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Blog posts of '2014' 'August'

Purist Group: Sean's 997 and e30 M3

Toward the end of the month of July, I headed down to beautiful Southern California for an annual family vacation. Every year, our destination is the city of Oxnard—which, if you are local to SoCal, you probably know it as “The ‘Nard.” Apparently it isn’t the most desirable vacation spot, but if I can stay in a beautiful hotel right on the beach, I’m perfectly happy.  

For this trip, Igor and I had collaborated so that he would make the trip down to Los Angeles during the same time that my boyfriend Dustin and I would be there. This way, we could plan photoshoots and content for the CAtuned website and blog. Of the few shoots we had planned, one of our goals was to meet up with a good friend, Sean Lee. Many of you may recognize his name if you are familiar with the Purist Group. Sean is an incredibly humble person with a genuine passion for everything automotive. 

When the day came for us to meet up to shoot, Igor, Dustin, and I piled in the CAtuned e28 and MTech e30, and headed to Sean’s “cave”—which is essentially an office and space for Sean to work on the vehicles he stores there. Here, we were introduced to our subjects for the day: a gorgeous E30 M3 and a 2005 Porsche 997 GT3RS. We were also joined by a fellow photographer Brian (@itsjustbrian) for a fun day of photos. Once we had settled on a plan, we all drove out to Sean’s warehouse, where he conducts business for his company, Air Tiger Express. Having an entire warehouse to shoot in was an exciting prospect. The only aspect of the experience that wasn’t so great was the fact that LA was experiencing a severe heat wave. When you combine running around shooting photos with a huge, hot warehouse, with 100+ degrees outside, you get some sweaty photographers and an extreme desire to jump in the ocean.

Out of anyone I have ever met, Sean has to be one of the most colorful and passionate enthusiasts of them all. Just listening to him talk about his history with his cars is an adventure in itself, and you almost find yourself feeling like you were there with him. From his old drifting days to the present, Sean’s words speak volumes in regards to his love for autos. There are some people who radiate happiness when they talk about their passions and hobbies, and to me, those are people you want to surround yourself with. They are people who will teach you important values, and what you learn from them will follow you for the rest of your life. This is the foundation of Purist Group. Enjoy friendship, common interests, and the passion for cars.

The setup for the day varied for shooting cars. Brian first shot Sean’s e30 M3 coupled with Igor’s white MTech e30 (which has now found a new home). I grabbed a few shots as the BMWs had the spotlight.

Once Brian was done with his photos, Sean surprised us by introducing his R35 GTR, sitting on perfectly suited Advan wheels. I tend to find myself liking the classic Skyline bodies more, but every now and then, I find an R35 that really blows me away. Sean’s is one of those GTRs. 

Finally, it was time to shoot the Porsche. I have always found that older cars appeal to me just a slight bit more than newer ones. This counts for their looks, functionality, and nostalgic value. This doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate a gorgeous, modern car when I see one, though. Sean’s GT3RS is loud, fast, and most importantly, exciting. Putting down 500 horsepower at the wheels, it’s nothing short of a thrill ride. 

There are many elements all around that make the car notable. It sits on simple yet aggressive BBS e88 wheels, and faces out with GMG carbon front fenders. 

The interior was just as beautiful as the exterior. With sturdy feel of the Carrera GT seats, sitting behind the wheel of this beauty just feels right. One element that I loved was the guages. I know, it may seem like an elementary feature to be so attracted to, but capturing the photos of the brightly lit cluster was just so easy. 

Overall, the car is incredibly clean, powerful, and represents the Purist Group name well—all of Sean’s vehicles do. When you truly have drive for your life’s passion, it will show. Sean is a great example of this ambition, and people have definitely noticed. I am humbled that we got the chance to spend the day with him to enjoy his beautiful cars and listen to wonderful stories. 

 

Words and photos by: Courtney Cutchen

www.courtneycutchenphotography.com

Humble Beginnings: The Story Behind BimmerHeads

The most common advice that I have heard from friends and family is that you should always follow your dreams. Do what makes you happy, because when you love your work, it really doesn’t feel like work at all. As an artist, this has always carried a heavy significance to me. However, this concept can be applied to just about any interest there is. For Shant and Matt, their company, Bimmerheads, started out as a hobby, but soon grew to become something much more dynamic. 

