Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 June 2, 2018 | 12:37 pm

You know what was an amazing car?Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 Front

The Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4. You could even argue this was the best Japanese car of the decade. After all, back in 1990, Mitsubishi set out to make this the JDM on everyone’s mind. And this major goal included surpassing cars like the Nissan 300ZX and the ultra sexy Mazda RX-7.

So, did Mitsubishi succeed?

You bet it did! Released as the GTO in Japan, this epic car revved up quite the storm with its release. And even today the 3000GT VR-4 still remains one of the best-designed cars out there. In fact, this sleek car even set the standard for the modern JDM car. So buckle up! We’re about to dive into everything that makes the 3000GT VR-4 one of the most epic vehicles of all time!

Okay, so before we begin, let’s clear up a big question:

What’s so great about the VR-4?

If you’ve looked at the 3000GTs on the streets, you’ll notice that most of them lack the VR-4 logo. This might seem like a minor detail. But when it comes to the drive, these letters (and number) make all the difference.

First off, the VR-4 offered a twin turbo engine. This amounted to a solid 80 more horsepower than the SL counterpart. Putting this into practical terms, this was enough power to allow the VR-4 to race from 0-60mph 3.2 seconds faster than the non-VR-4. Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 Logo

Also, note that the VR-4 offered all-wheel drive. Other 3000GTs only offered FWD. So put all this together, and you’ll find that the VR-4 drives quite differently than its other 3000GT counterparts.

3000GT VR-4 Specs

While we’re on the topic of horsepower and drivetrain, let’s take a look at what the VR-4’s engine packed back in the 90s.

As we already covered, this is a Twin Turbo V6 engine. To be exact, this was the 6G7 series that you’ll find in countless other cars like the Hyundai Sonata.

Back to the 3000GT, this motor was more than capable of pumping out 300 horsepower. In other words, Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 Twin Turbo Enginethis little Mitsubishi could drive pretty fast when compared to its competition. Specifically, this was enough power to push 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds.

Not convinced this is fast? Then let’s do some comparisons to other Japanese cars from that time. The 1991 Acura NSX needed a full 5.7 seconds to reach 60 mph from rest. Even the 1991 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo took 5.5 seconds for a 0-60 mph. So it’s safe to say that the Mitsubishi 3000 GT VR-4 dominated its fellow JDMs back in the day.

Of course, it wasn’t all horsepower that led to this feat. Instead, this Mitsubishi was pretty innovative in the early 90s with its active aerodynamics. This fun little feature kicked in at 50 mph. Visually you’d see the spoiler tilt automatically. The front lip would also lower to reduce any downforce. So the active aero not only sped up the 3000GT but also made this sporty vehicle look pretty cool in the process.

Another nice feature here involves the two exhaust modes. With the flick of a switch, you could effortlessly jump between sport and touring mode. Really, the names say it all here. Touring mode is what you’d use for your casual Sunday drives. Meanwhile, you already know what sport mode does—this is where all the fun begins.

Design

The Mitsubishi 3000GT does much more than drive well. It also happens to be one of the sexiest Japanese cars you can buy.

In truth, all models of the 300GT look alluring. But the first generation (1990-1993) easily wins when it comes to the aesthetics.

Everything about this car simply looks sporty. The sharp angles and contoured sides even seem reminiscent of the Ferrari 348.

But what really helps the first generation stand out is those pop-up headlights. Seriously, this feature alone adds cool points to just about any car out there!Mitsubishi 3000 GT VR-4 Pop-Up Headlights

Take a seat inside this sleek JDM, and you’ll find the design continues to impress. The leather interior is nothing short of sporty and trendy—even by today’s standards. Even better, every switch and button feels functional. Nothing feels excessive or out of place here.

Can it Race?

Okay, so we’ve established that the Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 carries some stellar performance, right? Good. But that’s just with stock parts. If you ever plan to take the 3000 GT to the racetracks, you’ll find just as great of results there as well.

If it’s any motivation at all, check out this video of a 3000 GT VR-4 whooping a Toyota Supra. Again, there are definitely some mods here. But it should give you an idea of the potential these cars bring to the table. Read the rest of this entry

2006 Ford Mustang GT May 31, 2018 | 11:29 pm

2006 Mustang GT – The Inspiration

2006 Mustang GT
On April 17, 1964, the Ford Mustang went on sale for the first time. Over 22,000 ponies were snapped up by hungry consumers on the first day. In Detroit, Lee Iacocca was hailed a genius. His idea to come up with a four-seater car with bucket seats, a floor mounted shifter and be no longer than 180 inches turned out to be the start of a long-lasting love affair between Mustangs and the American public.

Who doesn’t love a Mustang?

My dad did. He was one of the 22,000 fanatics who bought this ride on the first day of release. It was kind of a brown mustard color with a beige ragtop. Dad’s idea of a good deal meant he bought a 6 cylinder with a 3-speed manual transmission for under $2,400. It had all the performance characteristics of a Ford Falcon. That’s probably because all of the underpinnings were Falcon parts.

