1 2 3 4 5
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltraDork
9/15/17 9:55 a.m.

Maybe you're not excited about the color but I am- looks like a Lego car!

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/15/17 3:24 p.m.

Yeah, cool Jeep-like vehicle. Congrats on the find. 

randman2011 New Reader
11/21/17 12:25 p.m.

It has been a long time since I posted, so I figured that it was time for an update. A lot has happened since September.

I tried really hard to convince the two different exporters to put the cars on boats that would arrive in Baltimore at a similar time; I arbitrarily chose the weekend of Novmeber 11th as the target date. It just so happened that they ended up scheduled to arrive on the same day!

Thus began the obsessive refreshing of the vessel tracking website. The Jimny visited Jamaica and the Bahamas and seemed to be determined to recreate a certain Beach Boys song while the Autozam's vessel loitered in the American Pacific Northwest. The Jimny ended up being a day early while the AZ-1 was a day late into Baltimore, making me (correctly) fear that the customs paperwork for the AZ-1 wouldn't have been submitted by the time I arrived at port on Monday to pick it up. I couldn't cancel or change my plans, though, because I was returning from a business trip in the UK and flying directly into Baltimore on Sunday and needed to pick up the Jimny before my week of free storage at port expired (it arrived early, remember?).

I arrived in Baltimore Sunday night and met my boyfriend, who had been there all day. Monday we arrived at the port to pick up the Jimny and after going to the wrong Customs House and spending $80 in transportation costs, we had the paperwork approved and were given the keys to the car. It served as our transportation around Baltimore while we waited for the Autozam to be released. I was finally given the green light to pick up the Autozam Tuesday morning so I arrived at an escort service as they opened to get me into the port as soon as possible. We made it through the gate and all the way to the car rather quickly only to find that the battery was dead. The port sent someone to help me jump the AZ-1 and it started right up but died as soon as he removed the leads. There was no alternator belt.

The Jimny Monday morning when we got it out of the port.

The escort drove me between various auto parts stores while I called others to locate a belt around the size of 10x600mm (Factory Cappuccino size) which translated to 3L230 in freedom units. By lunch we had exhausted our options and my $50/hour fee for the escort service was quickly adding up, so we headed back to their headquarters. Towing the vehicle out of the yard with the Jimny was discussed so my boyfriend and I drove to the nearest Autozone to buy tow straps only to be told that towing with straps wouldn't work. So the port closed for lunch and my boyfriend and I wondered what the hell we were going to do. At some point during the day someone had mentioned the name of a local hole-in-the-wall car parts store so we tried there on our way to lunch. Two of the four walls were covered with belts and they very quickly found a 3L230 and 3L240 for me.

When the port opened again after lunch the escort and I were waiting. We paged the guy with the jump pack because he had offered to help install the belt and while we waited, I got under the car and tried to install it myself. I found that there was a different belt on the crank pulley in the spot where the alternator belt would go, but it was wrapped around something in front of the engine and the belt was inside out. I pulled it off (10x760) and worked to install the alternator belt myself. Even the 3L240 was too small but it was pretty close. I convinced the escort to take me back to the store where I bought a 3L250 and 3L270 (they were out of 260s) and returned to port. The 3L250 installed easily. The Autozam was jumped and left idling while I filled out the remaining paperwork.

It came without gas so after paying the escort we stopped immediately at a gas station. There, we decided that we needed to get on the road ASAP. We had planned to make the 600 mile trip from Baltimore to Indianapolis in one day and were many hours behind schedule due to the mishaps at the port, so we chose to ignore the possibly inadequate alternator belt and the battery that previously held no charge whatsoever. By the time we stopped for gas, it was already dark.

A rest stop in Pennsylvania after SOMEONE took a wrong turn.

The Autozam was driving perfectly. The steering was heavier than expect and it was especially darty on the highway. My boyfriend reported that the Jimny was impossible to turn unless the vehicle was in motion and that his average fuel economy was 15 mpg. It also had an exhaust leak that was filling the car with fumes unless the heater was on all the way. The Autozam failed to start and we ended up waiting around 15 minutes for some kids in a pickup truck to run and get their jumper cables for us.

It was well after midnight as we drove through Ohio. Fortunately the parents of my college room mate were pretty eager to see the cars so they offered us a bed in Columbus in exchange for some pictures in the morning. My boyfriend managed to start the Jimny while in gear and sheared the bolts holding the front bumper on when it rammed into the brick around their garage. The Autozam started on its own, though, so after some pictures we finished the remainder of our journey home on Wednesday.

