Ken's 2005 Mini Cooper S

Puget Sound MINI Motoring Club


August 2010:
      Cross Coilovers
I finally upgraded my suspension to coilovers and dropped it's stance a little.  I love the Koni FSDs that were in there but this is meant to take the suspension to the next level.  (The FSDs will be installed in Leprecn.)  Installation was simple but lowering the car did present a couple of problems.  
With lowered suspension, sway bars move up off of their proper level neutral position.  If not corrected, leverage issues between opposite sides of the bar would cause cornering issues.  To solve this, I ordered new adjustable end links from ALTA.  I found that Cross moves the front swaybar mount up the shock tube so I ended up using rear end links on the front and I had to shorten them over 1-1/4" to boot!  (Normally the correct front end links are included with the coilovers.  I purchased a used set and they weren't included.)  I used a second set of rear end links on the rear and found that I even needed to shorten those by about 3/4" to bring the sway bar back to level at neutral.
The shorter rear end links presented another problem.  The sway bar was now hitting the rear swing arm.  It was necessary to cut the soft setting mounting hole off of the sway bar to clear the suspension.
A little shock tower modification was necessary to allow access to the camber plates.  After the installation was complete, off to Cantrell Motorsports in Kirkland for corner balance and alignment.  
The ride is comfortable (enough) and the track handling is superb! 
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December 2009:
      TSW Motor Mount
As commonly happens with the first generation of the New MINI, the motor mount will spring a leak and loose all of it's dampening fluid.  Luckily, Texas Speedwerks makes a urethane replacement.  The job of installing the mount is straight forward but I did have to run down to the local auto parts store and buy a set of female Torx sockets.  (I had first tried using a 3/8" socket but found that it would have damaged the particular bolt if I had continued to try to use it.)  The new mount seems nice and tight however I need to adjust the stabilizing bracket preload a little more to reduce an increase in NVH.

The adjustment to the stabilizing bracket has now been made (I was 1/2 turn too long).  The NVH is reduced although it is more pronounced than with the old mount.  Throttle response and shifting are both better than with the OEM mount (and TSW Engine Damper).

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      Stop Windshield Washer Fluid Leaking
Because of the long filler neck on the washer fluid bottle, the fluid is thrown our during hard stops such as is common on track days.  As a result, there is never any fluid in the washer bottle when you need it.  A very simple fix was to put a piece of duct tape over the opening and punch a small vent hole in it.  So far, it's working perfectly!  (This mod has been installed for over half a year and so far the washer fluid is lasting as long as you would expect.)
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July 2009:
      RMW Dyno Tune

Jan of Revolution Mini Works met us at SpeedFactory Tuning & Race Fabrication in Tacoma on July 24, 25 & 26th to work his magic on everything from R50's to R56's.  Jan took my R53 from 189.6 Hp and 175.7 lbft of torque all the way up to 204 Hp and 183.6 lbft of torque on Friday the 24th.  A huge increase in performance is felt and the gas mileage has increased.  Jan showed me that even my 380cc injectors are maxing out at high rpms and that I could use even larger injectors.
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       JCW 380cc Fuel Injectors

In anticipation of Dyno Day and a tune from Jan of Revolution Mini Works, I installed a set of JCW 380cc fuel injectors.  Installation is easy and I noticed a little better throttle response even without the tune.  More to come.....
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March/April 2009:
        Madness High Performance Front Control Arm Bushings

The Mini had begun understeering somewhat.  I had ZahnTech Auto install new urethane control arm bushings I had purchased some time back but never installed.  This seems to have eliminated the understeer and restored the agile performance. 
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        Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 Star Spec 215/40-17 tires 
I replaced the Falken Azenis RT-615 I had been running for the last couple of years with a new set of Dunlops.  FTL Performance did a fine job mounting the tires at a very reasonable price.  Because of the recent suspension work and new tires, I had Cantrell Motorsports check and correct the alignment.
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December 2008:
        Installed Mini Madness Rear Strut Urethane Bushings

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April 2008:
        Installed a NAPA 25-060535 Drive Belt

According to some sources at AMVIV5, the stock belt on a 15% pulley results in slippage and lost horse power.  Their solution was to install the NAPA 060535 belt which is slightly smaller.  Mini Madness recommended using a JCW belt.  I wonder if this belt translates?  A big increase in power was noticed throughout the RPM range!  Obviously the stock belt had been slipping.

