Do you have a Civic rotting away in your garage while you wait for that final killer part to come in from Uzbekistan? Have you been wrenching on a Mitsubishi Starion since the days when anyone cared about Starions? Or maybe you're conjuring up the most wicked turbo system since the invention of air. We want photos of your in-progress project with a brief description what will emerge some day from the garage. It's probably better if you clear the chickens and unused exercise equipment off the car before you shoot the photos, but once you do, you can submit them to us as digital attachments to SCC@mcmullenargus.com or send them to In Progress, Sport Compact Car Magazine, 774 So. Placentia, Placentia, CA 92870. We offer only fame as compensation.
When Acura replaced the Integra with the RSX, it was inevitable the aftermarket would respond with pieces, parts and full-blown race machines based on the new car. Now the first items in the RSX buffet are starting to appear.
Aside from these two cars, there are also RSXs under development at AEM, Wings West, Skunk2 Racing and probably a dozen others.
HKS' blue RSX Type-S is brimming with new products, including a Super Mega Flow intake, Hiper exhaust and, by far the tastiest tidbit of all, a turbo system incorporating the company's GT2835 ball-bearing turbo and all the engine management electronics for which it's famous. Those are 18-inch Racing Hart wheels and 225/40ZR-18 Toyos the car's sitting on. The interior is trimmed with titanium as well.
R.J. DeVera's RO_JA Racing is putting together not one, but two RSXs to showcase its ambition-one a show car (below) and one a flat-out, tube-frame racecar.
The show car is in the process of having its interior gutted and rebuilt, while the exterior is being restyled using components under development by Versus Motorsports. AEBS and HKS will supply most of the performance components for the show car, so who knows what will wind up powering the car.
The racecar is one scary RSX. The tubular space frame has been built by R.J. Simrock and retains the original front-engine/front-drive layout of the RSX. Covering this frame is a carbon-fiber replica of the RSX's body whose "design and configuration...were completed using fluent computational fluid dynamics, facilitated by BAR Aerospace." Golly.
R.J. DeVera is coy about the exact configuration of the powerplant, though he does promise it'll be based upon the RSX Type-S i-VTEC 2.0-liter four and will be force-fed its fuel and air. DeVera hopes to have the RSX racing by April and expects to compete in most NIRA and some NHRA events.
King Motorsports, which is responsible for all the Mugen parts that make it into this country legally, has been thrashing on a street-bound RSX of its own (and will race two RSX Type-S' during 2002 in the Grand-Am Cup Series).
The car King showed at SEMA featured everything from an "Aero Bumper" and "Under Tray" to a side skirt set, carbon fiber hood, carbon fiber rear wing, 17x8-inch MF10 wheels, double adjustable strut and spring set, 26mm rear sway bar, a brake line kit, front and rear tower bars, a "Twin-Loop" silencer, S-1 seats and, most critically of all, a limited-slip differential. All these parts are from Mugen and available through King Motorsports. Just send them a check and tell them to send you one of everything. Unless you own two RSXs.
King is also working on a full R-Spec version of the RSX engine that's been bumped up to 2.4 liters (which is, no shock, the size of the Honda CR-V's powerplant from the same engine family).
Info on King's activities are available on its Web site, www.kingmotorsports.com.
Rumors & Lies
* GM has decided to petition the U.S. government to make daytime running lights mandatory on all new cars. Bad GM, bad.
* Rumor is someone is building a Toyota-bodied Funny Car for NHRA competition. However, no one at the NHRA knows of (or will admit) such a car is under consideration.
* Honda is looking at bringing in the "real" Civic Type R by 2003.
* HKS has announced it will enter a Mercedes-Benz CLK in the JGTC Series for the 2002 season.
* HKS also announced its new drag racing Supra debuted in October at Sendai Highland Japan Drag Raceway for the All-Japan 0-400m Championship. Best e.t. with Tetsuya Kawasaki aboard was 7.277 seconds at 302 km/h (188 mph). HKS is considering running the vehicle here in the United States in 2002.
* According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the two most stolen cars in the United States during 2000 were the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. Those also happen to be the best-selling cars in America.