A car that is smaller and lighter than my BRZ? Preposterous!

We registered the Jimny on Friday after one failed attempt Thursday. We weren't aware that we needed a police VIN inspection, so we got that done on both the Jimny and the Autozam on Friday. The AZ-1 was still waiting for the customs paperwork to arrive in the mail so its registration would have to wait.

Finally home!

Surprisingly the document envelope arrived on Saturday so I flew down to the BMV 30 minutes before they closed to register the Autozam but there were a few problems. The first was that my boyfriend had put white-out on my VIN inspection so that was no longer valid. The second was that the company that had handled the customs process had listed themselves as owner on all of the documents. The only form that contained my name was the VIN inspection, and since there was no proof of ownership I couldn't register it. I was told that I had two options to get the car registered. The first was that the import company would have to register it themselves in their name in their home state (California) and then "sell" the vehicle to me to be registered as an out-of-state purchase. Since this car will never be eligible for registration in California (stupid CARB) that wasn't an option. The second suggestion was for the customs company to register as a business in the state of Indiana and then grant me power of attorney so that I could register the vehicle in Indiana on their behalf, but that still wouldn't get it to be in my name.

I asked for statements from both the original exporter and the customs company explaining their role in this transaction and reiterating that I am the sole owner of the vehicle. They were provided on Sunday but the BMV was closed until Tuesday morning, so I had the VIN inspection redone and then had to wait.

Passing the time by cleaning it up.

The woman at the BMV this morning highly scrutinized those two written statements but ran it through the system with no issues. So there I leave this saga. Both of my cars have been imported, titled, and registered. License plates are on the way. Michael has already taken the Jimny offroad for his job and has confirmed that it was the perfect vehicle for the job. We both have a laundry list of things to address on both cars but they run reliably and nothing is keeping us from driving them now!

randman2011 New Reader
11/21/17 1:21 p.m.

So I have been thinking about my original plans for this car in light of my firsthand experience driving it. My first thought is that there is no way that this car makes 64 horsepower. It is way faster than its power/weight figure suggests, to the point where I don't think that I will complain about driving it as-is for a whole year before starting the engine swap. I'd love to know how much power it is putting down now in stock form so I can adjust my target for the engine build. The only thing that I'm second-guessing at this point is the increase in displacement. I still plan to do the K6A swap. I still plan to invest in upgraded rods and pistons and the Monster Sport valve springs and retainers to allow the engine to spin well into five digits. I'm just not convinced anymore that it needs the extra 60cc that comes from the large bore pistons and sleeves since the VVT K6A will provide quite a bit more torque and low-end flow than the F6A does, and the GT1446 that I have chosen is both smaller and considerably newer than other turbos that I have seen mated to a stock-displacement F6A.

I quite like the gearing in the Autozam. It suits the F6A perfectly and is still comfortable while cruising at superlegal speeds. With more low end torque the gears might feel too close together after the K6A swap, but at least the new transmission that I have acquired for the swap has a numerically lower 5th ratio.

There is no way that my Autozam has the stock suspension. It is well mannered over the rough roads that we have here in Indianapolis but I would not describe the ride as "too soft" as is often the complaint against the stock springs and struts. I haven't had an opportunity to check for markings on my struts but I can say that they look unusually clean for a car of this age. I will be holding off purchasing any suspension components until I have had a chance to push the handling in warm weather next year, but as it stands I am very happy with the suspension.

I haven't tried the brakes yet. They work just fine for casual driving but I don't know how they are in a panic stop or aggressive driving. I am happy to leave them as-is for now until they need maintenance. At that point I will be doing a hub, rotor, and caliper swap from a 1995-2001 Geo Metro because parts will be much more available and inexpensive. They are also larger, so that is a plus. I have heard that the Metro guys are able to grab the rotors and calipers off the front of the V6 Sonatas of the 90s and bolt those on as a cheap upgrade. I will be looking into that option more. I may end up with Sonata front brakes and Metro rears depending on how the brake biasing is in this car.

