CiviK | Vol. VIII

So where were we? Oh, yeah, engine now where it should be, I wasted no time in tying up all the loose ends before turning that key for the first time.

Engine oil was drained prior to purchase, so I replaced the sump plug for that fresh new Spoon Sports magnetic plug. I checked the gearbox for any residual oil by removing the lower square-drive drain plug, only to find that too required fluid, so I proceeded to fill it up until MTF began to dribble out the upper fill hole.

Of course I was eager, as anyone like me would be. This car hasn’t been with me for long, but this vision entered my consciousness way before I even realistically considered the idea. It’s always been one of those objectives I’ve had in my mind. A recipe that you know you’ll eventually try out, but only once the ingredients are ripe and ready.

Three cars: the EK Civic with a K20, an RPS13 Sileighty with an RB, and my non plus ultra being an FD RX-7 with a 20B (nat-asp). These are and will probably be forever my bucket list cars. In today’s market, the chances of the latter two – especially the RX-7 – may not come to fruition for a few reasons, the main one of course being financial cost.

The Civik is, without a doubt, my idea of the perfect roadcar. Paired with one of the greatest four-cylinder engines known to man, I had tunnel-vision once the next step involved cranking it to life!

Alas, the universe had other plans. Or should I say, my dumbass-self overlooked something, but we’ll get into that later.

I went ahead and used leftover grounding cables to connect the engine and gearbox to the chassis. The last couple of photos of the gearbox ground cable is from Halfords, and would not recommend using such a long wire. Nothing’s gone wrong so far, and I seem to be getting adequate voltage supply to all the electrics, but I am yet to sort this out.

Haha. I’ll mention this later…

So, fuel lines plumbed up, OEM engine wiring harness plugged in, and a fresh Honda battery hooked up, we were ready to crank it over and hear it… do f*ck all but prime the fuel pump. I’ll spare you the agony, but for a good 2 weeks, I was going around the bend asking anyone and everyone why my engine wouldn’t fire up. I thought it was a bad starter motor/alternator/electrical ground issue, then I thought it was charge wiring harness related, then I thought maybe a blown fuse.

Moral of the story guys, plug in the car’s immobiliser, located on the backside of the plastic trim panel that sits below the steering column. All that was causing the classic “no-crank-no-start” symptom, was my daftidity. My excuse was, “why would I need to connect the immobiliser up if the ECU is the JDM immobiliser-less type?”. Turns out the chassis wiring must see a signal from the immobiliser, in order to then forward that signal on to the ignition via the ECU. Or some shit like that…

See ya next time!

Street-Sleeper Beauty with Titan Spirit | Josh Harbour’s OEM+ Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R

Styles come and go. The phasic nature of any trend or fashion is what enables something new to flourish, because nothing can stand the test of time. Exceptions do exist, however, and its those anomalies that I want to highlight and share with those of you who come to find this site; this article in particular. My aim is to bring to people’s awareness of builds that might sometimes fly under the radar amongst all those IG-famous cars that are always popping up in your “Explore” feed.

The first of which I will open with: a street-spec R32 Skyline GT-R done so right, so subtly.

To me, the R32 is the greatest of the GT-R pack, and I honestly think its a car that has remained timeless since its original inception in 1989. Okay, maybe not so much as the FD RX-7 or S2000, but in a way that it made an impression on the automotive industry with its game-changing, futuristic technology; less so in the looks department perhaps. Yet, thats got to be the reason I am drawn to the R32 – it means business and there’s evidence of that in its demeanor.

If you remember the post I uploaded back in July on Instagram, I made a whimsical visit to the Fueled Society show up at Harewood this year, and came across this aforementioned anomaly. A wolf in black sheep’s clothing. Now, if it weren’t for me dissolving my prejudices about a show I’d never really heard much about, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet up with Josh and his GT-R. Its purely because I did something a bit of my comfort zone – attend a car show on my ones, that I had [wrongly] predicted wouldn’t deliver satisfaction.

Thankfully, I chose to ignore the ignorant voice, which is a virtue to be honest. Its usually the emotional part of us that screams the loudest when we try to think, and I reckon that causes us to become deluded in whether or not the thoughts we have are objective. (If I am coming across as too philosophical, its probably due to the books on G.I. Gurdjieff I have read recently, pardon me).

Long story short, I messaged the owner of the pristine, prize-winning Skyline, via Instagram asking whether he’d be up for being the first to be featured on the site as a “spotlight” article. Before I knew it, we arranged to meet up near Fewston, so I could get some photos of the car in the wild on a quality countryside pass.