* On November 29, Roymond Scott Shelly of San Clemente, Calif. and Jose Valverde of Dana Point, Calif. were killed during an alleged street race in Orange County, Calif. Shelly and Valverde were in a minivan struck by a racing Mustang which flipped and burst into flames. Neither were able to escape the inferno. Erin Gormley, 18, was allegedly the driver of the Mustang that hit the van and has been charged with vehicular manslaughter according to a report in "The Orange County Register." The Mustang against which he was allegedly racing is still being sought.
Considering rally racer Rhys Millen is Rod Millen's son and Steve Millen's nephew, the fact he's getting into the parts business would shock only the profoundly stupid and/or utterly ignorant. That these parts are for Mitsubishis, which he races, shouldn't be too surprising either.
The Rhys Millen Racing (RMR) 2002 Lancer has an intercooled turbo system (with HKS EVC-4 and AFR controllers) lashed to its engine and dang near a whole catalog of parts to the rest of the car. That includes RMR's front lip spoiler, four-piece wing, lowering springs, front strut tower bar, roll hoop, Ralliart shocks, OZ 17x7-inch wheels, Yokohama P205/45R-17 Paradas and an interior buried under Sparco stuff, including front seats, steering wheel, shift knob and rear seat upholstery.
While information about RMR parts is available on its Web site at www.rmrproducts.com, the company will not be selling them at retail. Instead, all RMR's pieces are now available as dealer-installed options through Mitsubishi dealers. That is everything except the turbo kit, which RMR says is "under development."
NSX Type R
At the Tokyo Motor Show, Honda displayed the most extreme NSX in its history, the Type R. The new Type R uses carbon fiber and other ultra-lightweight materials in places where even the NSX's usual aluminum body panels are unnecessarily heavy. This includes, obviously, the carbon-fiber hood, rear spoiler and engine cover. The interior has also been lightened with Recaro carbon/aramid seats, a Momo steering wheel and the deletion of all those pesky luxuries with which U.S. market Acura NSXs are burdened. The Type R also rides on 17-inch aluminum wheels with P215/40ZR-17 front and P255/40ZR-17 rear tires. Also, the Type R gets all the updates made to current NSXs including the exposed headlights. There's probably more to the Type R, but this is all Acura is telling us at the moment.
No Acura won't sell it here. Maybe it thinks it's just too much carbon fiber for us to handle.
At the 2002 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Toyota debuted the Concept Coupe Crossover (ccX) vehicle. The ccX, according to Toyota, is a multi-purpose concept vehicle that combines the aggressive styling of a sporty coupe with expansive cargo-hauling capability. Think of it as a two-door Matrix.
Designed in Japan, the ccX was built in Italy at Forum Ricerche E Progetti. Under the hood is a 2.4-liter, DOHC four-cylinder engine linked to a four-speed automatic transmission. The front-wheel-drive ccX rides on 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels with 225/45R-18 tires.
The roof is comprised of two large power sunroofs, each made up of four glass panels. The roof panels tilt up individually, and then slide fore and aft toward the center of the roofline, creating large openings over the entire waterproof passenger compartment and cargo area.
The ccX accommodates four passengers with see-through bucket seats made of washable blue neoprene fabric and mesh netting. The blue instrument cluster is center-dash mounted and the blue theme carries through to the auxiliary illumination that runs vertically down each side of the center console, bordering a 7-inch multi-display monitor that displays DVD entertainment, navigation and audio systems.
And in the rear cargo area are six hidden tie-down hooks and an electric-powered removable cooler that plugs into a 12-volt power source.
Hell's Own Lexus
There's not a lot of racing going on in December, but that's when the IDRC ran its "Fourth Annual Nitto Tires International Finals Presented by Toyota" at Los Angeles County Raceway in the high desert town of Palmdale. And what came out of the thin air was the single quickest run in the IDRC's history.
Tadatoshi Wakita's Blast Racing brought its tube-frame, twin-turbo Lexus SC400 over from Japan (where it probably runs as a Toyota Soarer), and ripped off an astounding 7.38 at 184 mph run. This is what a Toyota 2UZ-FE V8 with two monster-sized, HKS-controlled, KKK turbos humming can do. In the NHRA Pro Stock, where it has a 30-year head start on chassis and engine development, winning cars are running in high 6s at more than 200 mph. It's only a matter of time before a Japanese car will break 200 mph in IDRC competition and the Pro Class develops well beyond what's going on in the technologically moribund NHRA Pro Stock Class.
