Sunday, December 26, 2010

EJ25 Subaru Engine Table

This video shows the absolute best Christmas gift I have ever received. My father-in-law custom made this entire table himself. It started with a junked EJ25 Subaru motor with a cracked head. He took it completely apart and spent time cleaning and polishing it. Once it was clean, he painted it a nice flat black. He then custom machined an adapter to attach the crankshaft to the flywheel on the opposite side it normally connects. He refinished the flywheel and then painted part of it, and the crankshaft, blue to add some nice visual distinction. He got a custom 2" thick piece of acrylic plastic to act as the top. It was then bolted it to the flywheel so when you move the table top, it moves the flywheel. Which, in turn, moves the crankshaft and makes the pistons move in and out.

I think it is just an incredible piece of work and fits my style perfectly. I am trying to convince him to make them for other people, as I am sure there is a market for such an awesome piece of functional automotive art.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Forzalopnik Info

Since Turn10 has apparently decided to ignore anything involving the Forzalopnik pack, I have decided to put all the information that is known in one place. This way it will be easier for anyone (mostly me) to find the info if it is needed. Please feel free to comment if I have missed any important information. Since I am getting a bad feeling about this, it will be a sort of "archive" in case this DLC pack never sees the light of day.

It started with a partnership between Turn10 and that was announced on January 25, 2010 with this post. The post states, "Starting today, fans will have the opportunity to visit to vote from a list of 120 of the world's most sought after icons and classic cars to come up with the ultimate shortlist of cars that will be featured in a downloadable car pack available later this year." It then goes on to say that the DLC will be released, "... this summer."

The voting then happens and is concluded with this post on January 29, 2010 that announces the cars that won the contest, along with the "wildcard" that was chosen by Jalopnik.

The winning cars are:
  1. 1970 Chevrolet El Camino 454 Super Sport
  2. 1983 Volvo 242 Group A Homologated
  3. 1982 DeLorean DMC-12
  4. 1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth
  5. 1982 Lancia 037 Stradale
  6. 1973 BMW 2002 Turbo
  7. 1971 De Tomaso Pantera
  8. 1987 Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500
  9. 1977 Saab 99 Turbo
  10. 1990 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evo II
  11. 1984 BMW M635CSi
  12. 1971 AMC Javelin AMX
  13. 1992 GMC Syclone
  14. 1988 Mitsubishi Starion ESI-R
  15. 1986 Dodge Shelby Omni GLHS
Then BADNED on ForzaCentral makes a post about the winning cars stating, "If everything goes well all 15 cars you see below will be featured in the DLC pack that is going to be released sometime this summer."

Now some of these cars might look familiar to those who have kept up on news with Forza 3. The Tofu R leak mentioned some cars that were going to be in future DLC packs. If you look at the list, you can see that a lot of those cars did come as DLC. And some of the cars in the leak are the exact same ones that were voted on in the Forzalopnik pack. This has caused a bit of controversy on, as some people wonder if the votes were rigged due to the similarities.

Some time passes and then Jalopnik posts a three part series about their visit to the Turn10 studio with some information about the BMW 2002 being created for the Jalopnik DLC. Shortly after that post, Turn 10 posts an update on that mentions, "The second pack (due out later this year) was fan voted DLC which gave fans the chance to vote on which cars would make the cut on an upcoming car pack." After that, Turn10 basically forgets about the pack completely. There are zero updates and no information about this pack.

[Update 10/5]
On March 1, SwedeSpeed posted an article about Turn 10 looking for a Volvo 242 in good condition. It mentions, "...Turn 10 needs a 1983 Volvo 242 Group A Homologated, a.k.a. U.S.-market "flathood," a.k.a. U.S. Group A Special Edition. Location isn't important, but the car needs to be in good running condition, be capable of being run on a dynamometer for sound recording, and be cosmetically stock."

[Update 10/6]
Kurt from has left some interesting comments regarding another car that Turn 10 was looking for. He says, "I was contacted earlier this year by people with this project looking for a Saab 99 Turbo to photograph for digitizing into this game. They met with one of our website's members in the Washington area and did take extensive photos of his Saab 99 Turbo. I was impressed with their attention to getting every detail correct." The car in question can be seen here. As of now, they have heard nothing from Turn 10 about whether or not the car will even make it into the game.

The next bit of information that seems to come is this post from BADNED on August 2nd that shows a Starion ready to be scanned into Forza 3. The info on the photo shows that it was taken on April 6th, 2010. Then around the end of September, BADNED changed his signature to read "10/12/10." He is known for hiding hints in his signature about upcoming cars, DLC, etc. A lot of people are thinking this might be the date for the Forzalopnik DLC.

