Fully Pressurized.  Again.  For the 005

November 07, 2005

SSR Professor SP1: School The Competition

As many car enthusiasts know, Speed Star Co. Ltd and Speed Star Sales Co. Ltd went bankrupt on January 27 of this year, leaving many prospective buyers out in the cold. It appears, however, that the reports of Tanabe Co., Ltd purchasing the business rights and assets of Speed Star Racing and Speed Star Wheel were true. I check for updates regarding the buyout almost religiously and to say that I was ecstatic when I saw the Speed Star Wheel link on the front page of the Tanabe Japan site today would be the understatement of the year!!!

I have a one-track-mind when it comes to certain things, and wheels for my Supra is one of those things. Just a few of the qualities the SSR Professor SP1s have that that make it the right wheel for me are:

  • - wide range of widths
  • - wide range of offsets
  • - simple five-spoke design
  • - stepped lip that provides a sense of substance

I look forward to Tanabe setting up US distribution and hopefully I will have some new shoes for my 'dawg after nearly five years of ownership.

Posted by hungwin at 08:58 PM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2005

The Return of Godzilla

The much-anticipated Nissan GT-R Proto was unveiled at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show press preview on October 19. After four years of hype, the specifications for the next GT-R are still unclear. Speculation calls for a bi-turbo 3.5L V6 or a 4.5L V8, but all Nissan will say is that it will make north of 400 bhp.

More ranting about the powertrain and aesthetics of the GT-R Proto after the jump.

With the C6 Z06 pushing approximately 3200 lbs with 505 bhp, Nissan better significantly up their power output to compete -especially when one takes into account the increasing heft of the R33 and R34.

I, as a consumer, would be weary about a V-type engine with forced induction. One tends to need to buy two of everything, be it turbos, gates, ICs, BOVs, and the list goes on. I am certainly biased as and owner of a car with a turbocharged inline engine, but so are the Skyline faithful. The venerable RB26DETT will be hard to replace.

As far as styling goes, it hasn't really grown on me yet. The styling appears sterile, lacking soul, more akin to an electronic device rather an automobile. It seems contrived, as if the designers were torn between angular and curvilinear lines. The headlights are reminiscent of an angular Lamborghini Gallardo while the taillights look like they were taken from the front fascia of the rounded Bentley Continental GT. The sloping roofline is too busy. The strong front fenders, replete with carbon fiber vents, do not accentuate the presumed RWD nature of the car. Even the sail line along the rear wheelwell has been eliminated and combined with the shoulder line. Also, one would think that Nissan could come up with better wheels for their flagship concept. Instead, the rollers look like they were pulled off an Infiniti SUV.

As a self-proclaimed Carbon Fiber Junkie, I appreciate the exposed carbon, but question the location of exposure. The carbon highlights on the lower trim a la Ridox, the diffuser a la Top Secret, and spoiler a la Rod Millen are nice and all, but is it necessary to leave raw carbon on the front snout, brake ducts, and A-pillars? Eurethane front fascias are not that heavy to begin with, and I doubt the corporate bean counters would sign off on a CF bumper. I also doubt that any part of the greenhouse is composite. Highlights are nice, but where they don't really serve a purpose (read: save weight), is superfluous.

Photos are courtesy of the very talented Dino Dalle Carbonare and Nissan. More images can be found in My Gallery, AutoWeek, and Nissan (01-31).

Posted by hungwin at 04:48 PM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2005

Michelin's Farce

Left: Michelin-shod cars coming in after the formation lap, Right: Six-car field of the USGP

To say I would have been miffed had I taken the time, money, and energy to attend the United States Grand Prix would be an understatement. Of the twenty cars that were on the formation lap, only six started, raced -and finished*. Why did seven teams not race? One word: Michelin.

Due to high vertical loads, particularly on the shoulder (red spot), on the left rear tyre on the Michelin-shod cars, the tread could potentially separate from the sidewall. Therefore, Michelin made an announcement that deemed the tyres they brought to Indy were unsafe.

