Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Project Miata update #3

Well, it took a lot longer to get all the parts I needed, a month in fact. Finally, last week I received the last of my parts and started getting busy. I assembled the shocks and springs during the week and then installed everything on Saturday. Luckily, there were no major issues with the install and I finished up by about 4:00 PM.

I was so excited I took the car out with my son for about an hour after dinner. All I can say is WOW! What a difference the shocks and springs make. The car is so much better now that the new parts are on and installed correctly. My only problem is that the previous owner must have lost a shock mount nut while doing his shoddy install of the suspension that was in there. Unfortunately he replaced it with an incorrect nut and washer which, when I attempted to re-torque it tonight, completely stripped all of it's threads. So now I need a replacement nut for the shock mount before I can drive the car again.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

February 2009 Dream Car of the Month - Toyota Supra

What lover of Japanese cars doesn't like at least one generation of the Toyota Supra? While the Fast & Furious set may love the 4th gen cars with their amazing 2JZ-GTE motors, others like the earlier models. I've always had a soft spot for the 2nd gen cars but I really can't say that I dislike any of the various Supra models.

MKI Supra

The Supra was introduced in 1979 as the Celica Supra as it was a model based heavily on the 4cyl Celica. In fact, all body panels aft of the front fenders was from the Celica. The only difference was the longer nose of the car necessary to house the inline 6cyl engine standard on the Supra. Japanese models received a 2.0L engine and US models came with a 2.6L. Both engines produced 110HP and were the first engines from Toyota to feature electronic fuel injection. Suspension comprised of MacPherson struts in front with a 4 link solid axle in the rear. Transmission choices were a 5 speed manual or a 4speed auto, both with overdrive. In 1980 the Japanese market Supra was offered with a 145HP turbo inline 6cyl, the first turbo engine ever from Toyota. The MKI Supra ended production after 1981. That year the engine was upgraded to 2.8L and 116HP.

MKII Supra

In 1982, the second generation Supra was released with all new styling, a new engine, new transmission, and new suspension. The car was still based on the newly redesigned Celica but it looked much different. The new 2.8L DOHC 5M-GE engine produced 145HP/155TQ. The suspension was now 4 wheel independent and designed with the help of Lotus. The second gen Supra was available in two trim levels, luxury and performance. The performance models can be distinguished by their fiberglass fender flares. Power continued to rise throughout the years. In 1983, horsepower went to 150 and then 1984 saw it bumped up to 160. Finally in 1985, power reached it's peak for the MKII cars at 161HP/169TQ. Second gen production came to an end in 1985 but a surplus of cars and delays with the new Supra model lead to the car being sold into 1986.


The MKIII Supra debuted in mid 1986 as an 1986.5 model. Again the car was completely redesigned and no longer shared a platform with the Celica which had changed to front wheel drive. The Supra now used the 7M-GE and 7M-GTE engines in US spec. The naturally aspirated 3.0L 7M-GE produced 200HP in 1986 and the 7M-GTE turbo engine, introduced in 1987, made 230HP. Power for the 7M-GTE eventually rose to 232HP/254TQ in 1989 due to improvements in the turbo system. As usual, the Japanese market was treated to a couple of special editions of the MKIII Supra throughout it's production. The JZA70, known as the 2.5GT Twin Turbo, featured a new engine, the 1JZ-GTE, which produced 280HP. The GA70 model used a 2.0L 210HP twin turbo 1G-GTE. Special 2.5 Twin Turbo R JZA70 models featured Recaro seats, torsen differentials with additional bracing, Bilstein suspension, and Momo steering wheels and shift knobs. The Twin turbo R was the fastest of the MKIII Supras.