I didn’t care. It was a babe magnet and that’s all a sixteen-year-old could ask for.

Ponies in the Pictures

Ford didn’t waste any time promoting the Mustang to the masses. Deals were struck and the long hood, short deck, sports car, started appearing on the silver screen as a product placement arrangement. Goldfinger marked the pony’s debut. Bond, in his Aston Martin DB5, chases the voluptuous and villainous Tilly Masterson in her spanking new Mustang up mountain roads. Using Aston Martin’s optional “spinning blades axel extension,” Bond shreds Tilly’s tires sending her and the cute white Mustang to a bad end.

Quickly the Mustang went from prop to supporting actor. Steve McQueen and a 1968 Highland Green Mustang fastback sporting GT package and 390/4V engine, blasted through the streets of San Francisco in Bullitt. The original Gone In 60 Seconds featured a 1973 SportsRoof named Eleanor that gets the crap kicked out of it in one of the longest, and most destructive car chases in movie history. In Getaway, the 2013 Shelby GT 500 Super Snake gets more time on camera than any of the human stars.

And then there was I Am Legend, a sci-fi flick set in NYC starring Will Smith and a 2007 Mustang Shelby GT 500 Super Snake. Whoa! Lots of grumble-rumble exhaust tones, tire shredding, and pedal to the metal races through downtown New York City. The Cobra, with its shiny red paint job and two white racing stripes, clearly was the most talented actor…and it wasn’t acting.

5th Gen Mustangs Bring the Pony Back from Oblivion

In the late 90s somebody at Ford’s design shop apparently channeled the Mustang’s Falcon DNA and created a 4th Generation that looked like a Taurus. Not very exciting but then neither was the Mustang II that preceded it.  Sales suffered. it wasn’t until 2005 when the 5th Gen hit the showrooms that the pony got back it’s spurs back and it got them back in a big way.

That look that sold so well in 1964 is what inspired the designers of the 5th generation GT. The fastback (what Shelby called 2+2) was back with a roofline and taillights that recalled those ponies of the 1965 vintage. Back also was the canted nose with its big grille and round headlights, side sculpting, and a retro interior.

The looks were cool, but the real seller was the return of performance. What was under the hood and under the car made the Mustang GT a player again.

The GT came in two trims, Deluxe and Premium. There really wasn’t any difference between the two other than leather seats and a better sound system. Engine choice, suspension and transmission choices were identical:

  • Engine:SOHC 24-valve 4.6-liter V-8
  • Power (SAE net): 300 bhp @ 5750 rpm
  • Torque (SAE net): 320 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm
  • Zero to 60 mph: 5.1 seconds
  • Transmissions: 5-speed auto, 5-speed manual
  • Suspension: McPherson Strut w/coil springs, live axle
  • Brakes: 4 wheel disc, 4 wheel ABS

If you are looking for an affordable coupe or convertible that’s fast and fun and comfortable enough to drive every day, the 5th Generation Mustang GT deserves serious consideration.

Want one?

I found one.

 

2006 Mustang GT side view

 

If you are anywhere near sunny Southwest Florida, there’s a dealer in Fort Myers that has a 2006 Ford Mustang GT that looks pretty sweet. I found this on CarGurus.com if you want to follow up.

The reasons I think this is worth a serious look is as follows:

  • It’s freaking beautiful. That Torch Red Clearcoat paint job is highlighted by two big racing stripes. At first, I thought this might be a Cobra.
  • It’s a one owner car. Living in Naples, FL, it’s obvious this ride has been garaged all its life. Our UV exposure would have done a number on that clearcoat if this GT lived in a parking lot or driveway.
  • And here’s the big kicker. This car has 32,212 original miles! That’s 2,684 miles per year. Sound implausible? Not down here in God’s waiting room where it’s not uncommon to see seniors driving the ride they always wanted only to discover they can’t see at night or deal with the Snowbird seasonal traffic that rivals rush hour in L.A.
  • The interior is in great shape and it appears to have leather buckets meaning it is a GT Premium trim and comes with an upgraded sound system.

The description provided by the dealer stresses that this car is in incredible condition. They say you can hop in it and drive cross country. That’s dealer hyperbole of course, but for it to be so strong it probably is in better shape than most 12-year-old cars.

Now about the price. The dealer is asking $14,970 which is about $4,500 more than KBB says it’s worth. However, that KBB estimate is based on Good or better condition and 144,000 miles.

Here’s the way I see it. If you can provide the same level of care as it has obviously enjoyed, and the ride is as sweet as you think it is after you inspect it, and you want to keep it long term, then it might be a good deal. At some point, the 5th Generation GT will become a collectable because it put Mustang back in the race. Also keep in mind this car has been on the lot for 3 weeks so there is probably a good chunk of wiggle room in the price.

If you plan to drive it a few years and then trade it in, just walk away and find one for $10,000 or less.