January 2008:
        JCW Gear Shift Indicator

So I can keep my eyes on the track and know when I am approaching red-line, I installed a JCW Gear Shift Indicator System.  This one is designed for an R56 but is adaptable to an R53 (see instructions on ALTA web site (link above)).  Installation was easy, taking only about one hour at a relaxed pace.
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September 2007:
        M7 Rear Chassis Brace
A more rigid chassis is a plus for handling.  The M7 Rear Chassis Brace adds rigidity without adversely affecting cargo space access.  It is easy enough to remove, when necessary, to haul larger items.  As of this posting, I haven't had an opportunity to wring out the brace to evaluate it's performance.
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        GT Tuning Mid Chassis Brace

I had previously installed the M7 Under Strut System and it is a mod I highly recommend.  I had a small problem with mine however, that was due to the fact I also have a Miltek Exhaust.  The resonator of the exhaust system rattled under hard acceleration against the middle brace of the M7 USS.  GT Tuning makes a brace that uses different mounting holes which moves the middle brace forward and out of the way of the resonator and still braces the subframe.
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Compare to M7
        Mini-Madness Lower Motor Mount Polyurethane Bushing
I picked up a set of these from Mini Madness at the All Mini Car Show in August.  These are said to take additional play from the motor mounts (in addition to the TSW Engine Damper).  After driving a little bit with them, I must say I like it!  At idle there is a little more feeling at the steering wheel but that goes away as soon as you start moving.  You then have a much tighter car.  Shifting becomes even more smooth and throttle on/off are instantaneous. 
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August 2007:
        Helix Rear Trailing Arms

With a track day coming up next month, it was time to add some competition style rear trailing arms to the Mini to try to tighten up the rear a bit.  Installation is really quite simple after a trip to Sears to pick up some additional tools.  Initial impressions: too early to tell.  Just took a trip around the block so couldn't wring it out.  It might be a little tighter but it's hard to say.  No noise noticed
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July 2007:
        Custom Knee Pad made by MyMini

When cruising around the track, regardless of how well you're strapped in, the lateral g-forces tend to push you from side to side.  To compensate for this, I find that I use my legs to keep myself a little more planted in the seat.  For some time, I have been using the Driver Knee Pad manufactured by MyMini a.k.a. MinSpeed.  This saves the bruises on the right leg that I had experienced at previous track days.  I also experienced some bruising on my left leg so I contacted MyMini about the possibility of making a couple of pads to fit the drivers door as well.  In almost no time at all, along comes a custom made pad that fits the forward portion of the horizontal door bar.  I haven't taken it to the track as yet but all indications are that is will do the job just fine.
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        Palo Uber Wing

The Palo Uber Wing is a stick-on addition to the Cooper S rear wing.  It claims to add down force to the rear of the car.  We will have to test that out...
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June 2007:
        Four wheel alignment done by Cantrell Motorsports

Since the car was realigned after the installation of the camber plates, it has never tracked quite as good as it did off of the showroom floor.  Based upon the recommendations from a number of respected motorers, I took the Mini to Cantrell Motorsports in Kirkland.  In less than an hour I had the new numbers show below.  I have yet to put any real miles on it but Collin seems to know what he's talking about and doing so I'm anxious to wring it out.

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          Exchange Web Electric Products Blinking 3rd Brake Light with GoMiniGo Pulsar

The Web Electric Blinking 3rd Brake Light is a fine unit but I decided I like the GoMiniGo unit better.  The Web unit will blink when the brakes are applied but it will not blink again until 15 seconds of no brake lights.  I thought the GoMiniGo unit might be safer in stop and go traffic with distracted drivers as it blinks every time.

        MTH Tuner, Engine Control Unit Tuning Software

I have been dealing with Don Hollingshead of DMH MotorSports for the ECU upgrade software.  I also bought their OBDII - USB cable and CarTune software (poorly written, but functional) to communicate with the Mini.  Installation was easy.  First the existing ECU software is copied from the car to a laptop and then emailed to DMH (MTH).  A couple of days later, the software arrived that has been integrated into your existing ECU software.  Installation is a simple upload.

