Thursday, October 14, 2010

Quick Vid: E30M3 Hillclimb - Bergrennen Special

I've been on a hillclimb kick lately. Enjoy these 2.5L S14 motors screaming through the trees.

Video courtesy of MPZRacevideo.

What to watch this weekend (Oct 14th - Oct 17th)

  •  Battle of the Supercars - Audi R8 V10 vs Lexus LFA. Thursday @ 10pm - 10:30pm (SPEED/SPEEDHD)
  •  Australian V8 Supercars - Bathurst. From Mt. Panorama, New South Whales, Australia. Sunday @ 3pm - 5pm (SPEED/SPEEDHD)
  • D1 Grand Prix - From Ebisu in Fukushima, Japan. Sunday @ 5pm - 6am (SPEED/SPEEDHD)
  • World Rally Championship @ France. Sunday @ 10pm - 11pm (Discovery's High Def Theater)
  • Isle of Man TT - New coverage. Monday @ 9pm - 10pm (Discovery's High Def Theater)
The race season is tightening up, only a few months left. Australian V8 road racing and WRC make for great entertainment. Loeb returns to his motherland to show off his dominance; spoiler alert.

Photo courtesy of

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Changes afoot, pt.2: Nice day for a, white wagon (with apologies to billy idol)

It's been on my list for quite a long time. A wagon. A b3 wagon, to be exact.

The first b3 wagon I ever drove was while I was visiting my brother in Cortona, Italy. A local rally driver decided to give me a chance at making a fool of myself on a Tuscan road in his daily beater. Imagine, a wagon with a manual transmission! What fun! This couldn't ever be available in the states, right? We don't like this kind of fun in America! I still remember his mild impression that this dumb kid in the right hand drive passat wagon was actually not screwing things up. How proud was I!

Fast forward a few years later, around 2003 or 2004, where flashes of Rene's dumped b3 on type a's, various variants from across the pond, and a whole slew of pnw wagons were fleshing themselves out. Riding with mike to h20 a few years ago in his aired out wagon (back when that was novel, ha) sealed it, I needed a wagon. It sure made an impression on me, one that has now finally been filled.

A few weeks ago, upon my usual perusal of the classified sections of various websites, I stumbled onto a post about a clean white b3 wagon local to me with which I had some familiarity. From one of our legendary local shadetree fellows to an intermediary, then off to one of my buddies (who happens to own a bodyshop), it's taken a few hits mechanically, but the body and interior are in excellent original shape. A quick detail and a de-stink on the inside should be all that it needs. Once again, I find myself craving some OEM +/- action, so the mods and work will be minimal to the car, but the idea is to have an incredibly solid runner with the ability to haul a whole host of things a great distance without any worries. There may even be a touch of the "fauxsport", a term that, since it's inception, has motivated me a bit into directions I would usually not consider. Perhaps this could end up looking like a support vehicle for my body guys hillclimbin' jetta. We'll have to see on that front! Otherwise, a general refreshment and refinement of all the bushings and bearings of the drivetrain and running gear will be addressed, as well as a whole host of mechanical maladies that have befallen the motor in the last year or so. These mechanical issues will be spelled out in detail in later installments, but for now, here's a few terrible cell phone pictures to give you an idea of where we are headed.

The Grey Hatch - When it rains it pours Pt. 2

Now there are many reasons the speaker hole looks like this; I've had one major stereo install on this car since owning it and I've swapped in speakers here and there. Since I don't trust myself with wiring/snaking, I let my front components be installed by the same guys every time I need something done and swap out the rear coaxials myself. At some point the hole for the front pass speaker wiring grew in size and when the water hose test was performed (thanks beff), I could see that any water going into the crevice where the side mirror and window meet would come shooting out the break in the vapor barrier where the speaker hole was. Accordingly, the back of the speaker was wet (but thankfully didn't short out) and the screws for the +/- connections were rusty. Everything was way too wet to tape more plastic onto the existing film, and on top of that I was working outside while it was raining; the garage was occupied and I wouldn't have had enough space to work even if I was in there.