I purchased a set of white TE37s in 4x114.3 14x5.5 +45 to keep the same appearance but to make some performance tires available to me. They are getting hard to find, but I can get some Kumho Ecsta PS31 UHP summer tires in 165/55R14 and keep the same overall diameter while only increasing the width 10mm. My personal favorite (but highly unlikely) option is Dunlop Direzza ZII Star Specs in 185/60R14, the stock Miata size. They are 200 treadwear extreme performance summer tires and what both my dad and I use on our daily drivers. I doubt that they will fit on the front but I am hoping that they will fit under the fenders at the rear to give me lots of extra grip for the extra power that this car will be putting down. I have some junk 185/60R14 tires at home that I have already mounted to two of my new wheels for test fitment but I haven't had the time to install them yet.

It appears as though the previous owner tapped into the wiring for the front speakers and rerouted that signal to some hilariously E36 M3ty bookshelf speakers Velcroed to the carpet behind the seats. Those need to go ASAP as does the period-correct aftermarket Japanese radio. I will reroute the front channel back to the speakers in the door and then I'm hoping to add a rear channel once I find a place to mount the speakers.

I still have the Acura TL projectors and a spare set of AZ-1 headlights to be used as templates for a projector/HID retrofit. The car came with bottom-shelf HIDs in the stock halogen housings and they are about as useless as the vintage sealed beams that came on my Miata. I bought a set of battery terminal adapters so that I can swap in a lightweight US battery once this one completely craps out. My electronic gauge cluster is ready to be swapped into the Autozam. The only two things preventing further progress are that it needs a controller to drive the speedo and the electronic speed sensor that I purchased is mounted in the new transmission in my basement so I need to either swap it into the stock transmission or go ahead and install the new transmission. Most of that will have to wait until next year because temperatures are about to drop below freezing and I am also completely broke now. Houses are expensive.

The0retical SuperDork
11/21/17 2:06 p.m.

This thread delivers. Congratulations on getting them imported, home, and having an awesome story to go with it. That was a fun read.

cmcgregor Dork
11/21/17 3:24 p.m.

Those are both so cool. Can you take a few more shots with the Autozam next to the Miata when you get a chance? It's hilariously small.

gearheadE30 HalfDork
11/23/17 6:35 p.m.

Amazing. I'm really hoping to see that AZ-1 running around one of these days... I'm down in Columbus so I suppose there's a chance. I can't believe how small it is compared to that BRZ.

bonylad New Reader
11/24/17 8:14 a.m.

Hot damn!

randman2011 New Reader
11/26/17 7:59 a.m.

I took the Autozam to Cincinnati for Thanksgiving to show it off to my  family and felt like I had to take a picture with my parents' cars. If anyone is wondering where I got my obsession from, this picture should make it obvious.

gearheadE30 said:

Amazing. I'm really hoping to see that AZ-1 running around one of these days... I'm down in Columbus so I suppose there's a chance. I can't believe how small it is compared to that BRZ.

Columbus, IN? You probably will. I am always surprised by how often I am down there. I have a friend that works at Toyota and I visit him a lot. And the AZ-1 will definitely be making appearances at the Indy Cars & Coffee come Spring. And it will certainly get driven. I have already put 1300 miles on the car and it hasn't been two weeks! 

randman2011 New Reader
11/26/17 3:17 p.m.

In reply to cmcgregor :

My neighbors wanted to take some kei car pictures so I went ahead and brought all of mine as well for a family photo after they had left. And because I'm not going to leave you hanging, here's the kei trifecta:

I need a front plate badly.

7/19/18 1:00 p.m.

I know the last post was in November on this, but I am curious if you are still driving this and working on it?  

gumby GRM+ Memberand Reader
7/19/18 6:08 p.m.

I saw it at autoX on Sunday. That is all I know.

rwh11385 New Reader
7/21/18 3:21 a.m.
gearheadE30 said:

Amazing. I'm really hoping to see that AZ-1 running around one of these days... I'm down in Columbus so I suppose there's a chance. I can't believe how small it is compared to that BRZ.

So it is a small world - I parked next to this last week at work and we tried to figure out what it was but couldn't. Jay Leno featured one though and led me here, eventually. 

Randman2011 - cool car, one of the most unique cars I've seen. You never know what you've find in our garage, including the Paco lifted Miata.

randman2011 New Reader
8/8/18 7:29 p.m.

So I know that I am long overdue for an update, and that I have pretty seriously neglected this blog. There's a lot to talk about, and we'll see how far I get.


