Open Wheel Cars by Patrick Callahan

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I love open wheel cars. While they may not look very similar to the cars you and I drive every day, they are remarkable in the singular purpose of their design: to race. While we replace parts and even systems of parts, every nut, washer and fastener on an open wheel car has already been optimized for speed.

I have two things to share on this topic. The first is the current crop of F1 cars. These are on many levels the baddest machines in all of racing, requiring hundreds of millions of dollars to build and run each season. The level of design complexity in the cars this year is astounding. Just look at some of the front wings! You can find pictures of all the latest models here including some exciting new teams and the return of Lotus F1.

To bring this post back around to being relevant to this blog, it’s worth higlighting how many aftermarket companies have had involvement in some form of open wheel racing. Some companies like Cosworth got their start in open wheel racing and have more recently brought their know-how to parts available to the public. Other companies like HKS with their F1 project are interested in showing off their technical abilities and building brand image.

For TODA, involvement in F3 has been an integral part of how the company is run for decades. F3 is a tightly governed and highly competitive international racing series with high-level national championships in many countries including Japan. If you can be competitive in F3, you can certainly make parts that will meet the needs of enthusiasts. To highlight one small example of the demands of F3, engines are fully stressed components and stock blocks are integrated into the chassis using gorgeous valve covers and oil pans that bolt to the carbon tub.

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Nakamura Engineering by Patrick Callahan

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When you’re ballin’ in Japan and you have an S2000, ASM is perhaps the only place to go. But what if you went with something a bit more expected like a Ferrari? Well, Nakamura Engineering is there for all you well-heeled JDM Ferrari owners.

Anyone who has corner-weighted a suspension can see there is a lot of awesomeness going on in this picture! These people have their act thoroughly together and they had better! They take care of everything from 308’s and F40’s all the way up to one of the Ferrari factory’s old F1 cars!

With that kind of reputation, Nakamura understands when they build a project they need to go all out and what better way to do it than with a 1000hp Testarossa? Forget flat-fours and sixes; real men rock flat-12’s!

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Lateral Thinking by Patrick Callahan

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If I’m honest with myself I’d have to say that TAS was a disappointment for me this year. The hybrid cars seemed to be the “hottest” sector of the show and as has been stated previously on this blog, the change in the scene is a little difficult to digest. Even the mighty GT-R which has single-handedly brought so many companies into our segment of the aftermarket didn’t quite have the breakthrough products I was expecting.

What’s an enthusiast to do? Looking to the past for platforms and inspiration as Ben mentioned is certainly one way. While I certainly appreciate the cars of the past I’m starting to think that another approach might be looking outside of Japan for platforms. For the first time in a long while, America is making world-class cars and Japan seems to be falling behind the curve and into disrepute (Toyota recalls anyone?). Even Korea is getting in on building cars with genuine potential for mods.

One car that has long had JDM support is the Corvette. The appeal of a V8 powered sports car wrapped in an attractive fiberglass body has been appreciated around the world. West Corvette has been working with these American machines since 1982 and they offer many nice upgrades including TE-37s in both aluminum and magnesium, awesome brakes and brake hats and of course their own long tube headers and exhaust. With the recent release of the ZR-1, you could produce quite a monster. They even have parts for the C4 which is typically unloved.

Even the C6 platform is admittedly a bit dated so what about the future? Well, I’m looking at the new Ford Fiesta. This car is everything we used to love about the little cars from Japan, it just happens to be made by Ford. Am I the only one imagining this car with a Cosworth motor in white with carbon accents?

There are many other potential gems including the Pontiac G8, Cadillac CTS-V and even the new Mustang. As much as we used to hate on these brands, they sat up and took notice. Their lineups are still a bit spotty but the potential is undeniably still there.

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The Ultimate Minivan by Patrick Callahan

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Dropping Porsche engines in VW vans is nothing new. Enthusiasts have been creating these sleepers for years owing to the remarkably similar powertrain layouts of both platforms. A company called TH Automotive recently took this concept to the next level. After making over 500hp worth of Porsche-power in the back of a T5 VW Transporter, they decided to go for the record books.

Porsche Minivan Transporter

They decided to go for top speed with their family hauler. The goal was 300km/h or about 186mph. They acheived that and then some with a 193mph run at the Nardo test track.

Porsche Minivan Transporter

“Cool,” I hear you say, “but how does it relate to JDM?” Take a look at the above picture of the interior of one of TH’s vans. That sort of clean execution is a universal language. Also, can you imagine what a JDM version of that concept might look like? The closest thing I can think of was the drift Element which worked surprisingly well.

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The Saga of the British Roadster by PCAL

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Once upon a time there was a fine line between American muscle cars and foreign sports cars. Particularly notable among the sports cars were the British roadsters. These became popular after American soldiers were exposed to the cars during World War II.

Cars like the Austin-Healey Sprite and MG Midget were imported and continue to have a significant following even today. The basic formula was quite simple but unfortunately production of almost all of these cars stopped in the 70’s and 80’s for a variety of reasons. When Mazda introduced the Miata in 1989 it was hailed as a re-birth of the British roadster.

Since then the car has gone on to become the world’s best selling roadster, with nearly a million examples produced. Now, things have come full circle. The Miata has actually become the basis for some British specialty cars including the Ginetta G20 and Westfield SE. Yes, the Miata has at the same time saved and replaced the traditional British roadster.

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LF-A Heritage by PCAL

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I’ve been a fan of the LF-A since seeing a concept back in 2005. Since the car has finally been released in production form, I’ve been reading reviews and comments about the car. One criticism I seem to hear over and over is that the car has no heritage. Others seem to feel that the Supra is the spiritual ancestor of the LF-A.
2000gt rear 3/4
I have to disagree with both of these camps. There has been an extended break in the bloodline, but I think the true ancestor to the LF-A is the Toyota 2000GT. At the time it competed with the best from Germany and Italy. Interestingly, the production run was extremely limited, the interior was appointed very well for such a sporty car and the car was priced relatively high. Despite being conceived entirely as a street car, the 2000GT was also raced extensively in endurance racing just like the LF-A. It is also interesting to note the Nissan GT-R of its day competed with the 2000GT on the track and actually was actually slightly more powerful in stock form.
2000gt front
Fast forward 30 years and both cars have aged very well and are now classics. That said the 2000GT occupied an entirely different realm than the GT-R in the late ’60’s and it continues to do so today. It’s nice to see Toyota and Nissan getting back to their roots with two very different cars that each represent the heritage of their respective makers very well.

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In Stock Items by PCAL

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Over the 10 years we’ve been in business, we’ve had an astounding amount of rare and awesome JDM products roll through our warehouse. However, it seems like some have made themselves a home on our shelves and we’ve accumulated a pretty eclectic mix of rare products. Below is just a taste of what you’ll find. Among other things, check out the Ersteklasse Z4 kit and the Top Secret Longnose kit for the 350Z:

Clearly there’s a huge variety of items you won’t see anywhere else. We have a nice list of what’s in stock right here. You’ll find everything from First Molding canards to Top Secret Fusion Oil!

As a special offer for our loyal readers, if you’re interested in any of these items, give us a call at 213.745.6954 or drop us an e-mail at sales@bulletproofautomotive.com and we’ll get you a great price. These parts would look much better on your car then on our shelves! Who knows, we might soon be blogging about your project instead of parts just sitting around.

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