The French tyremaker then had the gall to request that a chicane be placed in Turn 13 to slow the cars down to "safer" speeds. Tony George and the Indianapolis Speedway team were prepared to install said chicane or do whatever necessary to proceed with a race. Bridgestone's major team, Ferrari, objected to the chicane. The FIA objected to the chicane. And rightly so. Why should the teams that came properly prepared be penalized for Michelin's inferior tyres?

Blame seemed to be shuffled around but the teams running Michelins never once blamed themselves for the outcome of the race. Only two drivers tested at Indy. It was not Tony George's fault. It was not Bridgestone's fault. It was not Ferrari's fault. It was not Bernie Ecclestone's fault. It was not the FIA's fault. Michelin did not provide their teams with a competitive product and fans worldwide fell victim. This turn has been there since 1909 and this is the sixth time the USGP has been held at Indianapolis.

I can understand the position of the teams for wanting to protect the lives of their drivers, but this is entertainment, and they did not fulfill their obligation to the fans. There were some ideas thrown out that would have had the cars on Michelins simply run slower through turn 13, go through the pits each lap, change tyres more often, or install a chicane and dock all Michelin-shod cars championship points. But alas, only Ferrari, Jordan, and Minardi competed in the USGP. I am honestly suprised to see that the majority of fans stuck around for the "race" and the relative civility of the crowd.

As a result of the debacle, Toyota's first pole position was for naught and Schumacher went on to his first victory of 2005. He and Barrichello have moved into third and fourth in the drivers standings while Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes are tied at 63 points in the Constructors Championship, 13 behind Renault.

As of this writing, the FIA has summoned the seven Michelin teams to appear at a hearing of its World Motor Sport Council on Wednesday June 29 following their controversial withdrawal from the US Grand Prix. Stay tuned and visit formula1.com for the latest USGP developments.

*Not since the 1961 Hungarian GP has an entire F1 field started and finished a race. As an aside, I think the current FIA tire rule is ridiculous and should be revaluated for future seasons, especially in light of what has happened recently to Kimi and Ralf. There is real potential for bodily harm, not to mention the millions of dollars of race car lost because teams are reluctant to change tyres due to fear of moving to the back of the pack.

Posted by hungwin at 02:38 PM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2005

2005 San Marino Grand Prix

After sliding off track during Sunday's second round of qualifying to a 13th grid position, Michael Schumacher showed us why he is a seven-time world champ. When the leaders went in for the first round of stops, Schuey stayed out for an additional four laps, setting fastest lap three out of the four. The Ferrari driver continued to shave 1.5-2.0+ seconds from second place Jenson Button, exhibiting the prowess of F2005 on Bridgestones. On lap 47, Button was passed as Schumacher dove into his inside at the Acqua Minerale. Soon, Fernando Alonso's rearview mirrors were full of the scarlet terror. For the last 13 laps, the Spaniard fought off the German to his third consecutive victory.

Toyota's Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher finished seventh and eleventh, respectively.

Posted by hungwin at 06:18 PM | Comments (0)

April 05, 2005

Is Toyota For Real?

One of the questions the Speed commentators brought up during the Malaysian GP in Sepang was whether or not Panasonic Toyota Racing's F1 program was for real. Their question was answered with second and fifth place finishes by Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher, respectively.

This past weekend Trulli and Schuey Jr. backed up their success in Sepang with second and fourth place finishes in the Grand Prix of Bahrain. I believe it's safe to say that Toyota's Formula 1 program is very real.

In it's pursuit of a number one finish, Toyota will be testing a new aero package prior to the first race of the European leg of the 2005 GP in Imola:

Before the next race at Imola we’ll be testing a new aero package at Barcelona and Paul Ricard, and then we’ll have to decide if we’ll adopt it or not. Of course, we want to maximize the potential in the engine, the suspension and everywhere else, but the aerodynamics are extremely important at this point, which is why most of our attention will be focused there. To catch and pass our rivals, we feel that we do not have to work twice as hard—we have to work THREE times as hard. If we can do that, then I believe we will stand at the center of the podium, which is our new goal. - Toyota-F1.com

Posted by hungwin at 02:08 PM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2005

2JZ No Bullish!!!

