Sunday, July 22, 2012

Race car is fixed... sort of.

I finally got to drive my Civic on track yesterday after several weeks of waiting for repairs to the transmission. I missed the Mosport lapping day organized by our club a few days ago as the Honda dealership sent me the wrong parts. I even bought a second transmission to install temporarily, but it turned out to be a dud. I finally got to try out the car yesterday and it was performing quite well before the clutch began acting up. 

I managed my best ever lap, a 1:00.908. It's not that much faster than last year's best time, but it was 27 degrees out and I was running on some older Toyo RA1's only 205 mm wide. I think that in optimal conditions, I should finally be able to break the one minute barrier. 

I also got to go out for a few hot laps in a student's Scion FR-S. I had been hoping to drive one of these cars and I lucked out yesterday. I can't remember the last time I had so much fun on track in a bone stock car. The car had the stock wheel/tire setup and the traction control was off. The level of power is just fine for me. There is not enough power to get into real trouble on the throttle, so I was able to drive it almost like a front-wheel-drive when it came to mashing the gas pedal coming out of second-gear corners. I am not much of a rear-drive specialist when it comes to on-track driving, but it feels as if with this car, that wouldn't matter. The over all pleasantness-to-drive factor was definitely there. It felt like driving a slighty more powerful and stiffer NB Miata, or a lighter RX8 (with a bit less power). The top-end power does not feel much different from the mid-range (compared to my vtec Honda, of course) but the engine seems to pull evenly and does not feel too harsh at high rpm.

The pedals were OK for heel and toe. Weirdly, the shift knob began to come unscrewed at one point while I was on track. The seats are really quite good and grip well for OEM. It surely helped that they are not leather. The owner told me that there is only one spec for now in Canada: power windows, a/c, cruise, no sunroof, no leather. The interior quality is pretty good, like many modern Asian cars, but nothing special. The stereo is not molded into the dash, so you can easily replace it with something aftermarket, which I think must be pretty rare these days.

I think this is a great buy for someone who wants a pleasant new performance car that can be used for the occasional track outing unmodified. If I had one of these as my back-up track car, I think I would probably keep it totally stock.

Alex and I went on another mini vacation last weekend, to the Baskatong reservoir and Mont Laurier area. We stayed in a lovely B&B and swam in a cool mountain stream, as well as the reservoir itself. It's easy to forget that there are some pretty nice places to see here in Quebec.

Other than that, there are still a ton of really cool cars on the road in Montreal this summer:


Cool cars spotted:

Aston Martin V8 Vantage
Aston Martin DB7
Aston Martin Vainquish S
Rolls Royce Ghost
Rolls Royce Phantom
Rolls Royce Corniche
Bentley Arnage Black Label 
Lamborghini Gallardo
Tesla Roadster
Nissan Skyline R32 GTR
Nissan GTR
Ferrari 360
Audi R8
Audi RS4
Porsche 996 GT3
Porsche 997 GT3
Porsche 997 Turbo
Porsche 993 turbo
Ferrari 458
Ferrari 458 Spyder
Ferrari 348 Spyder
Ferrari F430 Spyder
Ferrari California
Ferrari 599
Euro BMW M3 (e30)
Lotus Elise
Jaguar XKR
Jaguar XFR
AMG C63 Black
AMG C63 Coupe
Amg C63
AMG E55 Wagon
Triumph TR8
Shelby GT350
New BMW M5
BMW M6 (e24)
Maserati GT
Maserati Quattroporte

Friday, July 6, 2012

Not much car stuff going on, but summer is still pretty great!

I can't say that I've been too busy to post here, but I have been out and about a lot trying to enjoy the last summer for Alex and I before the baby arrives! We went on a great little 3-day trip to the Charlevoix area last weekend. It was extremely relaxing and, even though it's only 300 km away, it really felt like a trip to a faraway land.

This is Alex in front of the B&B where we stayed. 

The lovely artisanal bakery where we stopped

The bakery's mill

Our lovely breakfast 

I have had a few mechanical issues with the Civic and have not been getting any track time. There was a problem with the transmission where it would not stay in gear in 3rd or 5th. I ordered a bunch of parts to fix it after Marc removed it and Pascal inspected it. I was hoping it would be fixed before our club's Mosport track day next week, but the parts still have not arrived. I had to resort to plan B, which involved buying a spare transmission to install temporarily. I also brought Marc a new steering rack (2, actually, since the first one was the wrong model) to be installed. The car should be ready...

Alex is now 7.5 months pregnant. She is still managing to enjoy summer and we go for many walks. Her endurance is almost astounding!

There have been an almost unbelievable amount of cool cars on the roads these days, including this ultra-rare Ferrary 550/575. I don't know if Ferrari ever officially made this car!

I also got a few phone photos of some other interesting cars, as can be seen here.


Cool cars spotted:
New BMW M5 (x2)
BMW 1M (x2)
BMW 635 Csi
Aston Martin Vantage (x3+)
Aston Martin DBS
Aston Martin DB9
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 1, 3, 8, 10
Lamborghini Gallardo
Ferrari California (x3+)
Ferrari F430 (x3+)
Ferrari 360 (x3+)
Ferrari 550/575 (x3+)
Ferrari F355 (x2)
Ferrari 599
Ferrari Testarossa
Lamborghini Gallardo
Mazda RX7 twin turbo
Toyota Supra twin turbo
Toyota MR2 mk.1
Lexus IS-F
Maserati GT (x3+)
Maserati Quattroporte (x3+)
AMG C63, C63 Coupe, E63. SL63, SLS63, G55
AMG C63 Black (!)
Porsche 997 turbo
Porsche 993
Porsche 964
Porsche 928
Alfa Romeo Spyder (x3)
Audi RS4
Audi RS6
Audi Ur-S4
Audi R8 (x3+)
Rolls-Royce Ghost
Rolls-Royce Phantom
Dodge Viper SRT/19 (x3+)
Lotus Elise
Saleen Mustang
Shelby GT500