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Thread: Kimochi Cruiser Journal


  1. #1
    Supporting Member artcentermiata's Avatar
    Silver Fastback NB / Blue NA
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    Kimochi Cruiser Journal

    Welcome to my journal.

    -Kimochi Cruiser-

    If you're wondering, "why kimochi?"

    Very roughly translated from Japanese, meaning "good feelings", or "feel good"~ it describes the emotion i feel when I'm around or inside of my car (or any transportation for that matter).

    I have always held the philosophy that my vehicle should make me chuckle when i observe or operate it. I believe this to be true for all forms of transportation; it seems people are more concerned with fitting into a clique, being jdm/euro/vip, or arguing about other peoples modification choices to enjoy the fun of it these days.

    I want my car to have that feeling of fun. I enjoy a "Hot Wheels" aesthetic; that toy shop "is he serious?" mentality.

    Ive found inspiration in many of the Miatas that have appeared in the community; from super functional track purpose cars, overseas built wonders from carlife japan, extravagant bosozukus/itashas, to some very awesome builds from members on this site (very respectively i mention: coupeloop's wind chariot, slevin's na, scrat, woolery's pitcrew, sharka).

    I will be pulling little bits from each Ive found to make me drool, to build a Miata that i can be proud of and make me and others who see it smile

    Lets start

    From the beginning

    2 years ago I moved to California, And promptly bought this mint 1999 NB with 26,000 miles. It was completely stock, and in perfect condition.
    I drove it for about 3,000 miles before i started modifying it.

    A few weeks of work and i had rolled the fenders, polished the hood, and installed a hard-dog bar/GV lip/raceland coils/corksport dual exhaust/and xxr 002s (later replaced with 522s. standard 15x8 0et 195/50 s-drives)

    This was cool for a short time, before i realized there was no thought put behind my additions, just cheap fad parts that i slapped on to get a "look at me, im low like the other members" appeal

    This stayed for a while, until i grew sick of being cheap and uninspired. So began the revision process. A quick part-out later, i had a relatively clean slate to restart the process.

    Though, some stains of my carelessness remained, and had to be attended to.

    Package Tray Clean-up
    Back when i first selected modifications, i did not have the proper tools or patience to install them in a quality manner.

    My first venture into wrenching, cutting away the package tray to install the hard dog bar. Unfortunately, i was very meat fisted with my approach... using a jigsaw, i dug in and just cut random holes to size until the bar fit nicely. the jig saw left jagged edges and uneven cut lines. which to this day bothered me.

    So- with a free day, i completely removed the soft top and frame, plastic shrouding, and roll bar. I masked off all the surrounding areas, and re-cut my package trays slots cleanly with a dremel equipped with a straight edge cutter. After, i soft wire brushed the whole tray, masked the wiring, and repainted the deck in black for a clean look and rust protection; also gave the tray covers a nice brushing.

    I ended up putting the carpet back over the nice tray, road noise and fuel pump got annoying quick. but i feel better that its now done right.

    Parts Arrival!

    New front bumper and GV lip to replace a set broken on horrible school parking lot drives
    Project-G: g-string in saddle tan
    And a set of wheels that i have yearned for since i first bought my car: Work Equip 03's

    Rear-Bumper Cutout

    So, before moving on to the WORKs and G-string; id like to show you the first brave move i took towards the projects initiation: The rear bumper cutout

    The rear end of the Nb is very nice~ it is full of beautiful surfacing and nice highlights; but for me, the butt always felt a little over stretched. Cutting down the rear section would give the miata a dynamic and pronounced stance; something i wanted to achieve without ruining the styling language.

    I had to be very careful to follow the more fluid lines of the Nb.

    I got down to it, using clay docking tape (a thin flexible black tape with a small tin wire embedded inside, used for automotive clay modeling) i threw down a few lines to determine my cut line. After a few tries, i found a nice balance point that wasn't overkill, but looked very aggressive.

    Once i had one side masked out, i placed a sheet of butcher paper over top of the tape, traced the contour, cut the paper sheet, and flipped the sheet to mirror the other side.

    The cutting was done with 3 tools. I used a jigsaw to follow the lead in edges and then took a box cutter with a heated blade/T-square to deal with the long straight portion.
    Finishing was done with a light sanding of the edges, rounding off the burs and leaving an OEM appearance.

    Overall, i love the way it turned out. Its very pronounced, yet still flows with the bulging contours that pick up from the rocker panel into the rear bumper.
    I feel i might of maybe cut about a 1/2 inch to much on the long straight depth wise; as the crash support just sneaks a peek out from underneath...

    After i installed the cut bumper, i realized how ugly the under-structure of the miata was... gooey paste welds showing and dull paint were making me tick. So as a solution, i prepped and painted the rear end under-structure in black to stealth out the weirdness.

    The bumper covers most of this, but again, i just wanted to be thorough.


    Ive wanted a set of these wheels ever since i came into the car scene. They are an amazing balance of form and functional appearance (i say "appearance" for the fact of recognizing that my offset and tire choice is less than functional). the main disk's star cut is very outspoken without being overcomplicated and the machined face gives it an extra hint of contrast tucked back in those polished dishes. I guess i can also mention the amazing build and material quality of these wheels... they are feather-light and the finish is amazing!

    I secured them with 2 separate sets of lug-locks for added security, 2 brands, two styles and keys. plus heptagon lugs where the locks aren't. OCD...

    You'll notice my tails are now tinted red, i simply wanted to clean up the rear graphics by eliminating the orange and white sections.

    Project-G - G-string

    After sitting on my floor for 2 months, i finally came across a nice enough bow to mate to this amazing piece!. When mounted, it completely changes the look of my NB; dropping the roof-line, pulling out the aggressive cues missing with the soft-top (closed or dropped), and i love it!

    Installation was incredibly simple. I quickly cut the bow and side seals and cleaned up the latches and plastic bits with some flat black. After that, mounting was as easy as laying down some contact cement into the front edge of the bow, and matching up the screw points to the punches in the material. final touch was using some black metal-to-polymer epoxy to install the clean up caps on the cut edge of the bow.

    The cutting of the center support was a pain... my only complaint. shaping the front to sit flush in the hand pocket of the bow was easy enough; but it took more than a few times back to the circular cutter to measure up the pvc pole to fit snug front the bow to the roll bar.

