Thursday, May 22, 2014

Some People....

Sometimes you see cars around and you think "Really??? what were they thinking!" and other times you think 'THAT is awesome'. To provide samples of both here's some pictures. First off a 'What were they thinking' winner of the month. 

A Jaguar XF With a Leaper!
First, a little Backstory - The new Jaguar models are all about sleeker lines vs the old 'retro is cool' models like the S-Type or old XJ. If you followed Jaguars lately, they actually are doing a LOT better ever since Ford sold them and the new owners 'Tata Motors' (yes yes.. insert juvenile jokes here) seem to let them do their thing. With Ian Callum being their Director of Design they really are stepping up their game - Keep it up. Definitely makes me interested in their cars again - Could definititly see myself in an XF or XJ.. however.. to get a similar HP number as my G8 I'd be looking at their XFR or XFR-S which has a nice hefty price tag between $Way,Too.Much and $Never,Gonna.Happen or $ICould,Buy4.G8s... For the added 'luxury' I just don't think it's worth it.

Now one thing I actually heard from several people is that on the new models, the lack of a 'Leaper' on the hood simply did not make it a Jaguar (never mind that some 2000-2008 models etc like the XK didn't really have one to begin with - but instead use a 'Growler' ). According to these people the (bizarro world)"logic" apparently must goes like this:

Leaper , So it looks like a Jaguar

Leaper , So it looks like a Jaguar

No Leaper, Growler what? Does not look like a Jaguar and looks like "Any other modern car"

No Leaper, Growler what? Does not look like a Jaguar and looks like "Any other modern car"
I just don't understand how you can honestly prefer the looks of the old S-Type / XJ over the new XF/XJ. And to say a Jaguar has to have a leaper to look like a Jaguar.. come on.. the new models exude much more 'Big Cat'-ness than the old ones ever did (and that is coming from someone who used to own & love their S-Type!).. Anyway that brings us to what apparently is becoming more 'common place' than it should be.. People (and even dealerships) ADDING leapers after the fact.. Near my work I found this gem...


Sweet Lord, WHY?!?!?!
Why anyone would do this to a perfectly innocent XF is beyond me.. I blurred the licenseplate to protect the GUILTY... What's even sadder IMHO is that apparently Jaguar gave in to these whiners, and if you go to their accessories website - they now officially sell them right there.. *ugh*

Yeah.....


So onto some more entertaining cars I spotted that are not totally depressing...

A Delorean
I know there's a couple in this state, and its just an interesting thing to see.. It didn't have the '88MPH' plate or 'OUTATIME' or whatever people usually slap on these cars, but it was still interesting. Didn't attract a lot of attention though, but then again maybe that's because it was in a Lowe's parking lot..



A Dark Helmet
Lastly - This thing makes me crack up nearly every time I see it. A small black Fiat 500, with a license plate that spells 'Dark Helmet'. In case you're not familiar with the Movie 'Space Balls' go check it out somewhere. Typical Mel Brooks Star-Wars Spoof.. Anyway.. Here's  Dark Helmet, awesomely played by Rick Moranis



And here's the car I see a couple of times a week


Quite the similarity if you ask me!

What do you mean 'we look alike'?
Anyone who can work a Mel Brooks movie reference into a license plate deserves kudos in my book! "May the schwartz be with you!" ;)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Dealerships are funny...

So I went to get my oil changed the other day, and I figured I'd go to the Pontiac, ehmm I mean "Chevy/Buick/GMC" dealership.  I had called them up a while ago and it's funny how my impression from years ago (i.e. they have no clue) still proves to be true..The conversation roughly went like this:

Me: "How much does an oil change run for a 2008 Pontiac G8 GT"
(let's call him) Bob: "Ok.. *type type type* Oil change on a Pontiac G6.."
Me: "No, the G8.. GT.."
Bob: "Oh right right, the bigger one - Thats the big V6 right?" (emphasis added by 'bob')
Me: "No... It has the V8.." (thinking: 'Big V6' what the heck is he talking about??)
Bob: "Oh right, thats the one with the supercharger?"
Me: "ehmm no...." (Again... WTF? Is he thinking the 'firehawk'? Seems unlikely he'd even know about that...)
Bob: "well that'll be $xx.xx for 5 quarts of oil blabla"
Me: "It takes 8.8 quarts, not 5"
Bob: "Really?? *more furious typing* oh yeah yeah.. so it'll be $xx.xx and blabla would you like to schedule an appointment now?"
Me: "No thanks.."

Now I can see how the guy working the service department may not know every car their dealership has ever sold/supported/maintained, but you know they're typing stuff into the computer which should tell them all they need to know..

