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Reviews

BUT ITS JUST A VAUXHALL?

1st April 2017 — by Dan Fegent

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Car manufacturers are well rehearsed in taking a base model from their range & giving it a dose of radness. The ideal candidate being something mundane & common that fills forecourts nationwide. The idea then is to attempt to inject more appeal into it.  With the overall goal to create something special from the normality, leaving it more thanable to stand apart from the masses it came from & achieve that desirability.

The formula is pretty simple and standard across manufacturers. You start off by squeezing an oversized power plant in to the car of choice to make sure there are more than enough horses to pull said wagon. After some subtle yet worthy additions to the overall look inside & out, the car is ready… simples. This Vauxhall Astra GSi is one of those exact by the book cars. Astra’s like this remind me of the Nova’s of old. I’m not saying the Astra is the same as the legendary Nova, don’t bite my head off yet, hear me out…


Its the similarity in the fact that you used to see Novas everywhere, as I reckon many of you will remember they were massively popular in the cruise scene. I can’t recall not seeing one when I first started witnessing fwd doughnuts on MaccyD trays. The Astra has gone that way too, nope not the way of the FWD skids but their price point has made them possible to own by many & provide plenty of performance. Plenty of bang for your buck.

Just to clarify, I’m not slagging this car off or taking anything away from it, I’m actually a fan of this build & it certainly packs plenty of punch thanks to its 200bhp+ Z20LET power plant providing enough power to keep up with modern machines. Even by todays standards with horsepower figures going through the roof, it can still hold its own. Cars such as this have a huge following, especially when they hit that sweet spot of combining performance with practicality and therefore making it the right choice for many real world petrol heads that can’t sacrifice all for that dream two seater fuel guzzling monster or full race mode machine.

I’m a fan of this example & feel that its had all the right mods both to the engine & the styling to keep it standing out among its peers. On Fueltopia we usually lean towards favouring the Japanese creations of the automotive world, but hey we’re open minded & this is one outsider we fully approve.

Reviews

DO A SKID

28th March 2017 — by Dan Fegent

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The drift scene has taken over the car world, we get it, its rad & we’re huge fans of it, most of us here at Fueltopia are somehow heavily involved with it. However its caused some issues on a wider scale, for example you’ll be at a perfectly uncivilised car meet/cruise/show/Maccy Ds car park & something modified & RWD will turn up. Then you hear the cries… “Do a skid!” Its the sad reality people.

One car conjures up mad drift skills to those that see it and those that drive it none more so than the 200sx. Its become a symbol of drift culture here in the UK especially, & a popular body among those with enough pennies to go Pro at the sport. However, they don’t have to be all that way, the 200sx was popular across the ocean in the States long before drifting took a hold of us all. They went for the whole low & slow stanced look which is ever popular with Euro cars.

A lot of the reason behind that being the lack of availability of SR20DET engines in their 200sx models or even anything remotely performance driven. No matter the reasons though, the style was clearly different & not driven by an obsession of drifting. This one you see here is an example of modifying that has followed that older US trend, its not been built to drift, its been built to grip, to drive, to use on a daily basis. BORING all the Initial D fans shout, but different strokes for different folks.

 

With a plethora of performance & styling mods, 200sx owners have plenty of choice. This one has a small selection of enhancements mainly revolving around a Stage 2 custom map & all the other breathing mods that are needed to make that work. All whilst sitting pretty on its Japan Racing JR12 rims thanks to HSD coilovers. It performs awesome & looks good without ever being sideways on the edge of control. Featuring this example is because we want to give a shout out to the car, not what it represents now in our ever evolving car culture but what it is and always has been, a fun RWD boosted machine that can be styled however you want, not just for shits & skids.

Reviews

Benny Rees’ sleek Celica

27th March 2017 — by Dave Cox

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“Sweet Mustang man…” a phrase Ben often hears when people approach his car.

You may guffaw but it is true, you can clearly see the American influences on this vehicle. The Japanese during this era were known for designing the vehicles using tracing paper and pictures of cars from all around the world. Just look at the “C” Pillars, the rear louvres and the vertical tail lights. All of which are styling cues taken from the Ford Mustang. It is no wonder that the RA28 Celica got the nickname “Japanese Mustang” and therefore you can forgive people’s mistakes.

