Tag Archives: tuner

Hawaii car culture with Larry Chen
Car Culture

Sunshine and slammed style: Hawaii’s car culture looks breathtaking through the lens of Larry Chen

I don’t think it needs much introduction. Hawaii is a vibrant state unlike any other in the U.S. and made famous by gorgeous vistas, a bustling tourist industry, and some of the most interesting and passionate locals who embrace the Aloha State’s culture. Anyone who grew up with Lilo & Stitch can at least infer that. However, Hawaii’s car culture is not what we think of when we also envision its glistening beaches and rolling green hills. It probably comes as a surprise that Hawaii even has one, given how compact the islands are and how physically isolated the state is from the American mainland. But it exists. And all-star photographer, Larry Chen, has some words to say and an illustrious fleet of outlandish modified cars to show off.

Larry Chen helps showcase Hawaii’s finest

On the surface, there’s not much to explain. Larry Chen hosted a car meet in conjunction with Canon and a group of locals while Larry was around for PhotoCon. Resultingly, a bunch of locals showed up with an unexpectedly eclectic display of Hawaii’s finest modified cars. And no, it’s not just lifted 4Runners or a “brand-new 2003 Toyota Tacoma (cherry, brah).”

A modified Volkswagen Bug on chrome steelies. Lowrider trucks. Drift cars and VIP builds slammed on their balls (you see that slammed cars are especially the vibe in Hawaii). In a state where the fastest speed limit is 60 miles per hour, and Japan and California sit thousands of miles to the right or left of you, there is zero logical reason for there to be a Liberty Walk Audi R8 or even that lovely, very Urban Outlaw-esque Porsche 911 SC. I’m guessing the most sensibly built car there was the Subaru SVX lowered on WRX wheels at Slammedenuff.

But you know what? Let ’em have it. Let ’em have it all. For all that works against the local car scene, they deserve the kingdom they’ve built.

Why Hawaiian car culture matters

Hawaii is not a car enthusiast’s haven. Yet, slowly, through glamorous photos ripped straight out of brochures and bits and pieces of pop culture, it has been heavily romanticized as such, arousing bucket-list trips in peoples’ heads of supercar grand tours around the island or highway races from beach to beach. Right. That’s not real. Or at least it’d be difficult to do so.

Tight, confusing roads that change from highway to suburban side streets in the blink of an eye don’t make for very exciting driving roads. What picturesque backroads do exist are heavily touristed-out, not very technical for the touge-minded, or just gravel, meaning all those rental Jeeps on Turo aren’t just for show. And speed limits are low. Remember that 60-mile-per-hour freeway speed limit because that’s as fast as it gets. Racetracks are also uncommon, with what few exist always under threat of closure; however, recent news points to a more hopeful future for local motorsports fans, especially on the island of O’ahu.

I know. Test Drive Unlimited lied to us.

Despite these strangulations, a loud and proud pocket of car culture prevails, much akin to Hong Kong or Singapore, which Larry also highlighted for facing similar geographic challenges. Thankfully, Hawaii, like much of America, has a comparatively lax approach to the legality of modified vehicles versus other corners of the globe, meaning you can have cartoonishly wild stuff like these drift cars or lowrider builds on the archipelago without risk of being impounded for merely existing. Just pass inspection… Which I doubt some of these cars do, anyway.

At a quick glance, it’s a unique melting pot of cultures, too. Look at one build, and you’d think you’re at a weekend car show in Oakland or South L.A. Turn your head, and suddenly you’re at the Daikoku PA or Tokyo Auto Salon with more trees. Maybe there’s a glimpse of 1950s Americana at the same venue. Hawaiian car culture seemingly takes the best aspects of West Coast and Asian car cultures and reels them into a central location, both culturally and geographically, making Hawaii a unique halfway house for car enthusiasts traveling between the two realms.

