 Acura RSX front three-quarter

    Yup, my RSX was stock, (almost)

    And it’s a pretty accurate representation of what’s wrong with Acura right now. The Acura RSX (2002-2006) was the last car Acura made that was designed for not-buick-owners. And, as pretty much anyone knows, it platform shared with the Civic. It came with two very sweet little engines (160hp/139lb.ft, 200hp/141lb/ft) that were a blast to thrash, and got you good mileage (even better with a short-ram intake). Much like the Genesis, the RSX was about being quick, if not fast, and never having to slow down for corners. Yeah, it was basically a Civic, but it was different enough (significant differences in the head and tail lights, interior, and most dramatically, hatchback vs coupe) to BE DIFFERENT. The hatch was super useful, and made the RSX a much more useful car than the Civic was.

    Seriously, I loved that little car. The only thing it didn’t have going for it was rear wheel drive. When I got rid of it, it was time to do major work (wheels/tires, shocks, springs, and timing belt) if I was going to keep it. I felt that money was better spent on something with a warranty. But still, some days…

    But I’ve wondered for a while what the point of Acura was. Pretty much since 2006, in fact. The Acura EL (which is Canada only) was a rebadged Civic. Literally. Unlike the RSX, there were NO changes to the exterior, it was the same damn car, and you could tell. Yeah, you could option it up with leather and shit, but… why pay the premium?

    The modern Acuras (TL, RL, TSX, etc) are for the most part, gussied up Honda’s, with a premium attached, and a terrible, terrible beak on them.

    Seriously, WTF is that?

    So, why am I talking about this? Well, it came up on TTAC today six months ago. And the article is the usual stuff: Acura, blah blah, repositioning the brand, blah blah, rebuild the identity blah blah no one gives a shit.

    February 26th, 2014 at 7:59 am
    Read this and understand:
    Luxury means NOTHING. It used to mean extra features. Now it’s something old people shop for in terms of soft seats to cushion replaced hips and s supple ride that won’t aggitate the Ensure in their stomachs that had for lunch. That’s over. I can go out and literally get more features in a Hyundai or Ford than a BMW or an Audi. I can get that Hyundai or Ford for less than just the cost of the features on the BMW. Pretty much anything these days has a sweet ride, unless you opt for the factory donk package.

    Acura needs to be premium, not luxury. They need some rough edges. Don’t sell Acura reliability based on common middle class fears of a broken windshield wiper. People who buy German metal don’t outwardly want to look like they care about that (but they do). Sell the Acura reliability like it’s a cockroach. Like it’s Rocky, like it’s friggin Galvatron built from the bones of Megatron’s body in the Transformers movie (the good one from the 80’s, not anything done by Michale Bay). Sell that kind of reliability. Then, make the cars AWD. all of them. Sell them as unstoppable. No one wants to be stuck in the snow.

    That’s for poor people driving festivas. Premium means that mommy doesn’t have to bail on yoga class due to flurries. Then make the cars powerful. Every_friggin_German_brand (plus Lexus) forces the customer to pay dearly for power. That may have been jsut dandy even 20 years ago, but those days are gone. Power is cheap. My Audi would get smoked by my secretary’s 6 banger mustang. This is completely unacceptable. Every car Acura sells should at least be available with a gonzon motor at a reasonable cost. You want to get a younger audience in the showrooms? give them a reason to look at Acura when the car seat doesn’t fit in teh GTI or the WRX anymore. I promise you these people are looking at 328 ix’s and A4’s and CLA’s becuase they have nowhere else to go for a good car that doesn’t imply you live in mom’s basement and keep all your hat bills flat.

    Make the cars beautiful. This is such a no-brainer, and Acura’s greatest single sin. If I can afford an Acura, I can afford something that doesn’t look like an Acura, and Acuras are ugly. finally, and for F’s sake, take some quirky chances with options. There used to be a time when you could walk into an Audi dealer and order an A6 Allroad wagon with a stick, twin turbo V6, and kermit green leather seats. you want me to eat my words? Then do real Luxury, with a big “L” and let people custom spec the crap out of their cars. Bespoke cars are real luxury. made just for you and no one else. OFFER A DISCOUNT FOR SPECIAL ORDERS. Special orders don’t sit on the lots, and are great profit makers. Even if people come to look but still buy off the lot, then at least they camee in.

