When Life Throws You Babies…

So, I missed a weekly installment of the GS build. That’s because my wife and I’s second daughter arrived on Sunday, March 30th just under three weeks ahead of her due date! My first was born on her actual due date, so I really didn’t expect Hattie to be born as quickly as she was- but that’s the way it goes with kids sometimes! I’m happy to report that my whole family is healthy and doing awesome, so I’m definitely grateful about that!

Let’s see- shortly after my last update, I was able to get the engine on the stand. It’s nice to be able to move it around in the garage now and keep it out of the way:

A few maintenance items arrived for the engine including OEM Toyota timing belt tensioner, idler, water pump (not pictured), cam seals, crank seal, drive belt, and an HKS timing belt. Another order of maintenance items for the engine and transmission will be here Wednesday, which should allow me to get the drivetrain assembled and ready to drop into the car. My goal is to have it sitting nicely in the bay sometime in early May.

I spent a lot of time trying to install the clutch pedal and clutch master assemblies and I am happy to say I’m getting pretty close. I am using the JZA80 Supra components and had to cut two brackets off of the clutch pedal bracket to get it to come close to fitting. It’s a tight fit with the brake pedal, but I think after I build my steel brace running to one of the studs from the old foot-style emergency brake pedal it should all fit OK. If not, I’ll have to look into cutting and welding the clutch pedal and/or brake pedal arms.

I was hoping to utilize the JZA80 brake pedal assembly, but it doesn’t quite work like I had hoped. Here is is next to the GS brake pedal assembly that I will end up cutting down to fit better:

Space is VERY limited down here which does not make it easy. The clutch pedal will move about a half an inch to the left as soon as the new bracket is fitted, which I am hoping will be enough to clear the brake pedal and not feel too awkward. But we’ll see how it goes…

I’ve made good progress on the interior and I think I finally have all of the pieces I need to install it. I was able to put the mirror, headliner and overhead lights, A/B/C pillar covers, rear speaker deck, and seatbelts back into the car. I just need to finish up the clutch pedal install and order my steering wheel/hub and that should allow me to get the full interior reinstalled. Looking forward to having it all together since it was torn apart when I bought the car and I haven’t even been able to sit in there.

It looks pretty bad here due to the flash, but I think I am going to go back and paint some of the remaining grey items black. They look a bit out of place right now with the darker pillars and headliner. I’m hesitant to even post this at this stage, but I am confident I’ll be able to pull it all together:

The pigtail was cut on the mirror I got, so I had to do a little soldering work before it could go in:

I found a cheap set of JDM black wood trim for the doors and decided to snag it. I think I like the painted trim I had done better, but the jury is still out on which I want to use:

I picked up my front and rear seats as well as a bunch of other interior parts I still needed from the Greyhound station a couple days after my daughter was born. The seats aren’t in the best condition, but they’ll definitely work for now until I can get something cooler in there down the road.

Found a good deal on an HKS fuel cut defencer and decided to snag that. I’ve heard these are great to have for this swap, but I honestly haven’t even looked into how it works too much just yet.

So that’s about where everything sits right now. Waiting on those parts to come in from Drift Motion this week and I should have just about all that I need to freshen the engine and transmission up and bolt them together. Hoping I might have the time over the weekend to at least get time timing belt job done and go from there. As usual though, I keep losing focus and jumping between tasks. I’m anxious to get the pedals done and the interior together as well, so we’ll see which project I tackle first.

Warm weather is making me excited for more progress! (Despite the fact that snow is on the way tonight…) Thanks for reading and bearing with me. Updates should resume their regular weekly schedule from now on.



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Build Update

Sorry, I couldn’t think of a title today. Let’s take a look at where things stand this week so far…

I’ll start with a couple pieces I found on eBay that aren’t remotely essential to getting the car running, but they’re pretty cool. It’s good to step back sometimes from the grand scheme of things and the stress of putting a build together like this to do something that is easy to accomplish and looks neat when you’re done. The first is a Toyota Aristo JZS161 front grille:

These seem to be a little tricky to find, so I snagged this clean example. Most people seem to prefer aftermarket grilles with no badges, but I love the OEM JDM version- this car just looks at home with Toyota badges on it. Here it is installed on my chipped up hood:

I also bought a set of Aristo scuff plates for the interior. These replace the USDM units that say “LEXUS” on them. Just another cool little detail to have:

The driver’s side seat belt was missing from the interior I purchased, so that showed up this week too:

I got a hold of a pair of A and C pillars for the interior swap, but I did not have the B pillars. The headliner was proving to be a major pain for the seller to ship, so I decided just to paint all of these items black with DupliColor interior and fabric paint. I have used this stuff in the past when converting to a black interior on some of my other cars and it works well enough to get the job done. The best option would have been to wrap all of this stuff in black fabric, but I don’t have the budget or patience for it at the moment. My car won’t have much of a “VIP” feel to it anyway, so this is sufficient in my eyes.