Still, Wakita's blast wasn't enough to win the Pro class. This title went to Hiro Shiobara and his Escort Racing Nissan 300ZX.
Bad Ass Beetle
VW finally sent us a Beetle worth caring about. The 180-hp 2002 Turbo S is the most powerful Beetle yet, a full 30 horses more robust than other turbo Beetles. And it looks faster too (for a Beetle).
As have other vehicles powered by VW's (and Audi's) turbocharged 1.8-liter, DOHC, five-valve four such as the GTI and Jetta, the Turbo S' engine gets revised engine electronics, which optimize air intake, ignition timing and fuel mixture. And when combined with a new exhaust system, it jolts output up a full 20 percent. The turbo itself and its intercooler are familiar too, but the six-speed manual trans it feeds is new. The peak 180-hp comes at a relatively modest 5500 rpm and VW claims torque peaks at a thick 173 lb-ft at just 1950 rpm and stays there all the way to 5000 rpm. A torque curve this flat doesn't rate being called a curve.
Along with the extra power, the Turbo S gets its own unique set of 17-inch wheels, integrated fog lamps, new turn signals, a front spoiler, a new rear bumper and a split outlet exhaust. The turbo Beetle's black, speed-activated, automatic rear spoiler is retained.
Inside, Volkswagen added loads of the usual look-fast stuff, including stainless-steel pedals with (and this is a direct lift from the press release) "fashionable, but functional grip holes." There's also white-on-black instrument illumination, "brushed alloy look" trim and a leather wrap around the steering wheel. There's even "brushed alloy" trim on the Beetle's infamous dashboard bud vase. (Although anything with a bud vase still screams "girlie car.")
By the way, this most powerful Beetle ever has 7.5 times the horsepower of the first 1946 Beetle imported into the United States.
Audi's Continuously Changing
Continuously variable transmissions (CVT) aren't really new. Holland's DAF company was selling a version of the CVT as far back as the '50s, Subaru sold the Justy with a CVT aboard during the '80s and Honda will still sell you a Civic GX with a CVT if you really want one. But Audi's new Multitronic CVT for the A4 (and eventually other Audis and VWs) is the new world standard for high-tech CVTs.
While the term Multitronic may conjure up images of old Star Trek episodes, the essential elements of a CVT are in place with the new Audi transmission - it still works by moving a belt across pulleys which vary in diameter depending on their position. Since the belt remains a constant size, the drive pulley changes in size directly in proportion to the change in the driven pulley and the ratios vary. There are no stepped gears as in a conventional transmission, so CVTs can run exceptionally smoothly.
The Audi Multitronic system adds electronic control to the world of CVTs. Instead of a rubber belt, the Multitronic uses "link-plate" drive chain that is tied to "variator" pulleys whose sides expand or contract to vary their size. A computer decides, depending on throttle position, when to hydraulically vary the pulley sizes and produce the various ratios in concert with engine torque production and clutch engagement. The use of a chain instead of belt means torque loads up to 230 lb-ft can be accommodated, which is quite a bit higher than previous CVTs.
What's particularly satisfying about the Multitronic CVT is how the electronic controls allow Tiptronic operation of six "virtual" gears in manual mode. Using the Tiptronic shifter, the computer creates steps in the CVT's ratios, which simulate manual gear choices very well.
CVTs have been more a novelty than a choice for most enthusiast buyers - mostly because they have been available only in small, low-power vehicles. The Multitronic unit increases torque capacity significantly and may mean CVTs will have a more fruitful future than anyone thought a few years ago.
The Skyline Arrives
Nissan has finally decided North America deserves the Skyline-it arrives here as the Infiniti G35 sedan. If our initial impressions hold up, it's simply the strongest product Infiniti has had yet, and it's only a tantalizing hint of what's yet to come.
The rear-drive G35 (and all new Skylines for that matter) are built around a "Front Mid-ship" concept which places the engine's center of gravity just behind the front wheel axle line to produce a nearly perfect 52/48 front-to-rear weight balance. Infiniti contends the slight front-end bias helps "pre-load" the front suspension for better initial turn-in during cornering, without significantly sacrificing the stability which comes from near-perfect weight distribution.