Reviews

MODERN DAY CLASSIC

24th March 2017 — by Dan Fegent

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We’re all huge fans of the old school JDM elite, even the modern age 90s classics suchas the Mk4 Supra, the FD Rx7 & the R32 Skyline all still turn heads. If you’ve got something older from the JDM Royalty bloodline then your car will pretty much be as popular as the 2nd coming of Jeebus at a show. However, age is a factor that catches up with us all & these cars are not immune to it. What about the fresh blood coming through the ranks to grab our attention, the new school cars? Are they ready to tear us away from the retro awesomeness?

We believe they are. Quite a statement to make so we’ll give it a go backing it up. By comparison to many of the JDM pack this stunning electric blue 370z is fresh off the production line, its sleek & poised styling giving it the aggressive look we crave whether its hard parked at Tescos or out having its V6 engine thrashed on track. No denying the 370z was a hit on release with the masses, a step up in every way from the 350z & now prices are dropping its picking up in popularity ever more as road & as competition cars.

With its modern day rivals the Subaru BRZ & Toyota GT86s all now becoming solid choices in the tuning world & even now starting to show up as Drift specced machines. If we stay focused on the street appeal though then as road cars go I’m sure many of us reading this would love to step in to one of these.

The 370z is a stunning looking car, even as standard it grabs your attention much as the old school machines did & still do, a modern future classic of Japanese design & performance. Will cars like this be as popular as the Datsuns & Toyotas of old? Well only time will tell but if they continue to make them looking this good then there is definitely hope for the New School.

Reviews

ATTACKING THE TIMES

22nd March 2017 — by Dan Fegent

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We have this theory that being an owner of a performance car garage is a lot like being a kid in a sweet shop. One man whose definitely living that dream is Andrew Baird, owner of Automek in Glasgow & he’s certainly not a fan of the standard metal that rolls off production lines.


He’s owned a huge variety of machines, worked onthousands more and to him each one has needed modifying. The hunt for more power & better handling has always been the mission in his own cars as well as those of his customers. With a strong love for Hondas he’s built some incredible power houses over the years including his own Civic Eg with a supercharged K20. However none until now have scratched the performance car itch…



Clearly what you can see here is not a Honda. His love for the Lotus brand eventually bit him hard and he knew he had to get hold of one. Next up was choices, Elise or Exige? After tonnes of research Andrew was ready to go ahead with the purchase of an S1 Exige, then an article was released stating they were a solid investment for the future… ‘ignore the banks and buy s1 Exiges’… well, that killed the cheapness, and overnight they rocketed up in value, ruining the plans.


Not wanting to be defeated he set about building the craziest Lotus he could using the cheapest basic chassis he could find. A base car was sourced locally, and with no real care to hearing it running or anything else the usual car buyer kicks tyres over, he paid for it and started to head home in his new Elise S2… yep thats right, this was an Elise.


His first review of that drive home would have you believe that he’d made completely the wrong choice, it was overall absolutely terrible to drive and a garish canary yellow convertible to top it off, not exactly the manly Exige he had envisaged. First off the weak K series power plant had to go and with the car breaking down the day after purchase, well, its fate was sealed. The love for Hondas was still strong, Andrew still wanted that Honda reliability and performance.

Finding the partsto do this conversion was not a issue as the Honda engine from his earlier Eg civic build was needing a new home. However that didn’t last long as a customer had their eye on that engine leaving the Lotus once again without a motor. This problem didn’t last long as Laskey Racing in the US supplied Andrew with a fully forged K24 bottom end for this build and the goal now was not just to create something fast, it had to ultimately terrify. Engine was sorted, but the looks well.. that needed work too. The transformation into an S2 Exige took place. A difficult but necessary conversion to allow a comfortable fit of the new Supercharged K24 that was being put into it, oh and the Exige just looks better.