Here’s a shot of one of the dirty tan B pillar covers prior to being painted:

And here are the pillar covers after being painted:

After starting on spraying the headliner, I can honestly say I kind of wish I had wrapped it! It’s proving to be very time consuming and using a lot of paint. I think another coat tonight will take care of it though. Then I just need to spray the sunroof cover and I’ll be ready to start getting a lot of this back into the car’s interior.

For the actual plastic items that need to be painted, including the steering column cover and kick panels near the carpet, I turned to my good friend and interior expert Toby for something a bit nicer than the DupliColor stuff. He hooked me up with some SEM paint that should work nicely for those pieces:

Like I mentioned before, I wasn’t really feeling the wood grain trim on the door panels and center console. I took it to the body shop and had them spray it gloss black for me. I’m really happy with how it turned out- looks much better! Again, not really going for a VIP feel so this is perfect.

I got three of the door panels back in, but I’m waiting for the black window switches to arrive for the driver’s door before I can put that one back in.

I’m expecting the rest of the interior pieces I need to arrive next week, including a set of black leather seats. They aren’t in amazing condition, but I wanted to at least have something in the car so I have one less thing to worry about. I’d of course love to be bolting in a pair of buckets instead, but that will have to wait for another day.

As for the mechanical side, I brought the cherry picker up out of the basement and was able to get the engine off of the pallet. My engine stand is currently out at my cousin’s house, so I picked up another one to use in the mean time. The bell housing bolts aren’t long enough to put the engine on the stand, so I’ll grab some today after work and get the engine on there. That will free up garage space and make it easier to do some maintenance work before the engine goes in.

I also removed the torque converter and flex plate from the engine. Won’t be needing those anymore!

Finally, my order arrived from Drift Motion including a lot of the things I need to convert the car to a manual transmission. JZA80 Supra clutch and brake pedal assemblies, ARP flywheel bolts, bell housing to transmission and bell housing to engine bolt sets, JZA80 clutch master cylinder, braided clutch line, R154 slave cylinder, JZA80 throttle cable, Marlin Crawler bushings for the shifter, and a polyurethane transmission mount.

I’m going to try to install the clutch pedal and master cylinder this weekend. That will allow me to really start getting the interior back into the car. My next step will be to decide how much work I am going to put into the engine and order the necessary parts to get that all sorted out, as well as the fuel pump and other stuff needed to convert the car to a return style fuel system.

Should be a long but rewarding process. Thanks for reading!


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More Teardown

I’ve made a decent amount of progress on the car this week. I don’t typically have this much time to spend in the garage, but everything has been falling into place and I’ve been sacrificing some sleep in order to wrench on the car.

I finished removing the complete interior from the car. Last night I pulled the emergency brake assembly from the driver’s footwell area since I will instead need to install a clutch pedal there. I’m not sure how I will address the e-brake just yet, but I’ll have to come up with something custom to allow it to still work.

My black door panels arrived yesterday and are in great shape. I was planning to install those last night, but the wood grain trim is bothering me. I’m going to drop the trim off at the body shop to have it sprayed gloss black.

Here’s the interior as it sits currently. I’m still waiting on a number of items to arrive next week, as well as some SEM black interior paint that Toby hooked me up with. It will probably be a little while before I can put it all back together since I want to have the dash out of the way for the clutch pedal/master cylinder install.

The car is equipped with some sort of aftermarket security system that doesn’t appear to be installed all that well. I didn’t get a key fob or anything with the car, so my plan is to remove all of it. It looks like a bunch of aftermarket audio stuff was wired in at some point too, but some of it was already hacked into when I got the car. I’m planning to eliminate that stuff as well. Audio stuff is always pretty low on my radar. While I enjoy having music to listen to in the car, I’ll worry about that later.

