Hidden Pages

Since I was a little boy, I've loved cars. As I got older, I would draw them constantly and have my Dad give the drawing a grade. Then, when they trusted me with paint and glue in the house, I would put model cars together and modify them as best I could to make them look "just right".

Today, I've got to live that out big-boy style, and I'm very thankful for that. Two of my cars have been featured in large, worldwide publications. I'm occasionally very active in online forums. My screen name on all of them is Blakt Out, in case you want to go trolling.

 

This page will be where I update the world on my current projects, which include my 1972 Datsun 240Z (sold), my 2004 Audi S4 Avant (sold), my Cadillac CTS-V(sold), my 2010 Subaru STi backroads monster, and anything else that I get into. I'd love to hear from you. Oh, and be sure to check out the Car Design Gallery.

A friend is selling an S2000

2010 Subaru Impreza WRX STi - Now Cobb Stage 2

Well, it’s been a long time coming. I’ve had this car now for nearly half a year and haven’t blogged about it. That’s a bit wild, because I have indeed been busy making this car the tight backroad attack machine that I intended from the start. Also, I really like this car… a lot. I’ve just been too slammed to actually blog about it here. (I’m literally typing this somewhere over Nebraska as I fly from San Francisco to Philadelphia).

So first off, a quick background: I sold the Caddy CTS-V for a few reasons, the biggest of which being this: I go on multi-day hardcore drives by myself on some of the most remote areas of northern California and southern/coastal Oregon. I need the car to be bulletproof. Also, those roads are often in horrible condition. The big Caddy was just outmatched by the irregularity of the roads. I needed a rally car.

This of course left me with two choices: the Subaru STi or the Mitsubishi Evolution. After selling the Caddy, I literally just bought a one-way ticket to Denver. Of all places in America, it should have an abundance of these two otherwise rare cars, with its above average levels of both snow and wealth. For what they are, these cars aren’t cheap at all.

I’ll admit that I really thought I’d go for the Evo. They are more inherently sharp and driver-focused than the STi. In the end though, I bought the Subaru for these reasons: It’s simply built better, the company will most assuredly be around in 2 years, the engine is torquier and sounds (much) better, it has 6 speeds instead of 5, and there’s a dealer in Redding.

I literally had no concern for color. In retrospect, I really can’t explain that. My main thing was to get a good car with a certified pre-owned warranty and low miles for as good of a price as I could. On my first full day in Denver, I located 13 such cars. On day 2, I made the same offer on each of them. The cars ranged from 2008-2010 and from 12k miles to 43k. Much to my shock, the newest car (2010) with the lowest miles (12k) accepted the offer. It was CPO’d and had a perfect CARFAX. Wow. OK. I just bought a red Subaru.

Red definitely wouldn’t have been my choice if I were concerned. Once it was mine, I decided that this would be a new challenge for me to make look like “mine”. Red just isn’t my thing. I mean, my online tag is “Blakt Out”. This was one of three areas that I would be soon addressing. The other two were tightening the suspension and overall feel of the car beyond that of the Evo that I had decided against, as well as increasing the power. The stock 305chp didn’t impress me. I guess it’s that I’m so spoiled both from a 484HP Caddy and testing Porsches. I truly was a bit bummed from day 1 about the power of the car.

Mission One – Make it look cool. Here’s what I did:

  • Matte black, lightweight 18X9.5” (wide) Rota DPM wheels
  • Racecomp Engineering “Regular Guy” Springs. (They aren’t low enough. I ordered the lower "Yellows" but they sent me the wrong ones. I didn't realize they were the wrong ones for 4k miles, so I'll be putting the Yellows on here, which will improve the stance, and then sell the others.
  • The windows were already blacked out beyond the legal point. I’m leaving them.
  • I hate the silly ricer clear taillights. What were they thinking? I’ll be fixing that with some trans red paint.
  • While many parts of the interior are really nice, such as the alcantara race seats, others really look like they’re out of a $15k car. Now, my shift boot is alcantara with matching red stitching, as is the center console armrest and the emergency brake boot. Then, for fun, I had WC Latheworks make a new shift knob and iDrive selector knob out of titanium. They then took a torch to the titanium to give them the color that you see here. I also had some other small pieces done. I got carried away…
  • Mission Two – Make It Tight