After vacuuming as much water out of the carpet as I could while the rain slowed to a mist, I took some plastic bags I had from my last wheel shipment and made a shower curtain of sorts. I also used some towels and some super absorbent microfiber drying towels to jam in both the speaker hole and reinforce the towel I had jammed into the door sill under where the water was coming from. I did another hose test to see how it fared...and it was...good enough. I laid an unopened trash bag over the roof and door mirror to keep as much water from going into my rigged 'diaphragm' while parked.

Far from pretty. Anyways I drove to work and squeezed the water out of the towels at a nearby gas station (and again that night when the rain stopped). I arrived at WSC the following morning and Tom came out to assess the situation; there were multiple problems. For one, at some point between when it was resprayed and now, the front sunroof drain plugs worked their way inside the body, on both sides, with no where to drain but in. I never paid attention to this before as I've never had leaks pointing to this being a problem before; now they're positioned like they should have been.

Lastly, the vapor barrier on the front door obviously needed replacing. While I had the card removed I also needed to remove the doorcard guide clips, door handle and mirror lever so I could put a clean sheet in right on the metal in the original location. The door handles were kinda tricky to remove until I found the release tab, but everything was straight forward until it came to the doorcard guide clips. FYI, these guide clips you see below in this crap cell phone pic are NLA in the US. Be careful not to break these during removal as you'll have to source spares already installed on another car or possibly European VW/Audi dealers; I haven't bothered to check. You may think you'll need needle nose pliers or something to get them out, but all it takes is a good finger tip squeeze to get the 'arrowhead fins' in while pulling them from the outside. The clip under the mirror is a bitch to get to, but it can be worked out with a flat head screwdriver, to do the squeezing action, from the outside. I'm 6'1" and have big hands so if I can take these things out, anyone can.

Once everything was out, Tom came over and helped me lay on the film. He wiped the surface down first with some alcohol/prep fluid first then we laid it on good and tight. I rubbed over the contoured areas that needed to be sealed for water run off. Then I did a bucket of water test, after making all the holes for the door parts, with positive results. Unfortunately I think we put the film on too tight as putting the doorcard on took some work to flex the film a bit; I'll remember that for next time. I cleaned up everything, picked up some food from Nava Thai (delicious) a block up the street, put the factory barrier foam/doorcard/speaker and sill panel back together and got on the road.

I razored everything tidy, but left some extra film wrapped around the bottom of the door because I'm paranoid and want to have the option of slacking up some film later if needed. I'm leaving the seat out until things dry out completely and I decided to drive the golf for another week or so to make sure things are right enough to wash it and return it to the garage. Facing problems head on is always the best way to go and it'll be nice to find out how well my new barrier functions with abnormally wet conditions; this week there will be 4 days of rain in a row starting today (Oct 3rd). Wish me luck.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dope. #16

Changes afoot, pt.1: good-bye to the blueberry

It was a lovely dream,
a chance to begin my full on plunge into the restoration of an automobile,
the chance to call a vehicle truly "my own".

From the humble beginnings of a mountain driven and slightly wrecked 1986 Golf Mk2 (a2) 1.6 n/a diesel car to a piedmont driven and slightly fixed 1986 Golf Mk2 1.6 n/a diesel car, this little petulant child of Westmoreland, PA has won over my heart. It's taken me on a path of self discovery, and put me to limits of patience and tolerance that I normally reserve for members of the fairer sex. It's been a study in oem +/-, and a trial of finding one year only parts that reside in the darkest corners of the mid-Atlantic. Alas, after countless hours of blood, sweat, tears, and more sweat, it's come time to let the plump little four door live a new life with another owner.

A body man by trade, the new owner has prided himself on his daily driven 16vT Mk2 Jetta, running in the upper 200hp range on a daily basis. The full motorsport race suspension on it hugs turns like a happy bear and rewards him with a course time of 3 seconds off the record out at his favorite track. After a few days with the diesel, he's got the same kind of grin affixed to his maw. I know it will be in good hands with him, he's already hooked.

However! Shortly after the trade commenced (more on that later), it became clear that the leaking oil was due not to a simple issue of crankcase pressure, but poor ring condition. A malady surely not remedied quickly, and certainly much worse than I anticipated. The spare motor was dispatched immediately, and the trade car returned whilst the motor is fiddled back to health. An unfortunate delay, but one that is being dealt with swiftness and care.

