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Thread: DG's Bitch Thread

  1. #1
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    DG's Bitch Thread

    ...because ImperfectDarkness asked for it...

    This is a thread for me to pass on some hard-won information and advice. I've been turning wrenches and racing cars for something like 25 years and learned a thing or two along the way. Reading this board, I see a lot of people making some of the mistakes and holding a lot of the misconceptions that I did when I was younger, so maybe by recording some of this stuff I can save some folks some time and money.

    And my current job has lots of dead time and affords me time to do some writing.

    I suppose I should start with my credentials... you know, I don't want to make to big a deal about this. I've lived a very... active... life so far, and when I put it on paper, it starts to look like bullshit because so much seems so improbable.

    But here's the high points as far as this thread is concerned:

    - I worked for Chrysler (later DaimlerChrysler) from 1997 until 2003. I was an IT guy, not a car engineer, but I had the run of the place and knew a lot of the engineers, so I got a really good feel for how a car company works from the inside. I watched the build progress on my Talon through an internal 3270 mainframe app that tracked manufacturing status. I also got to visit the shop floor where Vipers and Prowlers were made, I got to drive the Nurburgring in a company Mercedes convertable, and I had a gig that ran for 4 years where I'd (along with a bunch of other drivers; not just me) teach vehicle engineers how to drive Vipers and Prowlers in competition.

    - I ran a pro racing team from 1998 until 2005, where I was driver, engineer, and team principal. Granted, SCCA ProSolo is as about as low as you can get on the totum pole and still call yourself a "pro" with a straight face... but I was committed to a race series with a half-dozen events a year across the country, and another dozen or so supporting races. For eight years, pretty much every weekend from Feb to Sept was spent racing or testing. And when I say "racing" I mean racing - with results recorded and published, not Internet bench racing. Real competition. And along the way, I invented a new class (Street Modified - wrote the first set of rules) sat on SCCA committees, was a Safety Steward, and basically got to see how a sanctioning body works from the inside.

    - Based on my success racing, I got hired as the racing engineer for a Corvette team from 2003 to 2005, where we built a million dollar C5 Corvette that was the most insane car I have ever worked with. I also got access to all kinds of cool tools, including my very own shock dyno. We also tried our hand at becoming an aftermarket parts manufacturer, so I designed and built about a hundred different parts, ranging from adapter plates to fit lightweight batteries into the OEM trays, to a adapter assembly to fit AP racing master cylinders to a C5, to (I'm not making this up) billet aluminum valve covers for the C5 including integrated coil mount bosses. Our shop was just down the road from Pratt & Miller, so I befriended one of their engineers and had the run of their shop (and their spare parts room) so not only did I learn my own stuff, I got to see behind the curtain of a very successful and professional pro race team.

    There's lots more and I can tell racing war stories until the cows come home, but at some point, it's guilding the lilly.

    Maybe I'll do an AMA later.

    The bottom line here is that I've been places and done stuff, so when I have something to bitch about, there's probably something behind it.

    If you want more information - or confirmation - see Far North Racing - Home

    Enough about me. On to the bitches.


  2. #2
    Banned Feedback Score 11 (100%) J. Fast's Avatar
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    What are you bitching about now? Haha... you do realize we're talking about cars on the internet

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    Bitch #1 - The 3S is a GT

    When auto companies decide to build a car, it (almost always) isn't just somebodies Good Idea; each model of car has a design purpose.

    The ultimate purpose of any car is to generate sales. Sometimes (usually, in fact) that is through straight-up sales of that particular model. Best example - the Chrysler minivan. That's a practical vehicle for any family that has multiple children a couple of years apart, and Chrysler sells a ton of them.

    But sometimes the purpose of a car is to sell an image, which in turn has a halo effect over the rest of the manufacturer's product line. Viper, for example, was not a high-volume seller - but by incorporating Viper features into a minivan (the cross-grille, for example) you could invoke some exotic chic into your more pedestrian products and through that, increase sales.

    That tactic totally works, BTW. The Escalade, adopted for whatever God-knows reason as the car of choice for rappers and B-List celebrities, saved Cadillac. The Escalade single-handedly transformed Caddy from the choice of fossilized octogenarians to the must-have brand for Young Hollywood....

    The Japanese are also big on the concept of the "technology demonstrator", where they build a small-run semi-exotic and cram all the coolest high-tech stuff they can into the car, as a way of demonstrating engineering expertise. The most current example is the Nissan GTR, but there have been others....

