With the performance and exterior mods on our Sonic complete (see the last two issues) we kind of ran out of things to do. At this point most people would stop modifying their car, as anything more could seem unnecessary or expensive.
But for us at Import Tuner we decided to dive into the interior, an area where we've seen too many enthusiasts overlook. One inexpensive way that can really change the feel of your car is to change everything you physically touch when you're driving.
We started with the factory GM Accessories pedal upgrade. We also ordered the leather wrapped shift knob from the RS model, which came with the red-stitched shift boot as one complete unit. After that we got our hands on a MOMO Monte Carlo steering wheel along with a Bad News Racing steering hub to install it.
All right here's where we start going nuts and made it rain parts. We ditched our thick, heavy stock seats and got some Recaro Sportster CS seats. You already know the Recaro name, as it's factory in top-tier car manufacturers, airplanes, and F1 cars, and FIA approved. But you don't know the Sportster CS. We've seen very few of these in our feature cars or at shows. This is not the seat for the faint at heart. This hybrid seat design mixes a metal bottom base with a fiber-reinforced polymer backing that is optimally shaped for comfort and track support. Adding to that, the reclineable back is so thin that it actually gives the rear passengers more legroom. The side thigh bolsters are not only made of foam cushion like some seats, they are also backed with the same material as the backing, so your legs don't fall out in those hard corners. The headrests incorporate two distinct cutouts for a harness option that look sexy in any car. Topping it off, Recaro offers this seat in a plethora of material and options, such as heated seats and airbags. We went with the heated suede version.
We thought it'd be impossible to find seat brackets to mount these to, but the guys at Planted Technology have just about every application imaginable. If they don't have one for your car, your car probably sucks. Going further, we took the back seats to Westminster Upholstery. There they re-covered the rear seats in the same material as our new Recaro seats, making them all look like one happy family.
Inside we had to add some gauges to monitor vital signs. An Auto Meter boost, oil pressure, and wideband air/fuel gauge sit on top of the dash in Auto Meter's universal three-gauge pod. Auto Meter even offers different color LED bulbs, so we were able to match the gauge illumination color to our factory dashboard.
Now that our interior looks like a higher-performance-based sports car we wondered what else we could do. With the custom 3D Carbon kit and Seibon splitter hanging so low off the ground we decided to 'bag the car. Yes, you read that correct. We installed air-ride!
This is not your typical air-ride. We went all out and had Art Gomez of GO-EZ Customs install the best air management around, Accuair. The Accuair system contains a sensor for each corner, which tells the computer when to auto-level the car. No other system out there on the market can do what the Accuair can. One of the best features is that Accuair has an iPhone app that lets us control our car from the palm of our hand. This works even when the car is off and we're at the other end of the parking lot.
To make sure we still have some ride quality, we purchased Aero Sport 'bags from Universal Air. With a patent on their design, Universal Air has the only 'bag we know of that you can just slip over any coilover. Keeping our coilovers on the car meant keeping the handling on point and not like a boat.
We got so excited installing our first air-ride system that we wanted to do a bit of customizing. We've seen a lot of air-ride systems installed with hard lines before, but most use brass fittings, giving it an old-school look that's great for lowriders and such. Since we're building a performance car, we wanted a performance-based system. We ditched all the soft plastic lines and went with hard aluminum lines from Accuair. Albeit the lines were just universal straight pieces that we had to bend and cut ourselves, Accuair provided the right inner and outer diameter tubing for replacement of the soft lines. With the Exo mount kit, Techna-Fit aircraft fittings, and an aluminum-brushed tank, our setup looks more like a fuel scavenge tank setup out of a race car than something out of a lowrider.
No, we don't expect you to duplicate our Sonic's build—especially the final phase seen here in this article. We wanted to do something different and try something we haven't seen done on an import yet. Whether you like our Sonic or not, you've got to be a little envious with what we were able to do.