First impression:  Better throttle response, more low end power/torque.  Redline is bumped to around 7k but I haven't as yet had a chance to play around up there.  Gas mileage seems a little better.

May 2007:
        Fumoto Engine Oil Drain Valve
While under my car changing my oil, I installed a Fumoto Engine Oil Drain Valve to make the next oil change even easier!

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           Detroit Tuned Tensioner Stop
When we were at AMVIV, I paid a visit (or 2 or 3) to Detroit Tuned.  I picked one of their Tensioner Stops.  This is designed to limit the travel of the belt tensioner so, if the belt failed, would not allow the tensioner to grind the crank pulley.

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           M7 Aerogel Exhaust Heatshield
The M7 Aerogel heat shield sits over the existing tin heat shield that covers the headers.  This is supposed to be much more efficient at keeping the engine bay cool.

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           M7 Air Plate Diverter
The M7 Air Plate Diverter directs cooling air through more of the radiator, increasing the efficiency of the radiator.

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April 2007:
        Schroth Rallye 4 Harness System
Now that all of the g-force mods are in place, I needed a way to be able to plant myself (and an instructor) into the seats so we can use and enjoy all of the Mini's go, stop and lateral potential.  I installed the Schroth Quick Fit Rallye 4 Harness System to meet those requirements.

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The finished product

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Adapter belts are 

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installed front and rear

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The harness then snaps in.

        Wilwood 11.75" Racing Big Brake Kit
The biggest problem I had at track days was the brakes fading to the point that is was severely limiting my lap times.  These big boys ought to solve that problem!  I purchased these from TCE Performance Products along with a set of BP-10 pads for street and BP-20 pads for track days.  While I had the car on jack stands installing these, I also installed a pair of PowerSlot Rotors and Ferodo DS2500 pads on the rear.  These should be a good compliment to the front Wilwoods.

Update, August 2010.  Upgraded to 12.19" rotors.  Although only a small increase in diameter, thus leverage, an increase in braking with equivalent pedal pressure is noted.  The last track day at PR, I used BP-30 pads.  Love 'em!  I could go in way deeper than I have ever felt comfortable.  Additionally they are pretty easy on rotors, not noisy and because the brakes were engaged for shorter periods of time, much less heat.

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March 2007:
        Motegi TrakLite 17X7 wheels and 215/40X17 Falken Azenis RT615 Tires
           M7 Carbon Fiber Front Splitter

These wheels come in at 14.3 lbs.  All mounted up the assemble weighs only 35 lbs.  Compare that to the 42 lbs +/- for most cast alloy wheels with tires.  Only a few miles on the tires so far but they seem Extremely Grippy!

The M7 Front Splitter is an easy install.  ...It gives me that "ready for track day" look.

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February 2007:
        MFSW mute relay
The MultiFunctionSteeringWheel Mute Relay from in the U.K. allows me to mute the radio, using the steering wheel's phone button.  This is particularly handy when a phone call comes in or I'm tired of hearing an annoying commercial.  Installation consists of plugging the unit in series with the main radio harness.  A nice little convenience.

January 2007:
        Texas Speedwerks Engine Torque Damper
The Texas Speedwerks Engine Torque Damper is designed to add stiffness the motor mount, giving a more positive throttle response.  There is a small amount of noise and vibration as a result of the damper, but nothing too harsh.  The added coupling this damper provides are quite enjoyable.  Even small things like the jerking you feel when driving slowly out of a driveway and onto the road are now gone.  Transitioning from throttle off to throttle on is much smoother.  Overall, I think this is a pretty nice mod.

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Front Bracket

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Rear Bracket

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Installation complete

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December 2006:
        Alta Intercooler Air Diverter
I picked up this Alta Air Diverter off of eBay.  At the optimum level, the stock diverter plate and intercooler allows the air to run about 11 degrees hotter at the output than the input.  So far, it appears that the air is running about 9 degrees difference from in to out with the Alta Diverter in place.  A gain of 2-degrees or so is pretty nice...

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        M7 Under Strut System

The M7 Under Strut System is designed to add stiffness to the chassis of the Mini.  As of this writing, I haven't had the chance to really wring the car out but I do notice less flex in the car (and I thought it was already pretty stiff).

