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.