OK, Wiseass, So You Need Some Space To Vent. Here It Is. Direct Letters To The Editor To Sccnews@Sourceinterlink.Com And We'll Do Our Best To Come Up With A Snide Response. Or Completely Ignore You. But Hey, At Least You've Got A Voice.
Letter Of The Month
The price of originalityAfter toiling away with hours of overtime and saving all my pennies, I finally made the move from a busted 1989 Camry to a used 2004 Mazda RX-8. But something is bothering me. It's not that I'm complaining about leaving behind a leaking, smoking hunk of scrap steel for my new car, but I'm having trouble with my Mazda.
The problem? I can't seem to find any easy way to make serious power. The RX-8 is good for now, but I want to be able to really lay it down when I need to. At the track event I did last year, I was getting smoked left and right down the front straight. I've seen the GReddy turbo, heard about some JDM superchargers and even heard of some people doing an RX-7 engine swap, but the Renesis is really killing me. I have a friend with a 2005 WRX-he just slapped on a turboback exhaust and gained way more power than I could ever hope to get. Are there any secrets I'm not thinking of?
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Ah, sorry friend, but you've fallen victim to the concept of supply and demand. Believe me, the RX-8 is a far more popular modification platform than, say, the first-generation Prelude or any Hyundai Accent. But the customer base behind it determines its place in the aftermarket industry. Companies are reluctant to develop parts for Accents because they simply won't sell many and will lose the cash they sink into development. The Mazda RX-8 is a great seller, but the Renesis engine requires significant development time to be able to nail a perfectly driveable aftermarket turbo setup.
The Mazda RX-8 isn't designed to be a drag car; there simply aren't enough power-mad RX-8 owners to make it worth too many companies' time. WRX and Evo owners are lucky because they can just slap on a jury-rigged exhaust and gain at least 20 wheel-hp. Plus, everyone and their mom seems to enjoy drag racing all-wheel-drive turbos, for some reason. The Blitz and Power Enterprise RX-8 supercharger kits never made it Stateside and the RX-7 engine swap is not as simple as it sounds. Just ask JIC USA-we have. What you should do is focus on your car's inherent strengths. In the case of the RX-8, that would be handling. The chassis design is still one of the finest on the market and you can easily stuff 275-width Hoosiers under the stock fenders. Focus on your cornering power and increase your corner exit speeds. That should help you take out a WRX or two. -JL
Project Car Graveyard
I've had a subscription for over 10 years and I love it. Keep up the good work. I've been a Subie fanatic for the past seven years. I started by owning a 2000 2.5RS, then got into a 2001 2.5RS with a 2002 EJ20 engine. The best of both worlds-so why not? I now have a 2002 WRX wagon and I love the extra room. What happens with project cars you have no further use for? Do they go to auction or what? You probably get asked this every day, but I would like some information on if there's a way to purchase one of your project cars. I'm really interested in the Subarus or Project 240.
Actually, we do get asked this question quite a bit. The answer is always: it depends. Some cars, like Project SRT-4, will never truly leave our project fleet. We may consider them done at some point, but they're so close to the heart of SCC, they'll always stay around. Others, like Project Silvia or past Subaru projects, come and go as they're finished. Some stay with their respective owners, others are sold via used car listings or other means. Almost none are represented as an SCC project when they're sold. Although you could always make us an offer we can't refuse... -JL
Loss of Focus
In the March 2008 magazine is an article entitled 'Project Focus SVT Part 7'. On page 78 is a list of prior installments; Part 5 is said to be in the April 2006 issue. I have this issue and the article isn't there. Would you let me know which is the correct issue that has Part 5 of this series?
Oops, our mistake. To all our loyal Focus fans who have been following Project Focus SVT, Part 5 can be found in the May 2006 issue. -JL
Ahead of the curve
I've been looking for the perfect suspension setup. To do a little research, I hit the internet. What I came up with is a big mess. I got people putting shocks on the shock dyno (mostly the Koni guys doing the tests), saying the suspensions from non-European companies are garbage (Tein, Tanabe, Cusco, Silk Road, etc). I was wondering if you would do an article testing different companies, such as Koni, Bilstein, Tein, KW, Cusco and so forth to end the internet shock war.