Here you can see the area where the emergency brake has been removed and where the clutch pedal will reside, as well as the rat’s nest of security wiring that needs to be taken out and disposed of:

Assembly removed from the car:

On Tuesday, my engine was delivered from JDM Engine World in New York. Jack was great to work with and it looks to be in good shape, so hopefully it all checks out as I tear into it.

I also received my MAF sensor from Japan since it was not included with the swap:

Needless to say, the garage is a bit of a disaster at the moment:

After doing some interior work last night, I removed the automatic transmission from the engine. I still need to pull the torque converter, but this is my first time messing with an auto transmission. I’m not exactly sure what I am doing, but I’ll figure it out:

I also had a chance to remove the old pressure plate and bellhousing from the R154 transmission. This thing will need a good amount of TLC before it is ready to be installed, in addition to a shifter extensions to line up with the hole in the car’s interior:

I ordered a number of items for assembling and installing the drivetrain from Drift Motion, so those should be here by the middle of next week. That includes the Supra clutch pedal, master, slave, and clutch line. My hope is to work on finding a way to get that stuff into the car shortly after it arrives.

Thanks for reading!

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Slowly But Surely…

I’m going to do my best to update this every Tuesday, with additional updates in between as progress is made. Since last time, my new OEM Toyota 1JZ R154 bell housing arrived for the manual conversion. This is needed in order to mate the MK3 Supra R154 transmission with the Aristo VVTi 2JZGTE:

I’m planning to order the bolts to install this along with a slew of other supporting drivetrain parts from Drift Motion by the end of the week. This will include the JZA80 Supra clutch pedal assembly, clutch master, clutch line, slave cylinder, etc. Hopefully that will more or less give me everything I need to mate the transmission to the engine. Here’s another shot of the Exedy twin plate clutch:

Over the weekend I removed the front bumper and crash beam, as I will need that stuff out of the way to install the intercooler. The bumper and headlights are in pretty rough shape, so I think eventually they will need to be replaced. It’s all about getting it running at this point though:

Last night I continued on by unbolting the core support, washer fluid tank, AC condenser, and other miscellaneous items up front that I won’t need. I’m going to try to retain the A/C if possible:

I also did some work on the interior. Removed the steering wheel and column trim, radio, and climate control. Hoping to have the dash out soon for two reasons- to make room for the clutch pedal and master cylinder install, and to install the new black dash.

Speaking of black interior, a bunch of the interior items arrived this morning via Greyhound:

I’ll be picking up the MAF sensor from the post office today. My engine is scheduled to be delivered this evening as well, so it should be a fun night. I’ll probably post a second update this week to cover the engine’s arrival. Thanks for reading!


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A New Project (Yes, Again…)

So here we are again. The start of a new project with the promise of consistent blog updates. I know, I know- I haven’t been the most reliable in this department in the past, but I am really going to do my best to make this the home for my new build. I’ll probably have a build thread on a couple of other forums, but my hope is to make this blog the most thorough and up to date. With Modified Magazine going under, I’m going to use this as my outlet for writing until another opportunity comes along.

I’ve had a few people ask me for some info about the Evo situation, so I’ll address that before I dive into the new build. My wife and I are having our second daughter next month (or sooner, depending on when she decides to arrive) and are in need of a larger vehicle. While our 2004 Highlander is pretty spacious and has served us well for about two and a half years, it’s going to be a tight squeeze. With our dog Tomei taking up the whole trunk and two car seats on the back seat, we aren’t left with much room for all of the cargo that comes along with having kids- strollers, pack-and-plays, etc.

With discussion swirling of our predicament, I felt a bit guilty having a $15,000 Evo with a bunch of Voltex goodies bolted to it sitting on my side of the garage. I ultimately decided to sell the majority of the parts I put on the Evo (since most were removed for winter driving anyway) and part ways with the car. While the Evo has been an awesome car and is perfect for my current life situation, now just feels like the right time to let it go and pick up a nicer vehicle for the family to cruise around in.

