February 22, 2009

The Long Overhaul

After a month of sitting in Astral’s garage, getting various projects completed on it all at once (Don’t make that mistake like I did), the RX8 is finally back on the road. I just want to give a big up to James (Greenblurr), Josh (Altspace), and Shane (Epik) for their awesome help and hard work through the truck ton of projects we did all at once. Lastly, a BIG UP to Oleg (Astral) for all of the hard work, storage time, and troubles.
Now on to the juicy stuff that I’m sure you all are dying to read. I call this a overhaul due to the many new parts and fixes that we did to the car, including power, suspension and even some enhancements on prior modifications. The days are listed with the products installed (This is the span over the month of February)

Day 1
-Started removal of header
-Removed of Catalytic Converter
-Baked headlights open to replace projector lens with a 2.8’ TSX replica lens
-Adjusted titanium exhaust tip for a better appearance
-Completed a Racing Beat Revi Ram Duct Seal Fix using the stock VFAD

Day 2
-Worked on finishing Header install
-Pieced together front of car along with headlights

Day 3
-Started Removal of Stock shocks with Tein S-Techs
-Finished Installation of Header from Fluid Motorsports (GT-Spec Design)
-Finished Installation of Agency Power Mid-Pipe
-Adjusted Cobb Stage 1 Map with a CEL Kill
-Installed Black Halo Racing Ignition Solution with Yukon Coils

Day 4
-Installed Stance GR+ Coilover Suspension (10k spring front 7k spring rear)
-Removed Trunk Carpeting Completely

Day 5
-Rear suspension was too high and clunking, front suspension was too low; Adjusted both

Day 6
-New Alignment (Front: -2.2 Camber, 0 Toe, Max + Caster Rear: -2.4 Camber, 0.1 Toe, Max + Caster)

Day 7
-Removed midpipe and swapped for Catalytic Converter
-Installed Evo-R.net Fully Adjustable Endlinks (Front and Rear)
-Installed Progress Technology Anti-Roll bars
-Received Velocity Red Painted OEM Tow Hooks

The car really is a different sort of beast now. Since I’ve done so much at once, I’m going to break it into sections, much like how I reviewed the Roadster. From there I’ll go into more specifics.

Power:
After placing all of the power modifications onto the car, I am very surprised by the outcome overall. For the upside, a major increase in power, smooth power band, interesting torque band (at about 4k it suddenly kicks up more and stays smooth), and over all a much more solid engine. The downside is that due to my poor research in the choice of midpipe and header, the car is beyond loud. It’s almost scary to drive the car because the exhaust is so loud. Upon further research, I later found out that Agency Power is one of the louder dual resonated mid pipes, so I had swapped over to stock cat. Why modify a car if it doesn’t allow you to drive it happily?
Agency Power Dual Resonated Midpipe: Looking at the welds of the midpipe, the pipe itself was not that bad. James would have liked to see some more full penetration on some of the welds, but it was good enough to not be concerned with.

GT-Spec Development Header: With the header on the other hand, the welds along the runners were poorly done and have an unknown life span. I say that because the welds were not even penetrated. It looks great on the outside, not so good on the inside. The fitment was also one of the biggest hassles around, as that it took up most of the project time. After swapping back to the stock cat, you could hear a slight difference in tone of the exhaust from before header installation. It was slightly deeper at both idle and low end, and at high end it gave it a slight “tin” sound. It wasn’t bad, and better then I expected. I would like to see a better, “race focused” header on my car though, so look forward to me replacing this in the near future.

BHR Ignition: Like when I added the Cobb, another increase of “smoothness” in terms of revving. BHR has been known to make quality products, and this is one of them. The coils are quality GM Yukon coils, with a heat sink on each one. People have apparently reported increases in both smoothness and power, but in my case I would say I feel more of the smoothness.

Racing Beat VFAD Seal: Completely sealed. Directly from the front of the car into the airbox with no unwanted openings. Can’t record much of a difference but I’m sure it’s there.

Over all, I’m happy with a lot of my choices, but I wish I went with a different header and mid pipe design. I’m happy to review it on my blog for the viewers, and share my experiences, but those two exhaust parts are not for me. The Agency Power mid pipe now lives on Greenblurr’s car and he’s quite happy with it, especially since the sound is much nicer when paired with the Racing Beat dual exhaust, and the header will find a happy home soon to someone who will enjoy it for what it’s worth.

Handling:
If I had known that the results were going to be this great, I would have done nothing but suspension first. I have nothing but praise with how amazing the car responds, how great it feels, and overall quality of the products here. Taking sweeping turns, or quick jolts to dodge a pothole, the car is much more agile and settles great when taking a turn.

Stance GR+ 15 Way Adjustable Coilovers: The main ingredient of the suspension upgrade. Not only do these behave well on the streets, these handle turns extremely well. Changing the dampening to test for the difference responses will be fun when the roads are warmer, but for now, running at the +6 all around as recommended by Stance is very pleasing. Few people have recommended running softer in the rear, but I have yet to see why. I tried running +8 front and +7, and then +6 rear and I didn’t like it. It felt almost sloppy and unresponsive compared to the front. I then tried +6 in the front and +4 in the rear and I still did not enjoy it. At some point I’ll try +8 all around and see what I think of that, but the weather isn’t that great again.

Progress Technology Anti-Roll Bars paired with Evo-R.Net Adjustable Endlinks: The Whiteline Flatout Swaybars that I had installed not long ago felt pretty good and offered a nice, stiff feeling when taking a sweeper. Once we slapped these on at the end of the night and I drove home, the difference was night and day. Paired with the coilovers, you could completely feel a firm plant on the turn with almost no roll, while quick adjustments going left and right made it seem almost effortless. Much more responsive at the steering wheel with almost a "itchy" feeling to it that it wants to turn more and more. On the highway though, you do feel the slight consistent pull left and right from time to time. Not unbearable if you have both hands on the wheel.

Other:
Although the baking of the headlights was a tricky project, the outcome of the new lens was worth the effort. The new TSX Clear Lens fit like a charm and really give a much better output of the stock lights. Stock RX8 Project Lens are rippled, dimming down the output , cutoff line, and even width of the light. This lens pushes that all to the limits, allowing you to really maximize your headlights output.


Summary:
All of this has been a very fun and educational experience. I’m pleased with most of the products I had purchased, and I also learned to not cram so many projects into one day. Next time, I’ll have a better head on my shoulder about this sort of thing. I also recommend a lot of researching before buying parts (especially in a rush) for your car. Here are some of the pictures hosted by Altspace and Astral. Thanks guys.
Altspace Gallery
Astral's Gallery
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