Of course, you could also leave this GT alone and search out a 2016 Mustang GT Shelby Cobra with its 450 horsepower, 450 lb.-ft. of torque, Brembo calipers, 19-inch alloy wheels, and all the rest. But that’s another story.

Corvette ZR-1 March 11, 2018 | 05:38 pm

Okay, listen, I realize time marches on. The surest way to be disappointed in the performance of a classic sports car is to try and compare it to something rolling off an assembly line these days. Horsepower wars are a real thing, and they are happening right now in the auto industry.

If you pick out a sports car from 20 years ago and then line up against some of the stuff that’s out there now, there’s a good chance you’re going to get your butt kicked.

So it’s in that context that I want to talk to you about the ZR-1. Specifically, the C4.

When GM came out with this thing in 1990, people couldn’t stop talking about it. I remember reading this exact article in the April 1991 issue of Car and Driver magazine.(1)

It was a comparison test between the 1991 ZR-1 Corvette and the 1991 Porsche 911 Turbo. I was fifteen years old at the time, so I was quite impressionable. I would have done *anything* to own either of these cars, an I’m sure many teenagers were the same way.

GM had acquired Lotus back in the mid-80’s. And they presented Lotus with the idea of coming up with a special Corvette that would be the fastest production car in the world. Keep in mind that at the time, the 1986 Corvette was powered by the L98 v8 engine that produced 230hp. That was good for a 0-60mph time of around 6 seconds.(2)

Lotus started working on a supercar engine, meanwhile the world continued to evolve. By the time the 1990 ZR-1 came out, the L98 had been bumped up to 245hp. The engine Lotus designed for the ZR-1 was deemed the “LT5” and it had an incredible (for the time) 375hp. GM actually had trouble finding someone to make the engine, and finally settled on Mercury Marine. So yes, the fancy Corvette had an engine made by boat people!

This new engine dropped 0-60mph times down to around 4.9 secs, clearly a huge improvement over other Corvettes of that era. Its quarter mile time was 13.2 secs at 108 mph. Because the LT5 was all-aluminum, it had minimal effect on the overall weight and balance of the car (curb weight in this test was listed at 3519 lbs).

It ended up winning the shoot-out with the 911 Turbo in that C&D article, even though the 911T ended up besting the Corvette with a 0-60mph time of 4.4 secs.

The ZR-1 looks much like other C4 Corvettes, but there are some subtle differences that only “experts” might pick up on.

First of all, the rear fenders were pushed out to handle some gigantic 315/35-17 tires. Also, the rear bumper on the ZR-1 swooped out instead of being concave, and had four square tail lights instead of the round tail lights of the “base” Corvette. There was also a high-mounted third brake light that was unique to this model.

But that’s just the exterior. There were other invisible upgrades that make the ZR-1 very desirable in terms of “king of the hill” performance. It had a beefier rear differential, beefed up cowl structure to minimize shake at high speeds, and many of the Z51 upgrades for brakes and suspension.

When the C5 Corvette came out in 1997, it’s 345 hp engine began chipping away at the king of the hill. Most C5’s are capable of doing 0-60 in the high four-second range, and are typically considered to be the equal of the C4 ZR-1. But it wasn’t until 2001 when Chevy did the Z06 that its performance was eclipsed (i.e. 0-60 time of 4.3 secs).

That was a long-winded build-up to explain that I understand the ZR-1 is no longer considered to be astounding performance. The world has indeed moved on. But as a collector car, or a classic, I think it has a lot of merit.

Some of the classic cars out there are so awful to drive, so impractical, so unreliable, that they really aren’t good for anything more than just being looked at. The C4 ZR1 certainly doesn’t fall into that category. The suspension is quite livable. For the most part they are quite reliable. Calling a 2-seater that sits only inches off the ground practical may be a stretch, but this isn’t something that can’t be driven on the street with ease.

As you can imagine, prices on ZR-1’s are all over the place. Considering they are supercars of the time, they are quite reasonable. These days, there’s been quite a run-up of Porsche 911 prices, so if you were to compare the 1991 ZR-1 pricing to the 911T prices, you’re definitely going to get a bargain!

Let’s do a bit a round-up, and see what we can buy on today’s market. We’ll cover Ebay, Craigslist, and maybe a few other hiding spots depending on what we find.

Ebay

1) There are four days left on this red 91, and it will be interesting to see where it ends up (currently at $10,000). It’s located in Vallejo CA, and has 69k miles on it. It doesn’t appear to have a reserve. The seller has good feedback, but not much of it. The photos are only average, and the seller did a really crappy job of providing details in the ad.

2) While I was typing this up, the auction for this black 91′ ended. It had a buy it now/ best offer of $17,995. It’s a Texas car, and the photos and description are slightly above average, but still lacking considering this isn’t some kind of $5k beater. This car was being sold by a dealership with great/plentiful feedback.