The Lotus pedigree really showed through as Andrew continued the build to completion, very little was wrong or needed improvement when it came to suspension and chassis work, it was coming together perfectly. To complete the hard as nails look the car needed to sit low on some new wheels, it needed to be different. TTS near Silverstone helped with the custom hubs giving it the perfect ride height with no negative attributes to the cars handling. As for wheels well the Lotus 4 studs limited choice so that had to change. A set of existing Vauxhall wheel bearings were adapted in house to fit the new hubs and suddenly Jap fitment was possible. TE37s were the wheel of choice but crazy staggered offsets were required.

This alteration to a 5 stud changed everything meaning no off the shelf brake arrangement was possible. A whole new setup was needed and assembled from scratch & paired up with help of a custom pedal box to suit by Pilbeam Racing. Its taken two & a half years to get the project to what your seeing here and an insane build like this  needed a reason to exist, it couldn’t just be for the road where it would be dangerous trying to reach its full potential, neither was it intended as a track day car. This project ultimately was to create a no limits Time Attack build.

So far its been used in anger several time including two wet rounds of Time Attack, however its not in the Lotus category, nope the supercharger bumped it up out of there, so initially it started off in the club class,pairing this 400bhp Lotus alongside 500bhp+ Rx7s and Nobles but one more thing needed changing that would give Andrew an even greater challenge… Momentum Motorsport in Ireland helped get a Sequential box together, which is fantastic, but it has moved the Lotus up to Club Pro alongside a great deal of experienced cars and drivers. It was never going to be easy.

Andrew is the first to admit that the car is a lot more capable than the driver at present but he knew that throughout the build process, he’s fully aware that its going to take a lot longer to learn to drive than it did to build it. A challenge is good, it keeps things fresh and interesting, it pushes you to improve and this car is doing exactly that for Andrew and the team at Automek, we are looking forward to seeing how it evolves next!

This car was too good not to feature a full spec list, so here we go….

Chassis:

  • S2 k series Elise
  • Exige s2 body work
  • Tts custom hubs
  • 5×114.3 bearings
  • Fully re bushed suspension
  • Braced subframe and arms
  • Safety devises cage
  • Nitron ntr coilovers
  • Eliseparts 1″ adjustable front roll bar
  • Eliseparts quick rack

Brakes:

  • Ap racing pro5000+ callipers front and rear
  • 330mm custom front discs
  • 308mm custom rear discs
  • Ap hydraulic bias control
  • Pilbeam custom pedal box with Ap cylinders inc independent reservoirs
  • Full hose technics braided lines throughout
  • Pagid rs14 pads
  • Pagid rs29 pads

Engine and transmission:

  • Laskey racing k24 sleeved block
  • K20a ported head
  • Cp Pistons
  • Manley Rods
  • Earls oil pump
  • Fd2 cams
  • Ported rrc inlet with Toda tb
  • Hybrid tensioner+toda chain
  • Act pro light flywheel
  • Act clutch
  • Quaife qke8j sequential gearbox
  • Custom billet shifter assembly
  • Tts custom billet engine mounts
  • Custom built wiring loom (entire car)
  • Dta s80pro management
  • Dta XDash
  • Defi’s
  • Custom drive shafts
  • Rotrex c38-81 supercharger
  • Pro alloy charge cooler system
  • Tial bov
  • Gruppe m ep3 air box (heavily modified)
  • Duetchworks 1000cc injectors
  • Custom fuel system
  • Pro alloy 60ltr endurance tank
  • Bosche 044 pump
  • Spoon baffled sump
  • Mocal oil cooler system
  • Pro alloy triple pass radiator
  • Full sfs hose set from front to rear

Bodywork/ styling:

  • (carbon parts)
  • Reverie front full floor splitter
  • Reverie roof scoop
  • Reverie exige side pods
  • Reverie rear diffuser
  • Apr side sills
  • Apr wing mirrors
  • Apr rear gtc200 wing
  • Apr front canards
  • Volk te37’s (two sets)
  • Set of braids (wets)
  • Carbon cup 260 engine cover
  • Full respray in frost white
  • Interior (not that there is much):
  • Mog carbon fibre seats
  • Schroth 6 point harness’s
  • Flocked dash
  • Lifeline zero360 novec plumbed fire extinguisher system
  • Momo model 88 wheel with snap off   Kit