Saturday, July 3, 2010

Corrazy Corrado

Featured this week is a nifty little VW Corrado I spotted on the Grassroots Motorsports forums. This model is owned by Jay Roberts of Atlanta. Jay wanted a Corrado ever since he first spotted one in a dealership in 92. However, like so many others, he couldn't afford the high price tag, and settled on a Golf. Years later, Jay, now older and wiser, owns two of them. Jay jumped on the opportunity to grab this week's feature car from Charleston, which he then proceeded to drive back to his place in the rain, with bald tires and malfunctioning ABS.  And sometimes we wonder why it's difficult to explain our hobby to outsiders.

Jay's mods are simple and functional. Dare I say Clean? Bilstein Coilovers, Momo steering wheel, pulleys, a K&N filter, and an aftermarket exhaust that came with the car and hasn't yet been identified. "It sounds like a Borla" says Jay. The trusty VR6 provides reliable transportation to his job as a TV broadcast facility tech, and performs occasional autocross duty. Chalk up one more car I wish I owned. Maybe someday.

We've all heard the name VR6 thrown around before, the VW R32 had one, so did a GTI, but what is it? It's an engine best described as a really narrow-angle V6. So narrow, in fact, that it only has one cylinder head. At the time, this engine was revolutionary, sporting excellent balance and 6 cylinders in a very small package.Unfortunately, while the engine is still in production, the car it first sat in is not. While the Corrado VR6 was by all accounts excellent, it simply cost too much for most people who'd want to buy it. And there's your fun fact of the week.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Clean Lives Up To It's Name

With the engine bay of my little Civic covered in oil and in bad need of a scrub, the detailing tools available at my house just weren't cutting it. It was time to bring in reinforcements. And that meant a trip to the DIY car wash.

I decided to make the longer trip over to College Park with my friend Jason and his 2010 GTI. And wow. That place is quite an experience.

College Park is a relatively small city, mostly known for playing host to the University of MD. Judging by the car wash, it's also a car town. I was not prepared for the sheer number of cars and people. All of them were there just to clean their cars. And we're not just talking about a quick spray in the cleaning bay and a once-over with the vacuum. No, they had the same idea I did. There was a whole line of cars being given a thorough interior and exterior detail with various cleaning, polishing, and shining formulas. The pics may give you a general idea of the number and variety of cars on display.

There were family minivans, luxury sedans, muscle cars, compacts, Modified and stock. We were all there for the same reason. It was hot out and we thought "Why not take the car out for a cleaning?"

Well, why not? My car looks better than ever. 3 hours, one wash, spray wax, engine degrease, vacuum and wheel polish later, I'm finally done. The engine bay looks much better now (Maybe I can finally find that oil leak) and the rest of my car looks phenomenal. Not sure what to do with your afternoon? Experience the warm fuzzy feeling of kinship with your fellow car owners at your local car wash.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Introducing Project Clean

Fact is, I'm not posting a real feature this week. I'd been chasing leads on a couple of them, but nothing turned up. I'm still working. Hopefully by next week I'll have turned this around...

In the meantime, I figured why not post a short feature on my car instead? So I took her out this morning for a quick wash and wax, and shot some pics in the driveway, and typed up a quick feature on myself. Here we go!

Rabi Dixon comes out of Arbutus MD, and he loves Hondas. While he's enthusiastic about all kinds of cars, he's definitely a loyal Honda user. He has to be.  With a commute of over an hour every day to his job as a preschool/afterschool teacher, plus a lot of martial arts training in the evenings. he needs a car he can rely on. After his beloved 91 hatch bit the dust about a year ago, Rabi figured he'd move up a couple years, and ended up paying $1800 for this 95 Civic coupe.

Mods right now are simple: AEM short ram, DC Sports header, and Magnaflow catalyst and exhaust. That's it. Rabi's currently saving up for tires to replace his worn-out old ones, and a set of wheels to go with it.

Rabi's year with his new car hasn't really been all fun and games. Here's his story of what it's been like to fix his exhaust system.