3) The last ebay auction I’ll cover today is for this gorgeous 1990 model. It’s in Colorado, and is being sold by an outfit by the name of Gateway Classic Cars. They do a lot of business on ebay. They only have 81.6% positive feedback. Reading over some of the negative comments, I’m sure it’s difficult with older, classic cars to please everyone. This ZR-1 has 87k miles, so it’s no spring chicken. They’ve done their typical, excellent job with the description and photos. The classifieds ad price is $18,995.

Craigslist

Looking at a few of the less expensive ones on Craigslist makes me think we are bottoming out prices. You can’t possibly get any cheaper for a C4 supercar, right?

It’s not hard to find some really solid, nice examples in the $15k-$20k range. Here are a few of the less expensive options:

1) This 1990 is advertised in the Orlando Craigslist for $15,000. It has 81k miles, and the same owner since 1997. He claims he bought it from astronaut Susan Steel. It’s white with red interior, which is quite rare. The alternator, battery, and fuel pump were replaced for the sale. It doesn’t sound like it needs any more work. This was posted 2 months ago, and I’ve contacted the seller to see if he still has it.
Edit:
He replied. His note back to me follows:

Thanks for the inquiry. The car is very sound, in excellent mechanical condition and would have no problems getting on the highway.
The ZR1 has been stored for the last 16 years, so it would appreciate being driven.
The 1 thing I would look to change would be the tires. May not be a problem, but they have been on the car for 16+ years.
Please email or call with any questions or concerns.
Thanks, JP
PS: I am in the southern most part if Jacksonville closest to St Augustine right off i95….fyi.

2) Here’s another ’90 model, this one for $13,500. The owner mentions it needs some ABS work, has a few scratches here and there, and needs a recharge for the AC. It only has 51k miles. It’s in Muskegon Michigan.

3) Okay, take a deep breath and hold it. Make sure your’e sitting down, I don’t want you fainting and whacking your noggin. This red 1990 ZR-1 in Los Angeles is advertised for an incredible $9999. Granted, it has 131k miles on it, and needs: tires, AC recharge, window switch, seat upholstery, and something is wrong with the tach. This was posted 26 days ago. Maybe the owner is negotiable, and you could pick this up for $8900? Incredible…

References
(1) http://media.caranddriver.com/files/1991-chevrolet-corvette-zr-1-vs-1991-porsche-911-turbo-submodel-comparison-test-car-and-driver1991-chevrolet-corvette-zr-1-vs-1991-porsche-911-turbo.pdf
(2) https://www.caranddriver.com/flipbook/the-chevrolet-corvette-a-history-in-zero-to-60-times#21

1990 Lexus LS400 September 29, 2017 | 11:40 am

When you think “indestructable”, what do you think of?

No, I’m not talking about superheroes or wristwatches or cockroaches. Let’s restrict our analysis to cars. After all, that’s our obsession, right? 🙂

The Lexus LS400 has to be one of the most reliable, durable luxury cars ever made. It’s not uncommon to see early 1990’s models running around with 200k or even 500k miles. The is a fairly popular youtube video out there of a million mile Lexus being driven around a track (see embedded video at the bottom of this article).

To really understand this and put it in context, we have to consider how the LS400 came about. The Toyota leadership team decided in 1983 to secretly develop a premium sedan. After many years of development, the LS400 was launched as a 1990 model year. Although it basically birthed the Lexus brand in the US, Lexus didn’t even exist as a brand in its home market in Japan until 2005.

As you can imagine, Lexus (Toyota) had a lot to prove. To take market share away from staid competitors like Mercedes, BMW, and Cadillac, they had to develop something incredible. The LS was litterally the face of the Lexus division, and had to be perfect.

It’s reported that Toyota spent over one billion US Dollars developing the LS400. The story is incredible, and I’m surprised nobody has ever written a book about it. And yes, I searched Amazon! Maybe I’ll publish something on this one day.

For that billion dollars, they logged nearly 2 million miles of prototype testing on a number of different continents. Including engineers, designers, technicians, and support workers, almost four thousand people were involved in the development of this new benchmark luxury car. I’ll also point out that they did not use any carryover parts from the Toyota shelves; they claim to have designed it brand new from the ground up.

The first generation (from 1990-1994) launched with a 250 hp engine, the 4.0 liter V8. It would do 0-60mph in 8 seconds. It was quieter, had a higher top speed, and got better gas mileage than its competitors. Also, it was initially priced at $35,000 which was much lower than other luxury cars at the time. Given it’s design and durability, many even accused Lexus of selling the LS400 below cost, effectively “buying” market share.

First gen sales in the US:
1990 42,806
1991 36,955
1992 32,561
1993 23,783
1994 22,443

The 158,548 total is significant considering it’s an expensive luxury sedan. But it actually becomes astounding considering it is the initial introduction for a brand new car company.

It’s pretty much widely acknowledged that Lexus over-designed that first gen car. It is basically built like a tank. Pretty much any vehicle has it’s flaws, but the LS has damn few of them and would almost inevitably run to 100k miles without a single failure.

