Nine-Second HKS Front-Drive Celica Coming To America? While we Americans are busy tinkering with Honda Civics, making a seemingly futile attempt to reach the 9-second quarter-mile barrier, HKS Japan has gone out and blasted everybody out of water with its sixth-generation Celica. Its best time so far has been an astounding 9.727 seconds (though this was in the Japanese version of the quarter-mile). HKS reports that the car has yet to reach its fullest potential.
So do your attempts at achieving 14-second e.t.'s in your piddling second-hand Civic seem somewhat pointless now? Don't worry too much; HKS' achievement was fueled by something most of us don't have: money. Yep, this Celica is a magnum-grade race car. The chassis is still unibody, but has been heavily modified. The body panels are lightweight. Horsepower comes from a 2.0L 3S-GE. Internal modifications to the stock block include 9.3:1 compression, HKS forged pistons, connecting rods, and camshafts. It's turbocharged, of course, and the turbo is an HKS GT3240 controlled by an EVC Pro, Prototype F-Con, and a special Racing wastegate. The triple-disc clutch spins an X-Track sequential transmission. The engine and transaxle have been relocated for better weight distribution. For suspension, HKS fitted a drag-racing version of its Hiper Damper system. Output is listed as 560 hp at 8,000 rpm.
The big question is "Will it come to America?" It has yet to be determined, but you can help convince HKS to bring the car here. Draft an e-mail to HKS North America saying you want to see the Celica here. Send your e-mail to email@example.com. We've already sent more than our fair share. How about you?
Show-Hopping: L.A., Detroit, Chicago
The winter months generally don't hold too much compact/import action. There are no races and only a few indoor shows to attend. But those same months are host to the three biggest auto shows in America: the L.A. Auto Show, the Detroit Auto Show, and the Chicago Auto Show. Normally, we find these shows about as exciting as belly button lint. All they consist of is a bunch of cars from your local dealership along with a few scattered ultra-attractive female models. We'll take Import Showoff any day.
The one thing good about the auto shows is the debut of concept cars and upcoming production cars. We understand you drool puddles for this kind of stuff. That's why we spared no expense covering the three American shows to bring you the latest info on the concept cars.
For the Detroit Auto Show, we chartered Petersen Publishing's Gulfstream G4 corporate jet (Sorry, blokes. What he meant to say was the "EMAP" corporate jet! Cheers!-MP). Whew, talk about cush! Not even Air Force One can compare. In flight, Jonathan and Brent played Gran Turismo on the big screen TV while Howard practiced his swing steps on the full-size dance floor. Matt just kept yelling at anybody who would listen about the time he saw Nikki Sixx at McDonald's back in '86.
Once we were in Detroit, it began to snow. Rich had never seen snow before and was amazed to learn that human males are able write their name in it. He tried this in front of the Detroit Convention Center and was arrested. We haven't seen him since.
We intended to go to the Chicago Show, too, but forgot. Oh well. There wasn't much there anyway. Here's what we thought was the coolest from the three (two) shows.
Nissan's current vehicle lineup offers little for the sports car enthusiast. As such, the Z Concept can only be viewed as a good thing. Penned in Nissan's California design studios, the shape and focus of the car are intended to hark back to the first Z car. The overall appearance is that of a front-engine rear-wheel-drive car with short overhangs. Nissan says the Z Concept is fully operational. It utilizes a modified 2.4L DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine originally from the 240SX. It's rated at 200 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. Modifications include a racing profile camshaft, lightweight pistons, 10.7:1 ratio, reprogrammed electronic controls, and custom dual exhaust. The Z Concept also features a five-speed transmission, lightweight flywheel, and lowered independent suspension. Stopping power is provided by brakes from the Skyline GT-R, and the 18-inch alloy wheels are mounted with 215/40ZR18 front and 225/40ZR18 rear tires. We look forward to seeing a production car created from the Z Concept. Can you buy it? Hopefully. Will we get to drive it? If it comes out, but we really hope Nissan goes with a V-6 or at least a high-tech four-cylinder from Japan, not an engine that began life back in 1989 in the 240SX.
