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June 28, 2007

Motorstadt 2007

The Michigan Volkswagen Enthusiasts club along with their counterparts at Motor City Audi came together again and organized the 4th annual Motorstadt. Held in the shadow of the Volkswagen group hedaquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan it is an event for VW enthusiasts of all stripes. The cars on display included totally original classic air cooled VWs to ultra modern and highly tuned VWs and Audis.


There is a lot of press about import tuning, yet it seems most articles focus on the Japanese market. VW fans might be fewer in number, but their passion is equal to that of any Civic owner's. Same goes with the Audi guys-- BMW has been in the performance game a lot longer, but modern Audis are quickly becoming a favorite alternative to the Roundel. The breakthrough RS4 (shown below) is an absolutely amazing car and the equal of any M3 or even M5.


Check out the Motorstadt website for more info about past and future shows.

Here's Eric manning the booth at this year's event.


June 21, 2007

5th Gear GT3 RS Video, 'Nuff Said

When it comes to wrestling a car around a track, nobody seems to do it more effortlessly and competently than Tiff Needell of the British car show, Fifth Gear. In the video following the jump you'll ride along with him in a new 911 GT3 RS as well as a 911 Cup race car.


June 19, 2007

Black Beauty

There is no real trick to mounting wheels and tires onto a car, but when the results are this cool we just had to share.

Rare factory slantnose Porsche 911 Turbo getting some massive new rubber mounted on Fikse anodized black FM/5 forged wheels

Ready for battle

On display at the EyesOn Design Automotive Exhibition

June 14, 2007

24 Heures Du Mans

The 75th 24 Hours of Le Mans will be running this weekend. Dominated by Audi the past few years, this year's race has a new Peugeot team ready to bring the overall winner title back to France.

Team Flying Lizard

As much as I admire F1, and feel that rally drivers are the most gifted, this is the race for me; the one race I look forward to every year no matter what. It's a race season wrapped up in one grueling 24 hour marathon.

This year I'll be keeping track a few teams, including the Flying Lizard crew (pictured above) running their gorgeous Troy Lee liveried 997 Porsches. They'll be up against their 12 Hours of Sebring nemesis, the Ferraris of team Risi Competizione.

The race for overall victory will most likely be between the diesel powered race cars of Audi and Peugeot. Audi has dominated the class the last several years, including a historic win for their diesel powered R10 last year. Peugeot would love to end Audi's winning streak with their all new diesel powered coupe.

And team Corvette-- with their awesome C6R race cars-- will be defending their title against Saleen and Aston Martin.

This should be fun.

June 08, 2007

E60 M5 Header Install

The installation of Supersprint headers on an E60 M5 was one of the more physically challenging projects to come through the shop in a long time.

If you’ve ever looked under the hood of a modern M5, you've probably noticed that the engine compartment is filled with V10 engine with nary a gap between it and anything else. As beautiful and organized as it is, it is not a friendly place for aftermarket go-fast parts. Looking over the detailed 10 page instruction booklet that came with the headers we were a bit worried that this project was going to be massively time consuming (and costly) for the customer.

(pictures and video after jump)

First order of business was to figure how much of what the instructions said was really required in order to swap the OEM headers with the new ones. There is always more than one way to work on a car; and if you’ve worked on enough of them you come up with practices that save some time.

All the pieces

One such time saver was not messing with the A/C hard lines (which would have required evacuating the refrigerant). Also, we did not see the need to hook up the engine hoist and drop the front sub-frame.

On the top we removed the air boxes, various hoses and lines, as well as the exhaust return check valves. We removed the splash shields and belly pans from the bottom. This pretty much opened up access to the heat shields surrounding the headers. To get rid of the heat shields required removing the twin oil pumps from either side of the oil pan and the steering shaft on the driver’s side. With all these items out of the way we could finally see the stock headers.

Getting to and then loosening and taking off the header nuts was the single most frustrating part of the project. Many of the nuts were hard to see, hard to reach, and just plain hard to deal with. I swear we worked on removing one particularly hard to reach nut for about an hour. We did not have the room to get one click out of the ratcheting wrench. Of course this issue would haunt us again when it came time to put the new headers on.

Tight quarters

The individual Supersprint header tubes are installed separately, and then inserted into a collector downstream. This made installing the new headers just a little bit easier.

The US spec M5 comes with two sets of catalytic converters, the primary ones that are attached to the stock headers, and a second set further back. The Supersprint kit (actually designed and manufactured by Hamann Germany) eliminates the primary cats. In order not to mess up the emissions programming, the pre and post cat O2 sensors need to be moved from their original position by the primary cats to the secondary cats. This required us to splice in some extra length in the sensor cables and to weld new ports-- or bungs-- after the secondary cats for the post cat O2 sensor. We also had to cut into the drivetrain tunnel heat shielding to make room for the sensors in their new position.

O2 wires spliced

New O2 bungs welded onto exisiting secondary cats

After the header tubes are installed, the ends needed to be inserted into the collector—which harnesses the separate tubes and combines them into one exhaust pipe (per side). Each collector is comprised of 5 individual gaskets, 5 spacer rings, clamping plate and springs. The pre-cat O2 sensor port is also part of the assembly. It took a bit of massaging to get all of the individual tubes lined up properly to fit into the collector.

An end view of the individual header tubes

The customer decided to stick with the stock secondary cats, so we had to use a special coupler to attach the collectors to the stock pipes. After all the pipes were connected, we went back and tightened the nuts and bolts to the proper torque. This is a step that is very important in any exhaust install—first hang all the pieces loosely, and then go back and snug all the fasteners. If you don’t this properly, chances are that even pressure will not be on the joint gaskets and leaking will occur. It’s also a good idea to double check everything after the exhaust system has heat cycled a few times.

Thanks to the geometry of the new headers, some heat shields required bending and cutting. Because putting these shields back on is such a chore, we’ve heard many folks skip this step and leave some of the shields off. The heat generated by the engine and its exhaust makes the risk too high not to put all the shields back on. It’s a necessary step in our opinion.

Heat shield re-work

Re-assembly of the components removed in order to access the headers was straight forward, if a little time consuming. When it was all said and done, the project took over 30 hours to complete. As is always the case, you learn time saving tricks every time you do a job like this and the labor hours will drop substantially on future installs.

So how does it sound? This particular car has Supersprint sport mufflers, so the sound is already tuned to begin with. Combined with the better flowing headers and elimination of the first set of cats, the result is quite a bit throatier than stock. Quiet at idle and cruising, deep wail when stepping on it.

More importantly, coupled with a re-flashed ECU, high end power was increased enough to be noticed by the customer. In day to day driving there’s little difference, but when driving at anything above eight-tenth the better breathing could be felt.


Video of owner taking deliver of M5 with Supersprint headers, stock mid-pipe and secondary cats, Supersprint sport mufflers.

June 01, 2007

Now THIS is Driving

In my book, there really is no argument as to which class of race car driver is the best-- the pro rally driver is. Sure, F1 pilots may drive some of the fastest, most finicky race cars around some challenging road courses. And NASCAR bubbas have to reign in lumbering giants around gothic sized super speedways with nary a nat’s ass space between them. And yes, top fuel drag racers have to be able to control and harness thousands and thousands of horsepower across a quarter mile run. But it’s the high flying, dirt flinging, tarmac tearing, blind cornering rally drivers that get my respect. When it comes to car control, they reign supreme. Don’t believe me? Check out the video of an E30 M3 running the Manx rally after the jump…