    So then, the 3000GT.

    The 3000GT was Mitsubishi's GTR at the time. It is a technology demonstrator car - AWD, AWS, Electronic Suspension, Auto Climate Control, ABS - the whole kitchen sink of top-line Mitsu tech at the time.

    And - this is very important - it is a GT.

    "GT" means "Grand Touring" and it is a very specific car segment*. The concept dates back to the European custom of the "Grand Tour" which is an extended driving vacation visiting all the major European capitals or cities with tourist interest.

    A Grand Tour would be undertaken by a reasonably wealthy man and his wife/mistress (rarely both at the same time) and its purpose was a good time and plenty of sex.

    Accordingly, a GT needs to have the following characteristics:

    - It needs to look hot, primarily for reasons of attracting and retaining madmoiselle. Fashion counts in these things.

    - It needs to be powerful, partially because the purpose of a Grand Tour are the activities at each stop, not the drive itself so much, so minimizing the time spent getting from point A to B is important. But secondarily, that rush of power and the thrill that comes with it madmoiselle will associate with monsieur and that's good for monsieur's propsects of getting laid.

    - It needs to be comfortable, because it will be covering a lot of ground during the Tour and madmoiselle will not tolerate being bounced and rattled around in a tin can for several hours every couple of days. It need not be a limo - some concessions can be made in the direction of performance. But it will need lots of leather, functional climate controls, and it must have a good ride with no banging, jiggling, or rattling.

    - It needs to be reliable, because it won't be operating near home nor will it have the squad of attendant mechanics (the passenger seat in a sports car was originally for the mechanic after all) Madmoiselle will not tolerate nor understand a car that won't start, can't be driven slowly in traffic (due to overheating and/or an on-off clutch) or in any other way obstructs the Tour itinerary.

    - It needs to have a reasonably amount of luggage capacity. Madmoiselle will wish to bring a selection of outfits for dinner and cocktails, plus those hat boxes can get bulky. And she will wish to collect souvenirs of the trip; some of which the hotel concierge can have shipped straight back to the chalet, but some of which will be coming along in the car.

    It's like a checklist for the 3S, isn't it?

    - Hot styling? Well there are certainly lots of Ferrari influences (and Viper influences on the Stealth - remember, the Viper concept was developed in 1988 and was shown in early 1989)

    - Power? Right at the Japanese power limit.

    - Comfortable? Standard leather (and comfortable too; they really are good seats) A high-end (for 1991) automatic climate control system (hell, there are as many sensors for the HVAC system as there are on the engine) Plus the ECS and the electric exhaust are ways to tone the car down but still retain the performance aspect when needed) And AWD means none of that crass tire squealing when accelerating hard.

    - Reliable? Notwithstanding the exotica, it's based on standard passenger car bits, and it uses turbos to make power rather than revving to the stratosphere, or super-lightweight engine bits, or whatever. Plus the AWD gives an all-weather capacity.

    - Luggage capacity? Fold the rear seats down, and it's amazing what that thing will swallow. Tons of space back there.

    Now there are a couple of things that naturally follow out of the GT segment and, in particular, the approach Mitsubishi took with the 3S:

    - All those luxury touches and extra gadgets tend to make the car heavy. Heavy is not a problem for a GT; in fact, the extra weight and inertia on the spung mass tends to help with the ride comfort aspect.

    - The need for enough space for the passenger and all her luggage tends to make the car bigger. Not HUGE by any stretch of the imagination - but compare to a Miata, 240 SX, Viper, or Porsche 911. (The AWS is a way to help deal with this and the weight)

    - The AWD layout not only drives all 4 wheels, it concentrates most of the weight of the powertrain right on the front axle line.

    All this stuff was very well executed and the 3S is really a VERY good GT. Compare it to the other cars of the time, and it comes out very well. It has a lot in common with the Ferarri 456 (losing out mostly in power, thanks to the Japanese power limit) but it does well compared to the C4 Corvette (despite the inferior suspension in the 3S) and it beats the C4 in interior room and cargo space, plus does better in poor weather too.

    And you can tell that Mitsubishi is VERY proud of this car. It is no accident that it shows up in every version of Gran Turismo.