Even today, as an early 90’s LS400 approaches 27 years old, you can hop into a low-mileage or well-maintained car and appreciate how well built and well designed it is. The thunk of the door, the feel of the steering and suspension, the responsiveness of the engine, how quiet it rides at 75 mph – all of these things are still striking the right chord.

I remember in the mid 90’s I had a family friend who owned an LS400 as a company car. He took myself and a buddy of mine out on a joyride one night to let us check out his luxurious Japanese car. Hammering the thing on the highway with the windows down and the sunroof open, it felt like it would keep accelerating until it ran off the edge of the earth. Now obviously they aren’t blindingly fast by today’s standards, but back in the mid-90’s they were incredibly impressive luxury cars.

This is a semi-random LS400 I found on ebay with fairly low (70k) miles. It’s a 1990, and appears to be in good shape. The ad is pretty horrible, with no history about maintenance or repair, no detailed description of the interior or exterior. It’s located in Kentucky, and has a buy-it-now price of $5,500.

I have to admit, if I was looking to drop $5,500 on a car, this LS400 may not be at the very top of my list. But I honestly think this is a little piece of automotive history. It reflects an industry-changing effort from an upstart who set a new bar for luxury, reliability, and value.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lexus_LS

http://www.zeroto60times.com/vehicle-make/lexus-0-60-mph-times/

ebay adLexus Ls400 front viewodometer photoseat photodash photorear seat

1991 Mr2 Turbo January 9, 2017 | 06:58 pm

91 mr2 turbo side view

A side view of the 1991 Mr2 Turbo for sale on ebay

The second-generation Toyota Mr2s are known as being the “poor man’s Ferrari”.

The 2nd gens were sold during the 10 year period from 1989-1999. For the US market, there was a normally aspirated version making 130 hp, and a turbo version rated at 200 hp.

The turbo version uses Toyota’s 3S-GTE engine. This is a 2.0 liter four-cylinder. It is equipped with a small air-to-air intercooler, which helps keep intake temps down and makes for a more consistent (and knock-free) power level.

Turbo models were initially rated at a brisk 6.1 second 0-60 mph time, with a quarter mile in 14.2 seconds. They could hit a top speed of 142 mph, certainly nothing to sneeze at.

As a mid-engined car, they can occasionally inspire some butt-clenching moments during aggressive off-ramp driving. Some consider these cars to have “snap-oversteer”, not unlike some of the Porsche 911 cars back in the day. Although all cars had staggered wheels (with larger rubber in the back helping tame the oversteer), some suspension changes were rolled out for the 1993 model year that revised rear toe links and further tame the trait.

1993 models also got the benefit of dual-cone syncrhonizers on 2nd and 3rd gears, improving shift quality and transmission longevity.

These design improvements didn’t really seem to help sales. US sales by year:
1984 | 1,217
1985 | 37,674
1986 | 31,352
1987 | 15,742
1988 | 8,144
[2nd generation]
1989 | 2,537
1990 | 17,606
1991 | 9,505
1992 | 3,740
1993 | 1,742
1994 | 625
1995 | 933

Of the 129,977 1st and 2nd generation Mr2s sold in the US, the tally is:
1st gen = 93,289
2nd gen = 36,688
Obviously, the 2nd generation cars never struck the same chord of popularity as the 1st gen cars. Why is that?

Incidentally, the 3rd gen cars really didn’t fare any better:
2000 | 7,233
2001 | 6,750
2002 | 5,109
2003 | 3,249
2004 | 2,800
2005 | 780

One reason for the 2nd gen miss was cost. A 93 Turbo Mr2 had an MSRP of $24,728, while the base car ran almost $19,000. But in 1991, the base car only cost $15,000.

When Car & Driver Magazine tested the 1987 MR2, it’s base price was $10,999. Clearly, cost/value was one thing that hampered MR2 popularity over the years.

And as the car evolved, the design strategy shifted a bit as well. The size of the car grew, as did its weight. Performance obviously improved as the turbocharged version became available, but it was certainly a departure from the original, more minimalist theme.

Year | Length | Weight
1987 | 154.5 in | 2,396 lb
1993 | 164.2 in | 2,915 lb

91 Mr2 turbo front view

Front view

Regardless of their popularity during the 1990’s, these cars are a tremendous pleasure to drive. The interior is reasonably spacious, and although “dated” in the sense that a 1990’s car doesn’t have the style or standard of a new car, they are of great quality.

The 3S-GTE engines are real gems. Toyota tweaked and improved them throughout their lifespan. The version used in the MR2, and also in the Celica ST185, was actually the 2nd generation. It used a CT26 turbo pushing 10 psi. They are known for being very tough and moddable.

Speaking of mods, these turbo cars can be modified to reliably perform and very high levels. Generally accepted:

Stage 1 – 40-65 hp increase (240-265 hp)
requires boost controller, exhaust, intake
approx 15-16 psi
Stage 2 – 90-115 hp increase (290-315 hp)
upgraded turbo
upgraded intercooler
18 psi
fuel cut defender
Stage 3 – 140-185 hp increase (340-385 hp)
quite a bit of upgrades required
18-20 psi on pump gas, 20-22 psi on race gas
stock head gasket is usually good for 22 psi

I tangled with a few Stage 1 or Stage 2 cars in my youth, and they are certainly a force to be reckoned with. A stock car is sprightly and enjoyable, whereas the modified cars can perform as well as pretty much anything on the road.