    That aside, the fit and finish is incredible! the stitching is cleanly done and looks incredibly strong! proper material cuts and reinforcements on stress points to prevent the piece from deteriorating. Im amazed by the thought that has been put into adding finishing patches around the garters and tethers points, as well as the center support cover flap.

    Great work Project-G!

    In addition to mounting pieces, i lathed up these inner strap-loop posts, and frankenstein posts (i didnt want to waste money on the real pieces that had an ugly phillips cut in the top surface, when i never intend to go hard-top).

    New Additions

    I began to focus on the smaller details of the build, as i currently shifted low on the income this month for some freelance projects.

    Thanks to Tetsuya Garage, i finally found my dream Nardi! i fell in love with wood wheels after seeing amazing examples of craftsmanship during our schools Car Classic show and i wanted something that emulated those older side spoke designs. Tets found me this awesome side spoke woody with a black pin-line, and its beautiful! exactly what i had in mind! I'm bolting it up using the standard works bell hub

    Along with the Nardi, i decided to pick up this Corns exhaust system.
    I was captivated by the build quality, the welds are so uniform and clean, and the modular construction is really cool! The sound it produces is heavenly! Its smooth as silk and very mellow, its only slightly louder than stock, but has an amazing bass tone under acceleration.

    Splitter Experiment

    In hopes of filling out the profile view of the Kimochi, i constructed a set of splitters to bring the front lip around to the rocker panels. They were constructed from aircraft grade ABS and waterjet cut and machine beveled. I machined the mount flanges from 6061 and used steel studs centered in the edge to mount directly to the pinch rail.

    I ran these for a good month, and got many compliments from miata and s2000 enthusiasts alike. but for me, the thinner ABS was not continuing the flow of the gv lip properly. The gv has volume and is smooth, while my piece is textured and planar; i thought they would be much more at home on a miata with a TDR front splitter in place.

    It was later sold to FreshNB

  2. #2
    Supporting Member artcentermiata's Avatar
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    The Bad

    Of course with every step forward, there are three steps back... Ive hit those three steps...

    First... Someone rear ended my car while they were parking at my school... the despicable horrible driver left no info... or even an apology... just destroyed my rear bumper, right after i spent so much time working on my cutout...

    The crash bar punctured through the plastic, and the paint was destroyed...
    i dont have enough funding to purchase a new piece and paint, so i did what i could, and re-cut the bumper, shaving the damaged portion off.

    the cutout is more aggressive now, but im happy with it, its clean, and still hints of exaggerated concept technique.

    Also, decided to paint the markers to match the bumper, again, just cleaning up graphics

    Second... On the way home from dinner with a friend, a piece of road debris from construction on highway 210 decided to find my front right tire... instantly puncturing it and send my front end diving into the concrete, subsequently ripping my GV lip in half and shaving down the chin on my front bumper by 6 inches. Everything is destroyed, and im forced to buy a new bumper and lip. Bright side: my wheel is unscathed, chassis is fine.

    Third... Im getting an odd "clunk clunk clunk" sound when i push on the clutch pedal while decelerating, i think its drive-shaft play, and its getting worse, i might need to replace the piece soon, its making low-speed movement very jerky.

    But now that my three steps are taken, i can get back on track and make another step forward!

    HIN Roll-In/ Change Up

    A quick shot of the awesome line-up after roll-in to Hot Import Nights; between me, risingsun, bluemiata, kfed, and tig, we were looking good.

    Unfortunately, im not so happy with the outcome of my two-toned flare and boso lip that were added in an attempt to explore more extreme styling

    The flares, i like. The lip... was cool in theory, and the two tone was something i had wanted to try for a while; in fact, i feel the contrast between the body and pieces created a cool character aesthetic that helped the g-fusers become more bold~ But, the combination hinted on the verge of kitsch... and i grew uneasy staring at what i had done.

    So, back to the drawing board, i want to tone it down a little, and let the overall theme become a bit more clean again.

    -New flares shall be color matched to the body

    -Going to try out an OEM style lip from rev9, Black. Or return to a GV lip

    -A search for new super wide and aggressive wheels

    JK composite seats from overseas

    Seats... ive been searching and searching, researching, and contacting numerous people to try and find a bare fiberglass bucket seat. Again, i fell in love with this aesthetic while viewing a vintage Ferrari 250 GTO at our Car Classic event the previous year; The bucket was amazing! no gel coat, no padding, just bare fiberglass and cut-outs for mounting and harnesses! kart status!

    Spoke with Tillet seats on a number of occasions, and they had nothing to offer me except ungodly expensive carbon fiber pieces with padding (to flashy for me, and the wooden Nardi).

    Spoke with Triton race seats for a short bit, and almost tagged a set of their "low-side" seats in a clear gel coat... but shortly there-after, they failed to return contact to me.

    Recently i got in contact with JK Composites about a pair of their "sevens" series seats, and lucky me, managed to have him oblige to ship a set of cleared buckets to me from across the pond, shipping is immense... but i dont care one bit! waiting time is estimated in 5-6 weeks.

    Boso Stage

    My car remained like this for a few weeks, until i couldnt stand it anymore, i ripped off the flares and lip, and restarted my progress.


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  4. #3
    Supporting Member artcentermiata's Avatar
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    Major Set-back

    Well, i got a nasty surprise the other day... After i had painted my flares a week or so ago; i had taken my miata to a local body shop to cut the fenders in time for Hot Import Nights, and install the flares...

    upon unbolting the pieces, i found this magical parade...

    I shouldve done the work myself, or had someone trusted carry it out...

    It looks as if the just cut the two outer and inner fenders in the rear, and just filled the gap with foam... not joining the two.

    With the inner lip still not joined to the upper, i still get rubbing, which is one of the reasons leading to why i unbolted the flares to check up on the issue.

    According to Moti at Blackbird, that section is very structural... which makes me worried; as they might have chopped to much inner lip off to join to the top lip. Im hoping Moti can help me out.

    The fronts arent really that bad; just cut a little wonky, and there needs to be some trimming of the front fender/bumper joining tab.

    Atleast they coated the cut pieces.

    We'll see what happens.

    New direction

    Im back in Pennsylvania for the holidays, being away from the car has given me time to calm things down; ive been toying with getting that rear end fat and juicy while cleaning up the front end

    In order to do this, the 949 lip needs to go... it was fun for a while, but its just to much for me. I will be returning the my good ole' GV. Im contemplating color matching it to the body and flares as well, and running a small black ABS splitter underneath to protect from damage (which should keep the black trim theme running from the front to the side g-fusers, since the lip will no longer be black)

    For now, ive thrown out the crazy aero to focus the theme on being stout and broad. Id be lying if i said i wasnt taking a different direction from my original concept... but i like where this is going.