A bit faster than the Z Concept, the Nissan R390 GT1 also appeared at Detroit. This is a road version of the supercar that captured four out of the top 10 spots at the 1998 24 Hours of Le Mans. With its estimated million-dollar price tag and sub-4.0 second 0-60 mph performance, the R390 is the fastest and most expensive non-racing Nissan ever produced. The twin-turbocharged 3.5L double-overhead-cam V-8 with electronic sequential port fuel injection produces 550 hp at 6,800 rpm and 470 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm. Nissan says the engine complies with all European exhaust gas regulations and is reliable enough to be driven at redline for well more than 24 hours in race trim. It's connected to a transversely mounted six-speed Xtrac sequential gearbox. Can you buy it here? No. Will we ever get to drive it? No. But we like it anyway.
Mazda had two interesting concept cars at the L.A. Auto Show: the Protege StreetCar concept and the Protege All-Sport concept wagon. In recognition of the growing compact/import performance car market, the StreetCar is a Protege ES fitted with mild performance parts. Included are 17-inch Racing Hart Type C wheels, 215/40R17 Dunlop tires, Brembo big brakes, a lowered suspension, a larger rear wing, Racing Beat stainless steel exhaust, Sparco racing seats, special interior trim, and a custom Kenwood stereo system.
The All-Sport wagon is based on the right-hand-drive Japanese and European five-door wagon version of the new Protege sedan. It uses a 136hp 2.0L engine mated to an automatic transmission. It also features 17-inch wheels, a raised ride height, front and rear skid plates, and all-wheel drive. Mazda says the All-Sport evokes the heritage of the '88-'89 323 GTX. So does that mean that the All-Sport is a little-known kick-ass turbocharged rally car for the street? Umm, we will withhold judgment on that.
Ford had two interesting cars at the L.A. Auto Show: the Mercury Cougar S and the Cosworth Focus. The Cougar S is the type of concept car we love: fast, attractive, and very feasible to produce. The Cougar S is a modified version of the stock Cougar currently available at dealerships. It was built in response to the growing compact/import scene. Visually, the car is much more aggressive, featuring side skirts, a revised front fascia, a hood scoop, flared fenders, and a new rear end with dual spoilers and integrated dual exhaust tips. The 18-inch wheels wear Goodyear 235/40ZR18 tires and hide large Brembo brakes.
But the really tasty stuff is hidden underneath. The engine has grown from 2.5 to 3.0 liters of displacement. Horsepower is said to be around 215 and is routed through a manual transmission and an all-wheel-drive system plucked from the European Mondeo station wagon. Sounds like a capable 2000 Eclipse-fighter to us.
As we reported in our Oct. '98 issue, the Ford Focus is coming to town in 2000. Said to have excellent handling manners, the Focus replaces the Escort in Ford's lineup. At the L.A. Auto Show, Ford displayed the Cosworth Focus. It has custom side rocker panels, front and rear fasciae, as well as completely original body panels from the glass beltline down. Eighteen-inch magnesium wheels shod with Goodyear 235/40ZR18 Eagle GS tires tuck into the wheelwells thanks to a 1 1/2-inch suspension lowering. This combination aggressively takes on the road with adjustable shocks and front and rear variable-rate antiroll bars. The car comes to a quick and steady stop with 14-inch rear/12-inch front disk brakes with four-piston front and rear calipers.
Complementing this dynamic chassis package is a Cosworth-developed 2.0L turbocharged and intercooled DOHC Zetec engine that produces an estimated 200 hp. In Europe, there is also the Focus WRC car. This is a dedicated rally race car with all-wheel-drive and an even more powerful engine. Zang!
