Oct 18, 2011

Remedial modification.


Ever dream of modifications all evening, online, drunk? Me too

2 weeks after my tour to Cannon Beach with the Porsche club I'm still feeling the effects of the red mist. Any guy who's been on the track knows the red mist is the judgment impairing, blind enthusiasm that affects your judgment and velocity. Off the track it manifests itself via the internet, beer and the "buy it now" button.

So, let's blog this shopping spree out of my system.

Let's be clear, things you need like tires and brake pads,  purchased after a testosterone saturated event do not apply as the product of red mist.. Everyone needs wear items replaced, even if you do splurge a bit more than you need to (nobody needs to know). I'm talking about the real stupid stuff. The stuff you can't rationalize easily or hide when the UPS guy drops it off.  Stuff you have to explain to your wife.


Okay, maybe "exhaust system" is a bit of an understatement. The GT40 headers serve just one purpose, to optimize power. No detours around frame components, no emissions, heck barely any mufflers. About as pure as any exhaust system can get,  form follows function = stupid sexy. This image stolen from the guys at http://www.erareplicas.com/  masters at their craft.


Exhaust has been on my mind. Mufflers just modify noise; if you want a real change you're going to need a whole exhaust system. See what I mean about making it hard to hide? A proper system might actually get you (or me) a noticeable performance change. If it's noticeable on your credit card statement it's more likely to be noticeable on the road. 

Porsche Cup Exhaust above.   I'm going to hold out for a stainless system with a Cat bypass option on my Carrera.  Those things are heavy, and weight is power too.  So, if you see advertising on my blog, you'll know it's going to a good cause.
Exhaust systems, while perhaps a must for the track, are not as easy to rationalize for the street. You'll want improved or deleted catalytic converters to make any big impact with exhaust modifications. Some setups for the street/track offer variable configurations, like removable cats or a bypass maybe. Significant systems are not chump change, but usually the come with "proof". Meaning available and believable before and after dyno-graphs. So you'll have proof of the value to power ratio. The downside is noise, you never get something for nothing, it will be louder. Noise varies a lot; from simply bothering your neighbors, to making your hands-free system useless or even getting tickets. Some systems seem okay, but then the droning starts to drive you insane. Research your ass off.

A SRT8 Cherokee is a heavy rig.  These OEM Brembos will put you right through the windshield. 
Brakes are very sexy these days. It seems everyone is painting calipers red and with all the 20" wheels out there, you've got to have some caliper "bling" or the other car guys are going to make fun of you. While they don't deliver power directly, they allow you stop later so essentially go faster. Upgrading your brakes is not hard to do, and while the stakes might be high it's not hard to do yourself.

Note the aluminum hat on the rotor, to keep weight down.  While many kits are available for major sportscars, I prefer a factory upgrade.   It will keep the confusion down when ordering pads and appear more stock when selling. 

Companies like Brembo have made brake upgrades a household garage word. On the track big rotors will shed heat more efficiently; preventing brake fade. But think it through before clicking "buy it now" after that scotch. Have you ever really experienced brake fade on the street? Getting your brakes to fade on the street is tough, so it comes down more to stopping distance. More rotor might lower your stopping distance (bigger rotor= more leverage). But you can only break so hard before you skid or ABS takes over, this is a bit harder to research. It really depends on just how crappy your existing brakes really are. Remember huge rotors and calipers may have a down side too; possibly more rotating mass and greater unsprung weight. If you don't know what that means, it's reduced acceleration and decreased suspension performance. So as much as this pains me to say, don't over buy your brakes. At least not until you've experimented plenty with pad compound and tires, which is much cheaper. Paint them if you have to, red is cool.

While not exactly a chip, a stand alone computer system allows the user to program fuel, airflow, and spark mapping. Essentially making a new "chip" every time you press enter.  Only really required in systems that are such a dramatic departure from factory specs you can't or don't want to modify a factory computer chip.  Cost?   Put it this way, the laptop was the cheap part.
Chips are a big thing with modern cars. Who wouldn't want to raise his redline, improve throttle response and get more horsepower and torque at every rpm? The miracles a chip can do to a stock car are pretty much bullshit, you can't accomplish much with simply adding a degree of timing to WOT (wide-open-throttle). That's what most "stage 1" type chips do (creating the impression of throttle response is not hard). If your car is modified, you could, however, unlock some hidden potential with a chip. Off the shelf chips that are very specific about the modifications you need before installation are a bit encouraging. Custom burned chips are even more encouraging, but depend on the programmer. The more modified your ride the more potential you might have, to the point where a really hot machine won't even run right with a stock ECM. Before and after dyno results are a good place to start your research, don't trust the advertisers though. The last thing you want is an improved peak hp, and loss of power in the mid range. So know how to read a dyno graph, it isn't hard.


Enough about you, let's talk more about me.  For me, as much as I'd like 20hp and a stainless cat bypassing exhaust system, I'm a little short on that kind of cash. As far as big red brakes go; I really think they are sexy, but have no evidence that my medium sized black brakes are lacking. Chips? Well, chips are for salsa. My car is way too stock to benefit noticeably from an off the shelf computer chip. I'm afraid the untapped potential in my case is the driver.

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mustang gt, 964 carrera 2, 993 carrera s, turbo supercharge, mustang gt ford gt40

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