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Reviews

Boosted Rottweiler

8th April 2017 — by Dan Fegent

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The Mr2 Turbo, a 90s mid engined turbo powered 2 seater. On paper the Toyota MR2 was a winner but as always living among a successful family it often remained in the shadows of its bigger brother the Supra. It may not have had the same global success as its muscle bound bro but it holds its own as a credible sports car.


So with that back story done & out of the way, we think Mr2s rock! A few of us here have owned & loved them & we think the underdog spirit of the 3SGTE engine with its kick back in the seats violent performance is adorable, much like a cute Rottweiler puppy.  This one in particular has been around on the scene for a long time, back for a second wind after a sabbatical its not as it once was. Its swapped its fresh off the boat from Japan white paint for a WW2 US Army issue olive drab wrap by the Ruislip based guys at Prestige wraps.

Its heart is strong & unmolested with its near on standard 280bhp, slightly increased thanks to the usual bolt on modifications as well as uprated boost & all being kept cool by a JDModified fitted chargecooler. Yeah this car has not just laid down dead like many of its 90s brethren in the wake of high performance modern hot hatches, its now back for more on the streets. Owners form a bond with cars like this, it may not be the most powerful car & certainly not the most performance pushing MR2 but the relationship here is far stronger… now we’re not talking screwing your car here kind of relationship, we just mean you learn to love it in its own way & this one has been around since the dawn of time for its owner & its not saying sayonara yet.

Lets recap to the start of this feature shoot, the pre photo prep, think of it as the application of make up if you will. Being renowned for being a hair dressers car I think its alright to give the old 2 some time to beautify itself. Providing this beauty session and achieving the results seen here is largely thanks to a tonne of help from Shining Monkey. It wasn’t long before the car was soaking in a bath of their very own wash & wax monkey serum & ready to be blasted clean. Elbow grease fuelled applications of 360 detailing wax finished off the wrapped bodywork whilst safe in the knowledge that no damage was being done to the matte finish.

The wheels were in a sad state with several years of brake dust caked to them, AMDetails wheel cleaner came to the rescue & got in on the action alongside its Iron Fall Out Remover formula transforming the brake dust covered matte Lenso wheels back to their former glory. Dried down with towels that I would happily keep in the bathroom & it was ready for its photo to be taken.

While snapping it for this feature it was easy to see why Mr2s still have a following, the lines work & we feel its stronger now than its ever been. Like a rebellious punk rock fuelled teen its still punching above its weight as a solid performer & will most definitely not bow down & blend in among the blocky modern cars of today.

Reviews

JDM Royalty

5th April 2017 — by Dan Fegent

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Nissan Skylines are Royalty among the JDM scene, every single one throughout its thoroughbred history has always been instantly recognisable. A car that demands as much respect standing still as it does driving the streets or tyre slaying on tracks.


Anyone in to cars will have some level of respect for what Nissan built, especially those crafted during the horsepower races of the 90s. With the R32, R33 & R34 generations of this creation all helping to make the RB25Det & RB26Det engines renowned among the automotive scenes worldwide.

Something else that has helped its rise in popularity is that you can pretty much spot a Skyline from miles away, in particular thanks to the fact that day or night those rear lights stand out like two red hot cooking hobs. There is also no denying that the Fast & Furious film franchise  has boosted this particular cars fame, the result is that to many, out of the entire range none have more presence than the now iconic R34 that you see here.


The Skylines in the 1990s were most commonly released in two flavours, the monstrous beast that is the GTR & the RWD only RB25det powered GTT designated machine that you see here. Don’t be fooled though, the GTT is no slouch, with its Neo 2.5litre engine punching out near on 280bhp in standard form & pushing that solely through the rear wheels, its a plenty to play with out of the box.

However with engine tolerances allowing easy tuning & upgrading, its ideal for those seeking to build a street fighting weapon. The limit as we’ve seen from internet experience is really done to you on how far to take your build. So power isn’t an issue & looks wise well we think that even today this shape sits comfortably on the road, still just as imposing as it once was & it certainly doesn’t look out of place, its a true JDM legend that has aged well.

When a car looks this good, & has the whole package under the hood, we can totally understand why.

Reviews

Purpose Built Barrel Hunter

28th February 2017 — by Dave Cox

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At the time of writing, we are just days away from the beginning of the 2017 Fueltopia Barrel Sprint season. Test & Registration day has been and gone and we take this brief gap to bring you a close look at Mike Newland’s new purpose built barrel sprint s13.

This is not Mike’s first rodeo either previously he had a purpose built S14. A car that Mike has competed in for the last 4 years and spent tireless hours and effort developing. Sadly the S14 met it’s demise at Coventry MotorFest when it made a firm introduction with a concrete pillar underneath the ring roads. When life deals you such a poor hand it can be hard to get back on your feet.

Motorsport is high risk, leaving many grass roots racers with two options, All or Nothing. The impact the S14 had sustained was too much, the chassis was completely folded underneath the car meaning that it would sadly be beyond repair. For someone who had invested all they had into a sport they love the result was pretty crushing. Thankfully that was the extent of the damage, pretty much everything could be salvaged.

