Sunday, January 4, 2015

Goodbye 2014, Goodbye Blogspot.

5 years ago, i set off for my first ever (and i imagined back then, only) automotive centric holiday to Tokyo Japan and upon returned started up this blog with the intention of documenting my holiday and some posts of all the trials and tribulations i encountered with ownership of my E36. Slowly but surely, as i (or rather my mechanic) sorted out more and more issues with the car, i had less to write about.

Eventually, i pretty much stopped writing about my car and instead, focused my attention towards our small local car scene in Singapore and pretty much everything else that i thought was interesting. I'm still very happy whenever someone tells me they visit my little blog as i never really intended for it to have much of a reach since there are so many bigger and more established automotive sites and writers out there. But big thanks to everyone for giving me these little bits of your time.

Now, it seems, is time to close my blogspot account and this bring my 500th post is probably a nice way to end it. But the end of updating this blogspot account does not mean the end of Garage36. Quite the opposite, for a number of reasons, i have decided to migrate over to wordpress and all new write ups will be featured on my new site: . So please do visit my new site when you have the time.

Next stop? Tokyo, Japan..

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Liberty Walk heads to SEMA 2014

Gotta love Kato-san's spirit. Maintaining that smile even when things go wrong.

Bonus video: Liberty Walk goes racing!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gran Designs: Driving the BMW 435i Gran Coupe

 photo DSC05060.jpg When you think about it, the launch of the BMW 435i Coupe presents itself a rather perplexing proposition, here is a 4-door Coupe derived from a 2-door Coupe which itself derived from a 4-door sedan that can trace its family lineage all the way back to the original, a 2-door Coupe. Confused yet? Don't be, because despite the Germans strange use of language when describing cars, the 4 Series Coupe is pretty good.

I'll admit i was a skeptic when it first arrived on the scene. The biggest question on my (and i suspect many other) mind was why don't people buy the already excellent 3 Series sedan? That was of course before my eyes glazed over the svelte bodywork of the Gran Coupe, at once familiar and new at the same time.  photo DSC05166.jpg With the elongated bonnet, side vents and panel surfacing carried over from the 4-Series Coupe, the Gran Coupe takes the best bits of the Coupe and mixes it in with 2 extra doors and a long elegant roof-line that tapers into a large tailgate reminiscent of the GT. Looking more sophisticated than sporty and easily best looking of all the 4-door "3" variants, the 435i Gran Coupe sits lower, wider and longer than its 3-Series counterparts. Come to think of it, this is probably what the designers at BMW really wanted the new 3-Series to look like. It also comes with frame-less windows which everyone knows, oozes cool.  photo DSC05176.jpg  photo DSC05076.jpg  photo DSC05123.jpg Enhancing the already pleasing aesthetics on our shiny silver test car are tasty bits of M-Sport trim featuring meaner looking bumpers, high-gloss black trim, 19s all around and shiny twin chrome pipes shooting out rearwards.  photo DSC05107.jpg  photo DSC05136.jpg Our test car came spec-ed up with a red and black interior on a silver body. They could not have picked a better color combination as it looks a treat and really makes the interior pop.  photo DSC05145.jpg For those up front, the excellent driving position and overall layout have been carried over from the Coupe. Textures and surfaces feels well put together and the soft but supportive seats have adjustments to clamp you into the leather like a baseball in a glove. Like the Coupe, eager drivers will easily find their perfect driving position with ease and the very lovely to hold and behold M-Steering wheel makes an appearance in the Gran Coupe after being strangely absent from the Cabriolet. They should really keep it standard issue in all 435i's. (Actually, i think they should make it standard issue in every new BMW.)  photo DSC05143.jpg Rear seat passengers are decently catered for with adequate shoulder and legroom. The rear seats are set low into the cabin and two full sized male adults will fit comfortably while 3 might find it a little bit cozy. Unfortunately headroom for taller individuals might be a bit tight due to the elegantly sloping roof.  photo DSC05151.jpg Speaking of which, with the inclusion of a lift-back style tailgate, boot access is now through a larger aperture earlier seen on the 3-Series GT. While luggage space remains the same as normal sedan, the inclusion of the rear hatch does make it appear bigger and makes it easier to load or unload daily necessities, golf bags for instance.  photo DSC05102.jpg We'd only be covering half the story if we didn't sneak in some mention of the driving dynamics. Hallmarks of every BMW and rarely do they disappoint. The 435i Gran Coupe is no exception when it comes to performance figures, we've seen this Twin-scroll turbo-ed 3-litre and ZF 8-speed combination in many other applications across the BMW range and the numbers here remain largely the same, 306 horses and 400Nm of torque. The century mark comes up in 5.2 seconds and the meaty power-plant will continue the charge from license busting speeds into jail-time territory all day without breaking a sweat. Big brakes tasked with hauling this silver bullet down from triple digit speeds do the job well and unless drivers head to the tracks, will probably not experience any semblance of brake fade.  photo DSC05127.jpg Interestingly, i find that the damping characteristics of the Gran Coupe while being more athletic in feel than the Sedan (maybe due to the lower ride height and seating position), also seems to ride slightly better than the 2-door Coupe. Especially so when i thumb the adaptive M dampers into "Comfort" mode. Could the inclusion of a B-pillar actually help to iron out additional bumps from the road or was my bum feeling extra sensitive when i was out driving the Coupe? Regardless, on comfort mode, it still drives very well and manages to flatten out all but the most uneven of roads. Making point to point journeys enjoyably comfortable while an underlying firmness keeps the car feeling planted to the tarmac. With a juicy reserve of power nestled below your right foot, the 435i Gran Coupe allows for really quick progress once called upon.  photo DSC05047.jpg I would like to at this point go into detail about it's amazing handling through tight bends and windy back-roads but i cannot, not because it's so very anti-social nowadays but more because i never actually took it through tight bends and windy back-roads. For most of the time i had the 435i Gran Coupe i drove it like how potential owners probably would, on highways and byways, through the city and back again with the occasional blast through some long high-speed bends where the car remained positively poised while the electric steering stayed accurate and direct. No where near any of the handling limits of the car i reckon, but throughout the time i had with the Gran Coupe, i never once had a frown. It looks beautiful, the interior is gorgeous and is really a nice place to be in. It drives well and there is no wanting for additional power. Priced very close to the 2-Door variant, those looking at the 335i Sedans will have to decide if the added style is worth the added cash, but those already looking at a 435i Coupe but have needs for an extra 2 rear doors will be presented with a dilemma, but what a very pleasant problem it will be.  photo DSC05157.jpg