I just finished selling all of the modifications from the Evo last week and the car is more or less back to stock. I replaced the wheel bearings, front lip, and fender liners over the weekend to try to get the car ready to sell. All that’s left to do now is change the oil and clean it up before I can officially post it for sale. Once that’s done, it’ll be time for us to shop for a minivan. GASP! Yeah, I said it… the “M” word. Trust me dudes, when you’re the one playing Tetris with kids, dogs, and strollers on the weekend for a trip to the in-laws’ house, you’ll worry more about making your life easier than you will about what the car you’re driving looks like. Besides, I’ve got a solution for that…

Essentially, I am living out the scene from The Fast and The Furious when the Supra shows up at the shop. I recently took a liking to the Toyota Aristo/Lexus GS300 and decided to look into one as an affordable alternative to the Evo. I’ve loved Chasers and other cool big-body, RWD, JZ-equipped Toyotas from Japan ever since my mom bought me my ’94 Camry in high school. It’s unfortunate that none of those cars ever made it to the US market. The Lexus GS300/400/430 are about as good as it gets here, so I decided to see if I could scoop one up.

Most used GSs were going for $4,000-9,000. I really wanted to do the 2JZGTE swap, but if I bought a running car for five grand or more I wouldn’t have the funds to do the engine swap. A friend of mine contacted me on our local forum and told me he had a GS400 with a blown engine that he would be willing to sell. He bought it at auction with 200k on the clock and a few dropped valves back in 2012 with a similar vision, but had lost interest after pulling the engine. I went and checked it out and everything looked decent enough, so we worked out a deal. I traded my AME Tracer TM-02 wheels and tires I had purchased for the Evo for the GS400 roller, the blown 1uZ-FE V8 engine, and an MK3 Toyota Supra R154 manual transmission.

The color combination wasn’t my first choice, especially considering the fact that I am under sixty years old, but I had to take what I could get. I can actually see the green growing on me, but the tan interior will be a tough sell. The body has its fair share of dents and dings throughout, but it could be worse for a sixteen year old car with over two hundred thousand miles on the clock. It’ll be a while before I can address the exterior, wheels, or suspension anyway so I’ll just have to live with it in the mean time.

As stated, the current plan is to source an Aristo 2JZGTE motorset to swap into the car. I’ll be at a slight disadvantage starting from a 400 instead of a 300, but I think I have found some wiring information on the forums that should help. I haven’t decided yet if I am going to buy an entire front clip or only the drivetrain, but I hope to have one or the other ordered by the end of the week if at all possible. I’d love to have the engine in the garage before my daughter is born since that will make my life easier.

The Aristo and GS300/400 were never sold in the US or Japan with a manual transmission. I was debating running the auto trans that comes with the swap, but I really don’t think I can enjoy a setup like this without a third pedal. A number of people have done the R154 swap, so fortunately there is some information out there about what needs to be done. I’ve found a lot of useful swap components on DriftMotion.com, as well as some great advice from Mr. Chob of JUNKHOUSE fame. He’s been a great help so far and has a really nice GTE swapped GS equipped with an R154, so I am sure he’ll be a big help and inspiration for the project as well.

Anyway, that’s where I am at the moment. I’ll do my best to keep this updated as the parts begin to come in and I can make progress on the build. Life is going to get wild for me in the coming months, so I do expect this build to move along at a slower pace than my S13 did. I might only manage to order parts for a couple of months before any actual work gets done, as I am sure I’ll be suffering from massive sleep deprivation and a lack of free time. But for now, I’m feeling motivated to get all of the components into the garage and get to work on this thing!

A parting shot of the ladies in the garage this past weekend. It’s kind of awkward to bring the new one home before the old one has moved out… lol.

Thanks for reading.


PS- I haven’t forgotten the Cozy Coupe. Hoping to get that tuned up and slapped together for warmer weather if it ever arrives!

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Retrospective: One Year of Evo Ownership

Alright, so technically I am jumping the gun on this one. It won’t officially be a year since I bought the Evo for another two weeks or so, but since I had to start de-modding it for winter duty this past weekend I figured I would take some photos to show where the car has ended up after about a year of ownership.

I took photos of my 240SX the day I bought it, and with every year that passed I would try to replicate the same photos to remind myself of how far the car had come. When you modify a car, it’s easy to forget all of the little details and small wins you’ve accomplished along the way. It’s cool to look back once a year to see what’s changed with the vehicle overall.