Like-minded carboys have no problem making conversation. I had no idea who Josh was beforehand, and all he knew about me was that I took photos of cars. As soon as I pulled up, I saw his car and it was so clean, I felt so guilty asking Josh to bring it out to some gravelly car park beside a reservoir. Josh being a calm & collected type of guy didn’t seem too bothered though. Josh is also fanatical about Japan, so it was inevitable for us to both go off on a tangent about our trips to the holy land. I also found out that we rented the exact same DC5 Integra Type-R you may remember from my previous blogposts!

Josh did happen to have a white DC5 Integra Type-R of his own, in Champ White. I guess he felt like he had to part with it and make a move into new, unknown territory. And what better than a transition from an iconic FF coupe, to an undoubtedly emblematic Japanese AWD two-door saloon/sedan.

Once he found the Black Pearl example online in September of 2015, he knew from that moment there was no alternative, and I reckon you’d agree. After what probably felt like a long wait, Christmas must have definitely arrived early when his R32 showed up on UK shores 3 months after he committed to the buy.

There is without a doubt more to this Skyline than meets the eye. But I am not going to spew out a copy-and-pasted parts list, for the sake of word count and perhaps maybe losing your attention. A lot of work had already been done on the car during its life in Japan, including the trick HICAS lockout kit by Midori Seibi which is a textbook modification for GT-R owners who want a purer handling experience.

Noteworthy in the powertrain department: R34 GT-R twin-turbo setup, air filter and feed by Apexi, oil cooler, downpipe and sports cat-converter by HKS, triple-core radiator by Koyorad, along with supporting mods such as the twin-plate clutch and oil catch can by Nismo. Of course, the Nismo reppin’ continues onto the exterior in the forms of the N1 front bumper ducts, side skirts, bonnet lip, and those show-stopping LMGT4 wheels sized to perfection in 17x9J dimensions.

Before we knew it, the sun was setting, and my camera was producing some disgustingly noisy images. We seeked out a multistorey car park, luckily one random find on a Harrogate side street provided a well-illuminated location.

What grabbed my attention when I first spotted the car sitting on the grass up at Harewood were the front axles’ Alcon RC4 brakes sized at 355 x 28mm, which make a lasting impression and should give us an inkling about the tuning philosophy Josh demonstrates – balance. Big power can be unnecesscary. Big brakes aren’t exactly a hindrance, and it gives Josh the confidence when driving spiritedly. These stoppers weren’t carelessly thrown on either. In fact, they couldn’t have been, because at the time Alcon didn’t sell the mounting components for both the calipers and discs. The custom carriers and bells were CAD-drawn and CNC-machined by Josh himself. Now that to me is outright cool. Even though its a detail many would miss when walking by at a show, its a commendable action making something fit with a factory-like finish.

Before heading off back to my car in a parking area I was praying for not to be locked, I got a couple shots of the interior. Nismo accessories adorn the cabin with their floormats, and shifter & handbrake leather boots, which – if I remember correctly – Josh bought from the Omori Factory on one of his visits to the car’s birthplace.

Engine vitals are displayed on Defi triplet gauges, accompanied by that critical boost pressure digi-readout Josh fitted himself, all mounted in custom 3D-printed cubbies. A part I recognised immediately was the Nardi “Deep-Corn” suede steering wheel, only because I had the exact same (in a smaller diameter) for my MX-5.

Firing up the Pro Stock Racing Japan built, balanced and tuned RB26DETT, that happened to once sit in an R34 GT-R, we made our way back to the reservoir car park.

GT-Rs are machines that will always have presence, no matter what state of tune. This one speaks volumes, without being shouty at all, and I am grateful to both Josh for bringing it out that day, and also that whisper in the back of my mind telling me to keep driving to Fueled Society’s event. Otherwise, I’d never have this high performance legend grace a blogpost on the site…

Ko-Op Tour of Deutschland | 5 REASONS WHY YOU NEED TO DO A RING TRIP

Instead of leaving you the residuals of the ‘Ring gallery without much commentary, I might just shake it up abit and do a list, 1 to 5, of valid excuses for you to use to make the journey out into the Forbidden Forest of Nurburg.