    This is actually how to either kill Acura, or put them back on the platform they used to be on. The Integra, the Legend, the Vigor. Come up with some names for the manaditory SUV’s (I don’t like SUV/CUV’s, especially at the premium/luxury level, but I understand the world at large does. But the comment from FractureCritical makes a really important point: AWD. I’d love to see RWD Acura’s, but the population in general doesn’t care. And Honda doesn’t have a history with RWD either (NSX excluded). What they do have is a spectacularly good AWD system SH-AWD with a terrible name, that was embedded in their top level sedans. At a time when Subaru is basically ditching the niche/AWD sedan market in favour of beige! GET ON THAT SHIT, ACURA. There is an opening there to make enthusiast sedans (and maybe coupes) that have real appeal, and real performance. Acura still can’t compete with BMW, Mercedes, Audi, and even Lexus in terms of caché, but, they can run with the big boys in terms of performance. No reason why they can’t make that their raison d’etre.

    Know what Acura’s slogan was in the 80’s, when they first emerged?

    “Precision Crafted Performance”.

    Yeah, they were platform engineered, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Where it goes wrong is basic re-badging. Especially, as Fracture points out: there’s no POINT to buying an Acura now: you can buy the same or more in terms of features, power, and style from Hyundai, or Honda, or Toyota, at a lower price. Which means there has to be a less-tangible reason to buy an Acura. It’s got to be desirable. And they used to be. Even the TL (the beginning of the alphabet soup naming structure, which itself was to bring Acura to the “luxury” level) was known as a hi-po Honda sport sedan. Lets go back there.

    Killing the TSX and TL is a good plan (and replacing them with one car, the new TLX), but it’s only a start. First, give it a name, not an ID string. It’s midsize. Call it “Legend”.

    The new NSX, by the way, is apparently still coming. It’d make a fantastic flagship/HALO car.

    But at the cost (and lets face it, relative impracticality) it’s going to sell a few units, as it’ll be a super car. But they’re good to bring bodies to the marquee, and get people interested. What do you have when they get there though?

    Well, lets start at the bottom.

    1] A hot hatch. Even in the USA, where hatchbacks have been maligned for years, the hatch is making a comeback. Make it a real slant-back hatch (like the ’86-2000 Integra was, and the ’02 to ’06 RSX was). Chassis share with the Civic, for sure: it’s a great platform. Do Acura-centric styling (lose the beak), offer base, premium, and Type-R. Base gets FWD, 200hp Vtec, manual or auto. Premium gets that, plus some of the tech toys, Type-R gets manual only, and a turbo (something Honda has barely played with, with occasional exceptions) which should probably hit about 260hp/245lb.ft. With a decent curb weight (under 3000lbs) that’ll rip 0-60mph/0-100km/h in about five and a half to six seconds. Make SH-AWD optional on all trim levels, and with stick or automatic. Non-turbo models should be around current Civic SI levels. The proposed Civic SI-R concept would be a hell of a place to start. This is an ACURA INTEGRA.

    2] A Compact/mid-size sedan. Base it on the Euro Accord, which is slightly smaller than the North American version. Give it the SH-AWD treatment, and Type-R treatment, make a manual available on all trim levels. Type-R, specifically? 3.5L V6, manual-only, SH-AWD, improved suspension. This is an ACURA VIGOR. Bring that Type-R in under $50k? I’ll go look. Bring it in under $40k with a Type-R wagon variant? I WILL BULLDOZE THE DEALERSHIP DOOR TO GET AT IT.