In late 1993, a 3rd generation 3S-GTE engine was introduced in the Japanese market, and it was rated at an even stronger 242 hp. A quick internet search (note this certainly doesn’t make me an expert) suggests it’s possible to import a nice Mr2 from Japan for between $8-$10k. As far as I know, only RHD cars are available. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure my left hand would be able to shift a 5-speed without a little practice!

These cars are becoming more and more rare. Finding one in good condition and unmodified is becoming quite a challenge. Here’s one for sale on ebay. It’s at $4,600 from 8 bids with 2 days left on the auction.

It’s a 1991 Turbo, so it doesn’t have the benefit of several of the improvements unleashed by Toyota for the 1993 model year. With 106k miles on it, it’s no spring chicken. The description by the dealer, located in Reno Nevada, leaves a lot to be desired.

I love the red color. The exterior looks to be in great shape. The dealer just says there’s no apparent “major” damage, so it’s hard to know if it has ever been repainted. Red tends to fade with time in the sun. I see some minor fading in places, but the paint appears good. I think the detailer could’ve done a better job, since some of the spots low on the car don’t appeared to have been cleaned/polished.

I see a few nicks and rock chips on the front end, but the rest of the body looks good. The OEM factory wheels look surprisingly unblemished. The tires are mismatched, with some Sumitomo and some Falken. The power antenna is extended in the photos, but it appears the radio is on so it would be premature to assume it’s not functioning properly.

The interior looks amazingly nice, if not a ten I would at least rate it a 9. Seats have a bit of fading but almost no wear. Door panels looks good, with only a small spot on the passenger’s side. The shift knob looks ok, but the boot could use a refresh. The oem factory cassette and CD player look nice, with no cracks or peeling plastic. There are no close-ups of the dash, but from what I can tell it’s free of cracks.

Again, I wish their detailer had done a better job inside too. Going at some of the crevices with a q-tip and getting many of the interior glass and plastic surfaces clean as opposed to just wiped down would make it look much better.

The AC isn’t mentioned in the description, but it appears to be turned on and presumably functioning in the photos.

The spare time appears to be there. In the same photo, I think I can see a 2-prong electrical cord coming out of something. I’m not familiar enough with the cars, or have forgotten what this could be.

There’s a photo of the trunk full of hoses and possibly an intercooler. There’s an HKS manual in there too. HKS is a fairly popular manufacturer of performance parts, often for turbocharged cars. This makes me think the car either is or was modified, but again the crappy description from the dealer doesn’t mention it.

Photos of the underside of the car don’t appear to show any corrosion. I wouldn’t expect any with a Reno car, but of course without access to a vehicle history report, we can’t be sure it wasn’t owned/operated in a more corrosive climate in its past.

I’m not sure what the reserve is, but I personally would probably be willing to pay $5-$6k for a car like this. I think one with lower mileage, with fewer unknowns frequently fetch in the $8k range.

Edit 1/13/17:

I have a horrible track record of not following up on auctions and sales to report back on the post what the car actually sold for. I’ll break that habit today, by letting you know the bidding for the MR2 mentioned above got to $4,650, apparently didn’t reach reserve, and was subsequently relisted. You can find the link to the relisted car below. As mentioned above, the dealer didn’t do a very good job of describing the car in the initial auction, and just copied/pasted into the relisting. With some of the imperfections and unanswered questions about the car, I don’t think it should net huge dollars, so it may be interesting to see how much lower the new reserve is, and how high the bidding will go over the course of the next 5 days.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/1991-Toyota-MR2-Turbo-T-Bar-Coupe-/311778387533?vxp=mtr

References:
http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/toyota-mr2-turbo-archived-test-review
http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/toyota-mr2-archived-long-term-test-wrap-up-review
http://www.koracing.net/viewarticle.php?article=10
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_MR2

This E28 535is LS1 Swap Makes the World A Better Place April 1, 2016 | 11:08 pm

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The young whipper-snappers these days are really something else. They can’t tie their shoes cuz one hand is needed at all times for mobile Facebooking. They can only drink coffee if it costs $12 and tastes like candy. And what’s even crazier: they may have lived their entire life without ever seeing an E28-series BMW.

The E28 was produced from 1981 to 1988. These were heady years for BMW, and they tended to make everything bullet-proof. Around three-quarters of a million of these were sold over the years. The body style is so distinctive, with tons of character and presence that many newer cars lack. There are no filters here. This is an old-school, analog car with direct steering and no crazy computers standing in-between you and the road.