Not much happened in November. I took the pictures above right as the last of the warm weather expired, and the Autozam and my Miata both went into storage for the winter. For some background, the Focus RS was incredibly disappointing relative to my other cars and by December I was planning to sell it for a cheaper winter vehicle. I decided to use the inheritance from the death of my grandfather to buy myse​​​​​​lf out of the loan on the Focus and purchase a DSM to replace it. Several months of fraud investigation later, I ended up with a maroon 1998 Eclipse GSX that I bought from a performance shop in Cleveland. The day after purchase someone tried to break into the car at the BMV and broke both the outer and inner passenger door handles, preventing me from being able to open the door at all. I got the door open the following day by cutting a hole in the door to access the lock mechanism, only to have the engine shut off and throw a CEL immediately upon starting it. The balance shaft belt had broken and it took out the crankshaft position sensor with it. I ordered a new sensor for next day delivery along with some other parts to fix up this neglected vehicle, such as a timing belt kit and replacement turbo. I installed the sensor when it arrived and drove the car for a day or two before the timing belt broke on my way to work. It took out the valves and the pistons. The replacement belt arrived later that day.

The next day my boyfriend crashed the Abarth on some ice and the day after that the Focus managed to bend all four of its winter wheels on the way to the dealership, leaving us down to the Jimny to share between the two of us, and it had been consuming coolant at a rate of two quarts per week after the coolant froze on Christmas Day. I managed to "borrow" a set of wheels for the Focus to get me by until the Abarth came back from the bodyshop. Then I switched over to DDing the Jimny to keep the miles off of the Focus (it is listed for sale at this point) and that lasts me through the end of the week. That weekend I was planning to go to Ohayocon and the weather was supposed to jump to the 50s, so I decided to take the Autozam out of storage in order to, dressed as a Japanese character, drive my Japanese car to a Japan convention in Columbus. The convention was great but the night of the convention is what is important.

The con was great, and afterward we needed to go to the store to pick up some stuff. One of the guys there who had previously codriven my Miata with me asked to drive the AZ-1. Nobody there had been in it yet so I let him drive it and I let a girl who was familiar with the area ride shotgun while I drove the host's Focus ST with everyone else. We get about halfway along the 5 minute drive when I notice that the Autozam had gotten caught at a red light. I turn around, expecting to do laps around the previous roundabout until he catches up. As I near the roundabout I see the AZ-1's headlights approach, point skyward, and then disappear.

I find the Autozam parked at a disused roundabout exit, both doors open. Sam was walking away with his hands on his head and I never actually saw the passenger. I still have no idea where she went. The bumper on the Autozam is destroyed. There is a large traffic cone lodged under the car. There are warning lights all over the dashboard. The car doesn't have airbags, so I guess that's good at least. He had been speeding to catch up and didn't notice that the road curved into a roundabout. He went straight through the curve, mounted the curb, knocked over a street sign, ate a cone, slid through the roundabout, and came to rest at that exit.

Shockingly, the car seemed completely roadworthy. I inspected the suspension while everyone else went to work removing the cone. The suspension seemed no worse for the wear and all tires were still holding air. No fluids were leaking and with the engine in the middle I wasn't concerned about other engine damage. The sign turned out to be a temporary one, mounted on a stand and weighed down with sandbags. I set it back upright. The cone was so firmly lodged under the car that I had to back up onto a curb and even then the cone had to be kicked out because pulling didn't have any effect.

I got in the driver seat with Sam next to me, and we finished the drive to the store in a tense, awkward silence. We got what we needed at the store, and headed back toward the house in the same manner, but this time Sam described what had happened. I interrupted him, though, because I noticed that my headlights were getting dim. Aware that this engine is known for throwing alternator belts, it didn't take much to deduce that the battery was quickly dying. I shut off the lights (at 11:30PM on a Saturday) and Sam called the driver of the Focus to get in front of us. As we got nearer to the house, the battery voltage got so low that the brake lights would cause the interior clock to shut off and the engine would idle rough. But we made it back to the house and settled in for the night.

So that was Saturday. The host and I spent the entirety of Sunday scouring Columbus for an open store that might regularly stock a belt small enough for this 657cc three cylinder. After two hours of searching, we ended up at an O'Reilly who said that they could order one and have it delivered same-day, albeit four hours later. With no other alternative, I spent the day in Columbus, did a quick alternator belt install, and began the three hour drive back to Indianapolis that night.