I purchased the Evo last November with exactly 69,000 miles on the clock. Sadly, the mileage is already about to turn over to the 90,000 mark. I never cared about the miles I put on my S13 since it was such an old and relatively cheap chassis anyway, but for whatever reason the mileage really affects the value of Evos. I try not to let it bother me and enjoy the car, but it’s tough not to sometimes. I basically drove the car every day during the past year since it’s now my only ride, and I’m happy to report that the car hasn’t missed a beat! *knock on wood*

The exterior is definitely the area of the car that has changed the most. Since it’s my daily driver, I tried to focus on modifications that were fun to look at/experience every day that don’t really hurt the overall drivability. In this shot you can see the addition of the Voltex street front bumper, side skirts, and rear diffuser. The headlights and side markers were swapped out for the JDM OEM versions. And, of course, the factory mirrors were replaced with a pair of Ganador Super Aero Mirrors.

The sky-high OEM antenna has been replaced with a Colt Speed unit. I also installed a genuine Mitsubishi vortex generator and a set of optional window visors. I debated both items and still consider ditching those pieces at times, but for now I’m pretty happy with them. I also decided to remove the window tint that came with the car. I’ve never really been a big fan of tint unless it’s on the right car and I didn’t like how dark it was inside, so it had to go.

The biggest thing up front I haven’t mentioned already is the Blitz Type CS front mount intercooler. I’ll be powder coating the factory lower hot pipe black this winter so that it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. Lots more light inside with the tint gone! I also painted the hood vent rain cover flat black.

A decent amount of things have changed out back. The USDM bumper has been replaced with the much cleaner JDM version sourced from my man Russell at MitsubishiParts.net. I ditched the knock off tail lights that came with the car in favor of some OEM JDM VII tail lights. A Voltex CF rear diffuser completes the Voltex theme all around, along with a Voltex CF exhaust shield. I shaved the Mitsubishi emblem and added the Tomei badge to keep things interesting. I’m really happy to say that the gross old Megan Racing catback was ditched in favor of a Tomei O2 housing, downpipe, titanium test pipe, and titanium catback system. Love the sound of this setup, even with the stock turbo still in place.

The interior hasn’t seen a lot of change, but I have cleaned up a few things that I wasn’t happy with when I bought the car. The worn rubber pedals were replaced with a set of Evo IX aluminum pedals. The ash tray and a couple of trim panels were missing, so those items were sourced and promptly replaced. Since I ditched the factory intercooler sprayer, I swapped the cup holder with sprayer switch out for the simpler Evo IX cup holder. The AEM wideband and Defi boost gauge on the steering column drove me crazy, so those got tossed and I replaced the steering column cover in the process.

Apparently all I have done to the rear of the interior is remove the snow brush and put it in the trunk. The back seat occasionally features a car seat for Kinsey now, but that’s about the only change here. I purchased an Evo IX black rear seat, but I’m waiting for some other interior changes before I install it. Hopefully this photo will see some more change next year.

Back up front, the radio was relocated to the previous cubby hole location down below to make room for my Broadfield Customs gauge enclosure. Toby did a great job integrating my three Defi Advance CR gauges from the 240 into the Evo’s interior. He also painted the ash tray and Evo IX shifter trim to ensure a perfect match. The shifter trim that came with the car had been spray bombed, so I was pretty happy to add the IX trim, a new IX boot, and the CF IX Evolution badge to clean up that mess. I also added a Tomei duracon shift knob similar to the one I had in the S13. Lastly, the gray VIII dash trim was swapped out for the IX carbon fiber version. Hopefully my next move will be ditching those blue seats…

The engine bay saw a few items change, but nothing too drastic. The old Optima battery was pretty tired, so I replaced that. I had the valve cover powder coated wrinkle red and the factory exhaust manifold ceramic coated silver when everything was out for the exhaust install. A Tomei exhaust manifold cover, spark plug cover, and oil cap were added to make things just a little more interesting. Finally, I added Cusco Type OS strut tower bars to the front and rear of the car (rear not pictured of course.) I had the car street tuned by some local Evo gurus to fix some drivability issues, but I left the GSC S1 cams that came with the car in there. It seems to run well with them, so I decided not to mess with swapping them out for a pair of HKS 272 cams I had purchased purely based on my love of Japanese tuning parts. Perhaps I’ll try another set when I change the timing belt, but I like the response and the drivability of the GSC S1 cams.

