Friday, October 29, 2010

Wheel Fetish....again

I have always wondered why women need so many pairs of shoes. Now I know. You can never be satisfied with just a few pairs of shoes. Some days you want something really bling and flashy. On other days, you want something subtle and indiscreet. If only one pair of shoes can fulfil all these requirements, then perhaps, the wheel (I mean, shoe) fetish might stop. I have stopped counting the number of wheels I have tried, only to revert back to the Rays 57S at the end of the day. Where colours are concerned, there's the shadow chrome SSW, black BBS, silver Rays and white Advanti. Where size is concerned, there's the 18" OZ and Magline and the rest are 17". Is there something that have not been tried yet? Probably but good sense has stopped me many times not to cross the line. However, I always knew that there is a wheel out there that will be the last one I will ever fit on the car. Could this Club Raze Club 2 wheel be the one? It is 17 by 7JJ with an offset of 42. The centre spokes are matt bronze in colour and the outer rim is chrome. It has a slightly deep dish of about one inch. Not much but enough to give it an aggressive stance. The multi-spoke design should make the rim look aggressive but because it does not extend all the way to the circumference, it looks subtle instead. It is not a lightweight wheel, around 9 kg but with a design like that, I don't really care. Besides, with the kind of driving I do, weight does not really matter. The design struck me as unique and since I have never tried bronze colored wheels before, might as well give it a shot. Only time will tell how long this wheel will last on the car before I swop them again. In the meantime, looks like the Rays 57S are going to take a break again.
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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Form and Function

We are all victims of the form and function syndrome. Most of the time, we forego function for the sake of form. Obviously, form gets noticed and becomes a good talking point. Manufacturers of body kits thrive on this syndrome to make their money and people get sucked into making their car look different from others. It is like women and their clothes, shoes, bags, etc. No lady would want to be seen wearing the same dress as another in a party. The men probably do not care too much about clothing but when it comes to their cars, it is an entirely different story. In the quest to be different, therein lies the danger of putting form ahead of function. Adding spoilers, canards, changing the entire bumper, fitting some 'aerodynamic' piece of metal under the car to deflect wind, etc all sound rather normal but when you delve into the technicalities of doing things like that, one must understand that they are taking a big risk. Car manufactures spent a great deal of time and effort to design the car they produce. The final product is a consolidation of both engineering and bodywork blended perfectly to achieve the purpose of the car, whether it is a SUV, MPV, sports car or super car. Many hours resulting in many changes are put into the design before the car is finally put on sale. Which explains why sometimes the final design differs from the conceptual design. The Suzuki Kizashi is a fine example. You would never think the car would turn out this way if you have seen the conceptual model. It turns people off when the final product differs from the concept car and this is where, after-market manufacturers come in. They give you a chance to have your own conceptual car by offering different types of spoilers and body kit.

There is nothing wrong with altering the looks of your car to reflect your personality, creativity or financial status. Take note that some of these after-market body kits cost a lot of money. The important thing is: where do you draw the line and how do you know the line needs to be drawn. Some find out the hard way when they get into a serious accident resulting from some power hike modification. Others realize soon enough that what they think is creative is actually gross when people walk past their car and giggle. Nobody can tell someone when, where and how to draw the line. The responsibility lies solely with the owner. If he likes his car in lime green, a spoiler big enough to sit 4, an air filter that gives better 'breathing' ability, my advice is to leave them alone unless you are the one paying for the parts and modifications. Better not pass judgement lest judgement be passed on you.

As for me, my reference point is a simple one; keep it as stock as possible. Through the years of modifying this and that, I have come to a conclusion that one man cannot match the expertise of many white coats who engineered and design the car. So, as you can see, after a cycle of doing this and that, the car will be restored back to as stock form as possible. I have learnt that modification, unless properly engineered and executed will not match the reliability and efficiency of the stock parts. However, car manufacturers needs to make money and where they can cut corners, they will, so long as safety and dependability is not overly affected. Remember that car manufacturers make their cars for the general public and if you are a motorhead, you will soon realise that some stock parts are simply not good enough for your type or style of driving.

Therefore, before you proceed to do any enhancement, ask yourself what you want out of the car. If the car is for going to the supermarket and back, there is really no need for a turbo charger unless you really need to get there in a hurry. In fact, wouldn't the manufacturer have fitted one in the car if they think the car needs it?

I am in the process of removing parts in the car that was not there in the first place. The LSD is first on the list. I was watching the review of the Swift Sport on Fifth Gear and realized that the car handles very well in stock form. In fact, it seems a lot more fun to drive without the LSD. As time goes by, every non-stock part will come under close scrutiny. The objective now is to identify stock parts that are not up to the mark and replace them with enhanced parts eg. clutch fork, clutch seal, bearings, etc... RRP ( seems to be a company who knows what they are doing. Rather than modify, they enhance.

Here are the latest pictures of Nickie. As you can see, the Rays have gone back on the car. These are reliable and solid wheels. So what if they weigh a bit more than a forged wheel, the point is I can drive confidently to Phuket and back and not worry the wheels will fall apart.