Eins! The Nurburgring is the best testing ground for those who want to improve on their driving in an environment that does nothing but demand of your complete 100% fokus. Whether it be your own personal vehicle, a ‘Ring rental, or one you’ve borrowed from SixT (naughty), the not-so-smooth ride you’ll be faced to endure for 11.9 miles of the ‘TF’ bridge-to-gantry course will put both man and machine to the ultimate test. A lot of cars that manufacturers plan on producing are tested on the circuit, and for good reason. The varying conditions that the collective orchestra of components of a car are forced through simulate the very tough and rigorously spent life of use/abuse the vehicle will most likely go through when put on sale. This process brings near enough every flaw to light. I suppose, for the everyday driver, driving the Nurburgring will be more of a challenge for the driver and less so for the car. But, if you reckon your “lowering-springs-with-wheels-and-tyres” mod recipe is enough to keep pace, the Nurburgring might just devour you and spit you out into the oblivion. It is a track that demands total respect, so you better be serious if you’re wanting to set that BTG lap record.

Zwei! What you will immediately notice when you arrive in Nurburg, is the pure dominance of the Porsche marque, the 911 GT3 and GT3 RS model in particular. It gets to a point where you are on a hunt for all the 9 colour options that they are available in. But, whilst me and Luke were patiently waiting in the Suzuki Swift for the red flag to be dismissed, this friggin’ 991 GT2 RS rolls up and I managed to snap this one clean photo before the beautiful British Racing Green stunner got horded by Snapchatters. It didn’t stay for long, since the parking spot was for Ring Taxis only, and the marshal told him to scram. Its not all just rare Porsches though. You will stumble across a handful of extraordinary pieces of automotive art, with such an eclectic assortment, there’s bound to be something to make your gob drop…

…Just like that BMW 2002 did to me.

Drei! Enough’s enough, quit playing pretend on Playstation, get off your gaming chair and into the hot seat on track for real! If taking your own pride and joy is too much risk, there’s plenty of choice when it comes to hiring a purpose-built motor to blitz around the Nordschleife in. That purple Swift Sport was what we borrowed for a few laps, costing us about £150 for the day including fuel and lap tickets. You might snigger at its meager 125bhp turbo-less output, but if you find enjoyment in driving cars to the limit, this is a sensible option when you’re concerned about damage excess if something does go wrong. Besides, the car we got was fully caged, bucket seats with harnesses hold you in, Endless brake pads literally felt neverending in terms of stopping power, and sticky (when dry) Advan AD08R tyres; a proper ‘Ring spek Swift in all aspects.

Vier! Okay, so it might be your first time or perhaps the weather turned to shit on arrival, so you don’t have it in you to risk a remortgage back home if you write-off a rented GT86 all because you wanted to become Takumi Fujiwara coming off Karussell in 2nd gear. If thats the case, jump into the passenger and ride shotgun with a taxi driver. As long as that taxi is a Mclaren or better yet, a 550bhp F80 M3 with 4 Recaro bucket seats so its fun for the whole family! I wanted to get round the ‘Ring with a view from the passenger seat (which would be the driver’s side in normal countries), so I luckily got chance to hop in a 720S piloted by Moritz Kranz, some guy who can drive cars fast and win races, basically. The Mclaren was beyond ballistic, its twin-turbo V8 powerplant is phenonmenal with its delivery, but Moritz made it look like a Sunday drive whilst simultaneously passing everything, of course.

Fünf! The final reason I can give for visiting the Nurburgring, is simply this. Whether you love driving cars, watching cars be driven to the edge, or just enjoy generally enjoy the kulture, this is the place for you to experience at least once. There is so much passion and enthusiasm, not only in and around the Nurburgring facility, but also in the villages that are dotted in that region have a strong affinity to motorsport. Germans, in fact, just like the Japanese make a tremendous effort when it comes to car life. They share a lot of similarities, which is what I tended to note frequently during my stay. The way in which they do things (cars, specifically) is probably the greatest difference. Germany brings functionality to the forefront; Japan highlights delicate form in very unique ways (which is why it can be misunderstood most of the time).

To be quite honest, I didn’t need to give much justification for my reasons. In fact, why the hell do I need to persuade anyone to visit the world’s most notorious automotive holiday destination? Its one of those things that has got to be done.

Probably gassed enough on this one, so I’m out of here.