Turn 10 then posts two updates about their new partnership with Top Gear and the upcoming Forza Ultimate Collection. What makes this interesting is that the "... Ultimate Collection will also include seven new car models, including: Lancia 037 Stradale ...." Now you should recognize that car as one that was chosen for the Forzalopnik pack. Again, Turn10 has given no clarifications regarding why this car has been split from the original DLC it was in.

I am becoming very skeptical about this pack and I am curious how Jalopnik is handling this. Every delay with no information from Turn10 makes Jalopnik look bad. They put their time and effort into getting their community hyped about this pack coming to Forza. Since then, outside of a few updates, there has been absolutely no information about this pack. People are getting upset with the lack of information, and rightfully so. Turn 10 has ignored everyone who just wants some information about what is going on with this pack. Summer has come and gone and there is still no information forthcoming.

You have to wonder what Turn 10 is thinking at this point.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Virtual Test Drive - 2009 SL65 AMG Black

2009 Mercedes SL65 AMG Black
Power - 661hp
Torque - 738lb/ft
Weight - 4215lbs
Top Speed - 189mph

PI Class - A548

Ladera Full - 56.979
Quarter Mile - 12.864
Kaido Stage
C - 2:03.886

I must say that I went into this really expecting to dislike this car. I have never been a fan of Mercedes and I just cannot get behind their idea of just adding horsepower to make a car “sporty” without bothering with weight or balance. I must say that within the first twenty seconds or so, I was eating crow…and I loved it. The car supremely agile and much more balanced than you would think with a car that heavy and with over 700 pound-feet of torque. There is pretty bad turbo lag that you really feel before four thousand RPMs, but it usually is not a big deal. It did catch me off guard a couple of times in the middle of a corner in Ladera, but you learn how to feel the car fairly quickly. Once those turbos kick in, the power just doesn’t stop until it is time to shift again. With all the torque though, you have to be careful of either burning the tires off the rims or ending up backward, at 100 miles an hour, going toward a wall. Again, the stock tires really hurt the quarter mile time as all that torque, and turbo lag, really made it hard to modulate wheelspin. And the car also was pleasantly surprising in the Kaido downhill section. Although it is super tight, and the car is fairly heavy, it handled incredibly well and was an absolute blast to drive at its limit.

Next comes the most controversial part, which is the look of the car. Honesty, I really do not like it. I feel the wheels are too big and it really lends a “cartoony” look to the car. I know I am in the minority here, but I honestly do not like the style of the car at all. The little wing on the back just doesn’t fit with the rest of the styling of the car and it just feels like there is no cohesive “theme” that flows through the car. Mercedes, and especially the AMG tuned models, really were always about the style of subdued power. You know they were insanely powerful, but they never looked that way. This car breaks that mold, and not in a good way. Nothing on the car fits together. If they were to remove the wing and lower the rims to maybe 17s, I think the car would look much better. Right now it still looks too much like a German version of a boy racer.

All in all, the car surprised me in many ways. I expected it to be barely drivable and a handful, however it was anything but. Yes, it will attempt to kill you if you stop paying attention but it rewards good driving with an absolute thrill. It has one of the best sounding engines and you just cannot keep a grin off your face as you scream it around each corner.

(Note: Click the photos to view them in full resolution)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Virtual Test Drive - 2010 BMW M6

2010 BMW M6
Power - 500hp
Torque - 383lb/ft
Weight - 4098lbs
Top Speed - 186mph
PI Class - B455

Ladera Full - 59.411
Quarter Mile - 13.396
Kaido Stage
C - 2:06.618

This virtual test drive has shown me that the 2010 BMW M6 is an amazing car. Although it weighs just a bit over 2 tons, you would not know it when you are flinging it around a track. Even in the tight corners of Ladera, this car was well balanced and nimble. Although the quarter mile times are in the low 13s, that is more a fault of the tires than the car. The car has almost rocket-like acceleration and the poor stock tires just could not handle all the horsepower. The car also performed very well on the Kaido downhill as the stock brakes worked wonderfully in bringing this rather portly car to a halt. Although some of the tighter corners showed the M6s propensity to understeer, that was easily solved with some judicious use of the throttle.

As for the looks, this car is just gorgeous. Although there is some reside of the “Bangle butt” in this generation, it does not really detract from the overall styling of the car. Although the car is rather long, the lines of the coupe really make the car feel smaller and almost give the car a feeling of “surging forward” through its design. The stock rims also do a lot to the overall look of the car with the thin spokes making the car appear lighter. The styling also lends a subtle “tuner” look to the car and gives it a more aggressive feel, without it becoming too overpowering.