Hawaii car culture with Larry Chen
Image credit: YouTube, Larry Chen

And it should be known that this isn’t the first round of internet personalities exposing Hawaiian car culture. Larry states that this is only his fifth time visiting the islands, and a quick moseying through YouTube also reveals other outlets highlighting Hawaii as both a cultural hotspot and a driving destination despite its restrictive roadways. Top Gear magazine recently reviewed the S650-generation Mustang GT in Hawaii where they attended a local car meet and viewed an autocross event. Several years back, David Patterson, a.k.a. “ThatDudeInBlue,” did a series of car reviews and a mini-documentary highlighting the struggles and ingenuity of blue-collar Hawaiian enthusiasts in the wake of losing a local race track.

Sending our respects from the mainland

So yeah. Hawaiian car culture exists and is very much a banger. Or at least I think it is, and maybe you should, too. It’s a respectful gathering of some of the most welcoming enthusiasts representing various snippets of subcultures from across the Pacific blended together. It doesn’t have the easiest time existing. But its participants are happy, authentic folk with incredible cars showcasing the most creative ideas, and the internet owes content creators like Uncle Larry, Top Gear, and Patterson a thanks for bringing their triumphs to light.

So, from the Nevadan desert, I say aloha to our companions halfway across the ocean. Never stop building, never stop dreaming, and never stop driving. Our Test Drive Unlimited dreams lie within you.

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Nissan GTR-50 Italdesign with Larry Chen
Car Culture

Larry Chen takes the rare 710-horsepower Italdesign GT-R50 for a joy ride

Decades of automotive enthusiasts, tuners, and even casual car lovers can agree that the Nissan GT-R is always a crowd favorite. Even if you don’t like it, you can respect it. The latest generation, better known as the R35, was introduced in 2007 and features a front mid-mounted engine on a proven, modification-friendly platform and all-wheel drive to deliver all that power to the pavement. This Japanese supercar has seen many upgrades and updates over the years, both directly from Nissan and from several prevalent designers and shops. But perhaps the most impressive and rarest true Nissan-collaborated variant is the Nissan GT-R50 by coachbuilder and design house, Italdesign.

Italian coachbuilders kick the Nissan GT-R up a notch

The Nissan GT-R50, redesigned by Italdesign in collaboration with Nissan Design Europe, is reportedly one of only 20 street-legal variants produced for the market, defying Italdesign’s original claims of 50 cars and making it one of the rarest GT-R editions you can buy. Some sources claim that final production before order books closed was even lower than that, but it matters little. Ultra rare is ultra rare! It’s powered by an impressive twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V6 engine tuned by NISMO to produce approximately 710 horsepower, keeping up with the car’s reputation as “Godzilla.”

As for the design house itself, the GT-R50 is merely another notch on its belt of angular, outlandish designs. Formerly home to Giorgetto Giugiaro, Italdesign is also known for the Zerouno supercar, as well as the BMW M1, first-gen Lancia Delta, Fiat Panda, and Alfa Romeo Brera.

While your chances of getting your hands on this Nissan-Italdesign collaboration are pretty slim, there are still a ton of amazing GT-R builds enthusiasts can tackle on their own or with shops with some aftermarket modifications found on eBay.

Is this the rarest R35 GT-R in the world? Driving Italdesign’s 710-horsepower GT-R50 | Larry Chen

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Subaru BRZ & Toyota Supra
FeaturesSaturday Morning Car Tune!

Here is how a flex fuel kit works and why it’d be super cool if you get one

This is a psyop. Go buy flex fuel.

But wait, how does this crap even work? Isn’t this just alcoholic corn juice? Isn’t a high alcohol content bad for engines? Well, I have the answers: Works well enough. Yes, it’s just corn. And kinda-sorta-maybe, but not really.

Frankly, I’ve been a skeptic about high-ethanol-blended gas after hearing debates about its usefulness and possible detriments throughout high school auto shop classes. But more and more over the years, I see people preach its gospel, highlighting a niche where high-ethanol fuels shine: high performance. Or, more specifically, high horsepower! 

I recently purchased a track-built Subaru BRZ (more on the car itself below!) from an old work friend with the intent of “finishing” the build and attending more HPDE events. Friends, colleagues, and YouTubers alike have all incessantly hammered on the benefits of ethanol, like sleeper agent brainwashing. And now that I actually have a popular candidate for such a modification, why not give it a try? So, I am. Starting with installing the hardware itself. 