    Ive been talking with Image wheels to get me a set of their LS classic build wheels over here. They mimic the beautiful Lancia Stratos coffin spoke wheels; looks like im going for 15x10 fronts and massive 15x12 rears, other specs are in the works.

    Planning something with tail lights...

    And a pic demonstrating the clean up of my current stage to be carried out, and my GV inspired tail

    Fender Fix
    Took my shoddy fender work to the master of metal, Moti (Blackbird Fabworx) to reconstruct what the previous body shop had destroyed. Turn around was super quick, and he did an amazing job of joining what little metal was left; we were literally working with a hairline of trim to weld, but he pulled it off, and cleaned it up very well considering the circumstances. I also gained alot of clearance and scrub room.

    Current Stage: Post Cleanup
    Lets take a look at where my NB sits now

    Things have changed massively over the course of my ownership. and now all my boso and cheapness have been expunged, leaving a a car that i can call clean and functional.

    Stay tuned, there is much more to come: suspension, seats, brakes, engine, meatballs... more love.

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    New Bits
    So, working on the functionality of my car, i replaced the horrible Race-lands with a set of Tein Flex coilovers. In addition to the previous, i also installed new rotors/fluids/and EBC green pads. I raised the car back up to a functional height (as seen in the previous posts pictures); Ive noticed a huge difference in performance from both, its brought the fun and dynamics back to my car.

    Finally got a confirmation back from JK Composites, after 2 months, my seats are close to being sent home. Here is a teaser they sent me today

    Garage Woolery tech day

    Stopped by Woolery's garage today after class for some Emmi alignment love, and some great hospitality from David and the rest of the gang.

    Ryan (Slidder) happen to have this amazing garage vary wing with him... i NEED it... it completes the rear end so well

    More lights plus upholstery

    Well, in my search for some aftermarket tail lights- I gave myself a little temporary project.

    i simply swapped the tail and signal lights by trimming the leading edges of the twist-mount housings for the bulbs. worked great... always contemplated as to why Mazda never arranged the lights in this manner (i guess viewing area and illumination safety standards come into play here).

    And contacted Miata Roadster about tail light options, thinking about going with these options, as they cost about as much as buying a guinea-pig set of lights, new round lamps, fiberglass, adhesives, wiring, etc.

    Found some spare vinyl, and cut some roundels for vintage sake. i like it, despite being blank, its a nice graphical indication.

    Note the Garage Star plate mount, to avoid more penalty fees

    Started making patterns and mock ups for a center console cover. will be making the final version out of tan vinyl/leather. will cover entire center assembly- with round aluminum trim ring for the shift gate, aluminum trim for the window buttons, and quilted matching covers for the cig and arm rest cubbies.

    This is my first time sewing other than making some pillow cases with my mom, but i wanted to venture into this, as i may be making some concept interior mockups for upcoming school studio courses; bought a cheap Singer machine set up for light upholstery work.

    After tons of screw ups, i came up with this. still needs some aluminum trim rings from RyokuRob to finish it off.

    She's Still Alive

    Jk seats have arrived, i was going to sell them for some Nakamae covers until i sat in them- They seat up amazingly! I love the feel and look!
    Working on some rails to mount them- Simple floor mounts with multi-hole position changing.

    -You will also notice some interior touch ups, i lathed a new shift knob from 6061, added a MiataRoadster shift extender- topped off with a zeromotive wooden ebrake handle

    Finishing up my center console cover with some trim rings cut from 6061 (Thanks to ryokurob)- I finished them by rounding the edges and a polish

    And then...
    I got rear ended again... Some jeep plowed into the back of me while i was stopped at a pedestrian crossing...
    Destroyed the trunk, and the rear bumper- It wasnt horrible, no frame damage... so i got lucky

    So those will be replaced very soon-

    The blessing is that i am replacing the oem trunk with an Autokenexion Ver 2- Since ive been wanting a little bit' more aggression in the rear.
    I will also be cutting the new bumper the way my first cut was made (before the FIRST rear end incident- forcing me to make the large square cut)

    Stay tuned

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    Mini Update

    A few pics until something productive starts happening.

    First up, Finally made some transfer brackets to mount my seats, just simple aluminum plate (6061) cut and drilled to move the mount holes over. polished them- they arent anything high-tech, but they work for me until i get spare funds to make a proprietary floor mount set.

    Next in line, the new cut bumper is getting ready for paint- was going to do it myself, but im busy at this time, so its being sent to a shop.

    Something cool: Autokonexion v2 trunk- one off; the first they've ever made in clear gloss for fiberglass. The trunk matches my seats'
    It might get painted later, but right now im enjoying the cool "i can see your skeleton" thing.

    I might also add, that please go to Autokonexion for your Miata styling needs, they are incredibly friendly, professional, and turn out a quality product! (even if it means remaking an item for you, or refitting pieces).

    And, some parting shots- It was nice out, so i cleaned the Kimochi up and took some pics.

    Wheel Swap

    Picked up a pair of SSR MK2s in 15x9 0 offset

    Under Pressure

    In more than one way!

    A scarey moment last week arose as i swerved to avoid a stone on the highway- unluckily the brunt of it hit my tire and the shock bent a turnbuckle, and knocked a few things loose under the fender.

    A new turnbuckle and some re-tightening- and good as new, it took calling AAA to get me home though... which was more pain than i wanted on the weekend

    Also... This

    Should be going in this weekend... just in time for Mazfest.

    Ive been considering many boost options for quite some time, Rotrex was high up on the list, and perfect timing struck me on finding this specially equipped version

    Expect details, a review, and pictures of the setup and from Mazfest in the next week or so!

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  10. #6
    3,000 rpm - starting to feel the power morr's Avatar
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    An entire skeleton NB would be awesome... just saying I love your car. Classy and as close to vintage-inspired as an NB can get. You've nailed it so far. I can't wait to see what else you do.

  11. #7
    Supporting Member artcentermiata's Avatar
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    Mazfest Success

    Trip to Mazfest yielded great results. Took home best Miata

    Boostin' Update
    Well, its been quite a while since i have had a meaningful update. Big things have taken place- big exciting things and some big exciting plans!

