It's Been A While... PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Colin Brassington (aka Brash)   
Tuesday, 17 May 2016 22:21

So it has been a while since the last update here at TBA. I have my reasons, most of them being related to a lack of time or lack of motivation. It’s not because I have had a lack of opinion I tell you that much!

HotWheels

Since the last post on here I've changed job and moved house; because those who know my history would well be aware that every time I've changed jobs in my professional life I've moved cities as well. At least this time I've stayed in the same state. The new living arrangement sees me having moved in with the ladyfriend which is great, though I no longer work full time in motorsport so cars and racing have moved back to a hobby/obsession level in my life rather than the cars all racing all the time regimen that I had going for the past couple of years. The thing of it was that a job offer was made and while I would have much rather stuck it out another six months or so and finished some of the things I was working on, the offer may not have been there in six month’s time if I needed to move on. Time will tell whether or not I've made the right decision but for now things are going ok.

The new ride, the Nissan 180SX that was purchased last October to replace the dearly departed S14 Silvia has been officially off the road since the beginning of March. I purchased the 180 with express intent on the thing being a daily driven beast that sees semi-regular motorsport participation. Sometime last November I decided that it needed a brake upgrade and the hubs converted from the standard 4-stud to a 5-stud arrangement, and I bought all the bits to do that. While waiting for some of the other parts to arrive, a mate convinced me to do the whole rear subframe conversion at the same time. After all, I had the subframe, it was an easy swap (!), there were great benefits and he’d be around to help. We ordered some more parts and I arranged a bunch of mates to come and help out and we figured we could have the thing done in a weekend.

Nope!

That was late February. it's now mid May and poor little Mako (named for an Anime character who drives something similar) is still awaiting the opportunity for victory skids. Unforeseen problems, parts that took forever to arrive or arrived wrong, poor advice and a great many other circumstances conspired to drag this out way longer than originally envisioned. My moving house mid way through the conversion didn't help, as I moved before the car was rolling. Now the shed the car is waiting inside is not at home but a half hour drive away, so regular shed nights to get the thing finished haven't been regular at all. Throughout the works there have been entire weeks where I have needed to be content with staring at my 180SX Hot Wheels on my desk rather than the real thing.

I'll post more details about the conversion itself once she has successfully returned to regular service. Hopefully that is later this month.

In the mean time I console myself with the notion that it passes the "Is My Project Car Running" test. For the uninitiated, this is a measure of how far off your project car is from running. Consider the following scenario: if you and a mate are working on said project car, and one of you cuts off your hand, could you drive them to the hospital in said project car? If the car merely needs the rego paid or wheels put back on and to be dropped off the jackstands, then you could probably do that in an emergency situation and therefore you have a running project car. If you need to refit the transmission, the driveshaft or the differential, then not so much. (And please don't argue that if I chopped off my hand I might struggle to drive a manual, that actually defeats the entire purpose of the test! Same goes for the comment about the amount of time taken to fit four wheels and lower a car from jackstands, as opposed to the amount of time taken for a person to die of blood loss due to their missing hand…)

But then there was that 3-week period where I didn't even think about the poor 180. I was too busy preparing the race car. Yes, you heard right, the race car.

Some mates in one of the car clubs decided it would be fun to enter the 6-Hour Modern Regularity relay held at Mallala Motorsport Park a couple of weeks ago. The club provided me a car - a twin cam Hyundai Excel which the driver I was sharing with and I were to prepare it for the event. Which meant I had to prepare it for the event. I had hoped to shake it down a couple of weekends before at the Collingrove Hillclimb but due to what can only be described as my own laziness that didn't happen. In the end, K-Fury was shaken down in the pre-race practice session. Far from ideal, but you deal with what you can.

I'm sure you're wondering 'hang on Brash, you've stopped work on a car you own to work on one you don't...? What's wrong with you?' And you'd be right. But let me finish:

We arrived at the circuit and raced our little hearts out. The 6 drivers and 4 cars all performed well and we were rewarded with a finish position of eighth. Out of 24 teams, we finished eighth. Heading into the day we didn't really have an expectation, none of us had really done much regularity racing or even many laps of Mallala to be honest. Hell despite numerous visits and laps previously, I hadn't even driven the Excel around the place before the first practice session! But we finished ahead of a lot of other teams who actually know what they're doing so we're pretty fired up with the result.

ScoutMotorsportTeam

L-R: Eva, K-Fury and Dennis. Missing: Pulsar GTiR Rally Spec

Now the pressure is on for us to improve on that result next year. Certainly there are areas where we can improve. Two of the team drivers had never driven their car on the circuit before and it really took most of the first race stint to find that rhythm. The same two drivers also both left the circuit at one point, with my off requiring a very slow limp back around to the pits for a tyre change. We opted to send the next driver out at that point, which cost us some time. We feel confident that a top 5 position is achievable for next year. And not only do we think we can beat even more teams next year, but we will have more fun doing it than we did this year. And that’s saying something!

But in amongst all this, I bought an old Holden. Much to the disgust of my parents (who must surely be getting sick of this sort of thing) and which brings the total number of cars I own that I can’t drive to 3. I joked to the lady the other day that the two of us have 6 dependants: The two puppies, her Mazda3, the 180SX, the Holden ute, the Prelude (remember that?) plus the race car that we're looking after. She just shook her head.

Anyway the ute: she's a 1978 HZ Holden ute with a 202 six cylinder and Traumatic auto. At some point in the past the red motor has been given the flick for a blue one out of a WB or VC Commodore. The interior has also been updated at some point and now features crushed velour buckets rather than the vinyl bench that it would have come out with. Quite a few people have asked why I would buy an old Holden when I have so many other things on the go. The thing is though I’ve never owned a car older than me. I've never owned a car with a carby, nor one with steel bumpers. I've been toying with the idea of a project car for a while, and found something that we figured could be back on the road with minimal effort and for minimal dollarydoos.

HZUteDayOne

The plan for this one is to get it running and registered, and do the bare minimum body work required. Then just drive it. We plan on buying a house later in the year and I intend on having the ute ready and able to help us move. Shouldn't be that difficult and being a 202 we can get parts for it basically anywhere. Once we get to that point I'll decide whether or not I like it enough to keep it. After all, I might not like driving something that was designed in the 60s, built through the 70s and that they forgot to stop building until mid-way through the 80s... Or I may love the thing and decide it needs more gears and more cylinders. I’m not under any illusions that I’m going to build a magazine cover car out of it, nor will it ever be a race car; but at the same time I don’t ever expect that it will be daily transport.

Time will tell.

 

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