But first! Some nerdery to help folks better understand what any of these doohickeys even are.

Flex fuel and E85 explained

E85 is basically a higher-ethanol-blended variant of regular gasoline. E stands for ethanol, while the numeric value after it represents the percentage mix of ethanol, typically made by fermenting and distilling starchy crops. While barley and wheat can be used, the most common ingredient in the U.S. is corn. Yes, like the kind best served on the COBB. See what I did there? The blend can vary, but the most commonly used blend in performance applications is E85 or 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline.

Flex fuel simply refers to a fuel system that runs on both standard gasoline and high-ethanol fuels, capable of adjusting its tune on the fly and adapting to the ethanol percentage. Nowadays, swathes of vehicles feature flex fuel from the factory, known as flexible fuel vehicles (FFV), from rugged work trucks to million-dollar hypercars. My dad’s old F-150 with the Triton V8 was flex fuel, as do many GM pickups and SUVs. Perhaps most prominently are Koenigsegg hypercars, who advertise their very best power and performance figures on E85.

Subaru BRZ
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

How flex fuel and E85 work

The physical form of flex fuel in modern cars is nothing more than a sensor system attached to the car’s fuel system. In the case of my BRZ, it’s a mere sensor half the size of a credit card that mounts to the strut tower, plus some fuel lines to redirect fuel into the sensor and a Bluetooth module for feeding ethanol readings to a companion phone app. Generally speaking, for all kits, the sensor reads the ethanol content of the car’s fuel and adjusts the ECU’s tuning to compensate for more or less ethanol. It typically does so on the fly, meaning you fill the car up and go without the need to bust out ye ol’ laptop or Accessport to change tune files like some troglodyte (i.e. me, I have no Bluetooth tuner or phone app).

E85 has become favorable among tuners and weekend warriors for its ability to yield higher horsepower ratings without forcing you to shell out big time on normal race gas. In fact, the E85 actually has a higher octane rating, equal to anywhere between 100 and 105, and features a faster, more efficient burn and flame propagation. E85’s traits carry a whole heap of performance buffs, such as burning cooler, reducing engine temperatures to mitigate knock (premature detonation), allowing compression ratios to be increased thanks to the lessened likelihood of knock, and allowing turbocharged cars to spool marginally faster due to faster burns creating exhaust gases sooner.

All that jargon sounds like a win, win, win! And it should, theoretically, be a win for those running E85. Or at least on dyno days, like the videos embedded at the end.

Debunking flex fuel myths and explaining real cons

Yes, it was very much a concern that E85 was bad for fuel systems, and it’s very much the truth that it’s not the most practical fuel out there for a number of reasons. So, let’s take a quick dive into what’s actually wrong with E85 and what old-timey myths we can dispel to irrelevancy.

First, the real cons:

  • It’s not as widespread at gas stations. Yes, you’re right. Not every gas station has it, and E85 is more common in some states and cities than others. In some places, it’s as easy as traveling to a nearby pump, whereas in others, it’s probably better to buy what you need and store it as you probably won’t find another E85 pump after that. Speaking of storing it.
  • It’s hard to store long-term, as ethanol can attract water, not only diluting the fuel but posing serious risks of rust and water vapors damaging fuel system components if left to sit. J.D. Power also notes that E85 can sit for anywhere between one to three months due to the fuel being likely to oxidize and lose combustibility over time. Compare that to three to six months for regular gasoline and roughly a year or more for diesel.
  • Old cars don’t really like it. There’s a reason some gas stations, such as Maverick, offer totally pure, ethanol-free gasoline. It’s friendlier to classic rides. Ethanol, being an alcohol, is an anti-lubricant and can dry out and damage materials in older fuel systems. On top of all that, they’re trickier to tune for E85 if the car is carbureted, as the carb has to be rejetted every time you swap fuel types.
  • While it’s a cleaner, cooler burning fuel, it’s actually not as power-dense as gasoline, meaning you need to use more of it to make meaningful gains. Sources range from 10% to 33% loss in power density, meaning your fuel economy dips down just as much to compensate since your ECU will adjust to expend more fuel. Colleagues who ran flex fuel in their tuned Scion FR-Ss and Toyota 86s did indeed see power gains at the expense of 3 to 4 mpg during regular driving. 