Thanks for checking my stuff out, if you can be bothered, share it with your fam or your mate. I appreciate your time. Keep your eyes peeled for the next one in this Germany saga…

Cyco Racing Civic | Time Attack UK 2019

The end of last month was a heated weekend – both literally and figuratively – down on the ‘mac of Donington Park, Leicestershire. With the previous Time Attack UK round I attended being a bit damp, I was looking much more forward to this trip (as were my camera and lenses). Again, to reel visitors in, the against-the-clock race event was running parallel with ‘Tunerfest Midlands’ which was a variety car show with a drift demo stage set up in overspill car park. I did get a few photos of the static display, but I want to fokus on motors that move, in this article in particular.

Case in point: enter Chris Williams and his ED7 Civic. He kindly allowed me to point the lens at his weapon of choice for the day, and for that I am highly thankful, because this duo is one a kind.

Chris got hold of this Civic back in September of 2003, so he should be in the vicinity of their anniversary at present moment. When it caught my eye at the Cadwell round earlier this year, I was slightly surprised how it made very little noise when it glided past in comparison to both the competitors, and your typical 1980s-90s VTEC Honda. No B-series buzz. No nat-asp rasp. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t disappoint, it just struck me with its unusual aura.

If you know Chris and his Civic, you know what’s coming. If not, let me put your quandary to rest. Long gone is the car’s original D-series running gear; this seriously fast, under-the-radar Civic build is animated by the famed K20 engine, stolen (not literally) from an Acura RSX Type S. Because Chris is a native Canadian, what us Brits know as the Integra is regarded as the “premium” version of the FF coupe that was sold as the RSX over in the States. Whilst the Land of the Rising Sun exclusively was treated to the DC5 Type R, US and Canadian markets got a decent compromise with the ‘Type-S’ model, equipped with a K20 rated to 200-210bhp depending on the trim level. Specifically, a home-built (the man assembled the powerplant together in front of his telly in his living room during the cold winter months) K20A2 rests under Chris’ bonnet, which is not riding solo, since its paired up with a pretty beefily-sized Rotrex C38-91 centrifugal-type supercharger. The results are astonishing on paper: circa 400bhp on demand via the [not so]loud pedal. Forced induction is always the go-to for more power, especially when its relatively more efficient and safer than going all-motor, to get high numbers on the dyno. The ponies are released through a 6-speed transmission, with a K20A3 4.7 final-drive, and sent to the Pirelli semi-slicks thanks to a limited-slip diff borrowed from a B-series Type-R.

Key items on the car consist of the following: Yellowspeed 2-way adjustable coilovers with external reservoirs, custom front splitter made from good-ol’ plywood, boot-mounted adjustable rear GT-wing, full-welded in rollcage courtesy of JBDR Fabrication, half-size radiator with custom ducting, a decent dose of gold heat-reflective tape, and a bespoke stainless 3″ exhaust system. The sum of all these parts make for a highly capable sub-900kg teal time-attack tool.

Ending the day on an excellent vibe, Chris put down a speedy lap of 1:17:498 in the timed final session, only to be bested by 0.117 seconds on the 1.979-mile National layout of the circuit. On the day, however, Chris managed to put down a solid 1:16.879 when the climate was sub-30 degrees. Goes to show how you are contending not only with your mind and the machine, but the earthly elements can throw everything at both cars and drivers, making this category of motorsport an intense one.

Did I mention that this was the very first time Chris has put rubber to road at Donington? Along with all the other circuits in this season’s rounds!

I am sure Chris is always striving to develop his own skill behind the wheel, exploiting the modern advancement in home-entertainment technology by spending hours going around virtual circuits on a VR simulator, and then applying incremental enhancements to his machine without upsetting any of the chassis’ balance.

Until next time, thanks for coming by…

Japanaholik’s Journal | The Kansai Chapter (2)

It was the next day, and that meant finally visiting the garage I was probably most looking forward to. Rotary-engined machines are an endangered species, and this place is a conservation sanctuary. Okay, maybe thats a bit over exagerrant, but when it comes to rotary-powered Mazdas, this joint will FEED you well.

If balance is your aim, then ‘Fujita Engineering Evolutional Development’ are one of the top players in the automotive tuning game. Its apparent that quality is held in much higher regard than quantity with these guys. How I found out about FEED was when I came across an FD RX-7 for sale online, equipped with one of their Aerobonnets which was that cool and unique of a design, I went and scoured the internet until I found the source, in the form of yet another Hot Version video.

