Saturday, October 9, 2010

New Car, Used Car, Modified Car ---- Part 1

After waited patiently for 3 weeks, my car modification project finally reached about 90% completion. I did a test drive this evening and finally I think I need to declare that I'm a petrol head graduate now. The feeling behind the wheel was extremely satisfying. I can literally made my car dance lively on the road and also almost certain that I pissed off a few guys in the process(those were driving too slow or driving big cars).

I am not sure how much horsepower the car got now but it is certainly feel it has almost doubled. My car was having about 150 hp before the modification, I would guess it should have around 280 hp now. I will let you know the official number after the dyno test.

The mechanic team did a superb modification job. These guys are "racers" themselves and they paid a lot of tuition fees from their own pockets over the years doing modifications to their own cars. So, I hope and glad that I will side-step some of the expensive mistakes. They literally transferred almost everything the other half of the car to my car - engine, transmission system, braking system, air-conditioning, etc. My car now is at least 5 years younger in terms of mileage, cutting by half from 300,000 km plus. I was lucky that the previous car owner was a careful owner, he just changed a new timing belt. NGK Iridium spark plug and cable were new too. Save me a few hundred Ringgit. What is more important, the engine was in a very good condition, no signs of carbon build up. This is the first thing you should be looking out and ensure no leakage too.

We tweaked the suspension system a little. I have chosen Tein SuperStreet producing excellent handling performance on the road. I can literally dived into sharp corner without stepping on my brake. I can see the car behind me will be separated by at least 100 - 200 meters after they completed the corner. What I like the most is, it feels soft on the road.

The next important thing was choosing a good intercooler, got a very good deal with a big Aluminium intercooler that cost only half of regular price.

Installed a blow-off valve to prevent compressor surge when I drive the car hard -- pushing the car above 5,000 rpm.

I was telling my team that I want to keep my car low profile and requested them to make my exhaust system as quiet as possible. They did a good job recommending the options. The system came with 2.5" pipe, longer bullet and muffler. They also recommended a thicker muffler to reduce vibration, hence more quiet. I was contemplating to go for S flow but they advised me to go with straight flow since it's a turbo-charged engine. S flow will sacrifice performance at the higher RPM.

There are few more things I have not installed yet. I need to send to my car back to finish the last 10% -- need to install a fuel regulator(SAAD), boost meter(Apexi), turbo timer(Apexi) and lastly e-Manage(the ultimate killer) to determine the optimum A/F ratio.

All in all, the whole project comes to $ 20 k. The purpose of this entry is not to talk about my car modifications project but to share personal finance lessons. I would not advise young people(less than 35 years old) to get addicted with this hobby. This hobby can be even more expensive than golf, if we are not careful. Sticking to a car less than $ 40,000 is certainly the best way to go until you have build up substantial reserves. Those suffer mid-life or long side of mid-life crisis will probably benefit more from my sharing. After working hard for a number of years, at some point of time when we know that we can afford Mercedes Benz, BMW 5 series, EVO, Subaru, Golf GTi, Mini Cooper, Renault Megan, Ford RS, etc but not rich enough to own a throphy car like Lamboghini, Ferrari, Cayenne, Carrera, Boxster, etc - choices were simply too many and what should we choose? Like beauty, it's in the eye of the beholder. Will share my story in Part 2. Good night.

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