Now, the myths: 

Perhaps this is one big overarching myth. The notion that E85 is a dangerously corrosive and volatile fuel is a load of crap. Sort of. The alcohol content can dry out suboptimal materials in older or ill-equipped cars and leave a varnish on metal components, but it’s not going to eat away at your fuel system, cause it to blow up, or suddenly chew a hole in your tank. High-ethanol fuel is frequently confused with ethanol race fuels, which can have corrosive additives in them, relegating them to only short-term uses such as racing, or methanol, which actually is far more corrosive than ethanol.

While ethanol may not have been as safe in older vehicles, it’s widely regarded that most modern cars are more than capable of handling higher-ethanol blends. There’s at least a 10% blend of ethanol in regular pump gas, anyway. The high alcohol content can even function as a fuel cleaner, clearing out deposits from lines and injectors, similar to SeaFoam, which also has a high alcohol content. Now, that doesn’t mean go run E85 in your car right now, as you still need a tune for your computer to know what to do with the higher octane rating.

Make sure your car is tuned. Make sure your vehicle is equipped to handle it with the right sensors and modern, resilient components. And if you’re still concerned, the popular safeguard for peace of mind is typically one or two tanks of regular, top-quality pump gas a month.

Another fun fact. It’s also been noted that OEM flex fuel systems are less than stellar at running on E85. Introducing flex fuel into their mainstream cars was a bit of an afterthought and a way for manufacturers to get federal credits following the passage of the Alternative Motor Fuels Act in 1988. Interestingly, it’s akin to how late 2000s and early 2010s EVs were nothing more than mere “compliance cars” whose sole purpose of existing was to literally just exist for the company’s benefit in the wake of strict regional emissions and fuel economy laws.

Installing the hardware

After a quick stop at a speed shop I used to work at to snag a flex fuel kit for a bargain, I was on my way to meet a friend, who reassuringly performed these installs numerous times before. It was my off day over an extended New Year’s holiday weekend. I was on my merry way to see a friend for a quick garage hangout/install job. What could go wrong?

See, I can say that because it already happened. So there’s nothing to jinx. Right?

Thankfully, the BRZ/GR86 platform is as spacious inside as ever, with a wide-open engine bay allowing for easy access for damn near anything (except spark plugs). As my mechanic friend explained to me, all the work needed for the hardware would take place solely near the driver-side shock tower. So, as for what the installation entails.

I kid you not. It was as quick as letting the fuel system sit so it could depressurize a bit, opening the lines so we could install the new lines from the kit, and feeding those new lines into the flex fuel sensor that sat nice and pretty beneath the base of the strut tower brace.

Subaru BRZ E85 flex fuel install
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Bam. Easy. And we only spilled a little bit of fuel after impatiently starting before the system could depressurize further. Oh, and when removing the strut tower brace to install the flex fuel sensor beneath it, we may have dropped a piece of hardware that braces against the master cylinder to keep it from moving under hard braking. It doesn’t thread into anything. It simply sits atop a threaded stud, and the pressure of threading the stud into the strut tower brace pins it against the master cylinder. When you relieve the pressure to remove the brace, it simply falls into the abyss of the engine bay, never to escape because there’s a skid plate underneath from the factory.

Subaru BRZ E85 flex fuel install
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Thank you, Cusco, and thank you, Subaru. Very cool. So now what would’ve been a 20-minute install extended to nearly 45 as we busted out ye ol’ jack and a magnet tool to fish for this piece of the Cusco master cylinder brace from under and on top of the car. It was a humorously stupid and frustrating endeavor that finally ended in success after shaking a car a bunch, then jacking up one side with the wheel cranked to full lock so we could reach from inside the wheel well. 

Hey, we did it, didn’t we? And in the end, we installed the kit. Er, actually, my friend did. Thanks, Kaleb. A Bluetooth module included with the kit mounts near the firewall and lets me read the current ethanol level via a phone app, which, on pump gas, was a whopping, dyno-breaking, tire-shredding…

7%. I’ll take it!