The engine bay was actually a lot cooler back in March of this year, but I came to a point in the build where I had a realization. I had sourced a bunch of cool ARC doo-dads for the bay and spent a good chunk of change. But as the weather got nicer, I realized I still needed a lot of stuff to be happy with the car- wheels, summer tires, coilovers, some exterior mods, etc. While the ARC stuff was cool, it really didn’t make much sense in a daily driven car that wouldn’t really see any time at shows. I would have held onto it, but ARC stuff is crazy valuable in the Evo world- so most of it was sold to fund my other projects.

Here’s what the bay looked like back in March before I changed things up- definitely miss some of these components. I don’t think I’ve seen another ARC upper intercooler pipe for sale since I let mine go, but I got just about a mortgage payment for that thing- so crazy! ARC Evo collectors mean business, lol.

I’m hoping to slowly add some of these modifications back again as time goes by, like some upper intercooler piping, an intake, and a radiator cooling shroud. Probably won’t go with ARC again just because of how expensive that stuff is usually price wise, but we’ll see I guess.

I’m also happy to report the XXR wheels that came with the car were sold shortly after I bought it and replaced with a set of 18×9.5 +20 Work CR Kai wrapped in 245/40/18 Hankook summer tires. I also sourced a set of OEM VIII wheels and Hankook snow tires for winter duty since the stock wheels weren’t provided. I chose to go with some blue Work lug nuts, and was lucky enough to be hooked up with some KW V3 coilovers by Peter at Modified. Really happy with the height of the car thus far. It’s nice not to drag the exhaust/frame rails everywhere like I did with the S13 ad to have the ability to do some spirited cornering occasionally. Maybe I’m just getting old, lol!

I’m considering switching up my wheels and tires next spring, but we’ll see what happens. I don’t think I’ve owned a set of wheels for two seasons yet, so that would be a first! I do like the CR Kais though, and they’re great for the price. I’ll need to refresh the brake pads and rotors at some point in the next year too.

I think the only other area of the car that changed a few times in between during the course of the year that’s worth mentioning is the front bumper setup. I had originally told myself I was only going to do the Evo IX front end with SE lip if I could and call it a day, but I got sucked into doing Voltex aero shortly there after. First came the IX front bumper with OEM optional SE lip. Looking back, I think this is a really cool look. I know a lot of people consider this the car’s best setup before I ruined it with Voltex stuff, LOL!

It’s also worth noting I had a set of JDM IX headlights on the car for about three days. I was told they were the version with fog lights, but they ended up being the non-HID halogen version without fog lights. My car came with the HIDs and fogs, so I sold them after about a week and picked up the VIII MR HID version.

After that wasn’t enough, I ended up installing a Voltex front lip for the IX bumper and Voltex side skirts. My plan was to use the Voltex lip and sides in the summer and the SE lip with stock sides in the winter. Once I got the diffuser though, I felt that the lip just wasn’t aggressive enough… so I sold it to fund the purchase of the street front bumper. I’m rocking a beat up VIII bumper for winter duty now, which is far less attractive- but the summer look makes it worth it to some extent.

So that about sums up my first year of Evo ownership. I’m pretty happy with my changes to the car, and despite the fact that I haven’t made it a ton faster or as crazy of a build as my 240 was, I’m pretty happy with it. I’ll probably dink around with the interior and maybe even some smaller aspects of the exterior down the road, but I don’t foresee things changing too much down the road. But then again, how many times have you heard THAT phrase come out of my mouth?

I get asked on Instagram about once a week why I sold my S13 and if I regret it. I can honestly say that I don’t regret parting it out and starting a new chapter of my life. Being a father of one (with another one on the way this April) has definitely changed my outlook on car modification and the amount of time and cash I have free for it. I wouldn’t change it for the world, but a build as in depth and a car as impractical as the S13 really wouldn’t fit into my life anymore. It was a blast while it last and I’ll always love that car, but the Evo is a great fit at this stage of life.

Thanks for reading- I’ll try to get back to what everyone really wants to see (The Cozy Coupe) really soon.


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Cozy Coupe Project: Part 3

Wow, it’s been nearly an entire month since our last build update. I wish that I could say that I spent the past month slaving away on the coupe, but with the ins and outs of every day life, that simply isn’t the case. Though progress has been fairly limited, Kinsey and I have managed to add some serious performance upgrades to our MKII Project Coupe.