Anyway - I figured 'what the heck', and went in to get it done since it was needed and figured at least the mechanics would be able to read a computer screen telling them what to do. While I was waiting I decided to wander the lot a bit to see what they had in stock. Not much to be honest.. dozen new Camaros, Aveos, some Malibus, and a bunch of Impala's... Really? Oh there was 1 Corvette in the showroom, but other than that, nothing new.. No Chevy SS's to be found ANYWHERE. Pretty disappointing!

Did find what appeared to be a totally stock, G8 V6 in the parking lot that had been serviced.

Spotted at the dealership


The 'tech' at this point brings my car around (surprisingly it only took them about 30-40 minutes) and I casually ask him how it's running after the oil change. His answer was: "Not Good!, Not very good at all!". I look at him puzzled and ask him what he means (I drove the damn car in and it was fine..and of course I'm paranoid about stuff being wrong..) and he starts going off on this long rant about how it's sounding louder, and rough like it's 'a miss', not a smooth idle and he's surprised the check engine light isn't on, and he can compare since they worked on 'that other g8 over there' and they're nothing alike, so there's something really wrong with my car.. Really....Really?!?!



 Well No Sh!t Sherlock!. Not only are you comparing a V8 to a V6, you're comparing a STOCK V6, to a 418 LS3 V8 with full headers, custom cam with decent amount of lift etc, basically nothing under the hood is stock, bar the accessories! Apparently these guys never heard of different cam profiles or lope etc (not that mine is particularly 'lopey', but there's a hint).

Obviously once I got in everything was just fine...  Scared me though! Last thing I need is MORE engine drama! Naturally the next day I get contacted if I want to schedule follow up service where they replace fluids etc blablabla.. you know.. all the stuff that was done a couple hundred miles ago when, oh I don't know... got a new engine?!?


Anyway, funny thing was I actually got to see another G8 that day after I went and got some gas. So that now makes 4 different G8s (mostly V6s though) I've seen in the last couple of weeks.. Weird how you don't see them for years and then all of a sudden there's a cluster of them..



Spotted another V6!

And a GT




Saturday, March 22, 2014

Texas People are awesome

Just a little tribute to some awesome people (who amazingly always seem to be in TX):

Charlie:
I never met Charlie in Person, but we started our G8 site back in '08. With his larger than life personality he was the face & voice of our site. Unfortunately last year he passed away after a long battle with cancer. You will be missed buddy! :(

Beau / Trevor / Jason @ Texas Speed:
Without these guys I probably would have ditched my car after the last disaster. They were awesome and got me a great deal on a new engine AND delivered it real fast too! Thanks a million!!

Patrick Guerra:
Always patient with my ever changing set-ups, he keeps delivering top-notch tunes for my car and he's never even seen in. Very Impressive!

Anybody else in Texas that I haven't mentioned - you know you are awesome too.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Battery Replacement

It was bound to happen  'someday' and judging by what I've read it was long overdue: My stock battery has finally died. Yes that's right - the STOCK battery, from 2008, finally died on me.. and in my opinion really only because of the numerous months it sat without a charge in the last couple of years. It seemed most people get 3-4 years tops out of their battery, so for it to last a good 6 was pretty nice.

I had noticed it was getting harder to start the car - would take quite a few cranks to get going. Also when doing a 'hot-start' or multiple starts in quick succession it would have issues (think going to the gas station down the block etc). At first I figured I'd try charging it. It would hold the charge, but just sitting overnight the battery capacity would indicate it would lose 20%+. Based on that I knew it was time for a new one.

Taking the old one out was easy enough - just popup the plastic trunk strip that holds the cargo net, pull out some push fasteners in the left portion of the trunk and you have access. Then with IIRC some 10 and 13mm wrenches it took just a couple of minutes to get the old battery out. My battery tray looked in good condition still - I was concerned I would find rust and other 'wear' like others had reported, but it was totally fine.

The Old Stock Battery
Battery tray looking nice and clean still
Only 640 some CCA? wow
For the new battery I looked around online and locally trying to find a good deal. I noticed however that for some reason online shop don't feel like shipping a 50 pound battery.. go figure! I ended up settling on the local AutoZone, and they had a DuraLast 'Gold' (standard Lead-Acid) and DuraLast 'Platinum' battery (AGM). I decided to go with the 'AGM' (absorbed glass matt) battery since I head read a lot of good things about them.


New Battery ready to install

800 CCA, that's more like it!
Basically taking the reverse steps of the removal process, installation was a snap and the entire replacement was done in about 20 minutes. As far as starting etc, the car now starts up right away without any hiccups or hesitation. I have been monitoring the battery status and it's hovering around the 90% mark most of the time (lots of short trips etc, no real highway driving). So thus far I'm quite pleased with it!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Replaced Front Pedders XA Springs

So Back in August 2013 (yeah that long ago), before I dropped off my car over at Ellis's to work on my engine, I had ordered some replacement springs for my Pedders XA Coilovers. Luckily I was able to get them without any problems before any of the recent issues with Pedders USA took place. We figured Ellis could swap them out while he had the car there and raise it a bit as well since I was scraping once in a while.