"That exhaust system took almost a year to put together. I figured I'd share the fun story.I took the car in for inspection and was told that it was leaking, so I replaced it with the Magnaflow catback. Then the flange on the already gutted (when I bought it) cat snapped off due to rust. When I crawled under to check it out, I discovered that the cat had been welded to the exhaust manifold, so I was going to have to replace the manifold as well. I tacked on a little metal tube to hold it together in the meantime. The thing rattled like hell. By the time I had the money for the header, it was wintertime, and I couldn't get a chance to put the parts on in between blizzards. I finally caved and scraped some money together to pay a shop to install the header and cat. Glad I did because it would have ended up being extremely difficult without a lift. They also couldn't get a gasket to fix. Come to find out that they didn't protect the newly re-wired o2 sensor. The wire rubbed out on a motor mount, shorted out the ecu and left me stranded on the left shoulder of the freeway. I had to get it towed. Luckily that part didn't end up working out too badly. The original shop ended up reimbursing me in labor for the money I spent getting the problem fixed. After all this, I ordered a donut gasket that I didn't have at the time of the install. Well guess what? It was the wrong one. I had to order another one. Once I finally got one that fit, the stupid spring-loaded bolts that attach the cat to the manifold would no longer fit because of the longer distance between the manifold and the cat. I had to use the spring on one bolt hole and a big washer on the other. I'm still working on finding smaller springs. But overall, it's finally done. It does sound pretty good. And response is noticeably improved. It also cruises a lot more comfortably at higher speeds than before. What a pain in the ass though."

As you may have guessed, Rabi may love driving, drawing, and learning about cars, but he's not a huge fan of working on them. 

...And that's the end of that little bit of self-congratulation. Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

As a final note, I called my car "Project Clean" for a reason. I'll be posting updates of what's happening to my car every once in a while. The goal is to have a well-rounded, reliable highway cruiser, and I'm choosing my mods to reflect that.

See you next week!

Monday, June 7, 2010

You Have a JDM What?

This week's feature hails from Woodland Hills, CA. The car may be American, but the look definitely screams Japan. And it works. It really does.

Maybe it's just the fact that I love 80s sports cars with a shutouku theme, maybe it's the fact that the C4 Corvette is one of my favorite cars, (It's probably both) but when I ran across this car I knew I had to feature it. Travis, the owner, actually owns a small stable of interesting projects, including a very clean DSM, A Japanese gangster-themed Mercedes 190E, And a Nissan 300ZX. 

The car you are reading about now is his 1990 Z51 Corvette. Instead of going the traditional American iron route with his mods, Travis decided to draw inspiration from Japanese highway racers. Before you write off this idea as completely random, you should know that there are imported, modified American cars cruising Japan's highways at night. And having spent time in Japan definitely skewed Travis' tastes in this direction.

This car is a work in progress, but with the body in fantastic shape, the modifications really stand out. First of all, the body's been lowered over the ARE mesh wheels, which feature stretched tires and 1.5" spacers in the rear. I rarely see a Corvette look this classy and aggressive at the same time. The stance really brings out this car's aggressive side.

Power mods are few as well. There's the K&N Filtercharger under the hood, but (if you haven't already noticed from the pictures) what you should really be interested in is the genuine HKS exhaust system underneath. That's right, a Corvette with HKS exhaust. I wish I could hear it in person, because Travis claims it sounds incredible.

This is not the last you'll hear about this particular project. As I said before, there's still work to be done, and Travis has some choice parts sitting in his garage waiting for installation. Travis actually sent me a pic of the twin turbo kit he's assembling. I know I want to see this thing when it's all ready, so expect another feature on this car whether you want one or not.

That's it for this week, ladies and germs. Expect another fun-filled feature next weekend. Until then, keep it Clean.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Wangan Style

So... This week's sketch looks a little different. This week's feature inspired me to try something new. Well, kind of new anyway. I have more experience using a plain old #2 pencil than I do with anything else.

A little explanation: The Japan-tuning themed C4 Corvette that I'll be writing about for this week's feature inspired me to do a comic-book themed sketch this week. What I was particularly shooting for was the art style of one of my favorite comics of all time- The Japanese manga Initial D.

Please please please post your feedback. Do you guys like the action-sketch look? Or the inked-up paint look that I've been posting so far? I'll be experimenting with this art style for the next few weeks, so I hope y'all don't hate it too much.

Anyways, tune in tomorrow for Travis' Wangan-Style 1990 Corvette. You won't regret it.

Until next time, keep it Clean.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Bitten by the Bug

Over the past couple years, subcompacts have been making a comeback. These tiny cars with tiny engines are popping up all over. And I love it. There's something about a zippy little hatchback that makes me drool, and this week's feature is an excellent example.