    3] A Midsize/Full-size sedan. The Current TL or even the RL should provide the base, but give it again, three trim levels, with manual and SH-AWD available as options (and not package limited) on all trim levels. Aggressive sedan styling is required, and at this size, the V6 is a requirement. As Honda is never gonna put a V8 in a car again, a turbo V6 would make for a fantastic Type-R. This is an ACURA LEGEND. I’m pretty sure my dad would roll $55k for a 3.5L, Turbo, V6, manual-transmission, 380hp/350lb.ft all-wheel-drive sport sedan. Hell, as of this year, Hyundai is gonna be offering something very similar on the Canadian Market. If Hyundai can do it with the Genesis, why can’t you do it with Acura, Honda?

    4] The HALO Car. That’s the NSX. It can stay the NSX. It was always the NSX. Everyone knows what an NSX is. They won’t sell many, but they’ll sell one every once in a while, just like the Nissan GTR. It’s worth having around, because aspirational cars count. Hell, I’ve never seen a Lexus LFA in person, but it’s a great car for Toyota to have out there.

    They’ll need names for the existing SUV’s. I can’t say anything about ’em, I just can’t get excited about SUV’s, I’m sorry. The only thing I would say is, it might be worth while taking the MDX, and applying SH-AWD to it, lowering it a couple of inches, and calling it the LEGEND ESTATE or somethin’. Bill it as a performance wagon slash off-roader/soft-roader. Make it handle. The smaller one (RDX, right? I forget) … I don’t even know. I don’t like SUV’s.

    Names though. The cars need names. And they need the performance variant. And, like I said up there, I mean, PERFORMANCE. Type-R, the last few years? Got you … stickers. People who’re buying new Acura’s aren’t looking for stickers. They are, or should be, looking for something different: something that isn’t a Honda tuner car, but a factory Q-car. The Type-R was always that: a sleeper, unless you knew what you were looking for. And now… just stickers.

    BMW, Mercedes, they get away with numbers and letters, because those things have always been there for them. For Acura, it always felt like they were trying to justify their place in the Luxo market. And they never needed that justification: the vehicles are as good as anything Cadillac or Lincoln puts out (ok, way better than Lincoln) and definitely in the same ballpark at Lexus and Infiniti. At least, they were, when they weren’t just glorified Hondas, when they had their own personalities.

    Acura is by no means a dead brand. But setting your sights on the “Luxury Market” doesn’t actually SAY anything. Pick a demographic, pick a lifestyle, pick… pick something. Stop trying to be all things for all markets, with the big THIS IS LUXURY tag stuck to it.

    I miss both my dad’s 1997 Integra (which is, to this day, one of the prettiest compact hatches ever made) and my 2003 RSX. They’re both phenomenal, fun, well-appointed cars with a purpose. And that’s what’s missing at Acura these days: Purpose.

    Car Guy Recap: 2010 Genesis Coupe

    So, I ordered my car on April 9th, 2009. After spending a lot of time going back to the dealership, and asking “where’s my car?” and recieving the response “No idea. It’s on a boat.” I took delivery of a 2010 2.0T 6MT Premium Genesis Coupe, on June 11th 2009. It was awesome.

    Which, obviously, is the reason for this post. My car turns five today (Yes, it’s Friday the 13th. I picked the car up on Friday the 11th), so… time for a look back.

    The second night I owned it, I did a cruise’n’shoot with @thirtyyearhouse. This would OBVIOUSLY set the tone for me owning the car.

    Genesis - front 15 16ths desat+blue

    2010 Genesis Coupe rear quarter

    I had a really big plan for the car. Some of it was accomplished, some of it is still pending. It’s funny how life is like that, eh?

    I drove the car basically stock for the first year. Tint got done (22%) via a group buy through Goldwing Automotive. Tint is required. Damn. Is it ever. I got a set of Pirelli SottoZero 240 winter tires in stock sizes (225/45R18, 245/45R18) from 1010tires.com and put ’em on the stock wheels.

