Monday, July 30, 2012

Miata Mods - New Suspenders

With 105k miles over the course of 21 years, the Miata's stock shocks were more than tired. Not quite as gone as the ones were on the on the previous red Miata, but bad enough that the car wasn't handling nearly as well as a Miata should.

Looking to make the car's handling a tad more aggressive and the ride firmer, I went to the Flyin' Miata website and ordered up their "Stage 1.5" suspension kit. Consisting of new adjustable Tokico adjustable shock absorbers, custom Flyin' Miata lowering springs, new rear top hats (for increased rear suspension travel) and elastomer bump stops, this kit sounded like exactly what I was looking for. They advertise the kit as having a "killer ride with extra suspension travel in the rear and handling that will handle anything from canyon carving to full-on racetrack use." Yep, sounds great for the relatively-smooth roads in these parts.

I wanted it slightly lower, but not too low that the lower edge of the front bumper would scrape on the driveway...
...or the many speed bumps in our neighborhood.

The original plan was to attempt to install this kit myself, but the more I read about the install, the more I realized that my toolbox (and skill level) was not up to snuff. After asking a few friends, I was directed to a San Diego shop that handled the task for a very reasonable price.
rear, the purple thing is the new travel-increasing top hat

One of the nice things about the shocks is that they are easily tuned. Turning the adjustment screw on the top of each corner affects both the compression and rebound damping.
I was a little concerned about the stiffness of the ride on the drive back after picking the car up, but once I popped the hood and trunk, the reason was clear. All four were set at the firmest setting of 5. Dialing back to Flyin' Miata's recommended 3 front and 2 rear yielded fantastic results. The car settles down far quicker after hitting impacts and, most surprisingly, it's far quieter. I didn't realize just how much the noise stock bits were making. Overall it feels like a completely different car. Now I just need to make a run up Palomar Mountain to see how it handles in a more challenging environment.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Down On The Street

Or, rather, down in the strip mall parking lot. What looks to most like a venerable W201 "Baby Benz" is the factory hot rod version, the vaunted 190E 2.3-16.
The 190E 2.3-16s were originally designed for the World Rally circuit, but then Audi's formidable quattro shook things up with unmatchable and all-conquering all wheel drive. Knowing that their new platform would be soundly trounced by their rivals in Ingolstadt, Mercedes re-focused their efforts and decided to go after the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) instead.
BMW's celebrated E30 M3 was created as a direct response to the 2.3-16 and had much altered bodywork covering the acclaimed S14 four pot.  With the M-B, the cosmetic changes from a standard W201 are subtle. Lower body cladding, a trunk lid spoiler and (possibly) a lower ride height separate this from the lower spec 190s. Under the hood, the 2.3 liter engine received a Cosworth-designed 16 valve alloy head, boosting power by 30-49 HP over the standard engine, depending on the market. The US-spec cars had 167 HP/162 lb-ft of torque, which certainly doesn't sound like much, especially considering that our eight year old Subaru wagon produces essentially the same power.
This one is in great shape and nearly perfect to me. I'd just replace the blinged-out chrome-plated alloys with a set sprayed in the correct factory silver. Apparently the owner knows what a special car he/she has by the personalized plate:
I'd love to have one of these in the garage someday, preferably alongside a Porsche-propelled W124 500E of similar vintage.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Another Mouth To Feed

Allison had been talking about getting a second Labrador for the past few months. My standard response has always been “but you already have one”. But since I have multiple bikes (and a couple of under-used cars for that matter), I didn’t have much ground to stand on. So from the Labrador Rescuers (the same agency we got Juno from three years ago) comes Boomer.
A seven year-old, well-trained and overweight male. His previous owners abandoned him on USMC Camp Pendleton a few weeks ago. They had called the on-base animal shelter to surrender a seven year-old black Lab, but the shelter was full. He was found later the same night, wandering about on an airstrip. Thankfully a base fire chief is also a volunteer for the Lab Rescuers, he picked “Boomer” up and brought him home.
 Fast forward a few weeks and he’s now with us. At 105 lbs., he’s still a good 15-20 lbs. overweight, but with some activity, he should be in better shape within a few months. He’s very well-mannered and gets along just fine with Juno. We’ll see how he is in the long run, and if his “true” personality comes out like Juno’s did after a few months.

Monday, July 2, 2012

MTB Mount Laguna

Enough cars (for now), here are some pix from a short trip up to Mount Laguna and Nobel Canyon with my friend Derek:

Derek's RV, "the shallot":
Obstructed view:
 Golden Hour:
 Mini freeride park, fun obstacles:
 Sunset session:
 Sea of grass:
 Golden oak:
Up above Nobel Canyon, at 5600', plenty of dead trees remain, victims of the '07 San Diego wildfires:
Some shady doubletrack:
Burnt trunk:
Found in the parking lot, $65 stuck in the weeds (since returned to the rightful owner):

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Prototyp Automuesum, pt. IV

The fourth, and final installment of pics from the stunning Prototyp Automuseum in Hamburg, Germany. Scroll down for parts 1-3, if you're incredibly bored/suffering from insomnia.

Porsche 356 toy mold (the actual toy produced is seen in the background):
Original catalog illustration:
 Original VW Type II Bus catalog illustration:
Pointillism art for Gasolin chain of service stations. India ink, by Bruno Bergner:
1937 Auto Union Type C panel shaping buck:
Porsche 911, prepped for rally w/four wheel drive. Yes please.
911 interior, nice Terratrip:
 Drilled for lightness:
 speed holes
 roof vent
 windshield brace, vent scoop, hood pin
 roof-mounted extra tail/running lights, spare

Gorgeous 356 Carrera 2
 decklid badge
356 Cabriolet, body by Gläser:
as affixed to the right front fender