Saturday, December 13, 2008

On the racing track at Sepang

We spent a day at the Malaysian F1 track at Sepang. This was the first time the little car was going north. Admittedly, not much preparation was done except for a quick wrap of the front areas of the car to prevent stone chippings. Despite that, a few chips could be found but it was better than nothing. We did a very quick drive from the 2nd link up to Sepang. Surprisingly, the car was quite well-behaved at high speeds. However, the noise was unbearable and the volume on the stereo had to be turned up louder. Oil temperature went up to 120C and this has prompted me to re-think whether an oil cooler is needed. Under normal circumstances, this would not be required. The buggeration about installing the oil cooler is that the bumper needs to be removed and this means having to break the seal on the front number plate.

As for the experience of driving on the track, let's just say that this would probably be the first and last time. Personally, there's not much enjoyment driving round and round. I would rather do those long road trips because there is a destination to look forward to and the excitement of the uncertainties of getting there. However, it was fun but this is just not my cup of tea.

Looks like all the work put into the car has paid off. The rammed air intake has indeed given more 'lungs' to the car. The absence of the sports headers is certainly being felt. Notwithstanding, the car is a pleasure to drive long-distance. Next stop could be Krabi.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

NTC Bodykit

This is the bodykit I would consider in lieu of the wide bodykit. It's simple, subtle but somewhat aggressive. Made by a German company, quality should be top-notch.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Nickie is on a Calendar

Nickie is going to be featured on a calendar.

Friday, November 21, 2008

What next for the little one?

Someone asked me what's next for the Swift? That started me thinking. Do I need to do more? The car is runnning well, it doesn't look too sloppy. But of course, more can be done. So, if I could find the time and resources, here's my wish list.

Major Mods

1. Headers. Having experienced it previously, headers are real bang for bucks. Nothing can add power and efficiency like good headers. Hopefully, there will be approval given for after-market headers.

2. SSS Superchager SC150. Another bang for bucks mod. Forget about all those CAI, semi-flow, hi-flow air filters....this one is it. The only thing holding me back is the need for a piggyback. I prefer a re-mapped stock ECU. Adding the price of the SC and ECU costs a whopping 12K. That's too much money for 25bhp. Apparently, Suzuki Sports is willing to supply a re-mapped stock ECU with the supercharger for the same price. If this is true, looks like a supercharger is on the way.

3. Wide body kit identical to the Super 1600. I have been searching high and low for a manufacturer but no success. Although I did find a widebody kit supplier but I didn't like the look of their kit. I saw a picture of a 4-door Swift with the original body kit and it looks awesome. But more than just looks, the wide-body kit will provide the stability required for my kind of driving.

Minor Mods

4. Seats. The stock Recaro seats are nice but they are too high and not the most comfortable. Would love to switch those seats with some full-bucket ones to reduce some weight as well as increase comfort, if any.

5. Put back the Exedy racing clutch if mods 1 & 2 can be done.

6. Engine mount/suspension bushings. The stock mounts were designed for comfort, which is why they are soft. Being soft, power is lost. Although not significant, but harder shock mounts will increase efficiency at the expense of a louder engine note.

At the end of the day, I think it's important to set out the objectives of the mods. For me, power and handling comes first. When I think I've extracted some juice out of the car, then I work on exterior mods. But, this is always a see-saw, the car is always in a constant stage of change. But of course, once the mods I want to do are done, all mods stop. I don't get distracted by what others do.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Workshop Crap

As advised by my regular mechanic, I brought Nickie to the workshop for a check on the steering rack. This workshop is linked to the dealer shop who sold me the car. As the car had a 3-year or 60,000km warranty, I thought I might be able to make a claim for a new steering rack. But, I never heard or know of any workshop who would dish out a new part for you without giving you some crap. With this expectation in mind, I made an appointment and brought Nickie to the shop. I told the receptionist what the problem was i.e., there was a 'clicking' sound whenever I turned the steering wheel to the right and it only happens at a particular angle. There is a another 'click' sound when the steering wheel is turned back to the centre and also, at that same angle. Obviously, she had no clue what I was talking about but I did not want to spoil her day. The first mechanic that attended to me twisted and turned the steering wheel and heard the sound for himself. He thinks some nuts and bolts are loose. So, with a couple of spanners in his hands, he tightened every damn bolt there was under the engine. The sound did not go away. He called his senior mechanic. This guy came, heard the sound, took the car for a spin, came back and said, "your gantong (shocks) are making the noise." I looked at him and told him that firstly, those shocks are coilovers, they have just been tightened, they have been installed for over a year and not a sound was heard till last week. He looked dazed because he obviously knew that I know my stuff and when I insisted that the sound is coming from the steering rack. So, he called the workshop manager. He hopped into the car with the senior mechanic, went for a spin, came back and said, "Because your car is lowered, there is a lot of stress on the steering mechanism. Also, your wheels are too wide and your camber is not enough. So, it is harder for the steering mechanism. Nowadays, the material used is thinner than last time. So, not so strong. Anyway, your car modified, so cannot cover under warranty." I said, " Thank you. Give me my key please."