In October of 2011, the duo sold their first rebuilt cylinder head through the R3VLimited forums. It was initially something for them to test the waters with, but once they sold their first head, they were met with a welcoming demand for more. “At the time, there was no affordable option for people wanting a ported and polished cylinder head,” Shant explained. “I wanted to offer quality work to the BMW community at a reasonable price.” 

Luckily, he had plenty of mechanical experience to appease the need for the product, as he had previously spent roughly four years as a specialist for Ford Model A motors, as well as Ford Flathead V8s. Sure, it wasn’t BMW, but his passion for the make combined with his knowhow set him up for serious success. With Matt there to split the business, the two had a huge opportunity to dive in and let the company grow. 

Bimmerheads, like any other shop, has their specialties. They deal mostly with M20 and M30 heads, and they are able to build anything from bone stock to full race spec. Occasionally, they work with other motors, such as M10s, M42s, and even S14s and S38s. The variety that they are able to provide has landed them great business in the past, and their work can be found on many well known cars, such as the KAmotors M20 turbo build. Even their own cars have gotten the attention they deserve, as Matt’s 2.7L M20 turbo e30 has been seen in publications like Performance BMW and Bimmer Magazine. 

The quality of their work has drawn in many customers, but it’s not just the price that appeals to people. Matt and Shant have a genuine love for BMW and its following. 

I asked Shant what he considered to be the most rewarding aspect of being an enthusiast, and his answer was simple: “It’s all about the community.” He and Matt are both very dedicated to genuinely helping others, and at the end of the day, they aren’t interested in trying to compete for the nonexistent automotive throne. They simply want to build quality components and work with good people. 

Ultimately, Bimmerheads is running strong. Matt handles half of the work, dealing with marketing both cylinder heads and other engine work, shipping, and customer service, while Shant does a large portion of the labor. With a steady balance of both workflow and customers, there is a lot of potential for further growth. The idea is that eventually, Bimmerheads would like to do more work building complete engines, which could open even more doors. This is obviously a huge passion for the two business partners, and when your heart is in your work, it can be nothing short of amazing. 

 

 

 

Contributing cars courtesy of: John Barlow

Words and photos by: Courtney Cutchen

www.courtneycutchenphotography.com

Pure VIP Californication NorCal Coverage

First, let me preface this post by saying I'm not a huge fan of the VIP scene. That is not to say there's anything wrong with the scene, it simply doesn't hit very hard on my personal car enthusiast radar. So when I heard that the Pure VIP crew was putting together a big meet here in Sacramento (of all places), I immediately RSVP'd "I'm going" on Facebook weeks in advance. Yeah, doesn't make sense to me either.

 Lexus GS on hydros

While I've been to meets that had one or two VIP builds present, I've never been to one that catered specifically to that crowd. Just like any other type of event, there were plenty of cars that didn't fit the "VIP" mold (as a matter of fact, I showed up with some of the Midtown Euro crew in three E30s). There were mini trucks, drift-style builds, and even another old-school Euro or two. One thing that most cars had in common though: they were slammed. The organizers did a great job choosing a venue with relatively even pavement, and pretty clean entry points--because whether bagged, static, or even on hydraulics (!), the scrape potential was real.

Camoflauge 'Teg

The other thing the cars had in common was how clean they were. The major point of a VIP car is to be as clean and luxurious as possible, so even the builds that were outside of the traditional VIP definition showcased near perfect fit and finish. The few rides that were still under construction showcased details that I can already tell are going to be something special once the clear-coat dries, and the final "accomplishment" beer is popped open

No Limits Cheyenne

If I was out of my element at this meet, I didn't really feel it much. Sure, very few of the cars were models that my heart skips beats for, but the atmosphere felt very familiar. As I walked around and snapped shots of these cars, I still found myself calling out the same familiar greetings from meets past, and paying attention to the same details as I would at a Euro or track meet. For everyone I know, the conversation with other attendees stands front and center in what we remember about every gathering we go to. The most memorable for me was a conversation with Spencer Gibber’s dad (IG: @nlxspencer), who explained that Spencer drove to the meet in the same truck that took him home from the hospital when he was born. To most people at the meet, it was just an old Chevy on air ride with some cool details. To him, it was a family heirloom, the first thing with four wheels and a motor that he'd ever heard and been in.

