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McTinkerson Reader
3/22/16 6:16 p.m.

I figure this deserves a thread here since GRM holds a partial blame for the inspiration for this endeavor. In addition, there is also Top Gear, Roadkill and The Smoking Tire's All Cars Go To Heaven series.

I'm using this rally as a substitute for my Bachelor Party.

I've been mulling this idea over for a few years and in October of 2015 I put pen to paper and wrote everything down. I originally created a thread January 31, 2016 on the only other forum I regularly post on - Something Awfuls Automotive Insanity.

I'll keep this thread updated in line with the SA:AI thread. There is at least one participant in the rally who is also on these forums and another who has a subscription to the magazine.

The Rally (shamelessly stolen from my rally website): Link

Yours truly and five friends. Split up very loosely into three two man teams.

It's a E36 M3box™ Road Rally where the vehicles cannot cost more than $1000CAD.

July 16, 2016

The route is Calgary, AB to Tofino, BC and back in 7 days. Taking all of the best driving roads in Alberta/British Columbia.

Why the berkeley not?

The website has the rules and scoring. The scoring will be handled just like Top Gear used to at the end of their challenges.

The thread won't really start picking up with updates until everyone has their vehicles ready. Now off to order a few GRM vinyl decals for the cars.

The plan is to heavily rely on Instagram during the actual rally - so we'll make sure to add the #grmphoto hashtag to each.

I don't think I forgot anything. Thanks once again to this amazing Magazine and community for helping gestate this endeavor.

ssswitch HalfDork
3/22/16 6:55 p.m.

I am one of the other really dumb competitors on this only slightly dumb adventure.

My partner and I got a '90 Celica GT-S for $1000 and so far it has been the only unreliable Toyota I have ever experienced. It has a worn out alternator that doesn't like to work properly, a dome light that smells funny while also not working, a propensity for nuking the difficult-and-parts-breaking-likely-during-access rear turn signal bulbs with extreme prejudice, criminally low brake pads and blown suspension.

It's a looker though:

It has power bolsters and lumbar, it might be my favourite drivers' seat of all time. Too bad the shifter is a mile long and about as communicative as a vintage transistor radio tuned to static being slowly lowered into a dry well by a distant foreign country's dumbest astronauts.

With any luck we can recoup some of the budget through finding change and other loose items inside the car to resell. We got lucky and found a block heater cord the previous owner left, that's like ten cents in copper at current scrap value.

DeadSkunk UltraDork
4/5/16 7:33 a.m.

I propose one extra rule, just to make the photos interesting for the rest of us. Ban the use of BC Ferries. Figure out alternative crossing schemes and out do Top Gear.

McTinkerson Reader
4/19/16 11:14 a.m.
DeadSkunk wrote: I propose one extra rule, just to make the photos interesting for the rest of us. Ban the use of BC Ferries. Figure out alternative crossing schemes and out do Top Gear.

This avenue is being explored, purely out of financial necessity alone. Holy E36 M3 are the ferries expensive.

java230 HalfDork
4/19/16 11:25 a.m.

In reply to DeadSkunk:

I fully support this, Camel Trophy style!


McTinkerson Reader
5/10/16 11:03 a.m.

Things are getting serious in prep for the rally.

ssswitch HalfDork
6/17/16 9:40 p.m.

It'll be fine. Really. It'll be fine, right?

McTinkerson Reader
7/10/16 3:21 p.m.

There's 7 days left until we embark on this madness. Two of the three teams are ready. My teams entry now looks like this:

Is there interest in a build thread? The whole car at the moment has cost us $1160CDN and we still have another $300 worth of parts listed for sale.

Brett_Murphy GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
7/14/16 10:53 p.m.

I fully support this endeavor. Best of luck; may all of your breakdowns be temporary and easy to fix, the police be absent and the locals supportive.

ssswitch HalfDork
7/15/16 4:51 p.m.

We're getting ready to leave pretty soon. In the spirit of low-buck rallying we paid a guy to detail our car?

I might be doing this wrong. But it feels so right.

Adrian_Thompson MegaDork
7/15/16 5:32 p.m.