Why do all mechanics take car owners as idiots? What makes them think that they can pull all this crap and get away with it? It only proves my philosophy that if you own it, know it. Spending time under the bonnet helps to know you car better. Getting your hands all oily and greasy to help your regular mechanic goes a long way in knowing what goes where and what does this and that. DIY some of the stuff, if you mess it up, don't is never that bad. You can always call your regular mechanic. Lastly, read and do your research. Learn lessons from others and how the problem was resolved.

I drove away from the workshop feeling glad that they did not do more damage. The only irritation I felt was that they put their greasy bums on Nickie seats without even putting on a plastic cover. It's good not to expect too much because you won't be disappointed.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ground Zero

Typical of the way I do things in my life, everything reverts to basic after a spell of experimentation, adjustments, trial and error. The HKS Legamax exhaust has been replaced with a pure stock original exhaust. The only thing that was done was to weld on bigger tips because the original ones are just too small. The knocking and thumping sound from the HKS exhaust knocking on the torsion beam is banished forever. The original exhaust fits the Sunline centre-pipe perfectly. Sound-wise, there is a little rasp but nothing obtrusive and definitely nothing that would warrant the authorities attention. Performance-wise, it is definitely not as free flowing as the HKS and some retardation can be experienced but nothing I cannot live with. I suspect the retardation is caused by the stock extractors rather than the muffler. I might be tempted to put back the after-market extractors just to experiment the difference but that's a project that can wait.

Finally, after nearly a year, the shark fin antenna has been installed. It works excellently since it is a functional antenna that replaces the stock antenna. I installed it myself with some help from a nice chap from the Swift Club. The only mistake I made was creasing the roof liner but it's hardly noticeable after a few baking sessions in the sun. There is no stark difference compared to the stock whip antenna in terms of reception but it gives Nickie a different look.

The side mirrors were given a little make-over. The top part has been sprayed glossy black whereas the lower portion is kept red. It does make the mirror look a bit sleeker and conforms to my red-black theme. As usual, racing stripes were added to maintain the 'stripey' theme.

Nickie looks great and more importantly, drives great as well. I do miss the after-market extractors and the HKS exhaust but I figured having peace of mind was more important. The car does feel a bit 'retarded' in this set-up but there's nothing I cannot do to enhance it in future. For now, I am enjoying the car.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sick Suzuki

The theory that if nothing is broken, don't fix it is so true. The car has been running well with an after-market headers which obviously, is illegal in the eyes of the law because there is no catalytic converter attached. Furthermore, as it is not made by Suzuki, it can never be approved by the authorities. So, into the workshop the car went to have the headers removed and revert to stock headers. At the same time, the Sunline centre-pipe was re-installed, connected to the HKS Legamax muffler. This is where the problem start. Firstly, the fitting was off. No matter how much adjustment was made, the tail pipes could not be centered. So, off to the exhaust shop to have the pipes adjusted. That's when I realized that there was a clicking sound when I turned the steering wheel. Turns out that the steering rack may have been damaged somewhat. Next problem, the muffler was knocking against some metal parts on the left side. We thought it was the coilovers that could be loose but it was not because we had them tightened. After 4 rounds of knocking, welding, heating, adjusting, nothing seems to work. This is completely frustrating. The problem has been identified. It is the centre pipe knocking across the torsion beam, part of the suspension system. Apparently, the centre pipe had to be pulled down so that the exhaust tips are centred. In doing so, the centre is too close to the torsion beam and each time the beam moves, it hits the centre pipe.

It's unbelievable. All the mechanics who tended to Nickie could not establish what was wrong. Finally, yours truly had enough sense to think through the problem and actually discovered the cause. Yet, when I explained to these 'mechanics', they have that glazed look on their faces, like as it they don't understand what I was trying to tell them. I am convinced that half of these so-called mechanics are not thinking hard enough. Understandably, they have a hard life but they are also obliged to solve problems because they are the so-called experts. Anyway, this had taught me a very important lesson; if you want something done, you got to do it yourself. Don't leave it to others. It's not that they don't bother but sometimes, solving problems does not come with the job. They would prefer to do the mundane, SOP-kind of jobs so that they are not overly taxed. I can respect that but when a customer tells you he has a problem, you have to solve it. In any case, the knocking sound has gone away. The pure stock exhaust has been re-installed linked to the Sunline centre-pipe. Life is back to normal. I can hear my music loud and clear. I don't have any fears of the authorities chasing after me because I have a loud exhaust. I have peace of mind again. There's no real difference between the HKS Legamax and the stock exhaust in terms of performance. Acceleration is just as good. Maybe this weekend, Nickie will finally have a chance to taste some B-roads. Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Almost There

