tags: Aftermarket, Endless, High End, JDM, Rays Engineering, Tanabe, Tein, Volk, Vork, Zeal
Being with High End makes me busy on every aspect of the automotive game. Being in the retail (Among Others) side of the automotive aftermarket parts culture, I’ve come across a lot of people seeking advice and asking a very common question. So what is this mystical question that is on my mind? It is as follows.
I am always asked by customers and friends this question. “I just got a new car and what should I do first?” Realistically to me it’s basically what you want the car to be. I get the usual element of “I want a car to be faster but I want it to be street legal.” Well, plain and simple answer in my mind is you shouldn’t have bought that Civic. Buying an import car and making it faster is always a daunting task. Not unless you buy an already fast car. But to make a slow car go fast in a legal way is tough and almost impossible. With the laws bearing down on the aftermarket community’s shoulders, I don’t even think it’s remotely possible.
In my honest opinion your car can be faster in many ways but how do you define faster? Straight line speed? Cornering? Acceleration? There are many ways to do it but most are very illegal (although I don’t consider it illegal unless you get caught)
Ok so what should you do first on your car, your baby, your whip as some would call it. In my field I’ve always been around a lot of different cars but with my philosophy of building cars, simplicity is always key. Simple but sweet to say the least. Many things go into factor as far as building a car. But there are two important things that you might want to consider. Are you building this car for show or go? Ask yourself that question and go from there. Of course a mixture of both is always the best move. Why would you build a Fast looking car if it takes it 8 seconds to get from 0-60? That’s just an abomination. But if your car is already fast, let’s say you had the cash and purchased a Subaru STI for example, an already fast car with a magnificent 300 horsepower engine, you can skip on the going faster for now and go make your car look and handle better. Get a feel for the car first before you add more go fast parts. It’ll be worth the wait since you’re actually gonna feel the difference by adding each parts.
As far as cosmetics I always recommend giving your car the right stance. And by that I mean getting rid of that wheel gap that makes your car look like a truck. A good set of coilovers is your first step to achieve that fine looking, model like stance that I am talking about. If you are on a budget springs are fine but I would suggest saving your money first and buy a coilover system. At least a set of Tein coilovers which is a highly respectable brand. There are far better coilovers than Tein but for a man or woman on a budget, set of coilovers by Tein is a good brand to start with. Of course there are other inexpensive choices like Tanabe and basic JIC’s but expect this to run you about 700 dollars and up but since we’re talking about hypothetically building an STI, a car with an already amazing handling and maneuverability, why skimp on the parts. Instead of buying the lower end coilovers might as well go for broke and save up a little bit more. Why not improve on what already is an awesome start-point. So go for some Function Xs by Zeal or with some Tanabe 7′s or go for broke and buy Bilsteins or some Aragostas that’ll cost you an arm and a leg. Deciding which set of suspension to get is hard since you have a lot to choose from but if you have any questions, refer to online forums where people has experience on many different brands and types. It also depends on what you decide on and what kind of car you want to build (re-read paragraph 4). As an added bonus throwing a pair of sway bars, under chassis braces and strut bars would be cool too. But that could get pricey and I’ll cover that later on.
Next step is to get some kick ass shoes. It wouldn’t hurt to get some new wheels for the car but please… Keep it original. Like my buddy Jay from the JDM Ego fame would say it, “I hate your fake wheels.” A good set of wheels and the right offset will do wonders. But please no obscene lime green or red wheels on an off color car. Make sure it matches. Kids don’t understand that if you’re rockin green Rota wheels and your car is blue, it doesn’t make it JDM. Trust me, color has nothing to do to it. You’re just being a attention whore and being one of those people that thinks he knows everything and anything about cars. Plus cops can see you coming a mile a way.
Again if you are on a budget there are tons of wheels out there that are available for you. If you can’t afford a new one, hit the forums and look for a used set. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. And once again time and time again I say this, if you can’t afford quality rims, DO NOT and let me say that again DO NOT buy cheap knock offs. Save your money and buy the wheels that you want later. Our philosophy in High End and my philosophy actually is “Do it right the first time.” And I’m not just hinting that get the expensive rims to show status and because they’re the shit. I’m saying this for your own safety too. Knock off companies do not do R&D and the wheels are not road tested. So they tend to crack and break without you knowing. And on some worst cases won’t even balance and aren’t even round as wheels should be. Why are Rays Engineering wheels ridiculously expensive? It’s because they are marketing geniuses. Aside from that, it is because they test every single wheel they have. R&D cost a lot of money and this is what expensive wheels manufacturers do. Well, most of them at least. Also there is the factor of forged and cast wheels but I am not gonna get into that right now. Maybe some other time. Another thing to consider as far as buying a good set of wheels is distinguishing whether or not they’re knock offs or they’re the real deal. It’s not that hard just make sure they have the approval stamps like the JWL stamp for example.
So to my conclusion, first step… Setup the car’s stance and aim for the best look. Work on the suspension and get rid of that god awful gap. Realistically by adding more suspension components to better the handling and your car will run faster and grip better around the corners. Good wheel and offset choice is key off colored wheels and chrome spinners need not apply. Learn the fundamentals and how to drive your new car first before adding more go fast bits. Get a feel for your new car so that you’ll feel the difference of every single part you add on your car. It’ll make it much more rewarding and justify you spending that ridiculous amount of money for that titanium exhaust you’ve been dreaming about. Take it one step at a time it’s not a race… unless you want it to be.
Part II coming up if I don’t get lazy =)