    Woolery Tech Day: Install Mania

    David Woolery is one of the nicest gentlemen in our community; Letting friends of the Miata enthuse gather and exchange the love of wrenching and general commodore. Its great to have such a giving person in the area who opens up his home for others who dont have the resources, to complete their large projects.

    With that said, I arrived bright and early to begin the installation of my Rotrex supercharger.
    I had studied up for weeks- Reading build threads with similar setups, looking for loose ends and known kinks; i had also taken a whole week to build a completely new hardware set, and replace some of the worn parts i was given with the purchase.

    Outside of the complex, a commotion stirred

    While inside, fellow friends gathered to watch a novice conquer an install he had been confident would take only a few hours

    The tear down and removal of non-essential components were easy enough

    And the installation of the rotrex unit came about an hour later. After, about 3 hours were spent shaving components and making clamps to hold wires away from the belt system- I had forgotten to tighten a bolt deep down in the assembly early on- which led to me removing the unit as a whole and completing what i had skipped the first time through.

    After the sun set, and all the attendees had taken their leave- I asked David if i could stay over and finish my install (well, i wouldnt be leaving with a half finished assembly anyways)- He obliged in the nicest way and then went to bed, leaving me to spend the rest of the night fitting the miles of piping that just didnt want to fit properly. When 7am came... I realized i had spent the entire night fitting the intercooler; luckily Davids family is just as welcoming as him- Running low on fuel, Davids father brought me a nice hot cup of coffee in a snazzy mug along with some toast!

    It had been 18 hours, but i had finished the install- Final touches included connecting the BEGI reflashed ECU and wiring some monitoring gauges. All that was left was to crank over the engine and hope for the best!

    Success! the engine turned over and fired as if nothing had ever been altered- it was the biggest sigh of relief, as i feared my engine would explode at the turn of the key.

    A few test drives around the block proved that everything was A-ok.
    Temp levels were stable, Idle was smooth and did not fluctuate, no pinging or knock- most of the major checks seemed to be in their place.

    After thanking Woolery, i took my leave and scheduled a dyno with Churchs Automotive Tuning to see if the reflashed ECU was doing as good of a job as i suspected.
    My results were mixed, as you can see in these charts, most of the power range was within a safe limit when boost came on- But my injectors ran out of breathing room near redline- leaving me with a desire to fix that, I installed larger Nb2 purple tops to see if i could clear up the lean off.

    Not much had changed- only making my mid-range unfathomably rich, and only improving the lean out by a slight margin.

    After contacting BEGI, they had setup a new program for me with proper large 450cc injectors and a map to match- hopefully quenching the engines dry spot in the high range.

    My goals are to get the entire boost range within a safe region, and then work the map to allow a smooth AFR line across the board.
    Its a large process, Thankfully BEGI is fast with their service- although in retrospect (and unfortunately for my wallet) i shouldve, and might go with the personal tuning aspect of the MS PNP.

    Here are the resulting runs- there are 2 runs on the charts, the first and leaner run is the Nb1 red top injectors, and the pig rich run being the Nb2 purple tops

    Making 213hp on a bad tune isnt bad, although i will be much happier once the instability and lean spot have been dealt with, even if i lose a few horses

    And the best benefit from the Rotrex unit, this infinitely smooth boost gain across the board. Driving with a Rotrex feels like driving a very built n/a miata- the power just builds and builds with no lag and no fall off, its just straight power.

    New Metal

    Ive been buying up little trinkets left and right to add a little more of a detailed touch to the build.

    The first of which includes these awesome hubcentric spacers for my SSR wheels (Note- the SSR wheels require a 5mm minimum spacer to clear the calipers of the Miata).
    Unfortunately, SSR uses and odd diameter hub size, to which no one makes a solution; so i had trusty ole' RyokuRob machine some specialty gear for me.

    Perfect fit, now those wheels are snug

    I had also received a few thoughtful gifts from family during the holiday for which im thankful!

    Garage Star supplied the awesome cowl panel, steering hub spacer, and eunos patches. a TDR exhaust shield to keep heat away from the Rotrex unit. And Lastly, a Louver to pull the remaining hot air from my engine bay (Also to cover the hole from the RyokuRob suspension node tow hook that must be relocated to the passenger side due to the intake pipe now hogging that area).

    I also purchased a few additions as well
    -Flyin' Miata happy meal set to replace the stock and now under-muscled clutch and flywheel
    -Mazdaspeed engine and diff mounts
    -Koyorad 37mm radiator for those aggressive days
    -Mishimoto fan shroud set
    -Carbing radiator cooling panel

    I had also stopped over Jonb and RyokuRobs place to replace my stock fuel pump with a 225 unit and a new fuel filter

    Thanks for the hospitality!

    So now, everything is on a slow halt as i figure out my fueling situation. Once that ordeal is settled, i will be planning the next stage of development for my build.

    Until then, here are some parting shots

    Its always nice to see the car with a fresh bath

    Future plans impromptu render!

    Small Update

    I grew tired of the hassle of sending the reflashed BEGI ecu back and forth to get a proper tune with still lackluster results, so i picked up this DIYPNP built by brainiac from a friend.
    I will need to weld in the bung for the AIT and have it towed to our local tuner, Church's, to complete the process, im really hoping for some stunning results- Driving EMMI's nb2 has shown me that something wasnt right about how that reflash was delivering the fuel- his is a responsive beast while mine feels like a large laggy turbo was bolted up to my engine.

    I also grabbed this sexy Carbing tri-brace to spruce up the engine compartment. As of now, it has some clearance issues with the intake pipe of the Rotrex, but once i remove the MAF with the DIYPNP, it should make plenty of room.

    I also want to find a way to mount the tow-hook onto the brace.

    A second choice in wheels; Compomotive returned my questions with a big heaping of "NOPE" to the 4x100 pattern for the Stratos reps.
    So, i might still choose the IMAGE wheels in a similar style.
    i also found these nice classy wheels by Group 4 Wheels- in 15x10, with the ability to build your own specs
    Group 4

    Stay tuned for tuning results!

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  13. #8
    Supporting Member artcentermiata's Avatar
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    Some Goodies

    Installed some independent lens from Garage5- they look amazing!

    Along with the Garage Star hub extension

    Boy that Nardi needs a polish...