Build thread mandatory on both cars. And yes paying for a professional detailer on a crap can rally car seems just perfect to me.

McTinkerson Reader
7/16/16 1:47 a.m.
Adrian_Thompson wrote: Build thread mandatory on both cars. And yes paying for a professional detailer on a crap can rally car seems just perfect to me.

Unfortunately, the build thread for the FB will have to wait until after the rally. We leave tomorrow at 1000 and I need some sleep. I did tag some pictures on Instagram with the #grmphoto tag and everything has #tm2twrally tags.

ssswitch HalfDork
7/16/16 8:29 a.m.

Here is a build thread about my Celica.

McTinkerson Reader
7/25/16 10:20 a.m.

Ohhhhhhhhh man, this was unforgettable. Turns out that the drag link on FB RX7's is made of cheese and a broken rear swaybar endlink does really scary things during heavy cornering.

Here's a link to one of the albums from the trip, I'll add more narration as time allows. I'm also going to go back through the Instagram feed and make sure everything was tagged with #grmphoto

ssswitch HalfDork
7/26/16 11:26 a.m.

I had an amazing time. I came out of it with relatively few problems, just frequent overheating and having to change a fuel filter in the parking lot of a London Drugs.

I will probably post some more impressions about the car itself in the project thread.

ssswitch HalfDork
8/9/16 12:17 p.m.

Here are some trip reports!

I think I've recovered enough that I can start to write about my trip recollections based on the notes I took while on the rally. Like a real journalist, except I don't have substance abuse problems unless that substance prevents detonation or carries its own air into the combustion chamber. I got a little off track there.

We started the rally at almost exactly 240,000 km on the odometer of the Hellica.

Sweet Chili Heat was fully stocked:

Cool Ranch was a pretty little princess:

After getting breakfast at Lord Slung Blade's Manor, we traveled to the nearby community hall to take pictures. While there, a large dog approached, presumably lured by the sensation of an impending earthquake via Sweet Chili Heat. The dog was friendly, and I believed this to be a good omen for the voyage.

"Gifts" were exchanged, and the Hellica received an Asahi-branded ema, a pair of leopard-print panties, and a Hello Kitty fuzzy sticker.

We traveled across the province of Alberta, passing the Okotoks Erratic down into Black Diamond and beyond, almost to the US border and then into the southernmost parts of BC.

Before leaving Alberta, Tinkerbell decided he qualified as disabled.

One of our first obstacles on our way into BC was the winding mountain road leading into Salmo, a small BC town. Eleven to thirteen percent grades combined with the rain letting up conspired to give us our first sign of overheating issues, and Slung Blade expertly moose-tested a juvenile turkey who appeared on the highway.

Upon arriving in Salmo, we were the first in the convoy. This would become a frequent occurrence throughout the trip, as the Hellica just made a shedload more torque and power than the overloaded RX7s.

We waited at the Salmo Esso for a half hour. Nobody appeared. There was no cell coverage on the mountain pass, and our CB aerials couldn't hit anything on our trip channel (which is no surprise - our CB aerial couldn't call across a parking lot, let alone a mountain range).

Finally, we decided to turn back and go and look for our missing companions. We heard Sweet Chili Heat before we saw it, the blaring anal-trumpet of a 12A echoing through the valley.

It turned out that on the long downhill sweeper, Cool Ranch's oversized battery had come loose from its moorings and grounded out the side-post on the flip-up headlights. They had to fix it on the side of the highway, between a truck overrun bay and a precipitous drop into a tailing pond.

We decided to bed down in Nelson for the night, and found a campground in the core of the city.

Our GPS navigation took us down the steepest city street I have ever seen outside of San Francisco, and it was a lucky chance that the rotaries hadn't taken the same path. Sweet Chili Heat in particular would have bottomed out, a stricken magic-Dorito machine trapped forever in a flyover town.

Climbing out of the Celica at the campground, I noted two things:

  • My back hurt,
  • Sweet Chili Heat just woke up every baby in this campground

Unpacking the camp site took awhile:

We slept pretty well that night, bolstered by free beer. Also there was a huge bird fight and a freight train rode past the campground blowing its horn for what felt like an hour. Did I say we slept pretty well? We didn't sleep very well.

