Friday, February 6, 2009

Getting Up To Date

After the time and money spent on the wheel setup it is hard to believe that I kept them for as short of a time as I did. From the start I was honest that the wheels had been a choice out of availability not inspiration, and now I began to learn the drawbacks to the setup. The wheels in 18x8.5 looked large on the car, tires became dramatically more expensive in the size, and even with a conservative offset I was limited in overall tread width. Also, as much as I tried to let the RG-IIs grow on me they just didn't look as good as I felt a wheel could look on the car, nor did these issues really coincide with the push for effective and concise modification; they were a nod towards showmanship. Searching for wheels was an everyday event, finally finding a pristine set of not just four, but five Advan Racing RG models. Not only did I have the opportunity to pick up the set plus spare, the wheels were also the super desirable 17x8.5 +43, and they were silver, making them the only 5x100 fitment in this size that I have ever seen in the U.S. Ashley and I would be getting married soon, making these the last part purchased before our wedding. The benefits from the wheel swap far outweighed any argument to turn them down, I was now able to loose around 6 lbs a wheel [24 total plus rotational mass reduction ftw], enjoy cheaper tire cost, and run 255 section widths instead of 235s. Getting the car ready for the wedding and honeymoon trip this was incredibly useful, I don't know how I would have been able to afford the continuation of 18s at this point in our marriage, they would have at least mandated some much cheaper tires. Not only was I able to pick up my literal dream wheels, but they reinforced the sense of purpose and lack of "show" feel that I was after.

And finally here is a great shot prior to my bachelor party by Brent, the only guy I have seen take a good quality shot of a black car in overpowering light:

Immersed in the dull activities of being my daily, the STi rarely gets the cleaning she deserves. While at work one afternoon, I crossed paths with Raymond [optikal blitz] who was in the area and wished to take some pictures of the car. His work absolutely amazes me, he captures the messy reality of a daily driven car with incredible focus and clarity. These are his photos of the car just parked out front of the store, and hopefully a real shoot will commence when we are able to line up some time in our schedules.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sorting The Car

The second real stage in the cars development was an attempt to follow the successful steps of reevaluating and sorting the motor setup in almost every other aspect of current modification. Knowing I had been too hasty sometimes, or not seriousness enough in others, I wanted to go ahead and correct everything wrong to the best of my ability before it could be brushed aside as excess fiddling. The first step in this was to order a nice set of JDM wheels. As my favorite wheel, the Advan RG had been discontinued for awhile, and I had attempted to contact all of those who had that model in an effort to purchase them, I accepeted defeat and ordered up a set of the wheels successor, the Advan RG-II sized 18x8.5 +48 in Gold. I had learned worlds of information about tire selection so I matched them to a set of Yokohama Advan AD07s in 235/40/18, tires I still believe to be the best that you can put on your vehicle despite there astronomical price. Unfortunately my wheels would be misplaced after their 7 month boat ride, and accordingly put up for sale when no purchase info was found on them. Thankfully, I managed to retrieve them before they had been sold to another buyer, and the company provided a rather generous purchase credit for my future business. 

Next, I revised my suspension setup. It had become increasingly clear the adjustability of coilovers was going to be a must for my dual purpose car, it was simply a matter of which ones. Working with my personal taste and budget, I knew I wanted to stay inside the realm of Japanese suspension tuners and the combination of poor quality I had seen on Tein's Subaru efforts, as well as the impressiveness of the other Cusco parts I had purchased, I settled on using their Zero-2e system, which allowed me full coilover benefits as well as in car dampening adjustment, with an every so moderate compensation for daily driving in spring rates. My ultimate goal here was to have a track ready setup that was soft enough for Ashley and I to live with. She proved a great source of feedback for this part of the build, allowing me to alter the car for her comfort while increasing the handling ability overall.

The only other modification that I felt still needed to be corrected was the HKS Carbon-Ti Exhaust. Despite having a great sound to it, it was loud and loved to drone on trips of any length. I wanted to really begin setting the car apart and applying the value I had learned of never allow one part do one thing. I was looking for an exhaust that would provide a few beneficial gains to the car, something that would be very rare, piping that was direct, large enough to be productive while not very loud, and finally a system that would shave some weight off the car. I found all of that thanks to Powerhouse Amuse. Though virtually unknown outside of the Honda world for some reason, they produce art level exhaust for most Japanese vehicles. I selected an R1 Extra Titan, adding a resonator to the system in order to suppress a little more noise. The construction of this piece is just draw dropping. The exhaust are handmade to order and the dedication truly shines through. All positive things aside, the exhaust was immensely frustrating to fit on the car. Assuming that I would need a JDM length downpipe for the JDM exhaust, I purchased a catted model from Zero/Sports. When the exhaust arrived it became abundantly clear that it was far too long to work with that system. Speaking with Amuse, I learned for some reason, [I have no idea why] they designed the system to bolt on the front pipe of the stock jdm downpipe. The solution that I arrived at was to cut and move the flange on my Zero/Sports to fit the Amuse piece. After all was said and done and learned, the final result is the smoothest, cleanest sounding Subaru exhaust that I have yet to hear. I utterly love this exhaust, though knowing now what it takes to have one, I'm not sure it would be worth doing without my "apology" credit that made the system possible.

Becoming more and more interested in modifying while using rather rare pieces to do work with, my next mod was what could only boil down to a blessing. Out of nowhere, a thread I had made almost two and half years prior for a Spec C interior was answered. Not only was there a complete Spec C interior available in good condition, it was even a model correct 2004 version. This what the opportunity of a lifetime, I could finally replace the stock interior that I disliked though hated to spend the money to reupholster. Added benefits of this setup would also be lighter carpeting, lighter and smaller front seats, and a tasteful single color scheme, While everything was out of the car, I also took the oppurtinty to wire up the Cusco E-con unit into the ash tray location.

The car felt like it needed some legitimate documentation at this point, I had been overly blessed in being able to obtain and assemble a car that I felt followed the true fashion of a JDM street car, parts that matter where they should be and parts that are good left stock, so my friend Nick [] met for what turned out to be a super productive photo shoot.