    Up and running... Albeit many mistakes and issues

    So, after a lot of issues pertaining to various loose ends i had not buttoned up on the engine, i was finally able to get the car running to its full potential!

    Getting here wasnt an easy path to take- for every step i took, 3 more things went wrong... let me explain my journey!


    My first attempts at using BEGI's reflashed ECU got me to an awkward AFR curve while the stock injectors were leaving me lean near the top of the RPM range- So to give them the benefit of the doubt, i asked them to do another reprogram to accept larger 450cc injectors; this would get me into a safety zone for my hp ranges injector duty cycle.

    After they took care of their work, the sent it along the way back to my hands- unfortunately somewhere along the way, USPS confused my address with someone elses and deemed the package undeliverable... so the whole shipment was put on hold for 2 weeks. When i was finally able to track it down, they had told me that it had been sent back to the person who shipped it- so i called BEGI up and asked what had been happening, things became worse when i learned that they had not heard any news on the package and were completely out of the loop... 3 more weeks passed and i got tired of waiting for a solution, so i bought the DIYPNP featured in my previous post.

    PNP woes

    Now, more issues ensue.

    I mounted up the megasquirt, welded a bung onto my charge pipes, and ran the new AIT- all i thought would be left was to take it to our tuning guru at Churchs Auto Testing.

    So, fast forward- im at Churchs, on the dyno, everything seems to be going well- and then my car putters out and dies mid tune!
    a check of the battery voltage showed i was completely dead in the water- we suspected a dead alternator. So to quickly remedy the issue, i picked up a new unit and had it installed along with my FM clutch and diff/engine bushing set.

    after the install, my mechanic informed me that despite the new alternator, i was still getting no voltage anywhere... i was getting upset now!

    so i figured the car worked fine until i installed the DIYPNP, so it had to be related to that. after spending a few nights researching, i pieced together some information that made this all more complicated.

    Alternator knowledge gained

    It turns out that NA alternators are self regulating... and NB units are controlled by the ECU. With my luck (or maybe, lack of knowledge) i had purchased a megasquirt built for an NA!

    So i contacted Brainiac on miataturbo to see if he could help me convert it (because i was under the impression that he built it), he quickly responded and obliged to give me a hand. so i sent it out to him.

    Brainiac corrections!

    When he received it, he began the rebuild, but informed me that he definitely did not build this unit! and that the ECU did infact have an alternator circuit... but it was wired to feed a constant 12v to the system... so chances are i fried my alternator and battery... luckily i had already replaced the alternator- but the battery was checked for health and was surely dead- so a new one was needed... ugh

    Anyways, back to the rebuild of the megasquirt- he finished it up quickly so i could have it back to drive to Project-G's one year anniversary- maybe it wasn't a good idea to ask him to rush!

    When i got it back, i remounted it, and started it up to see if i was getting voltage... the first thing i noticed, was my A/C was coming on when i would depress the clutch! not good- so i contacted him, and fixing it was a simple programming change in tunerstudio.

    Afterwords, i checked my voltage to the battery... i was still getting nothing! So again, i asked for help- after taking a few photos of the wiring inside the DIYPNP, he informed me that he had simply forgot to rewire the circuit on for the alternator switch after testing- so i went and re-soldered a few things and remounted with success!

    Keep in mind, this all happening a few hours before the big event at Project-G! so in my rush to get the car running, i never realized that since my car was tuned on low voltage- when i finally got full electrical charge through the system, my tune would be way off... i was running SUPER rich- back firing, stuttering, and stalling

    Project-G's One Year Anniversary

    I knew it wasnt a good idea to drive the car to the event, but i really didnt want to miss it- so i went through with it- worth it, awesome event by some great guys! the music, food, giveaways, and the huge community that showed up to support the event made it unforgettable.

    Dyno Re-try, more woes

    The day after i had a re-tune scheduled at Church's

    Again, loaded up on the dyno, everything was going well- correcting the rich issues from the extra voltage... then my car started spewing white smoke and gained boost at an unsafe level- my power level also dropped from 209hp to 184hp

    We couldnt figure out why this was happening- an engine at 40k mile shouldnt have any reason to lose its health after a few rich runs.
    So we checked for
    Oil blow by: none from either the cam cover nipple or the PCV
    Coolant burn: no particulate or gasses found in the coolant, no overheating, smoke didnt smell sweet
    Oil burn and compression: checked all spark plug and did a comp. test- all even pressure across the board, and no junk found in the heads

    We even went as far as to check the Rotrex for leaks

    Then we realized, my giant cast stock manifold cat had failed... the clogging was sending all the pressure back through the engine... cause the off white smoking and boost gain/power loss!

    New pipes

    So, to get rid of that issue completely, i tracked down this OEM euro spec header- i had heard the 4-2-1 was the best flowing of all the OEM pieces. I also added a roadstersport mid-pipe.

    I sandblasted and VHT white ceramic coated the rusty header to refurbish its appearance.

    Made a trip back to Church's and retuned- wow, the header and mid-pipe gave me huge gains! and no white smoke!

    After seeing the gain from the OEM piece, i wanted to see how much i could get with an aftermarket unit- so i picked up a Racing Beat header and gave it another go- even more stunning results! Now we are on the right track!

    The power is amazing! i cant believe how much fun the car is now! i can break loose the tires any time i want to, and with the linear build of boost- it feels completely under control, no big surprises!

    Church's suggested i fab up an intake that locates the filter down near the headlight to keep the incoming air away from the header heat- they estimated i might be able to gain another 5hp just from that!

    A few small things

    To monitor my boost, i built this awesome Speedhut gauge! the piece is very solid and feels like a quality item! The aluminum bezel and glass sight window are nice touches- i designed it to look like the OEM gauges (you can customize it anyway way you like on their website)- lighting and all (This will incorporate into the OEM+ gauge faces im ordering in the future from our own Revlimiter).

    You'll notice i mounted it in an A/C vent cup, im going to place it to the left of the steering wheel.

    I also grabbed these, Ive been wanting a nice key set for a long time- a gold silhouette key and a tan eunos fob will do!

    I came across an awesome closeout on this GoPro, so i grabbed it to document the upcoming MRLS trip! so everyone can see my amateur driving skill!