Front - Nasty!

Rear Springs - Still Fine
As you can see from the pictures, the rear ones looked fine, but the front one looked old, rusted and just plain nasty. The ride quality was also horrible, no matter what settings I used. It always felt like I had barely any 'travel' and it was bottoming out or the spring was compressing all the way. Based on that and comparing some pictures with other G8 members who ran the XAs, I figured out that the shop I had last used in an emergency to raise my car, didn't properly raise it with the lower ring, but simply tried to raise by moving the middle/top ring. BIG No-No! That left me with virtually NO movement and any pothole or bump in the road slammed the spring to the max.

So with the new springs in, and adjusted a bit better, the ride quality is now MUCH improved. Any bumps in the road now actually don't cause fillings to pop from teeth, or spleens to burst, and I actually like the stance of the car better now as well. I have not yet had the problem of scraping either so I am quite pleased with how it turned out. The difference is very subtle and I have a hard time finding a 'before' comparison picture, but the 'after' looks quite nice.



After new springs & readjustment



Saturday, February 15, 2014

Texas Speed 418 LS3 @ 44K Miles

Well I finally got my car back... Yes I know.. I'll give you a few minutes to let that sink in.. it's only been what? 4 months? If I were to add up all the times I've been without my car I'm pretty sure it's starting to get up to the 12 month mark over the life of the car.. no wonder I'm only at 44k miles in 6 years!

Now first off - a BIG Texas-Sized THANK YOU! to Beau Novak & Trevor from Texas-Speed. Without them my car would most likely be a rusty piece of landfill at this point, or at least someone else's project. I can not recommend these guys enough! If you want (or like in my case: need) a new engine give these guys a call! They will help you and get you the best possible setup for your car for always a fair price!!

So to recap what happened:
Way back in 2010 I modified my engine with a VMS cam kit and Livernois 403 stroker kit. Then within 3 months I spun my cam bearings because the machineshop did not install the oilpump/pickup tube correctly. Ellis Groo from Speed Secrets came through and was able to fix the cam-bearings by going oversize etc. We also put a new camshaft in. We did notice already though that my engine always sounded way louder than any other G8 with 'similar' work (piston slap type noises).
Over time these noises got so bad we decided to pull it apart again in September 2013 figuring it must be some REALLY bad lifter tick or so. Turned out that the original machine shop bored my cylinders out of round (and over), so over time my pistons were rockin' and rollin' in all the wrong ways. Thanks again Bud....way to f*ck over your customers..
So in short the lesson learned is: Don't bother boring/stroking your existing engine - just get a short block and be done with it.

So as of the last post I was 'this' close to ditching the car because of the continual headaches. Of course trying to sell a car without an engine brought out all the vultures and there was no way I could even sell it close to something reasonable. After a lot of research, calling & emailing though Texas-Speed cam through for me because they had a new 418 LS3 IN STOCK! I was basically assuming I would end up with either another 402, possibly iron block, or maybe a Livernois Mini-Stroker. Pricing wise though, the deal Texas-Speed offered it just made sense to go with theirs and get that 418 LS3!  

The specs are basically:

25-TSP418SB-LS3 - Texas Speed & Performance
Custom Built Forged LS3 418 CID
4.08" -10cc wiseco pistons

LS3 Block, Lunati Crank & Rods, TSP Exclusive -10cc pistons by Wiseco, 
http://texas-speed.com/p-295-tsp-418-cid-ls3l99lsa-short-block.aspx

Yes it still has the slightly dished pistons (not as much as my original build though) in case I (or whoever will own this car after me) wants to put on a supercharger etc. It runs great N/A though.

So - After ordering and obsessively checking the tracking# for days it finally got delivered to Ellis's shop at the end of 2013. Then the real waiting game began - Ellis had other customers to deal with so he was quite busy. Also I wanted him to personally work on it and not some random shop guy (no offense!)  so he only had so much time. While super frustrating I figured it would be worth the wait - I just kept pestering him week after week with a 'so...... what's happening....' which I'm sure drove him nuts ;)  We still had the new camshaft (234/242) so we figured we'd just use that one - though in hindsight I really could do with a smaller one.. But at least this way I didn't need to spend another few hundred on a new cam.

While they were at it, Ellis also installed the GXP Trans Cooler I had been sitting on for years. (no real pictures to show of the install or anything.. fits snuggly behind the passenger side kidney grill)


So Fast forward to February and I have my car back - it's up and running and it's great! Don't really have much more to say about it - but Ellis did take a bunch of pictures for me which I greatly appreciate. (they're in no particular order.. blogger somehow messed up the sorting)















Love the small detail 'Texas-Speed' engraving!













Love the small detail 'Texas-Speed' engraving!

In the end - again BIG HUGE thank you's to Texas-Speed and off course Ellis @ Speed Secrets!