The little car is so much fun to play with. You can probably changed the looks every month if you bother enough. But, I wanted a permanent look that is pleasing to the eye and experimentation is the only way to achieve the desired effects. I've always hated that whip antenna on the roof. It literally sticks out like a sore thumb. Using a working shark fin antenna cover does the job of covering up the base. But, I think it's too big. It stays for now until I find time (and guts) to rip off the roof lining and install the real shark fin antenna that I bought many months ago. The 18" OZ Ultraleggeras are in storage. They are great rims but the ride is just too harsh for my feeble body. In its place now are 17" Rays 57 ultra-lightweight rims shod with 215/45 Goodyear F1 tires. They look a lot like the stock rims and in fact, a guy asked me why I never changed rims. That's good. I don't like the car to look ostentatious and the stock-looking it is, the better. These rims are really light and I have been able to achieve a constant 13.6 km per liter compared to the SSW rims which gave me only 10.7 km per liter. I am a firm believer of lightweight rims now but weight is not everything. It needs to be strong too, which means you have to spend more because cheap rims may be light but they are not strong. The hi-fi department also went through some changes. Well, not really changes because I installed the stock head-unit with an iPod adapter. I cannot understand why I did not do this in the first place instead of mucking around with off-the-shelf head unit and DVD player. This is definitely one of the best thing I've done. It looks neat and tidy and when the light comes on, it looks really nice with the orangey glow. Maybe, I'm too used to the orangey glow thing because that's the same colour Daisy has. Speaking about Daisy, it's time that the little Suzuki gets a name too. It's Nickie. Yup, a little boy's name to reflect the fun nature of the car. It's also the name of one of my favourite Thai singer, Nicole. Back to the mods. The pedals have been replaced with original Suzuki Sports racing pedals. These are bigger and if you noticed the gas pedal, it has a little extension on the left to help with heel and toe. Back onboard are the side moulding that were removed months ago. I got sick of it lying around the store-room and decided to install them. No regrets. It has saved Nickie from a nasty dent. Some pricks (male, female, kids, old or young) just don't know how to open car doors. Thanks to the side moulding, it absorbed the blow. Last but not least, the rear lamps have been changed to the transparent type to match the front head lamps. The original tail lamps were just too red and the whole rear end did not have enough contrast. Bought these used lamps for a low price and spent some time cleaning them up and wiring them up at the same time. It uses normal bulbs except for the additional brake lamp which uses a LED. It looks great at night. Nickie is growing up to be quite a handsome lad.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

More pictures of the new look....

A New Look...again

Thanks to my good friend who sold his Swift Sport, I acquired all the mods he put into his car. It's a fairly long list which includes the original Suzuki Sports carbon fibre intake, short shifter, OZ 18" wheels, MoMo Volante steering wheel, Exedy Racing clutch, HKS exhaust, etc. After a short spell of experimentation, I decided I only wanted to keep the wheels, short shifter and exhaust. Simplicity was the theme of the new look. But then, that's really subjective. Those 18' OZ wheels really makes a difference. And, the black side vanes of the rear spoiler also made substantial difference.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Black Wheels

In a moment of madness, I decided to re-spray the BBS wheels to glossy black. First impression after putting them on was that it looked really strange. It was neither right or wrong. However, after 2 weeks, I am beginning to like the new look. Thought of putting a red line around the wheel but decided that would be too 'ricey' and decided to keep it all black. One thing for sure, it's more difficult to maintain especially if you want it to look clean all the time. Did some photoshop work to see if changing the colour of the side skirts and front spoiler will change the look.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Favourite Picture

This is my favourite picture. The number plate has been erased! With that stupid thing gone, the car really looks mean with that 'big' mouth!

Window Tinting

Finally had the front windows tinted. The original look was not really in sync with the almost darkened rear windows. After the tinting, the difference is not so stark anymore. See the difference.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Recent Additions

Gone is the stock rear spoiler, now replaced by a Kansai FRP replica rear spoiler painted in body colour. As with most replicas, they never fit 100%. So, as usual, yours truly had to take necessary steps to ensure a good fit. All joining points are pasted with foam. This is to ensure watertight integrity so that water don't seep through the gaps and collect somewhere. It's also aesthetically pleasing since you don't see the gaps. I made the S insignia and had them pasted on because I wanted people to know it is a Suzuki and because the other only insignia is on the front of the car and it cannot really be seen because it was blacked-out. I've put back my SSW rims and sent the BBS for a re-spray. I would probably spray them glossy black just for change although my tire shop man keeps telling me to leave them silver since all BBS are silver. Overall, I think the car looks good with the new spoiler and 'new' rims. My next mod is to remove that ugly-looking whip antenna and replace it with a working shark-fin antenna.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

What's been going on?

Been months since I gave an update on the little Suzuki. Since then, not much has changed actually. Ever since the tow truck incident, I have done a couple of external changes to the car. Nothing drastic though because I want to maintain a stock look so as not to attract the attention of our men in blue. Anyway, I was lucky enough to come across a set of BBS rims. Since I had to wait for the replacement of the other rim, I slapped them on till now. I'd probably put on a new set of tyres on the other set of rims. The rear spoiler has also been re-painted to match the colour of the side-skirt and front bumper. I bought some old-fashion pin stripes and had them pasted on the car. It's not outlandish but gives the car a somewhat sleeker look. Enjoy the pictures.