Overall the car was a pleasure to drive and it felt stable and connected to the road at both high speed and during tight, low speed cornering. Although the tail was more than willing to swing out if you were a bit too heavy with the throttle, the balance of the car made it easy to drift through the corners. Although 500 horsepower could be a handful, the poise and balance of the car made it fun to drive.

(Note: Click the photos to view them in full resolution)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Virtual Test Drives

I have decided to start something new with this Blog. I am going to try (tentatively) to update this at least once a week with a “Virtual Test Drive.” This test drive will be done in Forza Motorsport 3 for the Xbox 360. This will help with both my writing and photography skills, along with “reviewing” cars I will probably never be able to drive in real life.

Each car will be taken through a series of “virtual tests.” These tests are meant to give an idea for the performance level of the car. Along with those tests, I will give the stats that the game has for the car. This will help with any comparison that might arise between the different cars. The following is a list of the tests that I will perform with each car.

The first will be similar to the “Power Lap” that is done on Top Gear. This is meant to be an all around benchmark for the car. The course I have chosen is Ladera Full. It is a smaller course that has a good series of tight corners and enough straights to test the acceleration of the vehicle. It is a short length also, so the times should be easier to keep consistent. Each car will be given three runs from a standing start, with the fastest run being tallied. This will show how easy each car is to drive and how consistent it can be through multiple starts. This time will be kept on the “Ladera Leaderboard” that will continue to tally all the times of the different cars.

The next test is a run on the Benchmark Quarter Mile track. This will be done in the same style as the first test and is meant to show the cars pure acceleration ability. Along with this test, there will be a flat out portion on the Benchmark High Speed Ring that will attempt to see the top speed that the car can pull on a single lap.

Finally, there will be a Point-to-Point test on Kaido Stage C. This is a downhill “touge” style race that will test the braking and cornering ability of the car. This will also be done in the same style as the Ladera test.

Along with all the information from these tests, I will post a write up of my thoughts on the car as a whole. I will attempt to cover everything from the feel of the car to the general aesthetics of it. Interspersed with this write up will be a few photos of the car that I have taken in the Forza 3 Photomode.

I am hoping this will be interesting and entertaining for the audience, as well as honing my skills as a writer. Throw in having some fun playing games and developing an eye for photography and this might be the best idea I have had in a while.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Yet another awesome wagon...

...that America will not get. I am, of course, talking about the new 2010 Mercedes E63 AMG Wagon.
Yes, this is another fire-breathing, insane, hammer of Thor type of wagon. We are talking 525 horsepower, around 465 lb/ft of torque, and an electronically limited top speed of 155MPH. That's right, you can haul all your luggage and dogs at nearly warp speed and in perfect comfort. Now, while no price has been announced, it will probably only cost you around $100,000. Seems a small pittance for such a brilliant sleeper. Imagine this wagon in flat black, with flat black powder-coated rims and blacked out chrome. It would be something one of the Four Horsemen would drive!

Check out Jalopnik's gallery for more pics of this sick wagon.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Automotive Motivational Posters

Jalopnik did a great little photo gallery that has some funny Automotive Motivational Posters. This one is by far my favorite.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

DICE 2009: Todd Howard Panel

Even though it has been over month since DICE happened, I feel I need to do a post on Todd Howard's speech. Todd Howard is the main guy at Bethesda and has been at the helm for Morrowind, Oblivion and, most recently, Fallout 3. His talk at DICE was great and has some great information on how to create a great game. Thankfully IGN has both parts up for you to watch and I strongly suggest you give it the half hour it deserves. I will attempt to talk about the main points here, if you don't feel like watching.

It starts out with him talking about the basics of game design. How the hard part is juggling everything your boss wants you to do, with the expectations of the fans. He mentions that although the fans are important, you also really have to watch out for what your team needs and what is actually possible in the game.

The next thing he talks about is how excellent people are ultimately responsible for excellent games. He mentions that you can have the greatest team in the world but if you don't have the culture of excellence/quality than they will not create excellent games. He also mentions that you need to expect your team to be able to create and utilize their ideas without too much micromanagement. They need to be able take care of themselves and not worry about managers breathing down their necks. The last point deals mainly with having people that are willing to give up some of their ideas for the greater good of the team. You cannot have people that are too selfish if you want to create excellent games.

He then goes into what it actually takes to create great games. And this is really the bulk of his speech. Each part of this is really just as important as the rest. Like Todd Howard, I will mention them in reverse. He first mentions how in the game you have to actually define and create the experience that the player will see. He uses the Pipboy 3000 as an example. Since the player will want to check their stats/inventory/map constantly, they wanted something that would be interesting to the player throughout the game. That idea made the Pipboy the way it ended up being in the game.