The 535is was the uber 5-series in 1988, except for the M5, which we’ll worry about in a minute. The 535is came with upgraded sport suspension, unique front and rear spoilers, a no-fooling-around limited slip differential, and a gigantic 3.5 liter slab of inline six goodness. Yes, 3.5 liters is a lot for an inline six, and yes this thing serves up torque like a blackjack dealer in Vegas tossing out cards. It was listed in 1988 as 182 hp with 214 lb-ft of torque. They only weighed about 3250 lbs, and zero to sixty was in the mid-sevens, not bad for a sedan in the 80’s.

The e28 M5 took the mighty 5-series to a whole new level. BMW worked some kind of magic juju on the 3.5 liter engine and souped it up to 256 hp with 243 ft-lbs of torque. The zero to sixty time dropped to the mid-to-high 6’s, and car enthusiasts the world over clapped their hands and clicked their heels. Yes, it’s true that the first generation Ford Taurus SHO would give the e28 M5 a run for its money in the quarter mile, but seriously come on, we are talking about M-heritage here.

Except… poof goes the M-heritage when a brilliant wrench-turner drops an LS1 into it. If you are wondering, yes pretty much everything tastes better with ketchup. And yes, pretty much everything is better with a little LS1 love. From our friends at MyE28.com:

1988 535 with LSx swap completed by Jake Barkell at ClassicDaily.net

This car started as Jake’s personal car in a 1985 Silver body e28. In 2014 it was swapped to it’s current body, a black 1988 535.

Please look at http://www.classicdaily.net/gallery/?album=E28LS1 for the original build photos to see the detail put into this car.

The T56 6-speed transmission has since undergone a rebuild and a LS6 intake has been installed for 300hp at the rear wheels, as verified on Jake’s dyno.

Car includes –

Cardinal Sport interior
Sisal Coco Car Mats
Fresh window tinting
Cold AC
Sunroof
e34 540 front and rear brakes
Bilstein shocks with Eibach springs
M6 steering box
e28 M5 shadow trim and spoiler
Powder coated euro bumpers
HID headlights
E39 Style 5 wheels with a spare (5 wheels)
Hard wired Valentine V1 connector by rear view mirror
Always stored in heated garage with battery tender

Located in Bay City, MI

Asking $20,000

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The quality of this build looks incredible. Looking over the list, you can see that tons of stuff was updated on the car. I don’t have any misplaced, romantic notions that a 1988 5-series with 350+ hp (at the crank) will be a bed of roses. Yes, it could need a little love and tender care on occasion, yes it may have a few creaks and rattles. But an 88 5-series in this kind of condition is rare, and one so thoroughly and expertly souped-up is even awesomer.

$20k sounds steep, but it could probably be dickered a bit. Also, who cares – we are pretending like we are rich and can store as many cars as we want to buy.

stamp of approval = yes
would buy = yes

Your M-Car Isn’t As Perfect As You Tell People It Is March 14, 2016 | 05:07 pm

Capture

As the owner of an e46 M3 I reserve every right to trash my car as I see fit. Think of it as any guy affectionately complaining about his girlfriend/wife. Yeah I love the ol’ girl but nothing is without its faults.

First and foremost, I love my e46. The engine is visceral and raw, the chassis is nimble and responsive and the interior isn’t a half bad place to spend multiple hours in a row. There is no such thing as a entirely perfect car and the major fault I find in  my e46 is the Getrag 420G transmission.

I’ve always chalked up the clunkyness of the transmission to aging engine/tranny/subframe mounts. You could even add in giubo/u-joint or CSB as possible culprits as to why there was an ever present jerkyness to the clutch engagement. What I’ve come to accept is that this slop is inherent to this transmission and to indiscriminately generalize: all Getrag transmissions.

I’ve had the pleasure of driving multiple generations of BMWs and in this sampling there are both ZF and Getrag rowed specimens. One point to note is that all these cars are far from spring chickens. Most are far over the 100k mile mark and as such there is an expected ‘slop’ in all aspects  of the car. As a deeply mechanical person I refuse to compromise on the mechanical capabilities of my vehicles. If it shimmys/shakes/squeaks or does anything out of the ordinary I begin down the rabbit hole of systematic diagnostic. Typically it doesn’t take much to restore the feeling of crisp shits. Usually a dose of all new shift linkage and transmission mounts will remove most of the offending slop. [As a side note – solely replacing the shift bearing can work wonders as this is the fulcrum for the entire throw. Any play here will magnify itself more so than the assembly’s support bushings (side-to-side play). ]

But where do you turn when the linkage is fresh and the mounts are young, resilient and ready for years of abuse? If you turn to the internet for guidance you should find reference to the clutch delay valve (CDV) that is present on certain high horsepower variants e.g. the e46 M3 and e39 540i. The basic purpose of this device is to slow the uptake of the clutch by forcing the clutch slave cylinder’s brake fluid through an extremely small orifice. Preventing an instantaneous clutch engagement during a period where the engine is delivering high amounts of torque saves the driveline from potential shock. Instead, the clutch becomes the sacrificial lamb. I’ve removed these from both cars with little improvement to the overall engagement feel. It makes the engagement much more linear which allows for less jerky operation, especially in traffic.