Leave it to Ara Arslanian and Bullish Motor Racing to be pioneers and keep raising the proverbial bar. At first glance, it looks like your typical rail car, but take a closer look and then you notice the twin hairdryers. "Great" you think, "it's probably some privateer with a TT'd V8 or something like that." Nope. It's Toyota's little ol' 3.0 liter (2997 cc/182.9 ci if you want to pic nits) inline six. Credit Geoff at Full Race for crafting another work of art that the twin Turbonetics T88s call home. Can you imagine the sounds coming from within inches of your ears?

In a word, this car will be SICK.

Here is some more information about the dragster:
NDRA article about the dragster's unveiling
NDRA article about AEM's sponsorship of the dragster
TheSpeedLounge.com thread with high res pics of the Full Race mani

Posted by hungwin at 03:54 PM | Comments (0)

March 07, 2005


It was finally nice enough to drive the Supra today so I took it for a spin and stopped by Porsche of Arlington to take some pics of a Fayence Yellow Porsche Carrera GT. I'm not quite sold on the yellow -I think I'd rather have one in Seal Grey. The pics are so-so, the lighting was kind of a pain. Half of the car was under the awning and the other half was in bright sunlight. You may notice a couple of white spots on the driver's side of the front bumper. I'd be kinda pissed if I had paid $400K+ for a car and come to find that the dealer allowed bird droppings to sit on the front end. Autopians would probably have a coronary.

You gotta love all of the exposed carbon fiber behind the front fascia, in the front wheelwells, the wing risers, and of course the diffuser and undertray.

Gallery of 2560x1920 pics here.

Posted by hungwin at 06:18 PM | Comments (0)

January 02, 2005

Conventional Wisdom

Click here for the entire gallery.

I made it out to the auto show in DC this year. The new Convention Center is ginormous -I seriously doubt the manufacturers used all of the square footage.

Mercedes had a strong display with nearly AMG-everything. The new CLS is ugly, I guess D-C had to dumb down the styling to compete with Bangle's 6-Series. Their dark green almost black paint on the E55 was a nice change from the typical German silver. The SLR McLaren is just as ugly in person as it is in pictures. The 300SL Gullwings were elegant and sexy, SLR swings and misses. I also believe that a supercar should have a V10 or V12 these days, a blown eight seems crude by today's standards, especially when the company has a 700+ ft-lb V12TT in lesser cars.

Porsche had ceramic brakes on damn-near every car there from the red 996 convertible to the silver 997 coupe. The blue 996 Turbo S with color-matched wheels was hawt. I wonder if the spokes look green when the car is moving, what with the yellow calipers and blue wheels. The Carrera GT definitely looks better in person, carbon everywhere. I still think Zuffenhausen should have differentiated the CGT from the rest of the line, it still resembles a stretched 911.

Carlos Ghosn is the best thing that has happened to Nissan in recent memory and the new M45 is the newest proof. The global FM platform underpins some excellent vehicles from the 350Z to the Cedric/Gloria replacement. I think the M45 is going to ruffle some feathers in the mid-range sport lux segment. Look out E60 and horribly restyled GS.

It is a sad sad day in Toyota history when it's sporty offering is the Tacoma X-Runner. WTF. It handles well and all (0.86g IIRC), but dayum can we get a true sports car from the world's fourth largest automaker? No, the MR-S does not count. I really hope TMC doesn't mess up the MKV Supra.

Scion probably had the best freebies. The had another mix CD and a thick magazine/brochure printed on thick stock with a bonus DVD.

I was disappointed with the lack of Lotus (Loti?), Gallardos, and especially Ferraris. There was a Challenge Stradale with some ridiculously large brakes, but with Scuderia Ferrari of Washington just down the road, I expected more.

Celebrity sighting: former Washington Redskin Ken Harvey.

Posted by hungwin at 04:23 PM | Comments (0)