    But what it definately is NOT is a race car:

    - It's too big
    - It is WAY too heavy and cannot be made light enough
    - The distribution of the major heavy components puts the weight too far forward
    - The AWD layout doesn't fit 90% of the rules for the various "GT" race series worldwide, which require RWD
    - The transmission is specific to this single model and cannot be upgraded or replaced with an off-the-shelf racing transmission
    - The suspension is not particularly racy (although this on its own isn't a showstopper; there are "racy" McStrut cars out there)

    Compare to BMW M3, Toyota Supra, various Mercedes coupes, the Corvette, the Viper, all of which are smaller, lighter, RWD, and have easily adapted race transmissions - an all of which have a racing heritage.

    The 3S is a very, very good street car platform. It is, however, categorically NOT a race car and never has been - it wasn't designed that way, Mitsubishi didn't race it, there is no racing history in this car.

    If you want to go racing - by which, I mean you intend to compete against other human beings in a motorsports competition, there are far, far, FAR better car choices
    *It is really easy to get wrapped around the axle about car segmentation and definition. You can find car websites where people will argue endlessly about if a specific model is or is not a "real" "sports car" or "GT" or whatever. The borders between segments are not hard edges and there is some deliberate segment blurring. Don't think of them as discrete categories or "buckets" - think of classification as points on a line or spectrum. "Sports Car" blends into "Sports GT" into "GT" into "Sport Luxury" etc etc
    Last edited by DG; 07-09-2011 at 03:01 PM.

  4. #4
    A constant work in progress. Feedback Score 0 alexw3000gt's Avatar
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    I don't quite understand the point of this?
    1995 3000GT VR4 - pearl yellow 1 of 42 - race car!
    1992 Stealth ES - saved from the junkyard - community loaner car
    1996 3000GT base - purchased 2006 - WRECKED/PARTED
    1991 3000GT VR4 - rusty POS Edition - SOLD

  5. #5
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    Bitch #2 - The 3S is not a Race Car

    So you want to go racing.

    And by "racing", I mean you want to engage in an actual competition against other human beings, using cars. You and your car will attempt to cover some piece of ground as quickly as possible, and your measured performance will be compared to other people who do the same thing, and the quickest time (or whoever crosses the finish line first) will be recorded the winner.

    Not bench racing. Not who can cook the biggest dyno number. Not random forum arguing. I mean actual driver, actual car, actual race.

    No matter what form this race might take (drag racing, rally racing, road racing, autocross, hillclimbing, or something else) all racing has one thing in common:

    A rule book.

    That rule book is the be-all and end-all of car design for that series. Within it lie all the freedoms, constraints, and restraints granted and imposed on the cars that compete in that series.

    Your best course of action is to use a car purpose-built for that series, one that makes use of every aspect of the rulebook to optimize the performance of the car. Every aspect of your car that is sub-optimal will eventually need to be addressed, and each aspect that has to be addressed will cost time and money - way, way more time and money than you expect.

    The very best case is a car purpose built from scratch - meaning a Formula car, or perhaps a "ship in a bottle" car (where the chassis is scratch built inside an OEM body shell - but the body is just for show) And the best case for "built from scratch" is to buy a used race car with a proven history in the series you intend to run; where the original owner(s) have already worked out the initial bugs.

    For drag racing, that means a rail or a Pro chassis. Road racing, Formula Ford (or similar) Or the single biggest bargain in competitive motorsport, the F125 kart.

    if you must go down the road of a modified production car, pick something for which there is a dedicated series - like Spec Miata. Or pick as the foundation for your modified car a chassis that, as much as possible, is optimized for your class right off the showrooom floor: Miata. Corvette. M3. If you are rallying, EVO or STI. Go with whatever requires the absolute minimum amout of modification to make work.

    It is always far cheaper in the long run to buy the right car right up front than to try and make what you have "right now" work. Used race cars in particular are HUGE bargins (nobody ever gets more than a fraction of their money back out of a race car when they sell it)

    It may not seem that way. You crack open Sportscar to the classifieds, and you see a sorted Formula Ford for $20,000, that seems like a lot of money. But that car will be sorted right off the trailer (or be very close) it will behave in predictable ways, it will be legal, and if it breaks - so what? You aren't out your daily driver.

    But if you try to mod the car that you already have, unless you already have a car that is matched up for that series, you will spend and spend and spend while you discover each sucessive weak link and figure out a way around it.

    And once you get the car sorted - you are now at the same place you would have been had you bought a sorted car up front, but you have spent two, three, four times as much money - money that could have been used to go racing.