This week's feature comes from Nashville, although the car and its owner will soon be moving to my local area of operations, in the beautiful State of Maryland. Randy, the owner, is a studio recording engineer who originally purchased the car for the most practical of reasons. His old Isuzu Trooper wasn't exactly an economical ride when gas was hovering around $4 a gallon.

Randy credits for inspiring him to move his "Tuna Can" up from beater status. Once he decided to go ahead with the work, he turned to Garm Beale, the owner of Micro Image to provide him with the parts to make his Yaris shine.

Tuna Can's interior has been spruced up to more properly accommodate Randy's tastes. For a man who loves music, A quality sound system is mandatory. A Dynamat insulation, a JVC head, Memphis Car Audio speakers and amp, along with an Infinity subwoofer, ensure that Randy doesn't have to do without great sound no matter where he goes. LED lights coming from the ceiling, console, ignition, and floor illuminate the cabin to provide the right mood for driving. For a touch of sport, an NRG e-brake lever, sport pedal covers, Redline shift and e-brake boots, and a TRD shift knob connected to an SST short shifter complete the look.

On the outside, the first thing Toyota aficionados will notice is the JDM Toyota Vitz badge and foglights prominently displayed up front. (For those not in the know, the Vitz is the Japan-market Yaris). In the rear, a pair of TYC taillights accent shaved badges and stubby antenna for a smooth body. Under the hood, Tuna Can sports a couple choice TRD bits, namely a fusebox cover and oil cap, complementing the ground kit, Tanabe strut brace, NST underdrive pulleys, AFE Pro-Dry intake, and DC Sports header.

If you were to drop down and take a look underneath the car, you'd find there's still more to be seen. Tanabe springs and TRD shocks keep Tuna Can's body only barely above the Hankook-wrapped 17" MSR rims. Stuffed inside those rims, a full disc brake conversion is completed with R1 Concepts rotors up front, Carbotech pads all around and Agency-Power stainless brake lines tying the whole setup together. Peer under the rear if you want a look at the Tanabe Medallion Touring exhaust system and the TRD rear sway bar.

At this point, I usually try to wrap up the article with a summary on why the car I'm featuring appeals to me. This time, I'm going to let Randy speak for himself.

"I found other Yaris owners that shared what upgrades they had done to their rides. It started with wheels, lowering springs, TRD shocks. Soon I was skipping meals so I could afford led lights for my instrument cluster. When my wife started to feel the differences in the handling and acceleration from the mods I was doing, I knew I was hooked ! Modding my Yaris gives me a sense of individuality. Knowing that nobody else has a Yaris set up like mine makes me feel good when I drive it and I enjoy driving my "Tuna Can" !"

Randy goes on to say...

"What I like most about my Yaris is it’s look and handling. It’s never gonna’ be fast, but it’s quick and rides curves like a glove. I love hearing comments like, “Randy, I’ve seen other Yaris’s but none look as cool as yours.” And since I’ve taken off the badges that tell you what model it is, I get, “What kind of car is that? It’s got a European plate, Did ya’ have it shipped over here?” "

Sounds like a classic case of "bitten by the bug" to me.

Until next week, keep it Clean.

It's Good to be back

Features are officially back! Check out Randy's Yaris later today. Stay Tuned!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Free Stuff Alert

My cards have come in. And while this shitty photo doesn't do them justice, I'm excited enough to post it anyway. In person, they look awesome. I'm very happy with the print quality.

Want some?

I'll send you one of each. They're great for arranging or just looking at.

All you have to do is give me an address to send them to.

You can post it here, or email

I also got a couple sheets of stickers with the same design to give away. I have yet to determine how I'll distribute those. Stay tuned for that.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

How to get your sketch...

So the Clean Membership Campaign sweepstakes is officially over. With... Disappointing results. I gained a total of about 12-13 members over the past week.

At this point, I'll still be awarding a consolation prize. I can't justify the expense of super-fancy paper right now, but I want to do right by my readers. I will mail out one sketch on 96lb 5.5"x7" sketch paper. This sketch can be of your car, or of any other car you'd like to have a custom picture of.

However, I still need to pick a winner! If you have referred people to the Facebook page over the past week, please post their names on the page. I will award the prize to whoever has managed to refer the most new members.

Everything I do on this site is basically an experiment. I try different things and evaluate the results. I gained some valuable information from this contest, which right now is the main goal of everything I do related to my little venture. This won't be the last promotion you'll see from me, and the next one will definitely be a bit more interesting.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ahoy, Maties! Thar Be Fun and Promotions on the Horizon!