Interestingly enough, this letter arrived about a week after we finished at the track with our S2000 suspension comparison. What perfect timing. Quang, we were thinking the same exact thing. Check it out in this issue on page 38. -JL
I almost got depressed when reading the new Scion tC racer article (March 2008 issue). You are the lifestyle mag for me and everyone in the compact sports car world. If your people don't realize what they're putting together, then just give it up and drive off in your V8. OK, so he did apologize later in the article. I just hope I don't read many more of these sorts of pieces, because it wouldn't be worth paying for something where people put down the very cause they're trying to promote.
I think you missed the point of what Mike Kojima was saying in that piece (Scion Racer). Kojima wasn't trying to put down Scions or sport compacts, he was attempting to get the point across that not all Scions are built to be pimped-out, customized show cars like in the TV ads. Many, such as the tC from that piece, are modified to be real performance vehicles that are capable on track. Speed is the only lifestyle we understand around here. -JL
Just picked up the March issue and saw that you wanted comments on the SRT-4 shootout. As a Neon owner, I'd love to see anything Neon-related in the mag. I'm not a big fan of the Caliber, but would like to see a comparo of the old Neon with the new Caliber. I'm also waiting anxiously for your wheel/tire article you've been teasing about. I've been looking at Enkei RPF1 and Motegi Traklites, probably the 15-inch variety, for my low-powered Neon SXT. I wouldn't go any larger than 16 inches, though. My main concern is the continued availability of good 15-inch tires as the rims keep getting bigger and the choices in that range keep decreasing.
I'd also love to see more buyers guide-type info. Maybe pick a different, cheap, readily available used car and outline its tuning possibilities and the resources available. Unfortunately, not all of us can afford an Evo, STI, or even the Neon SRT-4-some of us have to settle for regular Neons, Lancers or Sentras and build them up slowly (very slowly).Jerome AdamsBiloxi, MS
The wheel and tire sizing test is still coming along nicely. Engineering Editor Chen has been chipping away at a few wheel companies, coercing them to cough up all sorts of information and test samples so we can carry out the test. It won't be too far off and we're sure it'll help justify lightening your wallet for whatever wheels you end up choosing. -JL
I had a couple of interesting ideas to help put Honda back into the performance scene. The first would be the Acura Evo. Build a new RSX off the current Civic frame (or even the next Civic), add the K23 and turbo, then put in SH-AWD. That's everything needed to beat the Evo and STI right off the bat (plus the Mazdaspeed3 and SRT4). This will bring the price closer to the TSX, so it's not 'too cheap' to be an Acura, and it won't compete with the TSX because it's a completely different car. Also, it will be way different from the current Civic and much more expensive. The only hurdle is how in the world do you fit all-wheel drive into a front-wheel-drive car?
Along the same vein, Honda also needs to build a 4.0-liter (or bigger) DOHC i-VTEC V8. Stock makes 350 bhp with a redline of 7500rpm. Si/Type-S makes 400-plus, redline at 8000rpm. Type-R makes at least 500bhp and a 9000-plus redline. Put that gem in the next S2000 and NSX (with SH-AWD, of course, to take on the GT-R) to make it famous, then the Ridgeline, Pilot, MDX, TL and RL to make it profitable.
Honda already makes V8s for ALMS, IRL and F1, so it knows how to build a good one. Come on, Honda, beat Ferrari at their own game. The best part? In five years, these motors will be at most $5K in the junkyards, since they won't be rare (except for the Type-R edition, but when were they ever cheap?). Heck, the base engines will probably run right around $1000. It's time for Honda to completely re-write the rulebook on V8s, just like the NSX re-wrote the one on how to build exotic supercars.
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