Spencer Gibber's truck - No Limits

The atmosphere itself was great. The Pure VIP guys know how to make a meet feel like more than just a parking lot traffic jam. There were raffles, swag giveaways, and games. All around the cars you could see crews with tables set up for brews, hookah, or a picnic. There was even a food truck hanging around for refreshments. The parking lot was shared by Sacramento Zoo and Funderland visitors, so there were a lot of families with young children going back and forth. Some of them even took some time to check out the cars, and as far as I know the blending of two crowds went without a hitch. The only thing I would have liked better would’ve been to have our own parking area or entire lot just for meet cars. But hey, we can’t have it all.

Overall, the meet was a great success. I didn’t stay too much later from the official start time, but for those who arrived later and from the Pure VIP Facebook page itself, I’ve heard nothing but good things about this standout meet. If you haven’t been out to a big meet yet this year, make it happen. We’re at the end of summer, and soon all the projects will be locked up behind garage doors getting upgrades out of the limelight. The next big meet that I recommend is Waterwerks in the San Francisco on August 24th. Check out Water Werks.

Z car

VW Fox

Spencer's Widmer Bros tap shifter

Choose your own mirror placement.

Details - No Limits

Details 2 - No Limits

Ronald Santos's (IG: @djronalds) Subie wagon.

Roll In

Attendees

Hydro setup

Big show transpo

 

Chasing A Dream: Courtney's 1973 240z

It’s late. You have to be up early for work tomorrow, and you’re already tired from the long day you just had. You aren’t laying in bed though. Instead, you’re glued to the glowing monitor of your computer, scouring the list of links to cars in your area. You’re determined to find the right one. There are a lot of junkers and scams, but you look through anything that sounds even the least bit promising. 

Just about anyone who has ever wanted to buy a car off Craigslist knows the feeling. This was my usual routine (daily or nightly) for the past several months this year. As a matter of fact, I’ve been lusting after my dream car, the Datsun 240z (yes, it HAS to be a first gen) for over a year now. It wasn’t until this year that I started to seriously pursue one. The first car I looked at was a complete scam, and it left me feeling discouraged. The second car, an ex-Scarab Z, just barely slipped through my fingers, as it sold the night before I would have gone to see it. With the help of Igor, my boyfriend Dustin, and a friendly Z owner himself, JT, we searched the internet and private groups for months. Many potential cars came up, but it just never seemed to work out. Either it was out of my price range, required too much restoration, or was halfway across the country—there was always something that didn’t feel right. That is, until I found the one.

While on break at work one day a couple weeks ago, I found myself searching the Oregon Craigslist. Yes, I was desperate and daydreaming. I happened upon one ad, which only showed two photos: one exterior, and one interior. The pictures were grainy and foggy, and the description sounded too good to be true, but something told me to contact the owner. After I emailed him, it was a couple days before I heard back. But when I did get a response, it was positive. We exchanged phone numbers and he sent me every photo of the car that I asked for, and answered all my questions. Over the course of one weekend, with several different phone calls, I became more and more excited. This was not a car I could simply go look at. It was 375 miles away from the San Francisco Bay Area, all the way in Oregon. I had to be absolutely sure that this was what I wanted. But again, it felt right. I made my offer and the next day, it was accepted. The following Sunday was marked on the calendar as the day I got to pick up my Z car. 

It was the slowest week in history, but it was worth waiting for. We drove to Sacramento the night before the trip in an attempt to shave a couple hours off the drive. With a trunk filled with tools, coolant, oil, and just about anything else we could think of, we were off. Four AM the next morning, Igor, Dustin, and I began the journey. The drive to Oregon was beautiful once we got past the Redding/Red Bluff areas. Enormous mountains surrounded the i5, and we passed over incredible bridges spanning across massive lakes. The winding highway was definitely long, but the hours seemed to travel quicker on the drive up. 