And stability is exactly what impresses about the G35 most. Orbiting Nissan's Arizona test track at more than 150 mph, the G35 tracks with the composure of the Queen Mary-and it's been berthed in Long Beach for 35 years. The long 112.2-inch wheelbase (within an athletic 186.2-inch overall length) smothers most road divots, and the strutless multi-link, all-independent suspension is both mellow in its reactions and tenacious in adhesion. Nissan has also done a phenomenal job managing airflow over and around the car. The body itself carries a sleek 0.27 coefficient of drag, but the real trick lies underneath. The incorporation of diffusers and deflectors means the G35 has zero lift even at hyper-illegal velocities. This is the sort of intrinsic stability other cars try to achieve with big spoilers and afterthought air dams.
That sort of aerodynamic efficiency makes the work assigned to the G35's 3.5-liter, DOHC, 24-valve easier. Rated at 260 hp at 6000 rpm, and 260 lb-ft of torque at 4800 rpm, this is a version of the engine destined for the upcoming 350Z sports car. Lashed to a five-speed automatic (a manual will come later), this V6 is placid in around-town loafing but delivers thoroughbred performance when given some spur. At more than 3,300 lbs., the G35 is no lightweight, but it's not porky either. This keeps acceleration reasonable, if not phenomenal, and makes the chore faced by the ABS controlled four-wheel disc brakes manageable.
Sitting on its optional 17-inch wheels and P215/55R-17 tires (16s are standard), the G35 looks good enough on its own. But it's easy to imagine this car-this Skyline-with bigger wheels, bigger tires, twin turbos on its V6, all-wheel drive, a GT-R nameplate and the attitude of a world beater. As good as the G35 is, the best thing about it is that it's a Skyline and it's here.
Spied frolicking along the Nurburgring in a secret test session was this prototype for a new hyped version of Audi's TT. The exterior tweaks are minor-new front skirt with fresh air intakes, new wheels, and some futzing around the wheel arches-but in the engine bay sits yet another version of the VW/Audi turbocharged, five-valve, DOHC 1.8-liter four. This one's boost brutalizes the pistons to make a rumored 265 hp. Whispers of a V6-powered TT persist, and beyond this a twin-turbo V6 blazing out nearly 400 hp. But this one-of which we have photos-still seems to have the four aboard.
Illustrated Buyer's Guide: Modern Sports Cars & GT Cars Under 20K
After a hard day wrenching on your car, nothing is better than cuddling up with some fine literature around bedtime. Putting aside our third reading of Gustave Flaubert's 1857 masterpiece "Madame Bovary," we picked up Matt Stone's new book on buying solid performance machinery for under $20,000. Stone has put a lot more cars in his "Illustrated Buyer's Guide: Modern Sports Cars & GT Cars Under 20K" than are in a thousand copies of Madame Bovary. In fact, compared with Stone, Flaubert kinda sucks.
Flaubert's concentration was on adultery and unhappy love. And this just pales in comparison to Stone's dissection of solid used performance machinery available between $10,000 and $20,000 (though some good ones are available for less than $5K). Stone covers everything from MR2s and the Dodge Stealth to the Honda Civic Si and something called a "Mustang" in his perceptive 160-page tome illustrated with 200 photographs. Each car is very well covered and Stone offers plenty of buying tips.
For anyone buying a used performance car, Stone's book is a worthwhile resource and nearly indispensable guide. Published by Motorbooks International, it carries a $17.95 price and should be in bookstores now. Access Motorbooks at www.motorbooks.com.
"Madame Bovary" has been made into a movie seven times-"Illustrated Buyer's Guide: Modern Sports Cars & GT Cars Under 20K" the motion picture seems inevitable.
* The Club RSX
This site has been up and running since January of 2001 - months before the RSX actually went on sale at Acura dealers. The front page of Club RSX is about as big a snore as can be found on the Internet. But dig a bit deeper and there are elements aboard that include product reviews, tech articles and places to whine out your opinions about anything and everything having to do with the RSX. There's also a premium area for people who actually want to join the club outright, but that's 45 bucks, and we found the free portion of the site more than adequate.