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 Post subject: Continued car talk
PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 11:13 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2008 9:31 am
Posts: 118
Location: NC
I've been torn for the past few days between continuing the thread on the old forum and posting a new one here. I finally decided to start a new one.
JBG wrote:
A 1/1/2001 NB and thereafter ( ie NB8B ) has the variable valve timing engine. Turboed locally it was extremely fast but the engines tended to wear out. A mild supercharger sounds like a very interesting idea. In such a light car 130 kw to 140 kw is more than enough - look at the Lotus Elise with a 141 kw Toyota 1.8.

BTW mine's a 1/1/2001 compliance plate!

Yes, I think that's the situation my stepdad was looking at. He was a Corvette driver for many years, so I guess he felt the need for a little more muscle than the stock 150 hp (110 kW), but in such a small, light car you can have a great time with around 200 hp (150 kW). The power band you get out of a positive-displacement blower's very broad and flat; you don't get the peak numbers you see with a turbo but the power's there right from idle.

If you guys don't mind, I'd like to write a little about my current car hunt. I think it'd really help me out to hear from the broad range of experience here instead of bouncing from car forum to car forum where everyone's obsessed with their one particular machine.

Right now I'm looking for another car for my girlfriend and I. We each have our own, but it'd be really helpful to have another vehicle if one of us has a car in the shop so that we don't have to work out who drives who to work and so on. I'd also like to be able to take on projects with the Evo that might take longer than just a Saturday. Here are my criteria:

  1. Uncommon (don't want to see something just like it every day).
  2. Inexpensive (less than US$5000 for a functioning vehicle, and reasonable insurance costs).
  3. Offers many voluntary projects I can take on, with a variety of degrees of difficulty and cost.
  4. Doesn't offer too many involuntary projects (reliable).
  5. Very good at something the Evo does badly, like gas mileage or comfort. If it's not better than the Evo, why am I driving it?
  6. Has a decent Internet community.
  7. Preferably pre-1996, which won't be emissions-tested in North Carolina.

I keep on thinking of new possibilities which I'm obsessed with for a week, and then the following week I can't imagine why I ever thought they were good ideas. There are two that have stuck with me, and they're very different.

The first is a 1993-1995 Honda Civic, into which I'd swap the engine from a Civic VX, the high-fuel-economy variant, and try to build it for the best possible fuel economy without making the crazy sacrifices the hypermiling guys do. VXes themselves are impossible to find, but their engines are common enough and cheap; there are two on eBay right now for under $500. The VX got 47/56 mpg under the old EPA rating system, and they're rated 39/50 under the new one; that's insane. With 90 hp in a 2100-lb car, they're not even dangerously slow. I'm not hoping to do the typical Honda performance thing; I think shooting for gas mileage will be more interesting, less common, and cheaper, while still giving the same good wrenching opportunities.

The other is a 1994-1995 Cadillac Fleetwood. They're the last body-on-frame Cadillac (well, apart from the Escalade); they have sort of an overwhelming American-ness to them. I feel like the American rear-wheel drive Cadillac died with them and a few years later when Cadillac reintroduced RWD platforms they were trying to build a European car. They come with an iron-head version of the LT-1, for which the aftermarket is... substantial. They seem like they'd be easy to keep running, with their parts commonality across GM's full-size sedans and the lack of the gadgets that you usually find in luxury cars. They're comfortable. The Evo is great when driving is fun, but on a long freeway trip or in bumper-to-bumper traffic I can see the appeal of a "big ole slushy American V8 armchair."

I've never thought about the LS 400, but I'm reading about it now, and it's very interesting. I never imagined there'd be a decent community and performance aftermarket for them, but there is, and it's quite good. For many luxury cars, parts are horribly expensive, and I think it has more to do with what people are willing to pay than with volume or quality. Having gone from a Camaro to a Corvette, I'm sure Stuart's familiar with the "Corvette tax": the same part, subtly different to fit a Corvette, is substantially more expensive. The LS 400, and other early Lexuses, are interesting because there's sufficient demand to support a good aftermarket, but prices are reasonable because the community's not full of crazy people who'll pay $2000 for shorty headers like Porsche owners do.

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