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November 2006:
        GT Tuning Oil Catch Can

I replaced my "homebrewed" oil catch can with one made by GTTuning in the UK.  The GTT Catch Can has an internal baffle to trap collected oil and keep it from re-entering the intake.  A built in dip stick is used to measure the trapped oil.  The filter used on the homebrew setup would only fill to a point before allowing oil to be drawn back into the system.  This looks like a better solution.

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        Koni FSD Shocks and Struts

Ed Miller and I installed a set of Koni FSD Struts and Shocks  in my Mini.  I noticed an immediate increase in comfort.  Even speed-bumps are child's play now.  It only took about 2.5 hours to get the work done thanks to Ed's lift, full assortment of tools and his expertise.  

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        Ireland Engineering Fixed Camber Plates

While I was installing the Koni Struts, I thought I'd add some Ireland Engineering Fixed Camber Plates.  There add 1.25 degrees of negative camber to give the front end a little more bite during cornering.  So far I'm very impressed and I'm looking forward to the next track day to really wring these out.

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Moving the camber in on the Mini causes the toe to be way out of alignment.  It was necessary to have that set, which was done the next day at Speedware Motorsports.
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October 2006:
        Milltek Exhaust

With the help of Ed Miller, I installed a Milltek Sport Exhaust System in my Mini.  I noticed an immediate increase in "pep" and a boost in mileage.  It has a very pleasant deep throaty sound I think I'm going to like.

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        Dinan High Flow Cowl Induction System

Just finished installing the Dinan Air Intake.  I have only had an opportunity to take a short drive around the block.  There does seem to be another increase in HP and a noticeable increase in supercharger whine.

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Purchased and installed a ScanGaugeII code scanner and OBDII gauge accessory.

September 2006:
        M7 Strut Tower Brace

An easy 5 minute install.  I had a little trouble getting the nuts started on the passenger side.  I had to press down on the mounting plate and start the nuts.  They seemed to tighten down fine after that.  Makes me wonder if there isn't the slightest bit of mushrooming on that side...?

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August 2006:
          Craven Speed PSMini Custom Antenna

          Brake Upgrade

During the NWMini hosted ProFormance Racing School (held on July 10) it became very obvious that some brake upgrades needed to be made.  The limiting factor in lap times were the stock brakes.  I was hitting ABS going in turn 2, 3 and 8 and the peddle was very spongy after the first couple of sessions.  The upgrades made include front Power Slot brake rotors, Stainless Steel Brake Lines, Caliper Guide BushingsSpeed Bleeders and flushing the brake fluid and replacing with ATE Super Blue Racing brake fluid.
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June 2006:
          Tinted the windows

I had the windows tinted with 35% film by Darkside Tinting in Lake City, Seattle, WA.  With the blacked out beltline, I think it looks good...  It really changes the feel inside the car.  (Pix coming soon.)

          Now with NAV OS V27.1 and Maps Ver 2006.2


May 2006:
          Install Version 27 NAV Software

V27 adds a perspective display mode in addition to pointing North or Direction of Travel.
Also upgraded the NAV map to version 2006.2

          Baby Got a New Set of Shoes

Put on a new set of 7" X 17" - 42mm offset rims and a set of 215/40X17 BF Goodrich G-Force Sport tires.
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The handling seems a little crisper, steering is easier, traction (wet & dry) is great. I think I'm liking my summer "shoes".

          Here's looking at you, kid.

Put some eyes on the Mini just to dress her up.
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          Beltline Blackout

Used 1/2" pin striping tape to black out the chrome Belt Line.
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          Pilo Racing Lug Nut Conversion

The conversion should allow for easier wheel mounting when rotating tires or putting on the winter treads.  BTW, I received excellent customer service from Pilo Racing.  One of the lug nuts was mispackaged and of the wrong thread pitch.  I contacted Pilo Racing about the problem and they immediately FedEx'd a new package of 4-Lug Nuts to me.

          Remote Control Auto Window Up Module

This little accessory allows me to close the windows and sunroof after I have already left the car and am walking away.  The remote keylock can be used to trigger auto close.  Took about 1/2 hours to install.  I used a great write up on NAM as a reference.  I did use T-Tap electrical connectors instead of soldering as in the reference example.