This is still January. It has been less than three weeks since I bought the Eclipse. I had spent so much money trying to deal with the Eclipse, the Abarth, and the Focus that I could no longer afford to sell the RS without taking out a personal loan for the difference in what I still owed. So the Autozam sat for four months looking like this:

With all six mounting points completely destroyed, the easiest to photograph looking like this:

randman2011 New Reader
8/8/18 8:05 p.m.

I found a local boat and classic car restoration shop in Indy that seemed pretty confident in being able to repair the fiberglass. I had been keeping an eye out for a spare bumper long before I got the car and by this point I had yet to see one go up for sale in the seven months that I had been looking at any price point. I scheduled an appointment with the fiberglass shop which was subsequently postponed pending the arrival of replacement parts that had been damaged in the crash. In the meantime, a bumper was listed for auction in Japan. I bid my heart out, but the winning bid was $900 plus shipping from Japan. The body shop then got back to me saying that they were too busy to accept additional work due to the beginning of boat repair season. Long story short, I wasted three months putting up with their E36 M3 until I found a different body shop that was willing to repair the fiberglass on my Autozam.

A guy that I had been using to ship parts from Japan told me that he had a spare Mazdaspeed AZ-1 bumper in storage in Australia and he shipped it to me in May. 

It was in rough shape. But the bodyshop did an awesome job reshaping the fiberglass and painting it with the original paint code, which was only ever used on around 2000 AZ-1s in Japan in late 1992. The car came back to me toward the end of May, one day after Import Alliance. On the way home from work I happened to run into a 260Z that wanted to stop for pictures.

The crash had damaged the fan shroud, preventing the fan from spinning. I had replaced the fan shroud, but it didn't occur to me that that might have blown the fan fuse. The Autozam overheated on the way home from work, leading to this disastrous image:

I replaced the fuse but found that the fan still refused to turn on, and I ended up having to replace one of the three coolant temp sensors in the thermostat housing. This corrected the overheating issue, but the Geico decided that they were going to drop coverage on the Autozam, forcing me to switch insurance companies on all of my cars and my house as well. I sent an application to Hagerty, who had an unlimited mileage tier that appealed to me, but was declined coverage because the Autozam, "does not carry any type of collector status." Bull berkeleying E36 M3.

I put a little over 3000 miles on the Autozam between May and July and there was little to report beyond a coolant leak that I was able to fix immediately. The Autozam was my most reliable car, and when the tires that I had ordered in April finally arrived, I was able to have some fun.

The oversteer was immense, and I struggled to keep the back end in line even in the straights.

randman2011 New Reader
8/8/18 8:23 p.m.

I took the Autozam to Nashville to visit the Lane Motor Museum. I got to watch my sister struggle with an ATM.

The struggles of a sports car in an SUV world. I also got a great picture of the Autozam next to her Corolla. And she thinks that her car is small...

I never really thought of the Autozam as terribly small until I realized that I have to lean down to get the fuel filler nozzle into the filler neck. It turns out that the AZ-1 make a great roadtrip car, though, at 47.8 mpg!

So the Autozam has been the go-to car for quite a while now. I took it offroading when I needed to get to a quarry for some impromptu scuba diving. It has been to Terre Haute and Cincinnati and obviously Tennessee. Other than being a very competent vehicle, the Autozam has been largely ignored over the past many weeks because I have been focused on getting the Eclipse running again. I finally got the Eclipse running on Friday, but here was the result: 

The alternator died on the way to Cincinnati. I don't think that I could have a more fitting license plate. 

randman2011 New Reader
8/8/18 8:32 p.m.

My garage is actually too small to fit the Focus, so I thought that it was particularly hilarious how large the Autozam makes it look.

The Focus finally sold, by the way. The Eclipse is running but desperately needs tuned. The Miata may or may not need a rear wheel bearing. The dog won't let us drive the Jimny unless he is along for the ride, and the fiance traded in the Abarth for a Fiesta ST. It has been a rather intense seven months so far this year...

randman2011 New Reader
8/8/18 8:42 p.m.
rwh11385 said:
gearheadE30 said:

Amazing. I'm really hoping to see that AZ-1 running around one of these days... I'm down in Columbus so I suppose there's a chance. I can't believe how small it is compared to that BRZ.

So it is a small world - I parked next to this last week at work and we tried to figure out what it was but couldn't. Jay Leno featured one though and led me here, eventually. 