  • The shifter in these cars isn’t bad, but it’s not good either. I think that the shifting experience is highly important to the driving experience, so I went after that with a Kartboy Short Shifter, all the Kartboy shifter bushings.
  • The brakes, however, weren’t much impressive at all to me. Even though they are Brembos, I wasn’t happy with pedal feel or the level of security they gave me when I got them hot. So the car got Hawk HPS pads all around, as well as DBA 5000 rotors on the front and 4000 on the rear. These rotors are cool, man. The front ones actually have heat-activated paint on them to show me how hot I got them on my last run. Lastly, I added a Grimmspeed Master Cylinder Brace, StopTech Stainless brake lines all around, and Royal Purple race fluidfor added feel and performance.
  • The chassis and suspension was next. I’ve been around the mod-block quite a few times, and now know what makes the biggest difference. These mods aren’t about flash. They’re about my driving experience, and they made a huge difference. I installed a 24mm Whiteline adjustable sway bar up front, a 22mm adjustable Whiteline sway bar in the back, Whiteline adjustable end links all around, the Whiteline Anti-Lift Kit, Whiteline Front Lower Control Arm Brace, Whiteline Gearbox Mount Bushings, Whiteline Front Control Arm Rear Support Brace, Whiteline Positive Power Kit, Whiteline Rear Diff Mount Inserts, Whiteline Steering Rack Bushings, and the Whiteline Trailing Arm Bushing Kit. I think I have earned the Whiteline sticker on the back of the car, wouldn’t you say? I then completed the package by putting extra gummy 265 Bridgestone RE-11s all around. This car now grips SOLID. It’s quite shocking, actually.
  • Mission Three – More Power!

    Getting power out of these cars is super easy. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel, so I didn’t. Simply put, I went Cobb Stage 2, inserting a SPT cat-back exhaust instead of the Cobb piece. What this means is that I also have the Cobb catted downpipe, the Cobb AF+ cold air intake with airbox, and the Cobb AccessTuner. I then took it down to the GST Motorsports in the Bay Area and had it dyno tuned, which got an incredible amount of power out of it compared to the Cobb Stage 2 off-the-shelf tune. In the end, it put down 286.5whp and 308.7 wtq, which is a huge increase from the stock numbers. While I didn't have it dyno'd when stock, Mike at GST said that these cars do arond 205 and 210 (hp and tq) on his dyno stock. So this is a 40% increase, if Mike is right. It's also what everyone says on the forums. A 40% increase in crank horsepower would have it up from 305 to 427ho!  I don’t get too caught up in numbers though. I just know it’s darn fast. 

    Maintenance Record

    I like to keep track of my cars' maintenance on here, because the future owner (whenever it's time for me to sell) can see how well I took care of it. 

     

    • 12,600miles - Bought it, Subaru Certified. New fluids all throughout.
    • 15,009miles - Royal Purple 5w30 premium synthetic engine oil with a Royal Purple filter. New Bridgestone RE-11 tires.
    • 20,319miles (Today, July 12, 2012) - Royal Purple 5w30 premium synthetic engine oil with a Royal Purple filter.

     

    That gets you up to speed with the car’s status. Soon I hope to get it out to Infineon Raceway and see how it does there. In the meantime, I’m carving up the coastal Cali roads, including our magazine’s secret test loop. It’s good stuff, y’all!

    2010 Subaru WRX STi 

    Well, I sold the Cadillac a month or so ago and flew to Denver to find an STi. I figured (correctly) that this affluent market up in the sky (snow) would have a ton of great used STis to search through. Upon getting there, I found an abundance of 2008-2010s that would fit the bill, ranging from 12k miles to 40k miles and with and without the Subaru Certified Warranty (which covers the car up to 100k miles).

    On my first two days there, I looked at every one on the market with my brother, who came out to Denver from Tennessee for the event. On the third day, I put in the exact same "low ball" offer on every one of the Certified cars, as the 100k warranty was something I knew I'd like, whether I had it that long or just sold it, as the warranty transfers. Some of the cars were blue, one was silver, another was red, and so on. I didn't put offers in on a color that I knew I wouldn't want, such as the dark blue/purple color. Otherwise, I was all about price. Much to my amazement, only one offer was accepted, and it was the LOWEST mile car, as well as the NEWEST! Yeah! The 12k mile 2010 red car was the one that accepted the offer, so I shook hands and paid the man! Red wasn't at all my top choice, so I knew I had a bit of style-work to do to get it right. I accepted the challenge to make red "feel like me". 

    This car had some great stuff already on it, none of which voided the warranty. For example, it had the Subaru SPT (Subaru Performance Tech) cat-back exhaust, which is over $1k itself. It also had the windows (too) tinted, so I'll likely get a heat gun and peel that off. I'm just over having limo'd windows. However, it also had the horribly heavy 5 star wheels. Out of the 3 wheels offered on STis, these are the heaviest by almost 10 pounds each. That's right. They weigh in over 28 POUNDS each! Since the rubber on the wheels wouldn't do it for me (as I really do drive the car), I knew I'd need to get some lightweight wheels that would help with my "cure the red" issue all while allowing me to fit proper performance tires and fill up the wheel wells too. But that's later on...