    Im also trying to work on these windshield sun banners for all the KINOD buddies, i still need to change up a few graphics after showing it to them. Im waiting on my school print shop to give me pricing so i can get these made ASAP

    Placed an order for a set of Group 4 PAG wheels this weekend! they are coming from the UK- and are made to order according to your specs. i told them id like to show them off at MRLS, so they obliged to help me out with that- they informed me most wheel sets took about 3 weeks to build

    Front spec: 15x9 -10et 54.1 hub
    Rear spec: 15x10 -12et 54.1 hub
    In Lancia Stratos Group B yellow

    I also informed Mike at Autokonexion of my fastback and rear quarter canard needs, he was busy shipping some awesome stuff to Japan this week, but im sure he'll get back to me soon!

    Stay tuned!

    I should also note... after all this, just last week, that BEGI ECU was returned to me- to late for that...

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  15. #9
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    MRLS: The Prep and The Journey

    After not being able to attend the 3 previous years of Miatas at Laguna Seca, due to my academics- My school schedule had finally met a patch in which i would be on break during the event!

    I was so excited that i would be able to make the amazing trip up the coast, and share a track day with some good friends!

    So, i started buttoning up the loose ends on my car to make sure NOTHING would hold me back from experiencing the great Seca!

    Cooling Woes

    My car had been running fine during the cooler months out here in California- But once the heat kicked in, i found my car would start to get hot if i held boost in any situation...

    I had already anticipated this, seeing as a fellow friend had been experiencing the same issues with his Rotrexed Nb.

    Main issues
    -When i installed the Rotrex, i eliminated the stock splash guard that acts as a shroud to get air to the radiator
    -The intercooler i had been using was very narrow in width, its end tanks seemed to block much of the airflow in the mouth back to the heat exchangers
    -I had suspected my thermostat had been seized half open for a while- Long warm ups... And fans running more than usual once hot...
    -Antifreeze 50/50- Why i needed that in SoCal, I have no idea...

    So first things first

    Installed a much larger intercooler (width wise- the core thickness and height remained the same, I did not want to experience pressure loss)
    -This only required welding up a new mounting bracket, used some stainless steel i had lying around.

    While I was at it, I rerouted my charges pipe through the port in the rear of the drivers headlight- I never liked the route behind the sway-bar and radiator... It had started rubbing so much that a hole in my piping wasnt far off...

    I also fabbed up a new intake pipe to move the filter away from the header- Here is the completed setup

    Next step was to Fab up some shrouding for the heat exchangers

    I went to the local metal supply store and picked up some light gauge aluminum to break and fold into my shrouds. I used a foot press to cut the pieces to shape, and a sheet break at my schools model shop to complete it- held it together with some rivets.

    Here is the finished product mounted up- If you are wondering how i made it fit well, i simply made paper templates and transferred them to the metal... nothing high-tech

    After this, i also swapped in a new thermostat and changed to some silicone rad hoses (Refilled with straight water and some water wetter)

    The final result was successful, after pushing the car very hard in the canyons and on the highways, i found that air was now able to guide itself to the heat exchangers, keeping my temp gauge happy (Im still in the process of getting an accurate aftermarket gauge to tell me exactly what my cars liquids are doing)

    I threw on some insulating fiberglass backed tape to my piping last minute to keep out engine bay heat

    As a last maintenance measure, i also swapped in a set of colder 6 range plugs, and new 02 sensors

    Some Suspension Bits

    After driving for a while and wondering why my car was so harsh, i spoke to Sonny at 949 who informed me stock sways and end-links pre-load when mixed with a lowered height and stiff coils...

    So i added some Flyin' Miata sways (front and rear) with 949 racing endlinks into the mix to balance the car out... MAN! what a difference! it really smoothed the whole ride out and made the car feel more neutral than ever!


    My pads were about done... so i forked in for Goodwins sport brake kit

    The setup made the cars braking feel a bit more solid- not by huge margins, but definitely noticeable!

    Fastback Arrived

    While all this was happening, Mike contacted me and told me i could come and pick up my Fastback! Props to Autokonexion!



    Right after that, I went to install some new tread for the trip- same r888's as previous, but this time i went 225/50 in the rear to fill out the flares in the back


    My last install was fixing up my window situation. I was sick of hot temps ruining my drives, so i wanted a way to get some fresh air into the car at speed- Of course, Project-G had the answer

    They were fairly easy to install, just a little frustrating to get the seal back into its housing for the tri-window- Helping air-flow MASSIVELY!

    While i was at it, i also installed new window rollers and greased my tracks to solve the notorious slow window roll up issue

    Upon tearing into the door, i found this all crumpled up in my door skin... GEEZE PROJECT-G! Talk about hardcore advertisement placement! how did that even get there!?

    Visit From Friends

    During this whole escapade, A good friend from KINOD who had moved away from the state returned just for MRLS! I obliged to help him and his buddy out by letting them crash at my place until we left for the Seca!

    We went out to grab some food later that night, excited for what was ahead of us!

    More to come! This post is already as llllllloooooooooooooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng as a snake!
    Last edited by artcentermiata; 08-13-2013 at 11:15 PM.

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    Greasemonkey2000 (09-11-2015)

  17. #10
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    So it was Friday morning, and after leaving from Krispy Kreme at 4:30am, we had covered some distance

    Unfortunately, this was after some stressful moments in which i had pulled off to fill up with fuel, taking half of the group with me- effectively getting everyone lost for a little bit'


    It didnt take us long to catch back up at the IHOP meet up about an hour or so into the trip

    Poor IHOP cooks... so many people- I had some good ole' chicken and waffles before i was ready to get back on the road

    But before that KINOD gear was handed out- Numbers, Hoodies, and Hugs

    I had placed my own windshield banner on before leaving in the morning, the only other person to buy one was a Mr. Maxwell- I had been running my schools color, He chose the Finnish Flag as his livery

    After all that, it was time to get back into my comfy seats (Sorry, Dilly)

    And hit the road!

    After a while, i had grown tired of the CD's i had burned for the first half of the trip...

    Deadly Yawn Technique!

    Luckily we weren't far off from stopping for gas and snacks! This is were i learned rear visibility is minimal on the fastback... Backing up into the spot was embarrassing!

    Things Get Weird

    Our next stop was Morro Bay- One of the coolest locations Ive seen in a while! The landmass is essentially a large rock cascading into the fog covered sky!

    We grouped up for a shot

    Woolery and I lined up for a fastback shot!

    Then i stopped to tell JonB to get off his damn phone!

    And then things got weird between me and a wild bear...