    It is even worse when the car on hand is something odd or unusual - like a 3S. There is no aftermarket support to speak of, and the odd driveline layout means there is no alternate heavy-duty transmission option. If you look at the current state of the art for the 3S driveline, you see a collection of hacks and kludges to try and get the transmission and transfer case to hold together under twice to three times as much power as designed. Granted, some of these hacks are pretty ingenious and some success is being had - but wouldn't it be nicer to not have to do that? wouldn't it be nicer to show up at the track, and know you are in the hunt and the car is not about to explode without warning?

    I have done it the hard way, and I know WHY people do it the hard way. My Talon was my lease car. I have worked the miracles, designed my own parts, did custom job after custom job - and in the end, my car was about the equal of an off the shelf C5 Z06. With the purchase price of the car, plus the total cost of all the mods, and not counting my time, I effectively bought a Z06 for twice the money - and got half the use out of it.

    That's just not good sense.

    Don't let tribalism and pride get in the way of what should be a simple economic decision. You wouldn't try and modify a hockey stick into a baseball bat so you could play baseball - why do it with a car?

    And here's the real kicker - if you cannot afford to buy a dedicated race car, you cannot afford to race. You should be capable of setting your race car on fire and walking away from the blaze. if you can't do that - if that race car represents some capacity that you cannot do without - then Other Sports Beckon. At least until you can afford it.

    Hard words to be sure - but also the cold hard truth.


  6. #6
    Forum User Not Verified Feedback Score 3 (100%) Sin'sVr4's Avatar
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    me either. I still call my car my "race car"

    1/4 mile 11.80 @117mph. 551whp 641trq @ 26psi E85 tune, MTC 19T-HLs, forge 15psi spring wastegates, 780 PTE inj, 3SX Fuel loop, ss fuel lines, Engine built by Laniers Speed shop, block bored .060 w/ chromolly rings, weisco pistons, 3sx custom forged rods, forged crank, HKS DLI, AEM EMS, AEM UEGO wideband, prosport oil and boost guages, aeromotive 1000 FPR, Dejon blow thru twintakes, Walbro E85 400 w/ 3sx hotwire kit and custom an fitting fuel pump w/ STM filter to pump line, CXRacing FMIC, Megan Racing Aluminum radiator, IPS custom downpipe, Borla 3" exhaust,Greddy profec b spec II EBC, Blitz SS BOV,R1 Drilled slotted rotors, Drag DR-31 rims, RPS stage 4 unsprung clutch,

  7. #7
    Now with more poop-smear Not Verified Feedback Score 8 (100%) IPD's Avatar
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    i'm not sure why i insired this thread. should i take that as a compliment?

  8. #8
    LW fears my posts Not Verified Feedback Score 1 (100%)
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    The C4 has better suspension than the 3S? I don't think so, not by a long shot. Hell, the C4 is nothing more than a rattle trap surrounded by cheap plastic. And the Viper influenced the Stealth??? The Stealth was first, and the crosshairs were a hallmark of Dodge, not from the Viper. In fact, I'd argue the cars share nothing design-wise. As you put, the 3S was built as a technological tour de force. The Viper was a big engine and fat tires, end of story.

  9. #9
    Forum User Feedback Score 0 HellBringer's Avatar
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    I think this is the most relevant bit of information posted since this site's inception.

    1993.5 Supra TT 6sp Hardtop -- old school 74MM setup: 10.4 @ 138MPH 1/2 mile - 166MPH - new setup #'s soon! [Previously 468WHP & 11.3 @ 125MPH stock twins]
    1994 Supra TT 6sp -- 11.8 @ 118MPH basic BPU
    1999 3000GT VR-4 -- 12.5 @ 108MPH 100% stock w/ Chromed ECU tune
    2003 Denali XL -- Grocery Getter & Tow Rig -- Runs 13's! (mpg)
    1994 Supra 6sp - 72mm, VPC, stock longblock -- 722WHP & 10.36 @ 139.5MPH
    1993 Stealth RT/TT; 2003 Corvette Z06; 1997 3000GT VR-4; 2002 Corvette Z06;
    1999 3000GT; 1992 Stealth RT/TT; 1993.5 Supra TT; 1993 3000GT; 1992 3000GT VR-4;
    1998 Trans AM WS6; 1992 Talon TSi; 1993 3000GT VR-4; and many others..

  10. #10
    Forum User verified Feedback Score 6 (100%) MADMarc's Avatar
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    lol I'm diggin' it. Come on! I'm waiting on #3!
    60% of the time, my car works every time.

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