The next part is about keeping it simple. This actually is an old idea known as KISS, as in Keep It Simple Stupid. You can have the greatest ideas in the world, but you might not have the time or the manpower to make it happen. Even if you could, Todd argues, most players would not notice nor appreciate what you have been able to accomplish. He then goes into the idea that your culture of excellence is much more important than any plan you might have. Plans always change and the original designs might not be possible, but your culture is what will ultimately create a great game. He leads into the idea that individual ideas are not as important as the actual execution of the design. Although it might be hard to give up certain ideas, it might be important if the execution of those ideas is not up to snuff. "You can do anything, but you can not do everything" is a concept that Todd Howard mentions in his talk. If you cannot execute an idea properly, then it is important to drop it. A badly executed idea is actually worse than just leaving that idea out.

The next part is the 4 parts of what defines the player experience. They really wanted Fallout 3 to encompass these parts constantly throughout the game. He mentions how too many companies focus on the Challenge and Surprise parts, and how Nintendo is known to be masters of the Learn and Play aspects. The first two can be the most important because that is what really brings players into the game. Todd Howard also mentions how Half-Life 2 has these four aspects down pat. The whole concept of finding a new weapon, learning it, using it, finding a use for it in a challenging environment and then being surprised by a new enemy/weapon. You constantly have to keep the player engaged by giving them new weapons/items/areas to learn and then challenging their use of these new concepts once they have learned them.

The last part that he talks about is the layers that every game is basically made up of. The player will first notice the bugs and general polish of the game. If that part is okay, they will drill down to game balance. If both of those are done correctly, the player will finally experience what constitutes an amazing game. By showing this, he enforces the idea that a player will not bother with an "amazing game" if the polish is not there. Although you might have great ideas and fantastic concepts, if the polish and balance is not there it will not matter in the end. If you have to sacrifice some ideas to add polish and balance it is worth it because a player will not put up with terrible bugs and an unplayable game just to see your "great ideas."

Although Fallout 3 is not perfect, Tood Howard really shows how they are able to create such a great game. I really think many designers can learn a thing or two from Todd Howard has to say.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Review: Touch Mechanic for DS

Touch Mechanic is one of those games that I have been pretty curious about for a good while now. I remember reading/hearing about it back in 2008 and I started to look for it. Imagine my disappointment when it was only released in France. I had basically given up on it until Drew saw an advertisement at GameStop a bit ago. Just for the hell of it I decided to pick it up and check it out. I mean, it seems like Trauma Center for Cars…it has to be decent. I tried to look up some reviews for this before I grabbed it, really mainly out of curiosity. Guess what? There were no reviews, and as of this writing, there are still no reviews at the major sites. Theoretically, this could be the first review on the internet for this game. Oh man, think of the e-fame that could come with the first review!

Let’s go over the basics first. There are 75 different “chapters” of the game; however you only actually get to play half of them. The other half is some horrible story involving street racing, murder, incompetent detectives, and some childish love story. The actual parts you play are quite similar to Trauma Center. You have someone explain what you need to do and the basics on how to do it and then you work. You are penalized for screwing up, but only if you do something to actually damage the car. Selecting the wrong tool/nut/part will give you a warning, but it doesn’t actually count against you. Also, any time you screw up and damage the car, you actually have to fix your mistakes before you can go on to the next part.

The parts where you actually work on the cars are really well done. Unfortunately the graphics are fairly bad, but they work enough to convey what you are supposed to do. Even though you have someone explain what you are doing, the game does seem to require at least an arbitrary knowledge of cars. They reference parts by the actual name and also expect you to understand the order to disassemble/assemble the different parts. The touch controls are really well done and nicely mimic the feel of the real tools. The only issue is that the cutting/welding parts of the game are incredibly touchy and if your touchpad isn’t calibrated correctly, you can fail a level pretty easily.

Where the game shines the most is with your own personal car. As you progress through the story, you will unlock new parts for your own car. In the world of Touch Mechanic there are four types of tuning; DUB, Donk, GT and Race. So each time you unlock a part, you will unlock all four types. You can mix and match the different types as you see fit. As you do this, you will have to enter your car into Custom Shows in order to progress the story. If you do not score high enough in these shows, the game will not continue until you modify your own car enough to get the required score. It also lets you swap between all the different parts you have purchased at will, so you can really create the style you want for your car.

All in all, it is a pretty decent game. Although the graphics aren’t that great and the story is downright terrible, the central gameplay is fun and well executed. Since I am a car person, I probably am biased toward liking this game. But as it is, I would recommend it for any car person looking for a fun game to waste time with on the DS.

(All images have been taken from the Publishers website at

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sultan of Michigan

Found this on Autoblog and just had to link to it. I guess it is a very avid car collector located somewhere in Michigan. The video is definitely worth the time!

Link to Video
(Autoblog uses a propriety video player, so we cannot embed it here.)