My roadtrip to the french alps

So, I’m Back from France, and how could I start posting about this? So here comes my conclusion first: “This might be the best automobile experience in 22 years of motoring”. And this is due to the car I did it, my Datsun 240Z. Period.

Definitely a bucket list item that should be on every petrol heads list:

  • # Roadtrip through the alps in you classic car. (with a bunch of mates)

All in all I completed 2434km (about 1525miles) in 5 days/4nights. 23 passroads, the “route Napoléon”, some canyons, and had the best views.
I tried to be prepared the best I could, and had quite some tools an spares with me. All that was needed was 0.6l of oil to top up and a 22mm wrench. It really was a trouble-free trip for the Datsun. Every day after arriving at the hotel I did some 30mis of general checks. All that was found was a loose nut on the tie rod end. That’s why the 22mm was needed once 😉

When we left Luxembourg we had the following cars in our group of mates:
2x Datsun 240Z (1 yellow 1970, 1 blue 1973)
2x Triumph GT6 (1 yellow, 1 blue)
1x Porsche 911 964
1x Golf II GTI
1x Chevrolet Camaro 2016

But bad luck stroke fast. Even before crossing the french border the blue Triumph GT6 had a seized caliper and they went back home and changed it for the passengers ’85 Porsche 911 3.2.
The yellow 240Z had completely blown it’s brake booster, Unfortunately my spare 73 booster didn’t fit. So they changed the 240Z for a Toyota GT86 to continue the trip.
I would have loved to have 2 Datsuns on this trip, but maybe next year Yves + Tom have more luck, so that the yellow and blue 240Z can conquer the alps together

The map show you the interesting bit of our roadtrip, withe the daily stages. Nobody cares about the highway from Luxembourg to the alps, right?
As we where off holiday season, the passroads where actually quite empty. Not many bicycles, almost no caravans, a real pleasure!

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Unfortunately 2 cars broke down during our 4 days in the alps. The yellow GT6 had problems with the mechanical injection of its PI engine. And these things aren’t really user serviceable on the side of the road. The red 911 completely lost 2nd gear while shifting to pass a tractor. And doing alproads and hairpin bends without 2nd gear is no fun. So the GT6 was sent back home on a tow truck, and the 911 limped itself home in 5th gear on the highway. The GT86 had some minor brake problems, but some tinkering got the car through the trip.

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One day I will report some more about the driving, the alps, the vues,… but for now I’ll just let you admire some pictures I took. And I’ll start with 2 of my favourites.

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Project Datto: Roadtrip ahead

In preparation to a road trip to the French alps which includes 23 pass roads and approx. 2400km there was the urge to do some general maintenance and updates. I planned to do a Toyota front brake caliper swap to, but the parts did not arrive on time, so I’ll have to do this upgrade later.

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So after driving 500km on the newly mounted 5-speed gearbox (which I bought untested 3 years ago) I saw a small oil leak, so I replaced the rear transmission seal. While the gearbox was off, I also replaced the pilot bushing in the crankshaft as it had seen better days. Another item added to the driveline, a RT Diffmount.

Another thing I had laying around for moths was a complete engine-back exhaust from Zstory. After quite some fiddling to get everything right and a homemade header heat shield, I mounted everything up. It’s quitter than my previous pacesetter/homemade/… exhaust but the exhaust note is way nicer. In order to limit exhaust leaks to a maximum we decided to weld it up where we could 😉

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As I had to drain the coolant to remove the intake manifold to mount the header it was a good opportunity to flush the complete coolant system and even a better opportunity to change the tired old radiator to an aluminium Mishimoto radiator. As I wanted to stay with the mechanical fan on one side, but improve its effect I decided to fab a homebuilt fan shroud.

While cleaning the shed I even found the splash pan, which is rumored to improve cooling to. So I mounted this back up to.

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Another addition are front and rear tow hooks from Zstory

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I bled the clutch, renewed the rear fuel lines from the tank to the hard lines, mounted new Toyo Proxess CF2 tires in 195/65R14, changed the engine oil, replaced gearbox and diff oil, greased the U-joints, changed the auxiliary belt, got a oem replica 5 speed wooden shift knob…

And now wish me luck, I never drove more than 200km in one go, and now I’m trying to do 12 times as much in only 5 days. Let’s see if it can survive the torture. If it does, be prepared to see some super AWESOME pictures of these 2 Datsuns together in the Alps!