Tune coming soon!

No. There’s no tune at the time of writing. But there will be! And you bet I’ll be back to report on my findings once I get this sucker all pumped up with corn juice. Most tuners expect gains of anywhere between 20 to 30 horsepower on this FA24 flat-four engine with E85 alone, and there are plenty of dyno videos that can back those claims. Will I count myself lucky? We shall see.

Knowing my luck, I wouldn’t be surprised if a piano falls on this car a day after the tune file comes in my email inbox. But fingers crossed. May the Car Gods, please, for the love of all that’s internally combustible, bless me with the same power gains these lucky lads below have experienced.

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WCCS garage car show

This California garage’s grand opening celebrates the best of car culture with an even grander car show

A cool breeze and steady clouds rolled over LA to remind us that autumn weather was around the corner. Angeles Crest became the set of some derivative horror flic and dampened any enthusiasm to soak up the nonexistent rays in Malibu. I was in town sampling yet another press car, but nothing more. How uncharacteristic of me, as I always try to find other immersive things to do, other stories to tell. Might as well when in such a hub for culture, food, and driving. But this time around, nada. Already wished Porsche a happy 75th at The Petersen. Already visited the Lady of the Lake at The Mullin. Maybe one day, I’ll hit the apexes at Willow, but not this weekend. What to do.

I wasn’t about to be the airhead who sucks at planning so bad they couldn’t find anything to do in LA on a weekend. But thankfully, a nifty little Instagram post pointed me towards a new garage in Gardena to spend my Saturday morning. A local group, Brekkie Car Club, was the crew putting on the show, but an outsider like me knew next to nothing of them. I expected a small parking lot meet like those I had been accustomed to and maybe a coffee stand.

I probably should’ve browsed their page and done my research before showing up with the lackadaisical attitude I initially had. Now I feel rude for making any assumptions.

Cool breeze, warm coffee, fiery cars

Integra Type S
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

The alley was mostly full, so I parked the Acura Integra loaner in an overflow lot across the street with the other late attendees who had already begun spilling out of the entrance. The howls of Japanese straight-sixes and German flat-sixes clash as attendees come and go down the street. Even the cars spilling into the street and the overflow area were among the cleanest examples of tuner cars, even the ones that were clearly for show or casual street use. And this was before you entered into the actual show.

Humorously, being set in the alley of a parking facility in Gardena, it was definitely the largest Cars N’ Coffee I’ve attended, longitudinally speaking. Cars stretched down seemingly a couple hundred feet of tarmac, lining the entrance to this newly-minted garage and culminating in a pocket of vendors and top-shelf cars. 

On display was among the broadest spread of diversity in American car culture, a gathering for many tastes with people from all walks of life. And no, this sort of event isn’t exclusive to solely this region, but you don’t see it in such droves in many other places. It’s somewhat alien yet completely on-brand for this corner of the country. From home-brewed tuners to shop-built restomods. From sport compacts to supercars. There was plenty to behold. Peep at the slammed truck that I’m willing to bet is lower than the actual lowrider in attendance. 

WCCS Car Show
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Growing up in Las Vegas, our car culture is but a scaled-down caricature of what lies 300 miles westward. It was a scene I knew but turned up to scale I rarely experienced back home, with a rainbow of personality and creativity to match. My home has some bang-on Cars N’ Coffees. I will not deny them that. But it’s not often I see a kei truck and kei van sitting pretty next to a 911 Carrera lowered on WORK wheels. Nor is there ever a Vorsteiner booth with Europe’s finest rocking sets of circular artwork.

Seriously. Get a load of the rollers on the gray Urus. And the 991.1 GT3’s bronze two-piece center-locks with the polished rim? It’s like something out of a Speedhunters post.

Typical in this day and age, you’re never short on grayscale cars, but the blinding paintwork of vehicles from the Chevelle 454 SS to the pair of old and new BMW M2s do just enough to pierce through the otherwise dreary backdrop of clouds. 

And did I mention the Fast & Furious Supra, complete with nitrous bottles and a fully dressed-up interior? No? Right. Nevermind then. Forget ‘bout it, cuh (I had to). 