    Then stranger

    Then even more strange

    OK, Im sorry for that

    Lets get back to business

    Final parting shot on the bay

    Then back on the road to the coastal highway- all the way to the Seca!
    Last edited by atank; 12-19-2013 at 11:43 AM.

  18. #11
    Supporting Member artcentermiata's Avatar
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    The Big Day!

    The KINOD group woke up at about 5:30am, and headed out from the hotel to grab some breakfast and make their way to Laguna Seca!

    This was the awesome Silent Hill atmosphere we arrived to! Very cool!

    I was a little worried the misty fog was going to mean rain- which ruined many peoples fun last year. Luckily, about an hour later, after the drivers meeting- the sun had decided to shine brightly! What luck!

    After visiting the first of the C classes required "download" sessions- in which an experienced instructor schooled us in technique briefly before our track outings

    We were ready to hit the track!

    This was my first time taking a car onto the track! i have done some previous autocross events, and have a extensive history in motorcycle racing, both on-road and off... but it was such a change in dynamics driving a car in anger that i became frightened my first few sessions and refused to push hard!

    You can see my fear, soaking my pants in a nervous sweat... it probably doesnt help that fiberglass doesnt breath...

    After a few more sessions, i became ALOT more comfortable with how a car reacts to inputs- especially after being able to talk to our instructor in the download sessions and exploring what lines to take and how much a car can really handle! I started braking later, taking smart lines, and pushing the power earlier in the apex- i could really feel the car talking to me and telling me when it was giving out or had more to give! really amazingly fun stuff!

    Then- I ran out of gas

    Luckily Laguna Seca had some $7 a gallon 91 octane on hand... UGH!

    Back out for the second to last session! I really started to push the car as much as i could- And a few times i went in to hot, luckily the r888's masked my amateur rear end slides by gripping hard!

    Calming Down

    After the sessions ended, the hosts called us out for a parade lap- stopping at the main straight for a group shot!

    A helicopter did a fly by for a photograb!

    Afterwards, KINOD lined up for a groupie!

    All done and more than happy with how everything just went PERFECT! I grabbed one final shot before leaving the track.

    Later that night, after showering all the rubber bits and dust off of me- KINOD headed to the mazda hosted banquet! where food and fun were in store!

    I pigged out as much as i could! and then i was informed we were to gather Tom Matano, Designer of the Little devil itself- And Rick Weldon, The brains behind the whole event

    For a group photo, KINOD style


    I also got Tom to sign the Nb miata design story book! This means alot to me, seeing as i am studying in his footsteps!

    Next Morning
    We started off with an awesome breakfast at the Toro Cafe! recommended by Ken of GarageStar, it did not disappoint! the food was amazing!

    Then, after gathering all the guys up one last time at the track, we headed out on the road!

    We decided to take a detour to the 198, which led us to some amazing grass planes and swooping mountains on a beautifully secluded road! couldn't have ended the trip any better!

    After quite a few miles later, we eventually split off on our own ways home- me taking the 5 to the 210, back to Pasadena

    Making it home in one piece, car intact, with only an amazing experience shared with friends to tell about!

    I couldn't be more happy with how everything worked out! i had a great time getting to know KINOD better- Driving my car in anger on a famous track- And seeing some absolutely beautiful scenery along the way!

    Last edited by atank; 12-19-2013 at 11:46 AM.

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    Greasemonkey2000 (09-11-2015)

  20. #12
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    Quick Update, Staying Cool

    So, as an effort for more preventative cooling solutions under the approaching summer weather, i installed a Flyin' Miata Oil Cooler system

    The unit is well put together, no tweaking was needed to fit, and the quality of the Setrab unit cant be beat. Installation was fairly straightforward, took about a half an hour total- now oil fills take 5 qts.

    The unit has a thermostat and will open to circulate at 160 degrees to allow for proper oil warm up. I'm not sure of the improvement yet in temps, as i don't have an oil temperature monitor- But the butt thermometer says the engine is less erratic when being run hard. I usually get a bouncy idle after canyon sessions when my engine heat soaks, but that seems to have stopped with the cooler on

    Also, have a recent engine bay shot- Me and Ken at Garagestar are working on a bare fiberglass spark plug cover, unfortunately i trimmed to much material from the front which left a sloppy fitment...

    Also, Finally decided to take the leap and buy a set of Lotus seats, two perfect condition biscuit tans- Will be mounted on a set of RyokuRob brackets

    Took some time to organize my sticker collection today as well

    Getting ready to start prepping my fastback for paint, i will be painting this myself- As i am a little low on cash, which will be going towards a 3/4 cage built by Moti at BlackBird Fabworx at the end of June

    Im getting pretty close to the end of this build, im very satisfied with how she sits right now- Ive put my whole passion into this car, and now its approaching the end.

    The last piece to this puzzle of the above additions will be Garage Vary tail lights- They will be my final edition to complete the car.

    Afterwords i will be taking a long hiatus on spending my attention on this build, Im getting closer to the end of my schooling, and i will be focusing all of my time to starting my career.

    Stay tuned!

  21. #13
    Supporting Member artcentermiata's Avatar
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    The end is near? Probably not...

    Its been quite a journey~ and now that im narrowing down my build to bare essentials, I find myself focusing on smaller details that bring out a finished theme.

    The fastback is fitted properly and nearing its booth day- In the meantime, i decided to try something a little retro

    I louver you!

    This aesthetic has always been on my mind, and Ive always wondered what a more modern age car would look like with louvers- So i gave it a go

    I borrow some existing hood louvers from fiberglass extraordinaire Autokonexion, and vacuum formed a clear clone

    In my head they worked- But in real life, it seemed overplayed and felt like i was trying to hard to force the style. So i threw them in the spare parts closet for now

    Day trip

    I took a short trip up my favorite cruising road- Angeles Crest Highway / HWY 2

    The view at the tip is to die for. Silence and fresh air await, its very serene and calming

    On the way back down i always stop for a Root Beer and Fish n' Chips from Newcombs Ranch

    Muse meet-up

    I was invited to join a conference at the Automotive Driving Museum featuring Derek Jenkins, current lead designer of Mazda USA

    The museum itself is quite unique. All these vehicles are in working condition- and on Sundays the workers give ride alongs in anyone of the classic motors you wish to experience!

    No trailor queens here!