ClassicHondaGuy New Reader
8/9/16 1:43 p.m.

This is superb. I'll be following this! #mustachepower.

Lof8 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
8/9/16 2:26 p.m.

Awesome adventure and the writing makes it even more enjoyable! please continue!

Toyman01 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/9/16 4:39 p.m.

Keep it coming.

Nitroracer UltraDork
8/9/16 8:17 p.m.
McTinkerson wrote: There's 7 days left until we embark on this madness. Two of the three teams are ready. My teams entry now looks like this: Is there interest in a build thread? The whole car at the moment has cost us $1160CDN and we still have another $300 worth of parts listed for sale.

Can I have the link for those graphics? I've seen them on a GRM ranger baja truck too.

McTinkerson Reader
8/9/16 10:57 p.m.
Nitroracer wrote: Can I have the link for those graphics? I've seen them on a GRM ranger baja truck too.

The exact decals used on the car are these guys right here.. They arrived in about three weeks from China.

ssswitch Dork
8/10/16 9:41 a.m.

We awoke in Nelson, braving the gross campsite shower to prepare ourselves for the day. The previous night's explorations had taught us that a shopping mall was nearby (yes, the campground was in the town centre - no, I don't know why) and it featured A&W and a drug store. With credits like that, I was set.

There was just one problem: it was pretty early and we didn't want to anger everyone within three hundred miles of the campsite by firing up Sweet Chili Heat.

I find it difficult to express with mere words how loud Sweet Chili Heat is when you're standing next to it. Let me try again, however: when you are standing five car lengths back your teeth vibrate at a different frequency than your gums and it is all too tangible.

The group assembles and pushes Sweet Chili Heat out of the campsite so it can fire up on the street. Our neighbouring campsite's leader, a mom with her young children, comes out to see what all the commotion is. A silent shrug, a curious expression.

I say: "it's very loud." A Honda Civic rips up the road with a fart can exhaust past me.

Confusing the Civic for the Sweetest of Meat Heats, she begins to say "it's not that b-" and the rest of her words are drowned out by Sweet Chili Heat's massive streetport awakening on a cold start at the bottom of the hill, almost a block and a half away, through an apartment building. Birds flee the trees. A guy sleeping in a hammock falls onto the cold earth. An air raid siren temporarily fires, then is drowned out by someone applying the clutch in Sweet Chili Heat.

We decide to hand out some gifts. Sweet Chili Heat gets a pretty bicycle tassel so that we can find it in our rear view mirror:

Sweet Chili Heat buys some stickers for Cool Ranch:

We get a Barbie to go with our dollar-store Pikachu wand:

A trip to the drug store secures some muscle relaxants for me, and we begin our voyage to Nakusp.

Nakusp and I have a history. The last time I went there, it was in search of a clean Z31 300ZX shell. Long story short, it didn't end well and I believed the place to be somehow cursed.

Maybe it was too many Stephen King stories as a kid, or the discovery of how comic timing and karmic redemption often worked hand in hand, but I was never one for "mere coincidences." My heart palpitates as we head towards Nakusp, fearing cosmic retribution for my hubris.

We arrive in Nakusp without incident. The Celica is awesome on these backroads, and my newly-relaxed back is letting me exploit its E36 M3box Chinese no-seasons to their utmost. Those very tires howl on every corner exit and chatter on every hard braking episode, and I am having a pretty good day.

Welcome to Nakusp, the town's sign says. Maybe make sure you don't set anything on fire while you're here.

We end up at a gas station, where the store's talkative clerk oscillates between sales tax fraud and neighborhood gossip. After filling up, we head down the highway towards the ferry that will return us to a major highway.

The ferry isn't so bad. No bathroom on this one, but also no dripping melange of carnage from the mouth of The Hellica. It's at this moment that I first notice a white Mazda3 that has trouble with corners and the abstract concept of acceleration. Trapped on the ferry, I helplessly watch it crawl out of the last passing zone we'll see for almost an hour.