CDV

CDV from e46 M3

Even after completing every item of the checklist you’re still left with a transmission that you essentially have to think about any time you’re shifting gears. Some may call this rewarding behavior…  “I like my Getrag 420G because it keeps me on my toes!”. I call it nuisance detail of an otherwise great car. Sure, it’s rewarding and feels great when you’re driving flat out i.e. time between gears is minimal, keeping your foot in the throttle a 1/4 second longer before lifting (call it a softcore flat shift). Come to think of it I’m sure this is where the SMG really shines (keeping shift time minimal to keep transmission loading constant). But when you’re poking along in traffic and only managing 1-2-1-2 shifts the constant jerking-around of your car’s under workings is frustrating. I never entirely made the connection until stepping back into my old e39 540i for the past couple months. This car shares the same transmission as the e46 M3, e39 M5 and several other variants which utilize either the M/S62 or S50B32 if you’re a lucky European.

My solution – drive my e36 M3! The lowly S52 was deemed too weak to deserve the robust Getrag 420G. Instead it received a buttery smooth ZF S5D-310/320Z depending on the year. I’m not one for modern BMWs (or car payments) but the ZF in the 135i is even buttery-er than the e36 M3. That was probably the nicest modern transmission I’ve had the pleasure of rowing.

So after my lengthy bitch session what’s my final conclusion? Not much sadly. Live with something long enough and you’ll inevitably find some fault, be it minor or major. In this case I’d call it minor and no where near enough to persuade me to part with my e46 M3 anytime soon.

The Ultimate Lexus Swap? LS3 IS300 March 11, 2016 | 02:24 am

The first generation Lexus IS sedan was built from 1998-2005. It was known for being fairly stylish, and fairly refined in terms of noise levels, isolation, and luxury. It handled well enough, but it weighed 3400 lbs and with the 3.0 liter inline six, its 215 hp spun it up to a mediocre 7.3 second 0-60 time. That’s not gonna put ya to sleep, but it’s not gonna set your hair on fire either.

Even when C&D tested it back in 2004, they came to the conclusion what the thing really needed was more power.

Hmm… I wonder if sprinkling a little LSx juju in the engine bay might spruce things up a little?

IMG_1281

Well as a matter of fact, somebody has tried that already! Read the rest of this entry

1986 Mitsubishi Starion October 10, 2014 | 06:13 pm

The Mitsubishi Starion is a cool example of 1980’s sportiness. The sister vehicle is a Chrysler Conquest.

These 2.6L turbocharged four cylinder engines are known for being capable, efficient, and peppy. But they actually aren’t known for being particularly tolerant of modifications, ie giant increases in boost. Improvements were made throughout the product life cycle, but output typically falls between 160-190 hp. At less than 3,000 lbs curb weight, the zero to sixty time is around 8 seconds flat.

This particular example is for sale by a used car dealer in Missouri, and is a beautiful silver color with black leather interior. It has 58k miles on it and seems to be in pristine condition. I doubt this has been refurbished or restored. It’s always a wonder to me that a car this old (28 years!) can be in this kind of shape. Did somebody just park it in a garage, maybe with a plastic bag to keep the dust and rodents away? It looks like the right-hand flip-up headlight or headlight cover is slightly misaligned. That could be indicative of a prior accident, but it’s just as likely that it needs a minor adjustment as a result of 28 years of normal use. The interior looks basically spotless. Did you notice the “Turbo Turbo Turbo” logo on the seatbelts? I could do without the goofy two-spoke steering wheel, but as mint and original as the interior is I would certainly be loathe to change a single thing. The dash and instrument panel scream “1980’s” and are so unique and welcome. It’s refreshing to find something so different from stuff we see today. Read the rest of this entry

911 Turns Beastly September 15, 2014 | 01:20 am

Some guy in Japan took a Porsche 930 and swapped in an LS7. If you are mumbling to yourself “that’s seven liters of madness”, bingo you are correct sir. I’m not sure what year car this is, but this vintage 911/930 is a bit tricky to drive on the edge. They are rear-engined (of course) and have a good bit of rear weight balance. If you grew up in the era of ABS and traction control and electronic nannies, a swapped car like this definitely isn’t for you.

I’ve heard this thing can turn some impressive lap times. That stands to reason when you consider it’s a claimed 2200 lbs and about 540 hp. It has gi-normous brakes, big sticky tires, and all the suspension and interior upgrades needed to go fast and nasty.

The rear wing personifies badass. Yeah, you can but a huge wing on anything. But a WRX or any other Japanese go-fast-mobile just doesn’t have a the credibility this 930 does.

A Renegade Hybrids V8 conversion kit was used, along with headers and a custom titanium exhaust. The interior looks like a nice place to do some work. Imagine revving this thing up and dumping the clutch with the grip of some 315mm wide Hoosiers on the back. The traction probably rivals that of some all wheel drive cars. Read the rest of this entry