    Fancy Vehicles

    The event also hosted some rare mazda pieces- from a rockin' RX7 to an original Cosmo. They also brought along a cool design model of the 2

    Derek then spoke and offered his experience and wisdom; It was great listening to his experiences throughout his career- and it gave me some needed pep to get back to class and work hard!

    May i also add that he graduated from the school i am currently attending, Art Center College of Design

    He brought along his personal Manx styled buggy he built from scratch! so many cool details!

    Then I grabbed a quick shot with him and got his card- I welcomed him to join KINOD anytime to experience the brotherhood

    Paint drop

    The day came to drop my car off at the booth!

    I knew this was going to be a lengthy project, as the fastback needed alot of hours blocking and smoothing all the details.

    First step was the leveling

    Quite a bit of time was needed to complete the job, they had a great attention to detail though- and it showed


    During that time, my GV tail lights arrived

    After waiting so long for a vintage tail light solution- I had finally gotten my answer

    I am just completely ecstatic with the outcome- The whole rear end is complete with this piece, drawing the fastback to an attention point- it hides the large graphic the OEM red lenses showcase.

    Mounting was too much of an ordeal, just a rewire and a round cut in the light bucket were needed

    More fastback progress

    Blocking the top was now complete, and it was time to move into the booth- I chose color match with blacked out window openings.

    New shoes

    I found something a little more aggressive and classy and decided to set the SSRs aside

    Southern Way mesh in 15x10 0 offset rear and +12 front using my existing tire setup (205/50 front and 225/50 rear R888s)

    KINOD July 4th get together

    We had all decided to meet up and have a cook out near the beach- Of course it was a great time seeing people that we normally dont have the graces to hang out with everyday

    Things got weird again

    Mr. Vu brought his amazingly clean Turbo 2 Fc- All original and mega low mileage... WOW!

    New hobby?

    I was recently introduced to biking by a friend of mine- I had always enjoyed it, but i never took it seriously- I recently picked up a Cannondale Bad Boy urban bike to tool around town on and i got hooked. Riding really brought me back to my powersports days (which i will cover in a future post).

    I got so into it, that i went out an purchased a Specialized Status the next week! Reviews said it was a great entry level DH bike, and they weren't wrong!

    I took a trip to Big Bear lake to test it out with a friend

    Again- Greay scenery!

    Getting ready to bash

    I used the GoPro i bought for MRLS to record my first few rides, i mounted the cam to my helmet, But id like to invest in a chest strap mount to get a better view of the action

    It was so much fun! Definitely a technical challenge! i realized im totally out of shape, and lost alot of the bravery i used to holster!

    Oh, and i saw this on the way home... "Yo Dawg, i heard you like tow trucks"

    More coming up soon!
    Last edited by atank; 12-19-2013 at 11:47 AM.

  22. #14
    Supporting Member artcentermiata's Avatar
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    Paint completion

    After my trip, i got a call from my paint guy informing to come see something awesome

    Will you look at that? amazing right? i am just astounded with the transformation my car has taken.

    I can honestly say, that for the first time- I am truly seeing my car as i imagined it from the beginning. So much is right with it now, and i really have fallen in love with her...

    The only issue was with the interior of the top... somehow, the paint lifted and fisheye'd on us- very disappointing- But my painter is a great guy and offered to re-do the innards

    K1 fun

    A friends birthday came up, and he was hosting at K1 indoor karting- So i grabbed the GoPro and filmed the action! I love this little camera, I just need to find some editing software.

    I dont know if you can tell, but im a pretty ridiculous driver when it comes to karting... I dont know if im good or not (doubt it) but i sure do have fun!

    Fresh Powder

    I was sick of the Hard Dog bars being bland, So i had them sent off to be brightened up!

    I found a local powdercoater that does large contracting work (for things like city railing, fencing, and other metal assortments), but they gladly accepted my pieces. Coating my roll/ door bars/ and RyokuRobs seat brackets only costed me $50- what a steal!

    I figured this would hold me over until my plans with Moti at BlackBird Fabworx come together for a new bar setup

    GV install

    Also got a chance to install the GV tail lights, the final product was, as you can see, quite amazing!

    And some other shots while i had the car out of the garage

    Stay tuned
    Last edited by atank; 12-19-2013 at 11:48 AM.

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    Greasemonkey2000 (09-11-2015)

  24. #15
    Supporting Member artcentermiata's Avatar
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    Something handed down

    I recently received an amazing gift from my Grandfather- He passed on this little Gem of a journal to me.

    Inside is filled with a plethora of amazing vintage autos- dated back to his very first car as a child!

    Im honored to have this piece of history, and i hope to add to it the Kimochi Cruiser and other vehicles i have owned- So that one day my Son/Daughter can enjoy he legacy as well!

    Here are two quick shots, i plan to scan in and preserve all the photos to share with you fellows, as well- some other motorcycles and vehicles i have personally built

    It turns out my roadster herritage runs deep! check out this Triumph!

    More to come on that!

    Some summer goodies

    While im home in Pennsylvania taking a break from school and attending to some family activities, im taking the opportunity to find a few little trinkets to add to the build- Nothing major, but the finishing touches

    Bought these great Zoom Engineering offset mirrors from a fellow member- I plan to re-clear them and touch up the ring and mounts. There is a little play in the pivots that i will fix as well

    Also some Eunos badges- Im not sure that the Nb generation shared the Eunos name overseas like the previous, but i thought it would be a cool touch


    Somewhere along the way i forgot to mention that i had swapped the Tein Flex suspension for XIDA clubsports- There will be a review for those coming up soon

    As we stand now

    Here is the current Kimochi in all her glory- Lets take a look at what has happened as a whole

    Before i Left, I snapped a few pictures at Angeles Crest again. That warm lighting was beautiful reflecting on the slick tarmac... perfect timing!

    Still to address

    Im very close to the end of this journey, All that remains for me are little details- The finishing touches

    I wont abandon this car, ever~ now just comes the time for tweaking and adjusting

    Over the next weeks i would like to address
    -BlackBird Fabworx GT3 Roll Bar (i had originally intended for a 3/4 cage, but money is growing tight lately with school and a few family events)
    -A new center console cover that will match the barred stitching on the Lotus seats
    -A few more monitoring gauges to keep an eye on vitals
    -Repaint of the fastback interior

    Im glad i could share all of this with you/ Its been great, and i hope that as the build winds down its pace I can start to share with you other projects and events that have surrounded this car and my life!

    Stay tuned!

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