    Genesis in the Snow

    Come the spring of 2010, then, I needed wheels and tires. It’s a pretty good plan, you know: get your winter tires on your stock wheels, then you HAVE to buy new ones for summer! CONVENIENT. I spent a lot of time researching. This is the first time I ever considered widening the wheels (I knew you could widen tires on cars, but I never considered widening the wheels in conjunction with that. Seems obvious, but there you are.

    What I settled on was Petrol Vengeance wheels, and Hankook Ventus V12 EVO tires. Specifically:

    19″ x 8″ wide wheels in the front with a +20mm offset, with 245/35R19 tire (stock is 18×7 +36mm, 225/45R18)
    19″ x 9.5″ wide wheels in the back, with 275/35R19 tire (stock is 18×7.5, +36mm, 245/45R18)

    So, a significant change in style, and size (and grip. The stock tires are all-season on the 18″ wheels, and while they’re adequate all-seasons, they’re not good by any means).

    There's no Gas Here.

    The wheels and tires are good. For me, the offset is perfect, pushed out to the fender, and pretty nearly the definition of flush (the word. As I would come to understand, “flush” can have very different connotations depending on which tuner lifestyle you prefer and subscribe to). Very good. BUT, they’ve accentuated the wheel gap. This, I would come to know, is known as “4×4 status”. Now, in all honesty, it’s not terrible. And a multitude would be thoroughly happy. But….

    (you see where this is going, right?)

    Yup. Lowering.

    Again, this was my first time venturing into the world of lowering. I’d thought about it before, with other cars, but I’d never actually done it. My weapon of choice was, in deference to affordability, springs, rather than coilovers. What I bought was Eibach’s ProKit, which would give me about 1.5″ of drop, just enough to close up those wheel gaps.

    And it did:

    GenCoupe Profile

    GenCoupe rear quarter

    That’s pretty much how my car stands to this day, too (although not for long): it looks a lot lower in the front, however, due to some cosmetic changes there. We’ll get to that.

    I wanted to do something under the hood, at this point. And, the most simple ones are, well, a cold-air intake, and blow-off valve. When I was done researching (it’s a thing I do, you may have noticed), I ended up with an HKS SSQV III and AEM CAI from G&M Performance. The BOV took some fiddling with, and I ended up running it off the stock solenoid, and letting the computer control it, rather than the preferred method of lining it into the vacuum line. On top of that, pulling the front off the car to do the intake (it means replacing the washer fluid bottle, AND the filter sits behind the bumper cover, rather than in the engine bay) was terrifying the first time. I was certain I was going to break it in half, because there comes a point where you just gotta pull on it REALLY HARD.

    Still, all went well.

    Sometime in the fall of 2010, I pulled into my parking spot forwards (which I never do) and scraped the hell out of the bumper cover. Some pissed off I was. I ran it like that through the winter, and come the Cambridge meet in the summer of 2011, I’d made arrangements with Uniq Performance to pick up a Prodigy poly urethene lip, pre-painted. that should cover the scrape nicely, and, I hoped, make the front look more aggressive, and interesting. About the same time, I was fighting with Korean Auto Imports (Aka KAI) about an IXION Grill (small digression here. IF you go to the link for the Ixion grill, click on the image of the blue car. That’s my car. I’ve never granted ImportShark permission to use that image, nor have I ever received a response as to why they’re using it without permission. So, I’d suggest not doing business with ’em. THey’re notoriously douchebaggy as vendors, and this is a good example). I’ll never do business with KAI again, after that fiasco. I did finally get the grill though, and I got it, and the lip, installed once I had a chance to borrow a driveway:




    04 - ixion grill

    I also got, courtesy of Aadam‘s experimentations a new shift knob.

    Totally awesome.

    16 - New Shift Knob

    More reading, and more basics. I started building myself a dual catch-can set-up. There’s a lot of reasons for this, and if you feel like it, you can read ’em here. What I ended up with was this:

    Again, much like the BOV, and CAI, nothing in terms of actual performance gains, but one more step towards increased reliability and efficiency. About the same time, I got a set of modified fog light bezels from one of the guys on the site. I still wasn’t sure that’s what I wanted the car to look like, but I was intrigued. Basically,t he standard plastic bezels, cut to allow airflow, and painted to match the car. I put some mesh behind the cuts, and voila, a functional pair of intakes, one of which fed cold, clean air directly to the CAI.

