Here's the real thing.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
I forgot to mention APdrive and the owner, Cj. I don't know Cj personally and I have never met him but through his messages, I know that this will be one place I'll head for when the time comes for change in seats or other performance parts. He has been most helpful with his comments and recommendations. Unlike resellers who flood the market with replicas, common stuff, APdrive caters to a different niche market; those who are performance-oriented but of course, their things are not cheap. Since when are good things cheap anyway?
All the time spent wondering what I really wanted the Swift to be has come to this; Nickie will follow in the footsteps of Daisy and be configured for both B-roads and long-distance driving. As always, preparation is important. And this where the journey begins. Nickie needs to be enhanced substantially in certain areas in order to ensure she is reliable and safe to carry out such tasks. Some of the earlier enhancement modifications eg. strut and anti-roll bars, coilovers, enhanced air intake system, etc have already been installed. However, those are not enough to bring it up to the level of reliability, safety and handling I desire. So, the enhancement journey begins.
The Recaros have been replaced by replica Bride bucket seats. I've never really like the Recaros because I have never felt comfortable in them. No matter how much adjustment I make, the Recaros cannot give me the driving position I want. I always felt I sit too high and the side bolster obstructs gear changing. Changing to the Bride seats brought about a whole new experience. While others may scoff at the idea of using bucket seats, these seats fit me to a T. The height is just right and more importantly, it is so much more comfortable to shift gears because there is no obstruction on the side. The legs are nicely extended unlike sitting on the Recaros where the knees are bent almost 90 degrees. While it is not as body-hugging as the Recaros (which I dislike, by the way), they are really comfortable and I can shift my bum around slightly. This is important to me during long drives. I bought replicas instead of original bucket seats like the Cobra and Sparco because I wanted to be sure I will like sitting in a bucket seat. This is not about style. It's about making sure I achieve the driving position I want in order to drive effectively. It will be a matter of time before I ditch these replicas and buy original bucket seats. For the time being, these seats are serving me well. In fact, I have received comments from a sports seat installer that these replicas are actually very well made. They don't flex and the materials used are rather high grade. I decided to use original seat rails to ensure they are properly secured instead of using the stock 'welded here-and-there' type. I want to be sure that if anything happens, the seat stays put. Getting in and out of the car now requires some acrobatic moves but practise makes perfect and I can jump in and out without any problems and not worried about damaging the sides of the seats.
Sabelt 4-point harness was added to the list simply because using the seat belt is a mockery of having bucket seats. The position of the seat belts has changed substantially and I doubt its effectiveness when I need it. It is also uncomfortable to use the seat belts now because the configuration has changed. I have never used a harness before. Having used it for the last couple of days, it is now a habit to reach for the harnes than the seat belts. The feeling of being safely secured to your seat is really comforting. It is not the most user-friendly but once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature. I only hope my passenger feels the same way.
The stock steering wheel was replaced by an original MoMo Corse. I could buy a replica for a quarter of the price but the stories I hear about replica steering wheels falling apart was enough to convince me to get the real stuff. I may have lost the air bag on the wheel but the harness makes up for that. Besides, the stock steering wheel is too 'fat' and obstructs climbing in and out of the car. Aesthetically, the MoMo steering wheel with its red thumb rests matches the oversall interior look of the car.
I have successfully morphed the BMW exhaust tips onto the stock exhaust tips. Now, the rear end is much more pleasant. It's simple. No more chrome shining pipes or big diameter pipes for me. These tips are here to stay. And yeah, Nickie could possibly be the only one with BMW exhaust tips.
A truly remarkable added-on feature is the to-in chassis brace. It connects to the two seat belt bolts on either side of the car. This brace has added so much stiffness to the chassis that all the creaking sounds I used to have are gone completely. I feel the car is in 'one-piece' instead of the usual flexing you experience when going over bumps and undulations. A truly must-have mod if you own a Suzuki Swift.
In the process of the transformation and enhancement work, I am clearer now about what needs to be done in order to prepare the car for its epic journey. That's right, Nickie is going north, all 1,600 kilometers to Hua Hin. The work is not completed yet. An LSD is already on the order book and the brake rotors and pads will have to be changed. The LSD will give added handling capabilities to the car. The final touch will be a clear bra on the front part of the car since no bras are available.
So, after 2 years, this is how things are going to be. From here on, you might not hear much more about what modifications are done because the modification chapter will be closed. Well, at least until something comes along that will make enhance the car further.
This would also be a good time to express my gratitude to the people who has made all this possible.
Juzz4Cars. This is a top-notch workshop. While the owners are some of the best friends I ever have, they are real professionals who gets the job done safely and effectively. They have attended to every little fault that I brought up and cured them. They have also made sure the car is safe to cater to my needs. These guys are really the best in the market.
Miki Marketing. This is where the seats were installed and the guy who helped installed them was none other than the boss himself. You could see experience reveling itself by the way the seats were installed and the advise given. This is another top-notch shop for all your sporting needs like seats, steering wheels, racing suits, etc. Many people tell me they are expensive, snobbish, etc...but I realised that after spending 5 hours with them, whoever complains about them needs to have their head examined.