Randman2011 - cool car, one of the most unique cars I've seen. You never know what you've find in our garage, including the Paco lifted Miata.

@rwh11385, thanks! I took many pictures of that lifted Miata several months ago! There are so many ridiculous vehicles in our parking garage! I have found 1976 Celica GT, which is so much cooler to me than my Autozam. I finally got a chance to watch Ashley's interview with Jay, which was pretty great! I have never driven a car that was more fun than this, so it was really amusing seeing Jay's speechlessness while driving hers. 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltraDork
8/9/18 6:11 a.m.

Holy crap, sorry to hear about all the bad luck- it sounds like the Autozam itself is perfect but the world around it has been nuts!  

All the Eclipse issues are unfortunate as well, but I have to admit that I thought to myself "a break in followed by a balance shaft failure followed by a timing belt failure followed by an engine rebuild followed by, after months of repair, being stranded by a comparatively minor issue might be the most DSM thing I've ever heard."

randman2011 New Reader
8/9/18 10:31 a.m.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ said:

"a break in followed by a balance shaft failure followed by a timing belt failure followed by an engine rebuild followed by, after months of repair, being stranded by a comparatively minor issue" might be the most DSM thing I've ever heard.

I have received this image more times than I'd care to admit over the past six days.

Professor_Brap GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
9/17/18 9:31 a.m.

Hey man, It was good seeing you at Motor Vice, sorry i didnt have time to catch up with you. I did judge your car tho! 

Mezzanine Dork
9/17/18 3:10 p.m.

Did you say fiance? If so, congratulations to you and your partner!

As for the DSM...well it seems you know fully what you've gotten yourself into there. cheeky

randman2011 New Reader
1/2/19 12:22 p.m.
Mezzanine said:

Did you say fiance? If so, congratulations to you and your partner!

As for the DSM...well it seems you know fully what you've gotten yourself into there. cheeky

Husband now, yes. Thanks! It was quite the ceremony. It's exactly how you would expect two men who both don't give a E36 M3 about formalities to forget to plan things. The DSM is running beautifully as of yesterday so it is finally time to bring my attention back to the Autozam. 

I stumbled upon a new source for a GT1446Z that's a little cheaper than the sponsorship offer that ATPTurbo made me, but suddenly I'm not so certain in my choice. I went to RPI last month and spoke to Borg-Warner, PTE, and Garrett about turbos on the K6A. PTE chuckled sadly and said that they didn't have anything below 350hp. BW wanted to sell me a K03 from a VW 1.8T but wouldn't tell me anyhing about it, and Garrett actually said that the GT1446Z was a little small for this engine and recommended a GT1549 or even a GT2052 (the representative there was running a 2052 on his 500cc top speed run motorcycle). I revisited an old spreadsheet that I had created when I was originally picking a turbo and looked more closely. Here's a screenshot:

For those who aren't familiar with reading compressor maps, multiply the x axis by 10 for a rough indication of horsepower. Subtract 1 from the Y axis to get boost in bar. Roughly. This chart tells me that I can hit 200bhp with this turbo at 8000 RPM by running 28 psi of boost but the turbo will fall off so hard after that that by my redline of 14000 RPM it will be struggling to push 180 hp because of all of the heat and I'll have to turn the boost down to under 14 psi to stay safe. So if I keep 200bhp as my goal, this turbo could only maintain peak power between 8000 and roughly 10,500 RPM. Which leaves a lot left on the table engine-wise. But it also tells me that I could make a safe 170bhp at 15 psi on this turbo with full boost right around 3000 RPM. So 200bhp is right at the limit of this turbo and there would be no need for the 14,000 RPM redline because not much would be happening up there. This also tells me that electronic boost control is going to be a must and that the water to air intercooler will be really important. And that I'll probably only be able to hit 200bhp on E85. Fortunately MegaSquirt can handle flex sensors and I can have a much more conservative boost map when running pump gas.

Professor_Brap said:

Hey man, It was good seeing you at Motor Vice, sorry i didnt have time to catch up with you. I did judge your car tho! 

Thanks! I had a lot of fun! It was the first car show where I've stayed longer than an hour or two. I do think I got gypped out of that Raddest JDM title. My Autozam is totally cooler than a Toyota Crown wagon or whatever won!