An S13 was sourced and Mark Young at Japs Motorsport set to work sand blasting the fresh shell before seam welding and inserting a full cage in preparation for transplanted parts. The decision to go for an S13 instead of an S14 was to step away from the norm on the field. Rear wheel drive class in Barrel Sprint is pretty much dominated by MX5’s and S14’s so Mike felt the need to provide a different body to keep things interesting.

Mark took a staggering 7 days to complete the transformation from a bare shell. I will let that sink in for a little bit. In an era where builds are getting turned around for shows in ever decreasing times, this is incredible. Not to mention that this isn’t a show car, this is a purpose built race car and it is fully functional! I have struggled to make decisions in 7 days, let alone build and complete a car.

The exterior also got a refresh thanks to Sussex Wrap Studio which closely mimics the colours scheme of the S14 as well keeping in line with the team colours.

After all the work was completed, the car was unveiled at the Wembley Qualifier for GRiD last year. Where unfortunately due to a lack of testing due to time constraints the car was fighting with him and not behaving herself. Due to this Mike came in 3rd place missing his spot at GRiD. Disappointing for Mike but still very impressive for anyone else.

The eagle eyed amongst you would have noticed that the lines of this S13 are slightly off, that is because the rear glass hatch has been removed and replaced with fibreglass flat bed. This was done to primarily reduce weight and lower the centre of gravity keeping the car light and nimble or “Smimble” as Mike affectionately calls it (Small and Nimble).

The obsessive weight loss spreads further than just the rear hatch, the bonnet is single skin fibre glass too,

The interior of the car is a spartan yet functional place to sit. A flocked dash obscured only by an OMP steering wheel houses minimal switch gear whilst a hydro setup help get the car round the barrels. Whilst a Corbeau seat helps keep the driver in place.  An Android dash allows Mike to customise what he monitors, keeping only the essential information on display.

As mentioned before, many of the components were transplanted over to the new chassis. Gold wrapping around the intake pipes help keep engine temperatures down. Mike is however developing a new expansion system to help lower intake temperatures and keep them constant which will mean he can go more aggressive on the map. Given that the car is already making 385bhp on a Nispro tune, it will be pretty lively.

Frustrated with his performance at the Qualifier, Mike sent the car to Walton Smith at Nispro to get the car’s alignment dialled in. This proved a wise choice as during the next FBS round, he beat his personal best time and then went on to finish 2nd in the championship.

I keep teasing Mike about the reverse rake of the car saying “just lower the front by a foot and you’ll be fine!” But I am told this is to help with balance and turn in. Seeing as I am at very best a spirited driver, I shall shut up and stop poking fun. (Will I f*ck)

The car is littered with small considered details, I’m particularly fond of the KODE rivets that secure the over fenders and duck tail spoiler . There are other touches too, like the JDM painted spokes. All of this is colour coordinated to tie in the with wrap this car has.

“The test day was an eye opener, After changing the suspension and the cars setup in the off season, it felt totally different. But not in a good way, I couldn’t get to grips with the changes and was struggling to go at my normal pace. After lots of messing around and tweaking I got it set perfect and produced some very nice runs. New front tyres needed due to the increased rear grip since last year due to Nispro’s awesome new setup.”

It is clear that Mike has spent the last 4 years honing his skills and working out what kind of setup he wants from the car. Finishing 3rd in 2015, 2nd in 2016 it only makes sense that he is setting his sights on 1st for this season.

After watching him most of the day and getting really up close and personal, I have little reason to doubt that he will be in strong contention for the win. I wish him the best luck for the season ahead. If you fancy going down and seeing him in action for yourself then you can get tickets from here: Fueltopia Barrel Sprint

Words & Pictures; Dave Cox (SHOOTINGDAVE)

Sponsors:

JAPS Motorsport
EBC Brakes
Corbeau
Adolescent Dogs
Advanced Lubricant Solutions
Dodo Juice
Just Jap
Nispro
Infamous Creations
Sussex Wrap Studio

Specs:

SR20DET
Owen Developements Turbo
LINK ECU
EBC brakes all round
Seam welded chassis & Roll cage
Custom Corbeau bucket seat 5 point harnesses
Driftworks CS2 Coilovers
Custom cooling and intake setup by JAPS Motorsport
1 piece prop shaft
Wisefab rear setup
Geomaster front setup

Reviews

The Abarth 124 Rally

25th January 2017 — by Dave Cox

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There is something about Rally Cars that seems get under people’s skin. Perhaps it is the heritage and romance or just the raw pace and sounds. There is no denying, they have a broad appeal.

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As I alluded to in our coverage of Autosport International I came across a special little car that stopped me in my tracks. Now I know there will be some of you expecting me to go on and talk about an aired out, wide body Ferrari or a gold Bugatti but I’m not. What I am talking about is a 1,8 litre Italian sports car built in Japan. But this car is really, rather special.