Want a Sketch of your Car?

I'll be mailing out a one-off sketch to the winner of this week's competition. How do you enter? It's simple.

Get 10 people to join the Clean Facebook and follow me on Twitter. Once you've done this, post up on the Facebook page, listing the names of people you've gotten to join.

That's it, basically. I'll put all eligible entries in a hat next Sunday and pull out the winner at random. Pictures will be posted so you all can see.

The winner will receive a sketch of their car in the mail.

Don't have a car? Don't want yours sketched? No problem. I can draw any car you want. The sketch will be drawn on archival paper, which means that provided you keep it clean and dry, the paper won't deteriorate. Mat it and frame it or whatever you want. If this contest goes well, expect more in the future.

Why am I doing this? I need more members! It's as simple as that. I'm trying to increase my readership, and I can't afford tons of expensive advertising and stuff like that right now, so I'm keeping things small.

In other news, I just spent the last several hours uploading and designing the official Clean business cards. These cards are going to feature the drawings from Clean Series 1. The fronts of the cards are going to look just like the images you see above you.

I'm going to be mailing these cards out in sets of three (one of each image). Want some? All you have to do is ask. And give me an address to send them to. They should be available in a few weeks (I hope).

Finally, features should be back next week. I'm currently corresponding with the owners of a few unique and interesting daily drivers. I apologize that it's taken so long to bring them back, but with a full time job and other commitments, I can only do so much.

That's it for now ladies and gentlemen. As usual, feel free to let me know about any feature-worthy cars you see, including your own. I love getting feedback from everyone, so don't be shy.

See you next week!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Third in a Series

Here it is, the last of three images.

These images will soon be available on prints, t-shirts and other merchandise. They are the first of many different art releases I have planned for the future.

When I started this blog, I had one specific goal: To make a living drawing, writing, and talking about cars. This is just the first step of many towards that goal. I'll still be writing, still drawing, and still talking to all kinds of car owners from all over the world. It's been a fun and educational experience so far, and I see no reason that won't continue.

I picked these specific cars for a reason. All three were immediate successes upon their release, and remained successful through many years and generations. All three are also still available. I hope, of course, to make the same thing happen to this little venture.

Expect merchandise to be available by the end of the month.

And if you know someone (Including yourself) who deserves a feature on their car, shoot an email to or post here, or on the Facebook.

Have an awesome week, and by the way, welcome to all the new fans. I appreciate all the support.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Second in a Series.

So here it is. Part 2. Son of part 1.

As I mentioned last post, these images are part of a promotion I'm setting up, among other things. The main uses will be revealed tomorrow, but, like any promotion, there will be free stuff, so look forward to that!

At this point, I really want to know what everyone thinks of the art and the blog in general. Personally, I love interviewing people and writing about their cars. I love probing everyone's mind with new questions every day. I love shooting cars and tweeting commentary at car shows. And, of course, I love drawing. This blog of mine has been a great way to combine a lot of my interests into one ongoing project, and I hope you all are enjoying the results.

Third image will be up tomorrow, along with the final bit of information as to what I intend to do with these. Stay tuned!

Friday, May 7, 2010

First in a Series

The image you are viewing is the first of three images that I'll be posting this weekend. There'll be one more tomorrow and a third on Sunday.

These images will comprise the face of my first promotion campaign. I'll be doing some pretty cool stuff with them. Stuff I don't want to reveal just yet.

As always, feel free to post any thoughts, advice, criticism, praise, etc right here, or to the Facebook.

Have an awesome weekend everybody!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

CPTuning Meet & Canned Food Drive

It's getting close to summertime, and car season has officially begun. And with car season comes car meets. One of these is the annual charity meet at University of Maryland. A fun little event, with canned food items standing in for the admission cost.

The event was fun, despite the oppressive heat. I heard accounts that it was bigger last year, but the lots seemed pretty full to me. However, most people, including myself, had left after a couple hours, so I guess there's something to that.

There was a nice mix of brands and countries represented, along with a good blend of style, from ratty daily drivers to ultra-clean show cars. Definitely a lot of eye candy on display for enthusiasts like myself.