On the way off of the ferry, there's an off-camber, decreasing-radius 20 kph corner. Cool Ranch does a skid. Reportedly, a little poop came out.

It's hot. In the ensuing convoy, the Celica overheats multiple times, requiring a constant gauge sweep and fast hands on the cabin-temperature dial. We keep pushing.

Almost two hours later, the road finally widens enough to put the hammer down and safely pass the Mazda3. At one point we counted nearly thirty cars (the contents of two ferries) riding behind this woman, unable to safely pass in time due to the near-gridlock of its procession.

We stop at a Carls Jr in Vernon to try and rehydrate, get some food in us. None of us are in a jovial mood. Things get worse when we try to key-on the Celica and it won't chooch. We can drive it, but it wouldn't hold an idle and nothing resembling power is coming out.

E36 M3. Is it heat soaked?

After a few more attempts the Celica approaches something functional. We kill everything unnecessary on the electrical system and plan to hit the highway, hoping the increased airflow over the no-doubt-clogged rad will cool down the car. A raincloud hangs over the horizon and I begin to pray to the shade of Soichiro Honda for rain.

I am still surprised we made it over the mountain. Through Slung Blade's watchful operation and bravery, the car actually makes it to Kelowna. During rush hour. In thirty-degree boiling-pavement heat-soaked weather. It is here that our luck runs out.

Just as the first small drops of rain begin to fall on the hood of the Celica, it rumbles to a stop, dead, in stop-and-go downtown traffic. Quelling our panic, we manage to restart the car eventually and limp it to the closest parking lot. For whatever reason, the Celica is now dead.

What's not getting there: air, fuel, spark? The Dorito teams arrive, and we discuss the necessaries. Eventually a consensus emerges: it is probably the fuel filter, since we never changed it. In fact, I have no idea where the fuel filter is, otherwise I would have noticed it by now.

It's here.

While McTinkerson runs to get a fuel filter from a nearby Canadian Tire, Slung Blade and I begin to dismantle the car, producing an immense mass of Toyota parts in the spot next to us. I begin to notice there is a Smart Car constantly driving around us, the girl onboard eyeing us up in the way that underpaid and untrained loss compliance officers do.

As we wrench, I consider the Sparks Corn Barn across the street. At one point a small box truck approaches it, loads something into the truck, and leaves. CSIS dead drop. It has to be.

With an hour's worth of cursing and wrench-turning the old fuel filter comes free. It is completely dry on the output end and clogged with mud on the input end. I think back to the rural hillrod gas station in Nakusp.

The Celica's first tentative fawn-like steps are successful. We are back on the road against all odds. It is dark, it is hot, and we are tired and thirsty. An executive decision is made: we will head over the Merritt Parkway into Merritt and secure a hotel.

Why a hotel? Sweet Chili Heat is so loud as to violate the "quiet hour" statute of almost all public and private campgrounds, and by the time we get to Merritt it will be well past the aforementioned hour.

On the Parkway, Sweet Chili Heat treats us to a series of six- to eighteen-inch fireballs via its copious exhaust. I find myself cheering along, excited to be living the fantasy of this event. Brap brap brap brap brap brap.

We pull into Merritt and end up in a nicely renovated motel.

Let me tell you about what kind of town Merritt is.

I'll retire there.

Toyman01 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/11/16 6:50 a.m.

java230 Dork
8/11/16 9:51 a.m.

Eagerly waiting the next installment. Merritt is an odd little town.... Drove through there last year, trying to find groceries....

ssswitch Dork
8/11/16 10:42 a.m.

We awaken in Merritt to a lake outside the motel and a large oil slick spreading across its surface, thanks to Cool Ranch.

The order of the day today is to drive up Highway 99 ("The Duffy") and ideally reach Whistler or similar before the end of the day. After a hearty breakfast care of the in-room kitchens, we gas up and hit the road.

On the way, we stop at a cidery for some reason.

A dog bounds up from the lower fields, regards us, sniffs Sweet Chili Heat and then pisses on its rear wheel and runs away.

We stop in Lillooet before hitting Hwy 99.