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Finally, another Evo trip. Finally a RS Evo.

So, after 2 seasons of happy track days in my Evo 5, I thought to myself: “why not upgrade?”

Yes why not! I mean when I bought my actual track day car, the Evo 5 GSR, I upgraded from a Toyota AE86. Back then my thoughts were like “what if it’s unpleasant to drive a boring 4WD on track?”    “what if I don’t enjoy driving it?”

After 2 years of great fun on tracks like Spa, the Nurburgring, Anneau du Rhin,… I have to say I’m really pleased with how the Evo drives on tracks. After lots of experimenting with spring rates and geometry setups, I really like the car. But why buy another Evo?

As I was coming from AE86 territory I was always concerned about weight. I shredded quite a lot from my GSR, but was never satisfied with the weight. The other thing that bothered me was the active AYC differential. Never really loved this thing. And the AYC diff and the pump are so prone to break down. So the only logical conclusion, buy a lighter from Stock Evo and try again.
This brings us to an RS Evo. It’s pretty much as basic as it could be. No active diffs and pumps, no ABS, no electric windows or mirrors, no electric sunroof, … there are just so much of details that makes this car lighter from a stock GSR. 100kg lighter to be exact! And it will loose some more in the near future.

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As I’ve recently sold my AE86, I started searching the car sites for an Evo 5 RS or 6 RS, simply because they are the best looking Evos, period! And I can simply swap most of my performance parts from my actual Evo 5 GSR.

So I searched the big UK forums, but only found some heavy modded stuff for sale, searched more and found collectors cars for insane money. So I contacted 2 importers in the UK. John from SVA Imports responded like instantly, and informed me that they had 2 Evo 5’s on display, and two more at the port in Dover. I focused on a 17’000km Evo 5 RS but was too slow. This one was sold really fast.

After a lot of chat and emails with SVA Imports, lots of requested pictures were taken for me and I finally paid a deposit on an “unseen” car! Quite a cool thing you can do with SVA Imports, pay deposit on a car to secure it and to get the UK registration process started. When you then actually visit the car and don’t like it, you’ll get your deposit back.

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As I knew John from his Evobreakers days and since he has always been a well reputed member and trader on MLR (biggest Evo forum – UK based), I trusted his words, and wasn’t disappointed at all.

So, let the trip begin. It’s like the 6th Evo we buy from the UK, which means ferry and hotel bookings were quickly made. 3 copilots were easily organized, and off we went. As always in the trusty Subaru Impreza Diesel.

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4 hours later we arrived at the Dunkerque ferry port

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After 2 hours of channel crossing, we checked in at the hotel and did some sight-seeing before dinner and whiskey 😉

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The next morning we headed to SVA imports without any breakfast. (sorry to all brits, but what you call a breakfast just can’t be eaten in the morning lol)

We were warmly welcomed by John and Raef and got a huge cup of coffee. John really is a very helpful guy, responding to so many questions and with a huge Evo background. SVA really did a good thing to hire someone like him!
All clean my potential new car waited for me.

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On simple request the car was put on one of their lifts to inspect the underside and all the mechanical areas of this car. These fresh Japanese imports are just in such a better state than most European cars, unbelievable!

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After some more inspections, questions and chatting we went on a drive. Lots of things feel so much tighter, better, newer than on my actual GSR. I really wasn’t disappointed at all and just had a bit of paperwork to do. An hour later all was good and we headed back to the ferry port to get back home.

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I’m now looking forward to start modifying this car and swapping my performance parts,…

Big thanks to my buddies Tom, Mich and Alain for coming along with me on this trip and of course to John at SVA imports. I read quite a few varying reviews on SVA on the internet, but I can highly recommend them!

