John Li

I did not watch the C8 Corvette reveal last night. I’m just now catching up on all of the images and details of the new car, and so far, I really like what I see.

Naturally, with something as so near and dear to the hearts of so many Americans, one of the key pillars of the ongoing story is the heartburn felt by so many over this new car. Too exotic, too impractical, etc. etc. Why did they have to change up the formula so much? Why didn’t they just make a C7++?

I think I’ve pinpointed why I’m taking such glee in others’ agonies. This new Corvette is no longer “the regular kind.”

Seth Godin talks about this all the time. Most people are pretty conservative with their choices, choosing to stick to the kinds of things that everyone else likes. These days, crossovers, SUVs, and trucks are “the regular kind,” proliferating in the marketplace to meet demand from seemingly every other person in the world except me.

The Corvette for the longest time was stuck in a no-man’s land. On one hand, it was a car dedicated to shaming other sports cars around a race track; on the the other, it was the blue collar Mercedes — a status symbol for the frequently derided and ridiculed Corvette Man.

But now, those chains (ba-dum-tish!) have come off. There is no pretending anymore. A mid-engined car designed totally for speed, like an Acura NSX or Ferr-R-ee? This ain’t the America I know!

I love it. If you want a fast Chevy to tootle around town in with a trunk in the back, you can get yourself a Camaro.

In a day and age where economic forces pulls everything into the gravitational black hole that is “the regular kind,” I love that the Corvette has taken the bold path of going the other way. While Ford attempts to paste “ST” badges on regular crossovers and SUVs and say with a straight face “they’re just like the sports cars and fast cars that you’re too scared to buy,” Chevy is willing to push the envelope and say to folks, “hey, this Corvette may not actually be for everyone.”

These are the Cliff Notes of my Alcan 5000 adventure in the Mustang. I wrote this for my work newsletter, so it’s written for a Ford audience, and it leaves out a lot of the smaller stories and adventures I had on this trip, but it gets to the heart of the fun and is as succinct a trip summary as I could write. Enjoy! (more…)

Four weeks ago, I handed my keys off to my friend Dan, hopped on an airplane, and flew from Fairbanks, Alaska back home to Detroit. Dan then proceeded to bring the car home for me, taking the car on his own adventures, driving the car from Alaska through Canada and finally back home to Detroit, pulling into my driveway three weeks ago.

“Canadian Dan,” as he is called in my circle of friends, is one hell of a wrench, a lover a beat up jalopies, and perhaps just as crazy as the friends who joined me for the Alcan 5000, and was the perfect guy to hire to “deliver” my car back home for me. When he offered to drive the car back for me sometime earlier this year, it was an easy decision to make; I wrote him a check for what I estimated would be the cost of shipping my Mustang back home via truck transport, and told him to have fun. He could do whatever he wanted with the car, I’d cover any additional parts and repair costs, and the only requirement was that the car eventually make it home. (more…)

I decided to take the Volvo back home and put it in the garage while I figured out what to do with the flaky transmission. Unfortunately, on the way home from the shop, another malady has appeared to rear its ugly head: the engine appears to be running on three cylinders and not the full compliment of four. Nuts. Well, any further diagnosis and work is just going to have to wait until I return from Alaska…

When I got my Mustang back, the shop had installed the Maier Racing subframe connectors, z-brace, and panhard bar, and modified the OEM-type replacement exhaust I had gotten from National Parts Depot. However, clearances were tight, and in order to fit everything, the rear end of the car had to be lowered with a 1″ block in order to provide clearance for the driveshaft, and the exhaust had no clearance in several places, making contact with the z-brace.

After calling Maier Racing, I was informed that, yes, the car needed to be lowered about an inch in order to use the z-brace on the car. I suppose this is as good a time as any to go ahead and lower the car a bit and stiffen up the suspension some, with a 1″ drop all around and doing the Shelby drop for the front upper A-arm, which also nets me a better camber curve for the front wheels.

In the meantime, though, I had to do something about all of the clanking about when driving the car on the street. I finally decided that the easiest solution would be to simply remove the z-brace.

So that’s what I did tonight. Kinda sucks to spend money on a part, then more money on having it welded in, only to remove it two days after getting the car back. But I’ve got just two and a half weeks before the car leaves for Seattle, so simple and quick fixes are the name of the game now.

I’ll drive to work tomorrow and see if things have improved. I can’t imagine that they haven’t. Next up: fixing all of the electrical gremlins that have suddenly popped up on the car after the turn signal switch was replaced…

Hooray! I’m getting my Mustang back today! Drove it for the first time in about two years. There’s still plenty of work to be done, though…

First day back at work after returning from China. Long day and not many cars left in the lot at the end of today, but that’s okay. One thing I’m happy about is that I’m driving again — and no longer and subject to a world where drivers are in fourth gear by the time they hit 20 mph…

I ran the Fiesta ST at a local autocross event a month ago when it started overheating again in 67 degree weather. Immediately after the event, I called Demmer Lincoln and asked to schedule a time for them to look at my car, as their engine tech, Jessica, is apparently the tech for all things Ford hot hatch. She was swamped with work, so the service writer told me to come in next week.

Two weeks ago, I proceeded to drop the Fiesta ST off at the service department. Then… nothing. The car waited and waited in the service queue while several other cars in front of it were undergoing engine replacements or engine work.

Finally, there was a break in the action, and by that, I mean “the service tech had to wait on parts for all of the cars she was working on.” So the Fiesta ST finally rolled into the shop and got a diagnosis.

And the diagnosis is… a bad thermostat. Thermostat replaced, and the car was ready to be picked up. The car spent two weeks sitting outside, only to be buttoned up in an afternoon once it got into the shop.

I do wonder if this thermostat really is the solution to the problem. I suppose I’ll find out at the next autocross. Or perhaps I’ll not bother waiting to find out and just go ahead and replace the car with something else…

Finally got around to installing the new rear bumper cover on the Miata, replacing the cracked red original bumper that got damaged when the previous owner’s codriver accidentally put the car backwards into a jersey barrier. (BFG Rivals + standing water on the highway = lots of opposite lock to save the car from spinning.)

All of the body panels on the car that are plastic are now silver, and everything that is metal is still red. I’ve got several cans of silver plastidip and will try to integrate the silver with the red.

I also replaced all of the trunk plastics with pieces that haven’t been scratched to hell and back from toolboxes and jacks and jack stands rattling around in the trunk. Fresh trunk plastics don’t make the car go any faster, but I’m doing my best to restore the car from “absolute hooptie” to “hooptie.”

Progress on the Mustang continues. Part of the exhaust has been fabbed. Next step is the installation of the panhard bar and then the routing of the exhaust through the panhard bar. And, of course, to top it all off, subframe connectors. I should be getting the car back sometime next week…