    Even though I got a great deal on the car, I was at the top of my budget, so I didn't want to do any crazy expensive stuff on the car. So instead of going with coilovers like I have on almost all my other cars, I went with RCE Yellow springs and a ton of Whiteline bushings and such. Cheap stuff that really makes a difference. Thanks to Andy and his team at FD Autoworks in Redding for all the great work on the car.

    Recent events - repairs, etc from a few hard coastal Cali drives

    Well, we're now at 111,577 miles. I've had two big coastal drives since the last post. On the first, the car felt amazing, until I snapped one of the front sway bar end links. The company, PowerGrid, did NOT warranty the part, so I had to buy another, at $80 plus shipping. 

    After the drive, the car's differential (brand new OEM piece) started to feel sloppy (not from the drive, just the miles, as I wasn't hard on it). So I took it in and they flushed out the fluid, saying that some had caked behind the clutch pack. It seemed to work and felt good.

    After another 2000 or so miles, it felt bad again. So I took it back in before the next Coastal Drive, and they replaced the clutch packs in the diff under warranty. It felt better, but not much. Still, I took it on the 700 mile drive. I met up with two buddies, one in a Sharkwerks built, bored and stroked 2007 Porsche GT3 (same one that my 911 beat in a magazine shootout) and the other in a totally stock 2011 VW GTi. I knew I should fall somewhere in the middle... but no.

    I couldn't keep up with the VW. I mean, I could, I'm sure. But the car just didn't feel right. I figured it was just that the sway bar end link was still broken (kind of a big deal...) but when I got it home, I found out that my Creative Steel transmission mount was totally split. OUCH! I gave them a call, and without hesitation sent me another, overnight, at no cost to me. That's AMAZING! If I didn't have the entire Creative Steel catalog of parts on my car already, I would now! Gotta love the small business that does it right...

    So today I installed the new trans mount, flushed out the junk fluid that GM makes you have with Royal Purple 75w140. The diff feels tighter, and the trans mount made a WORLD of difference. I also installed new emergency brake shoes (a friend of mine had it over the holidays and drove it around with the e-brake on... doh!), replaced the broken sway bar end link, and even rotated the tires. I'm shocked at how long these Bridgestone RE-11 R-Compound tires are lasting. They look pretty darn good! The set I had on my Audi S4 only lasted this long (about 10k miles) but these likely have another 5k in them. I'm impressed! 

    So, the car feels correct again, which makes me happy. I'm quite sure I'd be leaving that VW in the dust now. BTW, I should clarify that the road we were on was a 2nd/3rd gear section of incredibly tight turns on a very choppy road surface full of potholes. Any good FWD or AWD car would have an advantage here.

    Tomorrow morning, the Cadillac gets another oil change of Mobil 1 and a Mobil 1 filter. To aid you in your math, that's after 2,993 miles... yet another perfectly timed oil change for a car that gets run hard. The K&N air filter will get cleaned too, and all fluids topped off.

    Special thanks to Andy and crew at FD Autoworks here in Redding, CA. They have expertise and integrity, and I really like 'em too. They did a good bit of the work noted in this post, and that hopefully says a lot. I'm really picky with who touches my cars.

    Getting the Caddy Ready for Winter

    Well, we're at 108,584 miles now. Other than the fact that I still blow sub-amp fuses when I play my music too loud (today the culprit was Jamiroquai), everything is going perfectly. The new (read: 3rd) differential seemed to be getting sloppy last week, but all it took was some new fluid (the other fluid was caking in it somehow) and we're nice and tidy again. On my last road adventure, I snapped one of the Powergrid adjustable sway bar end links, but another should be here tomorrow. 

    Today, the oil was changed again, right at 3k miles since last time, as always. However, since the weather is really getting chilly, I opted for 10w30 instead of 5w30, but of course stuck with Mobil 1 Full Synthetic, which is all that this car has EVER seen (I got the records from the previous owner, which is awesome). It also got a new Mobil 1 filter, which SHOULD be all it's ever seen as well, but I don't know for sure. Of course, I also gave it a full bottle of Gumout Fuel System Cleaner, which I do at every oil change. With the cold of winter, my tire pressures were dropping, so today they are back at a nice 33psi cold all around, which puts me at 38psi when I'm running it hard, so I'll need to drop a few psi on the next performance drive. I really like how it feels at 36.

    So that's that. I love this car. We'll be taking it to San Fran two times in the next month, which is a 600 mile round trip each time. Amazing that this car has 484hp, is pretty HUGE and heavy, and yet gets 26mpg on the interstate. So cool. The best thing is that Elias now wants to help, badly. I had him handing me tools. God, thank you so much for giving me a little boy to spend this time with.