Meets like this are always a good way to get a genuine feel for what's happening in the local car scene and what people like to do to their cars. Here's a few impressions I got:

Drifting seems to have made its final evolutionary step. Now, much like drag racing, the die-hard enthusiasts remain, but it has lost it's status as the hot trend everyone wants to follow. I think this is a good thing, honestly, as the sport will begin to become more open to newcomers now that all the haters have found something else to get on their high horse about.

I definitely saw my share of crazy wheel fitments out there, some better executed than others. I honestly like a flush setup once in a while, although I'd never do it to my own car. However, as usual, some people take it a bit too far. If your tires are scraped up from your fenders, you're not a badass, you're an idiot.

One thing I definitely don't get is this new trend with engine bays being painted a different color than the rest of the car. To me, no matter how good your paint job was, it still looks like someone did a shitty respray on your car and neglected to paint the engine bay. I just don't like it, but if it's your thing, enjoy.

Wire tucks: Always amazing. I love them.

That's it for today: Remember, there's a bunch of pics on the Facebook page, so head over there if you haven't already. See you next week!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What A Weekend...

No announcements, teasers, or sketches today... Just a story. The story of my weekend.

I had taken Friday off of work because my good friend Trevor was coming over to visit. (Yes, the same Trevor who owns the RSX I posted two weeks ago, and that's him, not me, in the pictures) We hadn't spent any real time together since last summer, so I was pretty excited. We had a pretty good plan.

He and I were first going to drop my car off at an exhaust shop to get my new header installed. We were then going to hang out before picking my car back up, giving it a wash, and shooting some photos. Sounds like a good way to spend a Friday, right?

Well it didn't exactly work out that way.

We drove over to pick the car up around 5:30 pm. It was supposed to be done at 2:30. That didn't happen. No big deal. We no longer had time for a full wash/wax/detail, but we figured we'd just run it through the car wash and have plenty of time to spare for a good photo shoot. We were on our way to the car wash when my check engine light came on. This is when my weekend officially went to hell.

The CEL had been turning itself on randomly for about a week now. Usually within five minutes of driving. I had been "dealing" with this problem using a proven method: ignoring it. I'd turn the car off, then turn it back on, and the light would stay off for the remainder of my drive. This time, however, my car wouldn't turn back on.

After looking at the wires, we determine that we can't fix it on the side of the road, so we decide to use Trevor's AAA membership to tow the car to a safer location. Only one problem: Trevor was following me in a rental car, so his membership apparently would only apply to his car, not mine. So, obviously, we had to ditch the rental car.

We got in his rental and drove it off the highway and into a residential area, parked it, and walked the mile back to my car, where we subsequently called AAA and told them that the car had died while he was riding with me. After waiting a little under an hour, we got a tow to a closed service station, where my father met us and we checked over the car and determined I had no current coming out of the coil. Uh oh.

It was now after 9 pm, so we called it a night, got a ride back to the rental, and crashed at another friend's house (His name's Jason, expect a feature on his car in the weeks ahead).

Next morning, I bid Trevor goodbye and get a ride back to my car. I checked all the fuses under the dash. Nothing wrong. The internet tells me it could be any number of things. I tried to jump the diagnostic connector to get the CEL to show me the trouble code it was throwing. All that did was make the airbag light flash. I tried to get the local auto parts store to lend me an OBD I diagnostic reader so I could read the code that way. They don't have one. After several hours of this, I call it a day and go back to another friend's house to crash for another night.

Next morning. Day three. (That's today). I get another ride back to the car. I get my Dad to bring his voltmeter out (I should really buy my own). Right before he arrived, I decide to check the fuses under the hood. Something I should have done at the beginning.

You may be able to guess what the problem was...

The ECU fuse had blown. One walk into the neighboring convenience store later, my car's running again.

Except now, none of my instruments are working. No fuel gauge, no speedometer, no tachometer, no odometer, no CEL, nothing.

I drove to the store to buy a pack of 15 amp fuses in case the ECU blows again. Once there, I downloaded a fuse diagram for the fuses under my dashboard, and checked them. Nothing seems to be wrong there.

I drove back to my friend's house, post on the internet asking for help, and then decided to check the fuses under the dash one more time.

Again, you might guess what happened.

Turns out the back-up light fuse was missing. I had somehow misplaced it when checking the fuses earlier. And I in my infinite wisdom completely neglected to notice this fact. Everything works now.

Moral of the story: I spent an entire 3-day weekend trying to fix a problem that was caused by one 50-cent fuse. Always check the basics when working on cars...

Of course now I have to figure out what blew that fuse...