    And they’ve definitely grown on me. I’m still not 100%, I might end up going for some black/carbon ones, eventually, but they’re definitely good for now, and a pretty good match for the lip.

    Breathing Deeply

    At the same time, I got a smokin’ deal from another of the guys’ locally: an ARK downpipe and testpipe to straighten out the kinked stock exhaust, and remove the secondary catalytic converter. This got done up at Jay’s cottage. It’s only a 2.5″ piece, but again, gave me a ton of confidence with regards to working on the exhaust, which I’d not done before.

    We got that dealt with in an afternoon, after running the car without any exhaust for kicks, briefly. No point with a picture here, nothing really to see, but here’s what the car sounds like sans-exhaust:

    So, that opened up that avenue for me. What I really wanted was a proper exhaust. I’ve had my eye on the exhaust that TurboXS makes for a while: I’d followed a guy with one of them on during a cruise, and it sounded spectacular. So, in the spring of 2013 (see, we’re getting there now) I ordered it. That was a fun afternoon’s work, for sure! And, I’ve already documented that installation, so go read it here, if you want. It’s a sexy exhaust.

    Which brings me to 2014!

    I was still not loving the way the ARK pipe and TurboXS cat-back mate together. So, sometime during 2013 (and I forget when) I picked up a used TurboXS RacePipe: basically, it’d bolt to the stock primary catalytic converter, and replace all the ARK 2.5″ with a single 3″ pipe, to the TurboXS cat-back. Perfect. Except… we tried to install it (again, at Jay’s cottage) and it wouldn’t go over the bolts on the catalytic. It was CLOSE. It’d go on, but it wouldn’t go on far enough to seal, even with the nice, thick, TurboXS gasket. We tried reaming out the bolt holes with a drill, and that was going nowhere fast. So, I put it aside for after selling the house, and buying the new one, under the anticipation I’d have a garage that I could work in, and if the car was on blocks for two days while I worked on widening and re-re-re-checking the fit, that’d be ok. And sure enough, it was. With a hardcore bore/ream bit specifically for that kind of work, I finally got it opened up enough this spring that I could install it. And I’m MUCH happier now. I still have a mild leak, and I think that’ll be easily taken care of with a new gasket between the racepipe and the catalytic. It’s not enough you get exhaust in the cabin, you can just hear it wheezing a little through the exhaust, behind the front wheels. Not too shabby.

    Where does it go from here, though?

    Where it went was, in May, the whole Rigid Collars and stripped chassis bolt fiasco, and ATQ shifter bushings. I’ve also ordered (and has arrived in the city) the ATQ short shifter. That’s going in in short order, because I can’t wait.

    Well, primary on my list is the suspension. The stock struts and shocks are nearly done. So, it’s time to do the right thing, and replace it all with a good set of coilovers. The real advantage here is that I’ve learned, thanks to the Quartermaster and his files what I really need.

    I’m not a “slam it to the ground” guy. I understand the benefits of lowering the centre of gravity for handling’s sake, but, I’m not planning on running 4+ degrees of negative camber: I’m not going to be stretching my tires, and poking my wheels. What I want is for the damn car to go round corners REALLY FAST, and be able to soak up any bumps without making @thirtyyearhouse grind her teeth. What I need, then, is a set of adjustable, FULLY ADJUSTABLE coilovers. Not just ones that lower the car, but that I can adjust the damping on. I also want them to do the job right, so I’m moving up-market a little bit, to the most affordable set of inverted monotube. I’ve still never been to a track, but I do want to go occasionally. And I’ll be able to afford to, once the car is paid off next spring. So, affordable as possible, inverted monotube, adjustable damping and camber. Well, that’s the Stance SS series of coilovers. I could go more expensive, but I don’t have the need to. I definitely don’t want to go cheaper, because the ride quality IS important to me. So, there you have it. Stance SS Coilovers.