April 15, 2006:
           gominigo No Holes License Plate Mounting Bracket
           Hawk HPS Front Brake Pads

4/26 First feedback on the Hawk HPS pads: WOW!  They work every bit as well as the stock pads (street testing only, no track time yet) and there is virtually NO dust!  I went for over a week of typical driving and the front wheels were clean.  If stock pads had still been in there, the wheels would have been coal-black.

           Craven Speed 15% Supercharger Pulley

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Up on the lift
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 ready for the operation. 
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Inner fender removed
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New pulley in place.
PSmini held a pulley party where 7 of us upgraded our MINI's with either a 15% or 17% pulley.  These guys really have the system down, reminding me of a choreographed "drill team".  Nice work, thanks guys!

          Adjust Rear Swaybar Endlinks to Middle Position

This gives the rear swaybar much more authority.  I need to continue testing to see that the car remains neutral and doesn't show a tendency to oversteer.

4/26 I'm liking the current swaybar setting.  Still seems neutral and noticeably flatter cornering.

March, 2006:
              Factory iPod Interface
              Ians Mini Circuit Track mode DSC
              Oil Catch Can

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I have been intending to install a catch can for some time.  I finally collected the pieces and installed it.  I removed the intercooler for the installation and found quite a bit of oil collected within the cooler and the rubber clamps.  I washed the intercooler insides with spray brake cleaner and allowed it to dry.  

Four days after installing the catch can, I noticed a trace of oil in it!  It had been driven quite easily with very few high revs.  I seems to be working very well and it's amazing how much oil is lost through the PCV.

           Blinking 3rd Brake Light from Web Electric Products

A friend of mine had his Mini rear ended the other day.  I thought I would take some preventative measures to try to avoid the same thing happening to me.  Installation took about 5 minutes.  The flasher module is small and easily tucked in the boot lid above the brake light.
February, 2006:
              Swap a MINI Fini Arm Rest for an OutMotoring Arm Rest
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The before, and
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the After
January, 2006:
         itg Pro-Filter WB-373  Air Filter Element
               Foggy Brake Light Mod
               Remove and return
Valeo Wiper Blades.  
I really liked the slender profile of the new blades however, I found the wiper blades did not follow the contour of the windshield well, especially the outside edge on the passenger side and the top of the drivers side.   TireRack accepted the blades for return without question.
              European Tail Light Assemblies with Amber Turn Signals.
          My MINI's first service at NW Mini  1/31/2006

December, 2005:
Avon Tech M550 A/S Ultra High Performance All-Season tires (installed by Skips Tire in Kenmore, WA)

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On blocks while the
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wheels are being fixed.
Be careful who you have mount your tires!  The company that mounted my tires had a heck of a time with it.  They damaged a couple of rims in the process.  They were very willing to make it right, fortunately, but I had to go without my Mini for several days while the rims were being repaired.  Factory Direct Tire Sales did  a very nice job with the wheel repair.
With the new Avon Tech M550's, the ride is considerably smoother and the handling is more responsive and agile.  A great mod but pick the right shop to do the work!
November, 2005:
Valeo Wiper Blades

September, 2005:
Nology HotWires
Screamin' Demon Coil
NGK  ZFR6FIX-11  Iridium Plugs
               CG-Lock Seat Belt Performance add-on
                                       ( Whoa, does that baby hold you snug in the seat! )
Cooper Flags Black w/Silver Replacement Rear Decal for Aero Kit
               Hotchkis H Sport Mini Cooper (S) Competition Rear Sway Bar installed by Group2 Motorsports 
(thanks Jon!)

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Woohoo, car's on the rack!

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Out with the old...

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...and in with the new!

1.5 hours on the rack and I'm driving a sweet handling car!
A couple of days after installing the H-Sport Rear Sway Bar, I took a trip up and back down Chuckanut Drive in Skagit and Whatcom Counties.  The bar helps to substantially reduce the tendency to under-steer.  (Sweet mod!)  The bar has 3 stiffness settings.  At present I am using the softest setting. 

August, 2005
         Glove Box Organizer
         Leather Door Pull Cover
         Parcel Shelf
         Rear Seat Pull-up Straps

July 26, 2005:
Installed first aftermarket accessory.  Ian's Mini Circuit for Auto-Up Windows.