Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fall New Goodies Edition

Yep, it's fall! Leaves are falling, the temperature keeps lurching from 40 degrees F to 76 and back, and...hey, there are new goodies for the STI in the inbox!

We have been hounding our friends at Kartboy for some rear endlinks for the 2008+ STI. Kartboy makes our favorite endlinks for the older WRX, but until now they haven't made one for the new rear suspension design.

For those of you new to this kind of thing, the endlink is a little connection piece that transmits force back and forth between the suspension and the sway bar. The factory ones are rather spindly and aren't really up to the punishment delivered by fatter aftermarket sway bars and/or autocross or road race use.

The Kartboy ones, on the other hand, look super-stout! These are going on our car at the next opportunity. We've got more to sell, too, so you can get some too. Kartboy Endlinks.

We've also been involved in the development of a gauge pod that fits neatly on the windshield above the rear view mirror. It's ALMOST in production. Here is a little peek at what this will look like.

I like this design because it keeps the gauges off the A-pillar. A-pillar mounting is just a little too look-at-me boy-racer for my tastes. This windshield mount is hidden behind the screen and tinting at the top of the windscreen, so it's nearly invisible from outside the car.

Watch an update about product pricing and availability soon.

Friday, October 16, 2009

More Dyno Time

We did get the STI back on the dyno, and temps were much cooler than during the summer. But still the STI wouldn't make any more power than before. I tried some different approaches -- lower boost with more ignition timing, for example -- but didn't have any luck. I was comparing the dyno results with a recent STI I tuned that featured a 20G turbo. (The Tomei ARMS M7760 is similarly-sized to a Mitsubishi 20G.) The Tomei turbo spools significantly faster, but seems to have less top-end. Is the turbo holding our car back? Or is something else going on? We're going to find out.

I also managed to take some video of the car on the dyno. There's not a whole lot to see, but you can get some idea of the noise and of the car straining against the straps. Off the left side of the screen are two high-velocity fans, which make a lot of noise on their own.

Finally, something more blog-related than car-related: The FTC has released guidelines about disclosure in online media. Specifically, it's trying to give a little more clarity to bloggers their relationship with advertisers or sponsors. I thought I'd use this opportunity to talk about the sponsors of this blog.

Basically there's only one sponsor: Mach V Motorsports, my company. At least as of this point, all the parts featured here were purchased by the company. None were donated by other companies. We sometimes get some discounts on parts that are intended for the shop car -- I think the hood shipping was discounted, for example. But aside from that, every part was bought and paid for, and none of my suppliers knew I would be discussing the product on this blog.

In the future, assuming the popularity of Mach V STI Blog suddenly shoots up, companies may fight for the right to give us free goodies to review. (Oh please, oh please.) When that happens, I'll be as clear as I can about parts that were given rather than purchased by us.

I do hope that this blog prompts people to go to our web site --, remember! -- and buy things. That's the whole idea of the blog.

Monday, October 5, 2009

STI Carbon - Gentleman's Express

I know, there's always some excuse for me not coming back here with 400 whp from my trusty STI. So here's the latest: I dislocated my right shoulder, and am just a week back from surgery to repair it. One of the many downsides of shoulder surgery is that I can't row a manual transmission for a while. So the STI (and my Mini Cooper S) have been sitting at the shop while I borrow a friend's Scion TC automatic. (Thanks, Larry!)

Just so I'm not ending this post with my medical history, I thought I'd comment a little on the latest Japanese-market special edition STI, the STI Carbon. It's basically like your regular STI, but it's got a carbon fiber roof (like the BMW M3 and M6 cars) for reduced weight up high, where the weight reduction does the most good in lowering the car's center of gravity. Sounds fine, but there's more! There' automatic transmission??? Oh, and some suede seats and dash, but whatever. Autoblog, among others, said it "...doesn't make sense."

Here in the U.S. the transmission choice seems downright bizarre in a car of this type, but there's some precedent for this kind of thing in Japan. Of course, the current-model Mitsubishi Evolution X is available with a twin-clutch auto-manual gearbox, but back in 2002 Mitsubishi produced the Evolution VII GT-A, which had a regular slushbox automatic transmission, plus more sound deadening than the regular Evo. It was termed a "gentleman's express" car, something a little more civilized than the normal boy-racer Evo.

Indeed, in Japan you'll see "salarymen" business-suit-wearing drivers on the highway in all sorts of high-performance cars, many of them modified. It's FAR more expensive and difficult to own and maintain multiple cars there, so most of these are their drivers' only cars. That means they have to do double-duty, sometimes as track cars and daily commuters. There are lots more wagons there -- if you're going to have to live with only one car, a wagon is quite useful -- and many of those are heavily modified. (As a former Legacy GT wagon owner, I go nuts over the huge quantity of modified Legacies I see in Japan.)

So in that context, the dichotomy of the performance-enhancing carbon roof against the performance-sapping (but maybe utility- or comfort-adding) automatic transmission makes some sort of sense. The STI hatchback layout has high utility -- it's a decent alternative to a full-on wagon in terms of cargo space. But maybe the businessman would like something just a little more relaxing during that long Tokyo commute. We'll see. Remind me next year and I'll report back whether it was a sales success or not.