MKIV Supra

Toyota took a big leap in technology and performance in 1993 with the release of the 4th generation Supra. The car's body was redesigned for aerodynamic efficiency and it made use of two new engines, the 2JZ-GE and 2GZ-GTE. Still inline 6cyl engines displacing 3.0L, they produced 220HP/210TQ in the naturally aspirated 2JZ-GE and 320HP/315TQ in the twin turbo 2JZ-GTE. The turbo Supra could now sprint to 60 in under 5 seconds and clear the 1/4 mile in the low 13s. Unrestricted, the car could reach over 180mph. All this despite the fact that the car's weight had grown to 3,505lbs for the turbo model with targa roof. A new Getrag 6spd manual was used on the Supra Turbo while NA cars made due with a 5spd. In 1996 the turbo was only available with the auto transmission due to the switch to OBD-II. In 1997, the 6speed returned along with minor exterior changes in taillights, wheels and fascia. US sales of the Supra ended in 1998 while production continued in Japan until 2003.

The MKIV Supra has become somewhat of a legend since it was discontinued here in the US. It has a huge enthusiast following which has only grown as the Fast & Furious crowd has become aware of the car's potential. Mostly due to it's prominent role in the first of the awful Fast & Furious movies. The 2JZ-GTE engine is an amazing powerplant that takes quite well to modifications. Supras boasting over 1000HP are not that uncommon which is a testament to the strength of the 2JZ. Because of this, prices for used MKIV Supras are still well over $20,000 and upwards of $40,000 for nicer examples. Sadly, expect to deal with someone's modifications as finding an unmolested example is getting harder and harder. Also, they are seen more and more as being the vehicle of choice for some incredible douchebags. Remember, this is the car that Nick Hogan (Hulk's son) crashed spectacularly while street racing, resulting in the near death of his friend and jail time for Nick.

Toyota FT-HS concept

There have been rumors that Toyota had been working on a new Supra. There seemed to be hope when Toyota unveiled the FT-HS hybrid sportscar concept but eventually those rumors were proven to be not true. Even if Toyota had been working on a new Supra, it would have been killed by now due to the dreadful state of the world economy. The best chance would have been a slightly less exotic sportscar based on the Lexus LF-A but, sadly, that project has been scrapped due to the economy.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

2009 Chicago Auto Show

Just some stuff that caught my eye from the coverage of the 2009 Chicago Auto Show.

2010 Acura TSX V6

That's right, Acura is dropping a 3.5L 280HP V6 into it's small sedan, the TSX. It's about time the TSX got a needed HP boost. I'm not particularly a fan of the current model but I did love the first generation. The most common complaint in most of the reviews I've read on the TSX or either generation was that it was lacking in power, particularly torque. The V6 should solve that problem however I was hoping that Honda would put the sweet 240HP turbo 4cyl from the RDX along with the SH-AWD setup. Oh well.

2010 Ford Taurus SHO

I've always loved the original Taurus SHO models with the amazing Yamaha V6 and to see the name resurrected again with some serious power is just fine with me. The new SHO will come with a version of Ford's new Ecoboost twin turbo V6 good for 365HP. All that power will be routed through a 6 speed auto with paddle shifters (no manual trans option....booo) to an all wheel drive Haldex system. Performance should be pretty impressive even though it will be a rather portly car.

2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe R-Spec

Hyundai finally released the production version of their Hyundai Genesis Coupe along with pricing info. The most tempting model, due to be released a bit later than the rest of the line, is the R-Spec. This will be more of a no frills tuner/track special that will have the turbo 4cyl 210HP connected to a 6speed manual (only trans available with the R-Spec) and omits things such as Bluetooth, auto headlights, cruise control, trip computer, and steering wheel audio controls. Keeping these options out of the car reduce both cost and weight. Speaking of cost, the R-Spec will start at $23,750. Nice.

Top Concept - Chevy Corvette Stingray Concept

GM rolled out the cars from the upcoming film Transformers 2 - Revenge of the Fallen. Included in that group is the Corvette Stingray Concept, a beautiful modern tribute to the Corvette Stingrays of the '60s. Unfortunately, GM has repeatedly stated that this is not the next Corvette and is simply a design study concept. That sucks, it's beautiful.