We saw the Z immediately when we arrived at the address. In the photos, it appeared to be red, but in person, it was a beautiful, bright orange (which made me even happier—I have a thing for orange Datsuns). Seeing my car for the first time in person sent my heart for a couple flutters. It didn’t really seem possible, because I had always felt that I would probably daydream about owning one for another few years. Regardless, the car was even more beautiful in person. It is all original, with the exception of the wheels and dual weber carburetors, and a little bit of clutch and brake work. Although original, it was very clean and orderly, with very minor blemishes—still absolutely worth it. The owner and his friend let us look the car over and test drive it, and I could tell that they were glad we had made the trip. They told me that they had several potential buyers before me, but they had all fallen through. “I hope this doesn’t sound weird,” one of them said, “but we’re actually really happy it’s going to a girl. You’re the only girl to come look at it.” They told me that they could tell that I was passionate about the car even over the phone, and with the enormous number of questions I asked, they knew I was serious. Within an hour, the title was signed over, we were given the original carbs, caps, and even the first officially licensed Nissan/Datsun die cast model, which happens to be a miniature twin of my actual car. With my head in the clouds, it was time to bring the Z home.

Let’s start the rest of the blog post this way: the trip home did NOT go as planned. It had been not even ten minutes on the freeway, and the Z’s temp gauge started to climb rapidly. It surprised me at first, as the car ran perfectly on the test drive. Our only mistake was that we had not tested it on the freeway. Reluctantly, we stopped at a gas station at the next exit. Upon popping the hood, we saw that coolant had hissed and fizzed out from the radiator. All those jokes about Datsun reliability suddenly came rushing into my head. At first, it was only a minor setback—or so we thought. Taking a closer look, we found that the water pump was 100% dead, and the clutch fan was hardly doing its job. I called up the owner and he was in disbelief. Immediately he came to meet us and help out. Dustin saw that there was a Napa store right down the street, but thanks to the small town area we were in, virtually everything that would have helped was closed. The owner managed to help us locate a parts store that was open, and it was only 20 minutes away. We hurried to grab a new cap and water pump while Igor and the previous owner stayed with the car. Upon returning, the gas station had forced us to leave, so we took refuge in that same empty Napa parking lot. 

By this time, it was around 2:00 or 3:00pm, and the sun had come out in full swing. As we dissected the old parts from the car, it only seemed to get muggier and hotter. The hours passed, tools were dropped (as well as f-bombs), and at some point, the guys decided the only relief was to spray their heads down with the store’s hose. As we worked, and I continued to photo document, we discovered one, tiny problem...

The original clutch fan was unable to mount to the new 280zx water pump. It was the only pump the store had available, and we were in no position to be picky. This left us with no fan, so we had to drive back (again) to purchase an electric fan. At this point, I was starting to feel sick with the heat and the stress weighing down on me. The guys were working so hard to make this dream of mine a success, and I felt guilty for dragging them into such a mess. But the previous owner was very kind and helpful, and brought us any other tools we needed.

After we mounted the fan, managed to wire it up, and pieced everything back together, we fired up the Z. It was exactly what we had hoped: no more overheating. We were exhausted, but eager to get back on the road.

After a quick dinner stop, we hopped back on i5 and started the steep mountain pass incline. Unfortunately, we made it perhaps halfway up the mountain before the poor Datsun couldn’t handle it anymore. Prior to dying numerous times, it began to backfire, sputter, and run like absolute garbage. But at 5,000 feet above sea level, and with a pair of carbs that I had no background on, the problem seemed pretty obvious to us. Unable to efficiently manage fuel flow, the Z called it quits, leaving us stranded on the side of the highway. Luckily we had a second car, but it was no help in trying to figure out how to get the Datsun home. 