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Singapore's 1st RWB. Built.

 photo DSC05699.jpg By the time you read this post, Nakai-san would have already boarded his flight back to Japan and Singapore's 1st ever RWB would have been completed and let loose on our streets.  photo DSC05705.jpg But let's rewind back a couple of days (before the weekend) to build day 3. With most of the work completed the night before, i pretty much figured the final day of the build would be a short one, so instead of dropping by after work, i drove over during my lunch break to have a final peek at the build process.  photo DSC05714.jpg  photo DSC05752.jpg  photo DSC05723.jpg As you can see from the above pictures, the car was already pretty much complete by the time i got there, they even washed it!  photo DSC05719.jpg The lucky and very brave owner even got his very own RWB Singapore T-shirt for the occasion.  photo DSC05762.jpg  photo DSC05763.jpg Cameo photobomb by Sasha Grey the E36 behind a visibly focused Nakai.  photo DSC05793.jpg Nakai-san carefully working on some minor finishing touches.  photo DSC05778.jpg  photo DSC05780.jpg Windscreen decal backing pulled off, Singapore very 1st RWB is good to go!  photo DSC05733.jpg  photo DSC05693.jpg RED meets red.  photo DSC05815.jpg  photo DSC05837.jpg  photo DSC05798.jpg  photo DSC05795.jpg  photo DSC05823.jpg As the owner of the car also runs his very own bicycle shop/cafe, he brought along a custom made matching two-wheeler which received a RWB-lite treatment shortly after i left.  photo DSC05819.jpg Some light buffing by the master builder.  photo DSC05834.jpg With some last photos taken i said my goodbyes to both Nakai-san and the very friendly owner for sharing and letting us in on the entire build process of his RWB. If you ever see a bright red 911 with "Rauh Welt" emblazoned on the windscreen, be sure to give a friendly wave!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Singapore's 1st RWB. Build Night 2: Passion for Speed. Passion for Rough.

 photo DSC05644.jpg Passion, focus, dedication and as it turns out, speed. Such is the level of experience the Grand Meister of RWB has, that by the time i arrived straight after a day of work, Nakai-san and the team of people helping out at the shop have already begun packing up for the day and as you can see from the opening shot, Singapore's RWB #01 is almost complete.  photo DSC05480.jpg  photo DSC05508.jpg With the majority of work already accomplished by the end of the first day, subsequent build days allowed Nakai-san the time to fine tune the details of the car.  photo DSC05622.jpg  photo DSC05618.jpg For those who know, the beauty of RWBs lie in the details.  photo DSC05490.jpg  photo DSC05528.jpg The finishing touches to some very wide rubber.  photo DSC05517.jpg  photo DSC05604.jpg With most of the work done for the day, Nakai-san got to chill out.  photo DSC05549.jpg Plenty of pictures were taken...  photo DSC05484.jpg ...And the lucky owner fired up the car for some early seat time. Looks like Christmas has come early for him!  photo DSC05514.jpg Leftovers?  photo DSC05573.jpg  photo DSC05568.jpg  photo DSC05593.jpg  photo DSC05635.jpg As everyone called it a day, it looks like Build Day 3 will be a rather quick one and i'm guessing by the time you're reading this, Singapore's very first RWB will be pretty much done!