With the fenders hacked up and flares mocked to get an idea of clearance, it was time to bust out the die grinder and clean up all of our previously rough cut lines. This allowed us to ensure that the wheels and tires rolled freely without hitting the body of the car. We also trimmed the axles down a bit so that they are closer to the final length. Still some spacing and cutting to be done there for final axle assembly, but we wan’t to wait until the paint is complete before we assemble them for good.

After cleaning up the fender well cuts and axles, we had to ensure that the car rolled freely. Kinsey gave it a good push out of the garage for it’s first free-rolling voyage since the modifications began:

With the car rolling, it was time to begin some more serious performance mods. Naturally, the first item we chose to address was the exhaust system. Kinsey and I are partial to Japanese style canister exhausts, so we fabbed up a muffler to mount on the back of the car. We used a Red Bull Can, a Mt Dew can, aluminum foil, spray adhesive, and black spray paint to create a muffler pretty similar to the one on Daddy’s Evo.

With the car now sitting as low as it is, we had to make a cut into the rear bumper to allow for the exhaust to exit. A quick rough cut with a pair of snips followed by some cleanup with the die grinder (post photo) gave us a solid location for the muffler and the exit angle we were after.

We still need to create the hangers for the muffler, but that’s something we will also handle after final paint and assembly is complete. The tip could stand to have the titanium treatment added, but we haven’t found the best way to accomplish this look yet. For some reason I don’t think the standard heat treatment is going to work on aluminum foil…

With the exhaust out of the way, it was time to move onto what has turned out to be the most labor intensive portion of the build thus far- the wing. Kinsey and I began by picking up some thick plastic/plexiglass material to create the pieces from. We used our cardboard wing as a template and spent a few hours with the die grinder cutting and shaping the uprights, wing, and endplates.

With the pieces created, it was time to get the dry carbon look we were after. Since Kinsey doesn’t really have a job yet or the motivation to get out and look for one, we were forced to fake the funk on this one. I never thought I’d find myself making a purchase from this aisle at Autozone. The things we do for our children…

With faux carbon fiber in hand, we got to work wrapping each of the pieces prior to installation. I probably could have taken my time a bit more with the wing in general, but Kinsey is starting to get antsy with winter approaching. We’d really like to take this thing for a spin before the snow flies, so we did the best we could with the small amount of time we have.

I took another trip to the hardware store (err, I mean… Japan…) and picked out some metric hardware & small metal brackets that are usually used for furniture assembly. We couldn’t find a suitable location to mount the wing securely, so we decided to fab up a trunk lid for the back of the car. This thing will primarily see track duty, so we don’t really mind that we won’t have the ability to haul groceries anymore. We have a daily driver for that!

As you can see, some of the hardware is missing. We didn’t buy enough and ran out, so we’ll have to make another trip and get that sorted out. I’ll probably end up spraying the brackets black as well so they don’t stick out as much. The trunk will be sprayed body color and riveted to the body to keep the wing as stable as possible at high speed on the back straightaway.

Again, the wing is not fully bolted down or mounted very solidly just yet. Despite this being the actual wing, it’s still sort of in the mock up stages. This should be a pretty good indication of what it will look like though. As soon as we saw the shadow, we were all smiles…

Another shot of the exhaust mocked up:

Front flares mocked up. We still need to trim them to match the contour of the front bumper. The wheels need to be refinished as well…

You guessed it- this is the part of the update where Kinsey gets really sick of working on the car and can’t contain herself anymore. It’s not finished yet, but she just has to give it a try. But can you blame her? I’m sure all of us have spent some time in the garage just sitting in our project cars and dreaming of their completion. Perhaps even making exhaust and blow off valve sounds while we’re out there… errr, I mean… I’VE never done anything like that. But some people might…

Perhaps we should add a rear view mirror or two… this could get impractical.

“Wait, let me… yep, it’s low enough.”

With the changes we made to the car’s ride height and track width, we had to make some sacrifices… including the fact that the door no longer opens or closes. With that comes a new technique for entering and exiting the car:



Clearly my daughter hasn’t perfected the Dukes of Hazard strategy for getting in and out of her car. Hopefully with some practice we can clean this up a bit. It might be a little embarrassing hopping out of the car like this at the track…

That’s all for now! Hopefully we won’t go as long between updates this time around. Winter will be here before you know it! Thanks for checking out our little project.

Damon & Kinsey

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