I called AAA and was reminded that I only had 100 miles of free towing, and the tow back to Sacramento would cost a whopping $1,300. My other option was to tow the car to the nearest town, Shasta, and leave it unattended overnight. At this point, I had to put the operator on hold as I started to cry. Yeah, I was a bit of a baby. But I felt stranded, overwhelmed by the looming possibility that maybe this wasn’t going to work out. Luckily, I have the best friends in the world, and with some hugs and words of comfort, I managed to pull my emotional state from the black pit it had fallen into. 

The tow truck arrived less than an hour later. Luckily, he was very friendly, and probably pitied me, seeing as I looked pretty pathetic, sniffling and wiping my eyes. He said he would be able to tow the car back to town, then meet us in Weed, California the next day. Immediately, I felt a huge chunk of stress fall away. The car would be kept in a secure AAA yard, instead of being left alone for whatever stranger decided to break into it in a dark Shasta parking lot. Feeling a weird combination of both victory and defeat, we parted ways with the Z and made the drive back to Sacramento. There wasn’t much sleep to be had that night, as we got back around 2:00am, and at 5:30am, I woke up and became physically ill from the stress.

Have you ever driven almost six hours each way, to and from Oregon, twice in two days? I didn’t think so. Let me tell you, it isn’t fun. As a matter of fact, I hope I never have to do it again. Regardless, it was for a good cause. The next day, we borrowed a trailer and truck, and once again, we were off. This time we were headed to the border town of Weed. The drive was a little more painful than the other two trips, as we were restricted to 55 - 65 mph. It’s a good thing we had made both trips the previous day either extremely early in the morning or extremely late at night, because this time, we could actually enjoy more of the landscape. 

We arrived in Weed at 6:00pm. I had been checking in with the tow company periodically, and at this time, the Z was being loaded onto the trailer and was scheduled to leave immediately. At least, that’s what we were told. I’m not quite sure how the tow truck turned an hour and a half drive into a three hour one, but he made it happen. He pulled into the truck stop we were waiting at just short of 9:00pm.

Thankfully, loading the car took maybe 20 minutes, and we were soon back on the road. At this point, after everything that had gone wrong, the only thing left would be for the car to somehow fall off the trailer on the freeway. It wouldn’t have surprised me with the luck we had on this trip, but in our favor, it didn’t. We safely arrived at the shop around 1:30am.

(Dustin took on the incredibly important task of direct messaging our friends over Instagram, cataloguing our misfortune.)

As we drove through the mountains that night, back toward Sacramento, we were met with lightning storms and mild rain. It was a beautiful thing to enjoy as we carved through passes on the dark highway. This drive felt especially long to me, but I was at ease whenever I looked back and saw the Z on the trailer behind us. It was almost like one of those moments in a really intense movie, after the main characters overcome huge obstacles. And all you’re left with is a sort of peacefulness in knowing that it’s over. 

 

I guess what I learned from this experience is that no matter how much confidence you have in an old car you’ve never seen before, just be safe and bring a trailer. In hindsight, I don’t know why I thought it would be so easy to drive the car for six hours back home. I was a little too excited, I suppose. Ultimately, it was a learning experience, and one hell of a way to introduce my Datsun. Without such great friends, I wouldn’t have been able to make this trip. It is now safe with CAtuned, and we look forward to bringing you updates on my new build. 

Special thank you to Igor, Dustin, JT, and my family for the support!

 

Words and photos by: Courtney Cutchen

www.courtneycutchenphotography.com 

Legends of the Autobahn 2014 Show

Legends of the Autobahn Show 2014: This was such a favorite show for us last year that we could not wait for it to come up again this year. It brings out some cars you just dont see any place else. Factory race cars, engines, drivers and the general car nuts. The smell of cars new and old. The Porsche club was not a part of this gathering this year & this was a true bummer. How ever a few did join in any ways and it was a welcoming sight. We dont have to tell you that if you didnt go you missed you. Hopefully the pictures will help- enjoy!

 

 

 

Pictures & Words by: Igor Polishchuk

Pictures taken with SONY A7

Manufacturing of our Parts

Just a quick video to show some of our parts being made.