The trade car also needs a little work, but relatively minor compared to new rings, and will be on the road in another installment soon enough.

So, good-bye to the blueberry. It's been a beautiful run.

you can read the whole story here:
it's at its new home.

The Grey Hatch - When it rains it pours Pt. 1

If you've kept up with my e30 build, you know that I've had it off the road quite a bit so I could get major things addressed. The car that I typically baby, which is why it's usually in the garage (thus has not been mentioned yet), is my Mk3 VW Golf. For some quick background, I've owned my golf since new in 1998 and have thoroughly enjoyed evolving it over the past nine years or so. Since being resprayed back in the Spring of 07', my golf is hardly ever outside. Besides oil changes and tune ups, natures affects on it have never been a concern. Fast forward to about a month ago, I've been driving it every day.

It doesn't look like this now of course; discontinued parts are for special occasions ha. It's been nice to get used to driving it again. Don't get me wrong, my driving technique with the e30 is much like how I drive the golf; the lessons of driving lowered VWs are ingrained in many of us til' the grave. However, the pan/subframe clearance differences of both cars are like night and day. The largest effective difference is that I can't drive the golf quickly in every lane of I-95, between my house and work in laurel, and I was reminded of that on the first week with a subframe grind at a little over 65mph. Every time I drive my golf I always remember all the small things I've learned to live with from the last time the car was seriously worked on, as well as the great gas mileage ABA code 2L 8v motors get when driven smoothly for long distances. I really forgot how much fun running around in this car is. I should make a to-do list for my kid at some point, but that'll have to wait for another time.

On a mildly rainy day a couple weeks ago, getting into the car to go home from work I found myself smelling something funny on the interior. Musty? Check. Moisture? Yep, on the passenger front carpet. I sniff the liquid on my hands to figure out if it's coolant from the heatercore, but I can't put a finger on the odor. Once the motor warms up I turn on the heat full blast and it works great; no foggy mist coming out of the vents or anything like that. "That's odd", I thought to myself. I have about 156K miles on the car with the original heatercore (knock on wood), so I boxed myself into thinking that's what it was. I put in an order for a 180 degree section of coolant hose to prepare for the worst if the heatercore was about to go completely. I threw a bath towel on the front passenger foot well and called it a day until I got more evidence of the culprit.

The following week it started raining here in Maryland. Heavily. Day after day. So I walk out to my car in the rain one morning, because I left my cell phone in it, and was welcomed by a small lake on the passenger side of the car. FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUU.

The good news is I had a water leak which is cheaper to repair than a heatercore. The bad news is I had to diagnose and fix (temporarily at least) the leak in the intermittently heavy rain, immediately, since I was going into work for an overnight shift in a few hours and wouldn't be able to get the quality film I needed to repair the vapor barrier with until the following day (upon looking at the leak trail on the inside of the car it was obvious what had failed). I made a call to my buddy Tom, Service/Shop Manager @ Wheaton Service Center and he still had the good stuff on a roll. Since Wheaton is relatively close to my job, I planned on going straight there after work, but I'd need to have a fix good enough to last me through another 10-15hrs of rain (Friday was supposed to be sunny and dry).

So after running to my sister-in-laws with the ol' lady to get the wet-dry vac, I got the golf on the driveway with wood planks and starting clearing the problem area. I removed the front passenger seat, then the inner door sill trim, speaker and doorcard. This is what I found:


Monday, October 11, 2010

For the love of P. #3 - 918 Spyder Concept

Mid engined, hybrid, Porsche Supercar concept. If you remember the quick vid from a week or so ago, you'll know that the Porsche 918 Spyder concept was debuted this past Spring at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show. Unfortunately that debut interview video has some restrictions on it, but right click 'watch it out on YouTube' to see it (or any other video that gets big-brothered going forward). If this is a glimpse of the future of exotics, I like where things are headed. More importantly for you all, after several months, Porsche has finally released a film made of this car being used in the flesh. Yus.

Photo courtesy of

Video courtesy of Motortrend.