The company fokuses on parts manufacture and vehicle services for all rotary-engined Mazda chassis, but also produces offerings for the NB MX-5 and Mazda 2/Demio, such as strut braces, dressup accessories, and aero-enhancing add-ons. Even though I left empty-handed, I came back with some pretty kool photos of their premises. The workspace isn’t so much of a clinical area, with a tired looking lathe in a dingy corner, which I prefer to be honest – piles of parts and empty wheel boxes just lying about – it probably creates a laid back atmosphere for the guys working there day in, day out. The founder and owner, Fujita-san, happened arrive after us, but he wasn’t fussed about us foreign visitors at all.

Its not a huge place, located on a patch of industrial estate surrounded by paddy fields. But square-footage doesn’t necessarily equal significance, you could have the biggest place and churn mass-produced garbage out.

As far as I’m aware, Fujita Engineering has always targetted the ‘grip’ circuit in aftermarket performance tuning. They lean towards the ideal of perfecting the already excellent chassis, through subtle and progressive means. This is reflected in their grey FD RX-7 demo adorned in the shop’s new GT3 widebody kit, which is stunning in photos, and even better in the metal. As soon as I entered the garage, it was perched up on the lift, towering over a whole load of stuff as you can see in the pic below. One of the technicians kindly moved some of it from underneath so he could drop the car down a little so I could peep the engine bay.

Even I’m not a fan of some the wild conversion kits that have been created by some aftermarket companies, and I tend to think of myself as open-minded and more eccentric than most! But the Afflux kit designed by FEED is actually a well-done take on that trend. It could even pass as being penned by a manufacturer’s concept design team. This customer was having the car prepared for its roadworthiness test (a.k.a. shaken in Japan, M.O.T. in the UK), hence the RX-8 wheels with awkward fitment. From a certain angle, it looked like it had no wheels bolted to it; hoverkraft-flex! Funny how in Japan you can modify a car to the brink of becoming a UFO, but the gap between wheel and arch has to be wide enough to fit a monster truck tyre…

Out in front was almost like a graveyard of decaying bygones. I doubt that they have been completely neglected, and I am hoping Fujita-san chooses to ressurect them someday. I assume most of them were previously demo cars, the one that surprised me the most was the off-white (now beige) Mazda Eunos Cosmo, Mazda’s answer to the ‘luxury-sports coupe’ segment back in the early 1990s, which was the first production car to be armed with a built-in GPS satnav. All I really care for, though, is whether or not it packed a 20B three-rotor twin-turbo unit under its bonnet.

Loads to look at, so little time. After spending a decent hour or so at the FEED shop, we said bye and headed to Glion Showroom, located on Osaka Bay. A red-brick warehouse complex is a home to some proper gems. I came across cars I had never seen before, along with classic heroes we have all seen in films and on TV. Some of them were even for sale,

This old Mustang GT had a prime spot just around the corner from the Museum entrance. It’s metallic gold skin definitely got my attention, even though I would probably keep walking if it was a bog standard model, but this California Special had a cool aura. That notchback shape is still awkward to me, the fastback is way more suited to the Ford’s body.

A BMW E9 is what came before the 6 Series, and its not hard to tell with its long nose and striking front-to-rear swage line making the coupe look longer than it actually is.

I didn’t plan this spot in the itinerary for any particular reason, it wasn’t like they had some crazy rare car that I was hoping to see. With it being out of the way, not many people travel from Osaka’s centre to visit, which made the atmosphere less “museumy” if that makes sense.

A Cosmo Sport 110S lingered in the corner next to two 2000GTs. I know which of these Japanese legends I’m having if I ever grow a money tree. Even when its stationary it looks fast (for something that was made in the late Sixties).

All sorts of flavours inside each section of the unit made for an interesting wander around. There was a whole host of pre-1950s BMWs, including that 507 Roadster which was pretty nice. Almost resembles some kind of mix-up consisting of a C1 Corvette and a Shelby Cobra.

The next room was something of a gift shop for those with a fat wallet. Some of those model engines cost as much as an ACTUAL motor. Alright, maybe you can’t buy an RB26DETT for 200 quid, but that much money would get you a used BP out of an MX-5! The incredible detail found on these models were crazy to be honest, I wonder if the turbos and pulleys spun.

The C2 Corvette is still the best thing to come out of an American car manufacturer’s design office.

After the self-guided tour of Glion, it was time to drop our rental car back off at the depot and do a lot of walking and waiting, for our overnight bus back to Tokyo.
All in all, Osaka was decent, I wish I saw more of the Kansai region, but that is always the case in hindsight.

Well, I reckon that’s the ‘Japanaholik’s Journal’ for 2019 complete. Hopefully, you enjoyed what you saw/read.

Next stop: the other car capital on the Globe…