Toyota's XVR is rumored to be very similar to the redesigned Celica arriving in 2000. Power is from a 180hp 1.8L DOHC four-cylinder with variable valvetrain timing and lift. It was codeveloped with Yamaha. An even higher performance Celica, similar in fashion to the Integra Type R, with less weight and more horsepower, is rumored to be offered.
Toyota is also said to be bringing an affordable roadster to America in 2000. The mid-mounted engine will be similar to the Celica's and drive the rear wheels. The rear fenders are said to be easily removed, allowing quick access to the engine.
Design Your Own Wheel
Remember the Aug. '98 issue? That was the one with the Ultimate Tire & Wheel Guide. Yes, we know, it was hardly ultimate. It didn't even have page numbers. But the March '99 Wheel & Tire Guide was much better, don't you think?
Anyway, in the August issue, Colorado Custom Wheels (CCW) sponsored a Design Your Own Wheel contest. Readers were allowed to submit their own wheel designs. CCW then picked a winning design and produced it.
Suffice it to say, response was overwhelming! In fact, CCW received so many responses, it decided to pick two winners. Pictured are the two winning designs. No word yet if CCW plans to produce these styles in quantity, but we're sure if enough people call, CCW would do just that. You can contact CCW at 970/224-5750. And for everybody else: thanks for playing, better luck next time.
More Winning Wheels
As you probably know, the West McLaren Mercedes Team won both the FIA Formula One Constructor's and Driver's Championships for 1998. But did you know that the wheels on these winning Formula One cars are manufactured by Enkei? These magnesium wheels measure 12x13 inches for the front of the car and 13.7x13 inches for the rear. Each wheel weighs between 7.5 and 8.6 pounds. Sounds good to us. We're trying to scam a set for Matt's '90 Civic.
230hp '99 Golf Named Butch
In this issue, we drove a new '99 Volkswagen Golf GTI. We liked the new GTI. We loved it, hugged it, and named it George. George had a 2.8L VR6 engine and 174 hp. George was fast. But we hear George has a new friend with even more horsepower. George's new friend is named Butch. Butch was built by CEC/Oettinger. Butch doesn't have a VR6. He has a transplanted 1.8L 20-valve turbo engine. With a bigger turbo, a revised ECU, and improved intake and exhaust systems, Butch pumps his gigantic pectorals to the tune of 230 hp. Butch also wears 18-inch wheels, stiffer suspension components, special floor mats and pedals, and a shift knob that was 34 years in development. We like Butch better than George. And who wouldn't? For more information about Butch, call Claus Ettensberger Corp. at 310/767-1111 or visit its Web site at www.cecwheels.com.
Civic Goes Left; Civic Goes Right
Civics have established themselves as the kings of front-drive import racing. But what about road racing? The Progress Group is going to attempt domination of a sport that requires a Civic to not only go fast, but to turn left, turn right, and brake. The Progress Group Civic is a '96 EX fitted with a 1.6L DOHC engine and a new Competition Series adjustable coilover suspension system. Other companies participating include AEM/CoolTech, AXIS wheels, DC Sports, Goodridge, Karnage Graphics, Integraf, Moroso, Schroth, Wings West, and Zenith Performance Fabrication. Driving the Civic will be the legendary Don Alexander who, among other things like writing a selection of racing books and last month's Super Street Civic handling test, is known for beating the stuffing out of David Lee Roth at the Whiskey A-Go-Go back in '84. Really. Watch future issues for more about Progress Honda Civic touring car.
New Bosal Exhaust Catalog
Some day in the future, trees and cars will be extinct. But in the mean time, feel free to peruse Bosal's new catalog. It's full of high-performance exhaust systems, headers, sport mufflers, exhaust tips, and hardware. Eleven vehicle makes and more than 37 models are included. Sadly, you won't find an exhaust for a Seat Arosa. Then again, why would you want one? For a catalog, call Bosal at 800/631-7271. Get a catalog now before all the trees are gone.