Fast & Furious Supra
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

There was no shortage of heavy-hitting knockouts on display. In addition to Vorsteiner’s Urus and Huracan STO demo cars and the armada of Skylines and 911s outside sat the illustrious, drool-worthy collector pieces inside the facility. Truly the stuff of dreams and living legends. Try the cleanest Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X you’ll ever see outside of a magazine cover from 2015. Or not one, but two Carrera GTs. Or if you’re more into modern performance, there’s no going wrong with a GT2 RS.

And it’s not like everything in attendance was a minty-fresh collector’s piece pulled from an RM Sotheby’s auction ad. Some cars were textbook definitions of pristine. Others preferred patina. It was a healthy mix of cars made to look as if they were on the assembly line and ones made to tell the stories of their history. Every drive, every adventure, and every nick from probably following a dump truck too closely.

WCCS garage car show GT2 RS
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Perhaps my personal favorite was locked in a three-way tie between the Honda N600 rocking an interior adorned with stuffed toys and knitted seat covers, the Evasive Motorsports Honda S2000R restomod in all its carbon fiber and Championship White glory, or the Bugatti Type 35 continuation car by Pur Sang. But is it wrong to even mention the S2000R and the Pur Sang in the same breath, let alone park them within a couple dozen feet of each other? Or is that just the time we live in, where a Japanese sports car of the 2000s can transcend its original platform and stand on the same pedestal as something that belongs at Concours d’Elegance?

Or, here’s a better question. Who cares?

Pur Sang Bugatti Type 35 at WCCS garage car show
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

A melting pot of metal and memories

Prestige matters little when both vehicles exist as symbols of their creators’ love and ingenuity. Here, they sit for a like-minded audience to gawk over every intricacy that makes them special, even if they’re worlds apart. The co-existence of these cars in one space puts the intimidated or uninitiated at ease and encourages them to branch out of their wheelhouse to discover cars they wouldn’t have otherwise discovered.

The same goes for every car here. A 911 GT2 RS shares the same square footage as an S14 240SX and an Evo X. Mustangs and Camaros intermingle with M cars and Supras. Because why the hell not? There is no segregation of the various cults like I often see with other events. There are no “Mustang people” or “Porsche people” here. They’re just car people.

WCCS Car Show
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco
WCCS Car Show
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

This level of variety in car culture and its people proves, when done right and not with the foolish delusion of chasing clout and outlaw stardom, that it’s more than just an exercise in materialism and vanity. And it’s this melting pot that makes for great memories and meeting new people.

But why on a cloudy day in some industrial park alleyway in Gardena? Surely, there was no one staging for quarter-mile drags in the hopes of appeasing triad bosses or winning pink slips to ten-second cars (bam, two references in one piece). Brekkie’s show was more of a celebration than anything else. A celebration of diversity in car culture, as well as the grand opening of a new garage for these cars to potentially call home. 

Celebrating a new home for our four-wheeled friends

Hell, that venue had to belong to someone, right? Right. So hats off to auto journalist and TheSmokingTire co-host, Matt Farah, who celebrates the opening and unveiling of the Westside Collector Car Storage South Bay location in collaboration with Brekkie Car Club. His 90-car garage presents itself as a hub for dedicated hobbyists to give their cars a home when they themselves can’t, delivering a much-needed service to the local community seldom seen throughout the LA area and other densely populated metropolises.

Matt Farah portrait at WCCS
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Tucked deep into this otherwise unassuming alley gives the location a lowkey vibe. If you didn’t recognize the signage out front, it’s almost speakeasy-like for cars. Its privacy and security are to be further bolstered by the later construction of a concrete wall, and that’s only a fraction of future developments soon to follow. Being more sprawled out given its location, the WCCS South Bay facility will soon exceed the capacity of its original Playa Vista location, which made headlines upon its opening for its impossibly ingenious use of such a compact space. Adopting the second building adjacent to the now-opened garage will reportedly allow car capacity to inflate to 170, with room to spare for indoor and outdoor lounging, a conference room, a kitchen, and a dining area. 