Also as an update, the Jimny has been sold. It was a great little car but from the very beginning my husband found that it didn't really suit our needs. We took it on one last offroading trip and said our goodbyes. The replacement is rear engined and supercharged and a 5 speed and weighs under 1800 lbs. You guessed it, we have a Subaru Sambar truck on the way!

Professor_Brap GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
1/2/19 2:24 p.m.

I was a judge and voted for your car, there was some stuff behind the scenes I didn't not like one bit. 

randman2011 New Reader
1/28/19 4:39 p.m.

I'm stuck at home with a cold or something today so I guess it's time for an update. First off, the background stuff.

The Eclipse is largely done. I swapped to an EVO 8 ECU and it is responding MUCH better to tunes than the stock ECU was. Calibrating the MAF sensor is an iterative process but the car is driveable and reliable now. And after a thermostat replacement this week I have heat again!

I'm supposed to pick up the Sambar this Friday. The boat has been rescheduled once and then from there delayed almost 10 days at this point, but it's off the coast of Florida and scheduled to make landfall in under 12 hours! Pictures (and a story, I'm sure) to come once I get back on Sunday.

Back in September or so, I went to a Buckeye Miata Club autocross at a go kart track in Ohio and one of the event coordinators "helped" me out by trying to close the rear hood on the Autozam before a run. Without removing the hood prop. He completely destroyed the hinge on that side and there is a fair amount of fiberglass splintering. I haven't been able to tell if the lid itself will handle the force of the prop because the broken hinge just bends out of the way any time I try to use it and the trunk ends up closing anyway. After many months of searching for used parts (OE hinges have been discontinued for 15 years or so) a set finally surfaced on Yahoo Auctions in Japan. As is my modus operandi, I have to pay for shipping so I may as well look for other things that I want to throw in that box. And what should pop up but an Hitachi HT07-4A turbo. Originally used on the Wagon R Wide with a K10A engine, these have been popular upgrades for F6A and K6A sport keis for decades. To the point where they seem to be nearly impossible to find these days. This is the largest bolt-on turbo that can be had without mixing and matching housings and compressor wheels on a certain HT06 variant. Here are some (stolen) photos to illustrate the size difference between the stock RHB31 and the HT07-4A.

65-70hp RHB31 on left, ~130hp HT07 on right.

I never put much thought into the HT07 since it would be pretty weak on the built K6A, but I'm changing my mind now. It's bolt on to the F6A so I could have some fun with it now, while the K6A build is in progress. The F6A already has the injectors and upgraded tune for this turbo. It's also bolt-on for the K6A as well, meaning that I could focus on just the engine build this summer and swap just the K6A longblock, keeping the stock AZ-1 intake and exhaust for a more seamless process. Then, with the K6A in the car, I can log its real world VE instead of just guessing and get a better idea for how the engine responds to boost. This prevents me from pulling the trigger on a full GT1446Z setup even though Garrett says that it will likely be too small, and it pushes the expense of a turbo; fuel system; and custom intake, exhaust, and water-to-air intercooler setup out just a little later, as well as slightly reducing the vehicle downtime during the swap.

And also, my husband is demanding a honeymoon this summer so this gives me the ability to do something to upgrade the Autozam while he takes all of my money to travel Europe. 

Unrelated note, a guy named Sammy Piazza has taken one for the team and ordered the Geo Metro parts that everyone uses to do the hub and brake swap on the Alto. While the general consensus across the internet is that our suspension setup was a drag and drop copy of the Alto, there is one key difference. The Alto (and Metro and Suzuki Swift) have their steering racks behind the front axle, making them "rear steer" setups. The Autozam seems to be the only "front steer" car in the lineup, so even though the knuckles are otherwise very similar, the tie rod mount is very much not in the right place and the knuckle design is bespoke. Sammy happens to live near a shop that I investigated years ago for custom knuckles on my Miata and they have reported that they would be glad to modify the Metro knuckle to match the Autozam's original tie rod mount. This is a much larger hurdle than was originally anticipated, but if this shop's efforts pan out then there will finally be an option for decent brakes on an Autozam. Another positive to that swap is that the strut mount for the Geo knuckle is higher than the stock knuckle, so with coilovers one could maintain the stock ride height instead of being limited to a minimum 20mm drop, as is standard on all off-the-shelf coilover kits for the car. Sammy's also investigating an engine swap and an upgrade path similar to mine, so I may try to convince him to make his own build thread.

1 2 3 4 5
Our Preferred Partners