And if you are living in the woods and never heard of SVA imports, they have quite a cool Evo themselves, it’s a bit on the tame side though 😀

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team NBU evo roadtrip #1

This post is long time overdue. If you’re a bit lazy in reading, just scroll down and look at the pics 😉

Sometime in October 2011 I told myself that I need a second track oriented car. I often thought about it the past 12 months, but now it was for real. A car that would be better suited for fast tracks such as Spa Francorchamps, the Nurburgring and so on. Did lots of brainstorming and decided it would have to be turbo and fast. Didn’t care too much if it would drift or not, wanted something that grips hard. So what was the outcome of all that brainstorming? A Scooby GT or an early Lancer Evo (4-6). Prices are way to high for european models, so I decided it should have to be a RHD car. UK has a large market for these Japan imports, prices are good and the £ to € exchange rate was good to!

So at some point I decided it has to be an Evo. Why? Simply because it’s more aggressive looking, doesn’t have a Boxer engine and because it’s just more rare and way more spirited (imho) than a Subaru.

Did some Forum and Pistonheads research for several weeks and found some really interesting cars. The first two I considered were sold even before I was able to travel to see them. So I found another ad about a white Evo 5 not to far away (+-9 hours of road) in the south-east of the UK.


After several mails and even some more mails I just paid a deposit without having seen the car in real at all. Seller stated all was good and in good order, some minor scratches, no rust, mechanically working,… as usual but not always the truth as I’ll find out later.

So I gathered 3 of my buddies and we planned the road trip. Plan was to leave early, get the ferry to the UK at 12:00, travel 2 hours by sea, do another few hundred miles, check and buy the car, get some food and sleep at a Hotel and travel home by 2 cars the other day.
 

Oh, and here’s the part of Team NBU that did this road trip, from left to right (Mitch, me, Nuudel):
 

And of course the guy who took the pic, Eiwiss:

 
And that’s how it went. Slaughtered my bank account to get the needed british pounds, alarm clock rang at 7am (way to early for a Saturday morning) and off we went.

  

After some 4 hours of foggy road we reached Dunkerque in Belgium and waited to get on the ferry. We then parked the car for the next 2 hours in the boat and went straight to the onboard restaurant for some food and some Bulmers cider 😉

  

Once arrived on English tarmac we had another +3 hours of road to hit. Unfortunately there aren’t any more pics of day 1 as we were so distracted by driving on the wrong side of the road.

We eventually arrived at the sellers house by 6PM and as winter sucks it was dark already, so no pics either. We inspected the car for general body condition, engine condition, engine leaks, noises,… and I went for a drive with the guy. As I’m a real over-enthusiastic when it comes into buying cars I tend to overlook things. So I discussed approx 30 seconds with the other 3 of us and gone for it. Done deal, bill of sale, paperwork,… the Evo was mine.

We checked in at our Hotel, got some food and lots of beer to celebrate the acquisition


The day after we headed home. Little sidenote, English breakfast is what it’s known for! If you don’t like beans, sausages, bacon and crumbled eggs in the morning you’ll start your journey quite hungry!

So, here it is, the first actual pic of my new car taken by me after getting some gas:

Oh, as I soon found out, getting gas is your major activity when owning an Evo. 12,x l/100km or 18MPG was the best I could manage when travelling home at moderate highway speeds of 120km/h or 80MPH.

So, same procedure as the day before, driving highways, ferry including eating and chilling, more driving, arriving at the destination in the dark.

 

Once at home the car was parked at our “team NBU shelter”, a last beer was drunk an everybody went home for some sleep. Quite exhausted but very happy about my new car I even ordered the first parts for it the same night 😉

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We went to the UK for the 2nd in just 2 weeks 😉 last time we went to get an Evo 5 and this weekend it was an Evo 4. On the way back to the ferry we stopped by @ SVA to take a look at their cars.
They do have quite a large selection of jdm imports. Evos, Silvias, Surbarus, FDs, …

Here’s a quick pic of Mich, Nuudel, me and a small selection of their cars. The roadtrip itself was a blast, 2 days, 2 ferrys, lots of laughing and UK food isn’t that bad (except those crackling or what ever that was. The food on the ferry was pretty good actually, the Bulmers too 😉
More on our 2 new Evo beasts soon.