Lillooet is famous for being one of the first places in BC to get hydro power, thanks to its hilly geography. Behind us is part of I assume a hydroelectric turbine, turned into a statue by the widow of a town councillor.

Once on Highway 99, we immediately ran into some construction. The thing with mountain driving in BC, especially in the less traveled urban parts, is that rockfalls are extremely common. Modern road design is helping to reduce it with the invention of things known as "fences" and "ditches," but you will still hear of a lot of people getting taken out by a boulder.

These pictures were taken by Jason, which you can tell because they are good.

These people were here to help prematurely knock the loose rocks off the surface, so they could be picked up by a front end loader below and moved harmlessly out of our way.

Once the flag dropped, we were off to the races. We all got trapped behind this slow-in-corners, fast-on-straights rental Malibu for a long time, but then Sweet Chili Heat passed it and disappeared.

Highway 99 is extremely technical. We're talking dozens of switchbacks, very tight blind corners, decreasing-radius off-camber turns, the entire lot of what people commonly think of when they think of a challenging mountain drive. Luckily the weather was on our side, and wildlife stayed off the road with the exception of a near-oops with a brown bear on behalf of SCH.

We passed Sweet Chili Heat on the side of the road, stopped in a pullout for an assumed piss break, and continued on Highway 99 towards Pemberton when Whatsapp lit up.

E36 M3.

E36 M3!

E36 M3 E36 M3 E36 M3.

While Kyle was driving, the car started to feel weird. It began to manifest excessive body roll, and then eventually just understeered off a tight switchback, across the (thankfully empty) opposing lane of traffic and into a road sign. It was a good thing the sign was there, because what you can't see is the deep gulley and creek behind it.

We summoned a tow truck driver, who lashed up Sweet Chili Heat and took Kyle and Kelly to Pemberton while we followed, somber.

After congratulating Kyle on "perpetuating the white race" (yes) and talking about his time in the military and the Datsuns of his youth, he dropped the car off at the Pemberton NAPA in a swampy part of the yard and sexually harassed the manager on the way out.

Later, thanks to the mega-soupy ground, these jackstands collapsed and the car fell over, thankfully with nobody under it.

The diagnosis is pretty bad: both control arms, the drag link, and the idler and pitman arms were all bent or berkeleyed in one way or another. What's more, the NAPA couldn't order in any of those parts, and we were likely to need more, especially with the toe this far out.

For those of you unfamiliar with recirculating-ball steering (as I was), everything in this diagram is berkeleyed:

Pulling off the front right wheel made things worse. The SA and FB both have a super-rare 4x110 bolt pattern, and as of right now we had 7 wheels for two cars.

We decided to check the stance while hunting down everyone we knew in the RX7 community. Stance is perfect.

With the sun growing low in the sky and no hope of resurrecting Sweet Chili Heat that evening, we determined that we were going to be stuck in Pemberton. After finding accommodation at a Swiss-Christian Murder Hostel (more on this in a bit), we secured liquor.

Slung Blade got offered drugs by some guy who was standing outside the grocery store and had presumably missed the music festival that had blown through the day before.

Oh yeah, the music festival.

In case you're unfamiliar with the Pemberton Music Festival, as I was, apparently there are some pretty major headliners. Apparently Jay-Z had been where we were just a few days previous, in pseudorural BC. The McDonalds had a sign in the window claiming that it was out of both iced tea and Fruitopia.

Morale was low at this point. It looked increasingly unlikely that we would secure parts for Sweet Chili Heat within BC, let alone within the next day, and our already-marginal chances of hitting Tofino were now out the window.

That night, we drank. The next morning brought clarity, and opportunity.

The Swiss-Christian Murder Hostel
Working in shifts, we trucked manpower and gear to a nearby hostel that Kelly found on the internet.

As a child, I watched a lot of horror movies. A lot of those horror movies started out in a place like this.

Trust me, it looked a lot worse in the dark.

Okay, we're cowards. It was actually super nice although the facility maintenance was a little rustic. Almost none of us were murdered overnight, and they even provided a rec room that we could get hammered on Crown Royal Apple in.

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