    That was all my research. Which I promptly threw out the window the first weekend of June, and bought a set of HSD Coilovers (again from Uniq performance). Eveything I’ve read so far is that these are a] far beyond “adequate” and b] able to stand up to Canadian winters. Customer service with HSD has been spotty, but the product is known to be good. So, I got a decent price, and dove in.

    Once that’s done, and that last payment is made, it’s time to FINALLY look at the engine.

    Oh, wait. It’s not. The CLUTCH, the damnable clutch. at 60,000km (maybe 40,000miles) the clutch is definitely going. I know some guys have lasted as long as 100,000km, and some as few as 19,000km. And, honestly, I got a new one at 6000km, because of a bad throwout bearing that came from factory. So, new clutch. And not the stock replacement, either. Most likely, I’ll roll with a Competition Clutch stage 2, which comes with a matching, lightened, flywheel. That should be more than enough for what I want to see in terms of power and durability. And I got that at the same time as the coilovers (it was originally what I approached Uniq about, Rob just talked me into more stuff). The question now is whether or not I (with assistance) attempt to do the clutch in the driveway, or pay someone to do it for me. Likely, I’ll approach Extreme Autocare here in Ottawa and see what they’d charge me, and if it’s good enough then I’ll let them do it in a shop, rather than Colton and I lyin’ on our backs under the car, in the driveway. Makes sense? Makes sense.

    Beyond that, I want an intercooler and the associated piping. Again, I’ve had three or four of these on my list for two years now, and the longer I’ve waited, the more I’ve learned about what I actually need from an FMIC (Front Mount InterCooler). And it appears, what I want and need is a Treadstone TR8 kit. That will provide enough cold air to any of the other upgrades I might want to do in the future, with this car. I don’t have 500hp dreams. I have 300hp dreams. And, yeah, maybe 350lb.ft sub-dreams. The TR8 is more than capable of helping to get me there.

    Along with that will be injectors. Probably 750cc, although I’ll have to look a little deeper and see if 550cc will do the job.

    So, that’s air, fuel, evacuation, and power transfer. And, honestly, once that’s tuned properly (likely with that BTRcc custom tune) there is every good chance that that will be enough for me. I can finish off the drivetrain (I still want a Limited Slip Differential in there, and maybe work on the paint. But I’m GUESSING, from what I’ve seen of other people, that all the stuff above, properly tuned, should be good for around 270hp to the wheels, and 300+lb.ft of torque. And that’s more than good. That’s enough to get into serious trouble. So, maybe, then, I save my pennies for tires, and track time.

    In the meantime, I’m gonna keep enjoying my now five year old car. Oh, I am tempted by the trade-in with the new engine (40% bump in power) and transmission (more smoother naow!) and the better put together interior. But, at the same time, I LIKE my car. It’s not at all perfect (as you saw from the fiasco with the chassis bolt): the sunroof and seat both squeak, and that’s never been adequately dealt with: the interior on the newer cars is markedly better, too. And, there’s already rumours of a major redesign of the ‘coupe in 2015/16 (rather than the refresh they just did), AND it looks like the 2.0T will be dropped. At the same time, it’s likely the 2015 Mustang will be available, with a 270-300hp turbo-4-cyclinder, and that the Subaru BRZ-STI will hopefully have hit, too. But at the same time, I’ve got blood, sweat, and history in this car. Yes, it was the cardinal sin: never buy a car in its first run-year. But things have been good. I’ve met a ton of great people I wouldn’t likely have done if I’d not bought it, or maybe even if I’d bought it later than I did. I still get looks, thumbs-up, questions, and necks-snappin’ when I drive it. It’s… me. It’s definitely me. So, I’ll keep making it me, and not fall to grass-is-greener syndrome.