Get that. A kitchen. In the same place you’d park your weekend toy. To some, it may just look like a glorified parking structure. But the enthusiast in me, who probably watched too many movies and played way too many games, sees a lounge for car clubs, a hub for drivers’ meetings on rallies, and your character’s starting garage should they ever make a Test Drive: Unlimited game in California. 

Excessive? In all the best ways. So think of it as a gift to the community, because as much as we love them, cars are a hassle in big cities. After all, the eclectic customers who will soon fill these bays surely deserve some treat for keeping our increasingly niche hobby alive with cars that are becoming more like museum-worthy exhibits with every passing year.

And I mean. Come on. It doesn’t sound like a bad place for the valet to take their sweet time when they give you a place to kick it.

So yeah. I’m a fan of this idea and of gatherings like this. And you should be, too. People like Farah and his crew at WCCS make being octane-blooded in concrete jungles feel less like wedging your passion between a rock and a hard place. And it’s lively, community-driven shows by groups like Brekkie Car Club that keep the flame burning for veteran hobbyists and hopefully light a flame in the hearts of the new and curious.

Not a bad assessment, huh? And to think all I wanted to do was kill a Saturday morning.

WCCS Car Show
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

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RTR Mustang REALLY drifting

Witness the RTR Mustang as it finishes suspension testing

We’re Ford Mustang fans here at Acceleramota. I’ve long been a die-hard fanboy, and our founder and CEO claims to have converted after witnessing them in the flesh in Detroit. So of course we’re excited to see more of the inner workings behind one of the most intriguing and exciting tuner ponies, the RTR Mustang, which had recently completed suspension testing and validation. And thanks to their press release shared with reputable forum, Mustang7G, we have the scoop on everything that goes into making a fast Ford go faster.

Following months of exciting launch events, photos, and a dealership tour, the RTR Ford Mustang officially completed suspension testing at the North Carolina Center for Automotive Research or NCCAR. At the helm and relaying feedback to the development team was IMSA driver, Billy Johnson. The young driver recently championed the Ford GT GTE cars during their stint and previously helped develop the Ford GT supercar, the Shelby GT350 and GT500 sports cars, and the Mustang GT4 and FP350S race cars.

Under Johnson’s guidance, the RTR team could fine-tune every aspect of the dynamics, both on track and over 20,000 claimed street miles, to pursue confidence-inspiring neutrality with plenty of room for adjustability. To achieve this goal, it meant fiddling with the adjustable dampers, sway bars, and different tire packages.

Different sizes for the Nitto NT555 G2 tire packages and adjustable suspension will allow customers to skew grip levels to their liking and induce traits such as under or oversteer. RTR intends to offer a squared set of 275-wide tires and a staggered set of 305-wide front and 315-wide rear tires, mimicking packages found on the Dark Horse and previous Mustang Mach 1 and Shelby GT350.

According to their test results, the RTR Mustang lapped NCCAR two seconds quicker than a stock Mustang GT Performance Package. Even cooler, a stickier tire setup on top of their suspension package shaved another 1.2 seconds, widening the gap between a modified and unmodified Mustang GT to a lifetime in motorsports. Mind you, this is merely their “mid-tier” Spec 2 model, which still leaves room for a supercharged Spec 3 and (fingers crossed) a widebody Spec 5.

In a separate walk-around video, two-time Formula D champion and RTR founder, Vaughn Gittin Jr., expresses transparency regarding the current RTR’s base setup. It reportedly won’t strive to be the winner at any given driving discipline, but it will ship with a neutral chassis setup that’s still potent on track out of the box but easy to tune for customers wanting more.

Founded in 2011, RTR Vehicles – Ready To Rock – has been acclaimed for what are perceived as the most youthful Ford Mustangs, forgoing the alleged “Boomer” status of legacy tuners like Roush or Shelby American, for slightly less money. And while its eccentric identity may deter some would-be buyers, there’s no denying the individuality and tunability rarely seen from rival tuners or factory cars. Or at least not for the same money. 

So yeah. We’re Mustang fans here at Acceleramota. And the RTR Mustang might just tickle our fancy a little bit more.

RTR Mustang apexing corner
Image: RTR Vehicles

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