Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Communication is key

I think perception and delivery are critical in communication. The correct statement, delivered properly makes sure people both understand your perspective and where things are headed for future.

What might not spring to mind, well at least not immediately, are mobile phone covers and cases. The new iPhone came out recently, which I was able to upgrade to. One thing that's always been a priority for me though, is to look after and protect these expensive items so that they're in superb condition.

I'm in awe at some of the awful rubbish people attach/fit to their mobiles. Every single time you use the phone in public, people see the case and it subliminally sends a message.

Given that I work in a professional services environment, I have to air on the side of caution. So here's what I picked up.

Ok, subtle enough.

Perfect compliment to the iPhone's natural lines - whilst not hiding what can only be described as apply 'Jewellery' as that factory-built design is stunning.

This cover is subtle enough for the office yet distinctive enough that my friends within the modified car scene will immediately identify with the statement.

And here's one of my favourite aspects. Americans always seem to get this right - they said thank you.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Choose your colours, but choose wisely.

I decided a little while ago, that some of the best modified cars appear to keep to a consistent rule. The colour scheme is smooth, consistent and usually embraces colours that naturally compliment one-another. In line with this, I'm planning to keep my red/graphite/black theme. There's really only a very brief exception to this. It is do-able, in my opinion, to have a splash of alternate colour in a couple of places, as long as it's relatively discrete and those colours are continued so that things match, rather than looking out of place.

With the addition of my new exhaust, with its stunning titanium tips, I decided I would treat myself to a gear knob that was similar to continue the very small accents that contrast with the other tones.

So without further ado, £40 from ebay.. it turned up, fits perfectly and took less than 90 seconds to fit. We like things like that.


And extremely difficult to take a picture in low-light conditions, but still I had a go.

Honda S2000 Invidia N1 Dual Exhaust

Now, time for an exhaust. I bought the same brand and model of exhaust when Ifirst had the red s2000 however one evening it got damaged beyond repair and Ihad to return to stock. Well finally another used example popped up inclassifieds so I was able to purchase it. It was in a fairly rough state. I decided to polish it back to as-new condition, cue some polishing tools for a power drill.

Before and afters..

The last one I had, used to drip black soot at the join between the centre section and the final rear section. When it was fitted, I knew significantly less about exhausts and the gasket used was something found at the exhaust place I was at - rather than an original item from the manufacturer. So this time, new gaskets from the manufacturer have been obtained. I've also worked on the two mounting surfaces to remove rust/marring and hopefully allow the surfaces to make clean, air-tight contact.

The mounting surfaces have gone from something like this..

to this..

The exhaust is made from stainless steel and there are tips added to each muffler made from titanium. These are fixed on using pop rivets and if the rivets aren't put on well at the outset, they vibrate loose. This isn't a problem for daily driving, except the tips end up rattling caused by low engine speed vibrations - meaning as you pull up somewhere, they rattle and the whole thing sounds nasty.

So I've purchased buffing wheels, wire attachments and metal polish to remove all the marks on the exhaust and I've ordered a pair of replacement titanium tips to make sure the exhaust looks perfect and brand new when it goes on. As the tips are the most visible part of the exhaust when the car is hard parked and have that beautiful torched titanium effect, I figured it's good to start out with brand new parts.

Audison BitOne

I installed my sound system and have been enjoying it happily for a while, the quality of sound reproduction has been consistently impressive and the depth of clarity and rich detail I now hear in both favourite old tracks and new music confirm, to me at least, that it was worth the time, effort, heart-ache and money to build.

That said, I'm always interested in improvements and one element of the system I decided on was a full digital eq. The benefit really, is that I can adjust the sound for both the tiny environment in the S2K, and flick from one 'map' to another allowing me to have a bass-heavy setup or a neutral setup at the flick of a switch. My car's driven daily and every weekend, so this is very handy - especially late at night covering distance when I prefer things simply toned down. This is all controlled using a rather nicely presented controller you can mount in the car's dash, my only potential hesitation is that against the flat plastics of my interior as it stands, it will look out of place until I come up with an alternative cover or finish/housing to mount it in.

The distributor I bought the Audison BitOne from Xquisite Automotive also does all of the bodywork on my car and has a great ear for sound-quality focussed products. I've been encouraged to use my laptop to setup the car and then subsequently allow my friend to adjust it after I think i've done all that I can. Suffice to say the results so far have been impressive. This unit cost £600 which I paid for over the course of 12 months - when you consider a head unit typically costs £200-£300 nowadays, this product isn't for everyone.

I've not finished the fitment and mounting of the box itself just yet as i'd like it to sit flush with the aperture in the boot, but it seems to fit into the area that my Digital TV unit once lived in like a glove. Seems it was just meant to be.

One thing I will mention, is something i've recognized with the Audison products that's subtle, but just shows the attention to details this manufacturer seem to have. Even the packaging was high quality - down to the stickers on the packets. I know some car guys that put stickers on the exterior of their car that aren't this well made - just another quality accent that appears synonymous with Audison products. 

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

When the modified car scene gets things so very right.

So I'm a self-confessed car fan and enthusiast with interests firmly routed within the modified community - that is, modified cars as opposed to simply factory-finished cars.

Here is an example of a superb event held in America. A lot of the cars featured are so well presented that I think it's important class them in a different way.

There are modified cars, there are also cars that are modified which have finish and are presented in such a way that the resultant product is near or above factory-quality. That is when these cars become more than the sumn of their parts and that is the pinnacle of the modified car world.

Canibeat | Wekfest 2012 from Loren Haleston on Vimeo.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Understanding Custom Cars

In my spare time, i'm often surrounded by friends and like-minded enthusiasts, to whom driving an original, factory-finished car seems at best an insult. To those who aren't car people, the most common question I get asked, is why?

To clarify - why drive a modified car?

Ask this amongst enthusiasts and a smirk appears on everyone's face as if you've missed some 'in' joke. The shameful part about this really, is that it's actually a good question given how many changes factory-finished cars are now delivered with, say over-and-above a basic model with conventional features.

The reason people drive modified cars is two-fold. Firstly, usually at the outset of ownership, someone with knowledge of the custom-car world will identify a short coming in the initial design of their newly-acquired vehicle. That could be a sports car with a surprisingly quiet engine note or a large family car that has lack-luster braking performance. The one I hear most commonly however, is that the factory-fitted stereo delivers insufficient volume or clarity.

The truth of the matter for most, is that changing one component on a vehicle usually, with the help of five minutes and a search engine, leads them to see other cars, similar to theirs with impressive paint finishes, wheels and the like. They then consider other changes that deliver a vehicle more in-tuned to their desires.

The second, and more expensive reason for changes being applied, is quite simply, to stand out from the crowd. Cue the bright paints, racing stripes and more-extreme changes that adorn many uk streets at weekends. Rarely does this change end up with a more appealing car, but sometimes, just sometimes, the improvements are unanimously celebrated. When you achieve this, there's often a feeling of genuine achievement and in many cases, silent euphoria that their interpretation is better than the rest.

What I find most peculiar however, is the revulsion enthusiasts have towards factory-supplied upgrades and presumption, on the part of the enthusiasts at least, that those parts are almost always unappealing - purely because they aren't aftermarket.

Ladies and Gentleman wake up! Porsche will now sell you a car with a race engine, snazzy brakes, carbon fibre spoiler and a roll cage with a warranty without depreciating. Who's laughing now.