    Once upon a time, I wrote about how damn spoiled we are that a multitude of sub-$30k platforms will run speeds that you couldn’t have had for less than the cost of a Corvette, fifteen years ago. I stand by that. I should maybe even repost it from the forum I wrote it for.

    What is awesome is that, in the next few weeks, the car will be paid off. It’s mine. That puts a bunch of money back in my pocket. Most of that is going towards the new house I mentioned somewhere up there, but some of it will always be earmarked for more upgrades. The FMIC, injectors, and tune are definitely a thing that’ll happen. I’m also considering new wheels: I like the ones I’ve got, but it’s been four years, and it’ll be five on ’em by the time I can even think of pulling the trigger. That’s a bunch of time. And my goals with the car have changed. I’d originally wanted to do shows and stuff, but, honestly, I’m never gonna win a trophy: I don’t have the time, or money, to build a show-winning car. More realistically, I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing, which is have the car for me. And what “for me” means is driving it. And that means, the track. Which means if I’m replacing the wheels, I may keep the width, but drop down to lighter weight 18″ wheels, something serious. Like I said, I’m not really about stance, but there’s still something about big fat wheels and tires, with bulging, obviously-functional sidewalls, that turns my crank. Maybe 18×9/18×10 GramLights, or Enkei, and shave some eight or nine pounds off per corner? If I get really into it, maybe it will be time for an internal rebuild, and a turbo upgrade. Maybe. No idea what the next five years are gonna bring for the beast. I complain about the seat-squeak, but a set of recaro’s would solve that problem right away.

    Finally, the greatest thing I’ve gotten out of the car, is a community. I’m part of the Durham Basterds, and Chapter 11:Section 62, I’ve become active in the more general KDM community (so, all Hyundai and Kia) as well as the Genesis Coupe specific ones. I’ve been making friends in the Scion FRS/Subaru BRZ communities, too. But the friends I’ve made through the Genesis specifically? They’re the same friends, all over again, that I made in high-school, and again in University. It’s startling, in fact.

    I’ve been to 150+ car meets pretty much every year. Do I get along with everyone? no, but the vast majority, totally. And the ottawa crew spends an awful lot of time in my driveway, now that I have one. My place has become a defacto headquarters for the Ottawa KDM community, and I’m ok with that. In fact, I want it to get bigger. So it looks like this more often:


    Ok, I’ve said entirely enough. That’s five years with the car, it’s not going anywhere. Why?

    Because it’s just this sexy.

    Sunset on the High Road III

    Shootin’ Cars (Redux)

    We did actually get out on Thursday night to get some pics of the cars. What we ended up with was three 2013 2.0T Hyundai Genesis Coupes, two 2010 2.0T Hyundai Genesis Coupes, and unexpectedly, a (and I’m guessing at the year here) 2012 Nissan 370z. After meeting at Timmies, we had planned to hit the Lock House at hogsback (nice open lot, access to the grass right next to the lock) but found that that was being used as parking for DragonBoat practice. So, we headed out to the NAVCAN driveway I’d shot at befre.

    I took a little GoPro video too: I was planning on just stockpiling that footage (all shooting backwards from my car, as I led the caravan to the location), but I’ve had requests to put it up, so I’ll look into doing some editing, and see what I can do. I’ve not done any video editing yet, so this should be an experience.

    Once we got where we were going, the light was great, so we started shooting. We moved the cars around a bit, too, so we could shoot them as groups, and as individuals. I’m going to be posting the pics up on my photoblog, OneHeadlight, but here’s a teaser, so to speak:

    The Hardest White

    I will say this, I was particularly happy with one or two shots, especially the black & whites. I have a fairly contrast-heavy style, and that’s evident whether color or b&w, but this one shot… well, you’ll have to judge for yourself.

    Again, check out the photography blog for details.

    What I do want to do is get out hit some of the other locations. I’m definitely in a photographic mood at the moment. I should also bang out and check out the weekly car shows again, as there are some brilliant cars out there, from true classics, to muscle, to modern and import. Maybe tomorrow night at the Rideau Carleton Slots show….