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You see, it has been some 40 years since the original Abarth 124 Spider last competed in the 1976 Monte Carlo Rally and now it is back, dedicated to those who share the same challenge and racing values. This version is based on the Abarth 124 road car, the more aggressive version of Fiat’s 124. The Rally version has replaced the standard 1.4 turbo engine and replaced it with a 1.8 direct injection turbo engine. This adds a nice boost in power from 178bhp to 296bhp at 6500rpm!

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Now we’re talking! Couple that to a quick 6-speed sequential gearbox and this red and yellow bar of soap is going to get lively real quick! Weight is biased towards the rear and it has quick steering and a mechanical limited slip-differential. So when it gets sideways, and it will, you can keep it there. Other changes have been to the exterior too, gone is the soft top and in is the new composite hard top to help keep the centre of gravity low.

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I also really appreciate the styling tribute to the original Abarth 124. The colour scheme look as good now as it did back the, the yellow over fenders, the rally lights it is all lovingly recreated in memory of the original. It is this subtle detailing that really shows how much love there is for this sport. I adore this car, I really wish I could have seen it at the Monte Carlo Rally that happened this January.

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What was your car of the show?

Words and Pictures: Dave Cox (ShootingDave)

Reviews

Mellow Yellow – Rich’s S15

3rd July 2016 — by Dave Cox

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Now before my baptism into drifting around 4 years ago, which is where I met Rich, I had never really seen, let alone heard of a Nissan S15. Admittedly there one was one early introduction in Fast & Furious but I hadn’t really stood next to one.

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Rich bought his S15 just over a year ago now. It was imported from Japan, was fitted with air ride and had a standard SR20 mated to an automatic slush box and was intended to be another build for the now infamous Driftworks team. The project never got underway and Rich acquired the car through the business. Now with shelves full of drift spec parts and crates of Work Wheels coming in, it didn’t take too long for the cogs of inspiration to start turning.

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The goal was simple, low and wide. First port of order was to tackle the “wide” portion of this build. This one done with some Origin Lab fender adding an extra 50mm in the rear and 40mm up front. The front are direct replacements but the rear are riveted into place with some fab work underneath.

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40 and 50mm might not sounds like a lot but to me I think the difference is profound. Adding so much more drama to the rear and even tying it in with the OEM rear bumper looks great.

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The vents behind the front wheel add that little bit of needed aggression too. During the build process, Rich decided to ditch the standard rear wing. A move that I think really works well. I actually think it looks more aggressive without it. You’ll have to take my word for it as I don’t have pictures of both.

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To make the rear of the car feel less naked, Rich added in a roof spoiler, a clean an elegant addition I’d say. Standard lights were also swapped out for DMAX style rears.

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Another import modification on there is the Fueltopia graphic! Who doesn’t want one of those?

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Continuing on with the exterior modifications was the addition of a Origin Lab front bumper, the differences from the OEM version are subtle. Origin Labs here just take the standard formula and subtle aggressive tweaks along with new side skirts, really ties the look together.

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Next on the agenda, the lows. Now I did mention that this was on air ride but Rich tells me that it was leaky and provided horrible ride quality so the bags were ditched in favour of some HSD coilovers giving him the ride comfort and adjustability he was looking for. I don’t want to get all scene on you but the fitment is on point, there is just enough clearance and having been in the car, it ride so well. Paired to the width of this car, it really has transformed the way it looks.

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The 18″ Work Wheels Emotion CR2P (18×9 et-10 front – 18×11 et-0 rear) that were chosen for this car contrast the yellow paint work nicely. I was trying to think what other colour choice would go, black would contrast too much and possibly fade away compared to the yellow paint work. Other colour choices I think would run the risk of looking too garish. Maybe I’m wrong, white isn’t something I would normally go for but I think they are spot on here.

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To keep the front wheels from rubbing when turning the OEM tension rods were swapped out for Geomasters, sitting the wheel better in the arch and offering better lock.

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The interior is pretty much standard, with the original Japanese dash intact. Not sure he has any plans to tear into this one, maybe some comfy race seats. I really like how the Personal steering wheel matches the exterior colour.

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I have followed this banana being built for just over a year now and I like to think that I have shared as much enthusiasm for this car as he has. I wouldn’t change a thing about the way it looks. Yellow isn’t my colour, at all. BUT I am really blown away by it. You can’t miss it. It just works so well.

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Rich does have plans for upgrading the power portion of it as this is very much low and slow, there are talks of a Red top SR engine swap, I keep pushing him to go the V8 route but we shall see.

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People kept wanting to see this thing and ask questions about it and I can see why. We shot most of this shoot up a Driftworks HQ but then we headed into central Birmingham to get some rolling shots. As I was hanging out of the side of the car, people were stopping and staring. At the car, not the idiot waving his camera around outside of the chase car.

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It was nice to see it get so much attention, I couldn’t help but smile was we were following it into the city centre. It looks so wide and so low from behind. Originally I though the front of S15’s were their best feature, but now, seeing how this one sits, I have to think it is the rear.

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Rolling shots over, we headed back to DW and waited for the sun to set to do some lit shots. All the while, I couldn’t help smile. Shoot done, it was time for beer. Cheers Rich, I love this car, I will even let you sell it to me (mates rates) once you’re done.

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Words & Pictures: Dave Cox (ShootingDave)

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