Blog posts tagged with 'feature'

West Coast Novelty: Dustin's 1972 Datsun 510

In today’s car scene, there are various styles that people follow when modifying their cars. In general, it can be categorized into two (albeit large) groups: form and function. I have heard countless arguments between enthusiasts from each group, and good points can be brought up from both sides. What I tend to ask myself is, “Why can’t we have both? Why can’t there be a happy medium?” Well, the answer to my question rests with several builds off the top of my head. Dustin’s 1972 Datsun 510 is one of them.

When he initially began searching for his next project, Dustin had just sold his previous daily, a 2002 Miata. Standing at about 6’3”, he found that the tiny convertible just wasn’t doing the job anymore. It’s not much fun to drive when your knees are in constant contact with the dash. This said, he was in the market for something roomier. He started with two ideas in mind: either a Subaru or a Datsun. At the time, the Subaru (which would have likely been a GC8 because of its practicality and drivability) seemed more feasible than the 510. If you know at least a little about Datsuns, you know that they aren’t getting any cheaper. The plan was to find a decent platform of a Subie, fix what needs fixing, and enjoy the ride. But then, it happened.

Scrolling through Craigslist one night, sifting through the Datsun ads out of curiosity, he saw it. The beautiful, royal blue paint caught his eye right away. The body was in good condition, and it was for sale locally. The four door appealed to him more than the two door, so it was just about an automatic decision. He had a moment of instantaneous infatuation. It’s easy to see a car and say that you love it, but in cases like this, it’s serious. Like they say, “When you know, you know.”

Dustin began his journey with “the Dime,” as he had affectionately dubbed it, with an eager mindset. He had bought one of his dream cars. However, the more he looked at it and the more he worked on it, the more he found aspects that disappointed him. For example, right off the bat, he figured out that the motor swap had been done, but sloppily and in some ways, incorrectly. The bolts that linked the transmission to the motor were missing all but two, and the wiring was messy. The radiator needed to be replaced, and the differential sounded like it was in constant pain. Additionally, it was a completely wrong gear ratio. The car leaked every fluid that was in it—literally. Oil, coolant, brake fluid, you name it, and it was in a puddle on the ground. Sadly, this is the territory that comes with buying cars like this from other owners. Unless you find a completely original gem, it will have been tampered with and “modified.” But with love comes pain, and Dustin rolled up his sleeves without a single thought of abandoning the old classic.   

As aforementioned, under the hood beats the heart of a 240sx. The lightweight car combined with a decently more powerful motor (compared to the stock L16) makes it a blast to drive. It’s quick, exhilarating, and raw. All around, the car feels solid. Nothing really creaks, rattles, or clangs, which is a huge bonus. There isn’t much to be said for the sound barrier though, so if you like to hear your motor while driving, this is the car for you. 

A lot of work was done to get this car to function as well as it does. Dustin made it a goal of his to swap out the less than desirable differential that he had before with something able to handle more power. It took him a while, but he finally found a good condition 2007 STi diff. In addition, he swapped in an upgraded aluminum radiator, clutch and flywheel (done at CAtuned), and fixed the fluid leaks. 

One aspect of my automotive subjects that I always like to pay close attention to, is detail. Detail in the interior, in the wheels, in the body. Without craftsmanship and passion, what is a good car left with? If you ask me, not much.

Let’s start with the interior. It’s a part that many people seem to love. It radiates the type of resto-mod style of the car, while still being comfortable and practical. The Corbeau front seats and bench rear seat compliment the light tones of the off white door panels. The car came with the stock 510 steering wheel, but Dustin wanted something sportier and more easily handled under intense driving conditions. He replaced the original with a beautiful leather Momo wheel, with a solid NRG adapter. 

The car has changed a lot since Dustin bought it. For both aesthetic and performance purposes, he decided to lower it just a bit. It wasn’t stock height when he got it, but it definitely was missing something. It is lowered on specialty coilovers and camber plates from a local 510 expert and racer, Troy Ermish. When Dustin got the car, one thing he knew was that he didn’t want a stance machine. While he enjoys a slammed car just as much as the next guy, he holds to the idea that these cars aren’t meant to be street sweepers. They aren’t as replaceable as a lot of the cars of today, and it is definitely not cheap or easy to repair body damage and other major issues. “I drive the car a lot,” Dustin says. “It’s both my daily and my weekend car.” This means that he has to be even more careful. 

Owning the 510 has been a journey so far, but you feel a sense of gratification when there are so many people who appreciate your work. That said, if you own an even moderately classic car, you know that it gets a lot of attention. However, if you own a Datsun, it’s on a whole different level. Dustin can’t count the times people have approached him at the gas station, given thumbs up and taken photos on the freeway, and even followed him home just to tell him their stories about the iconic cars. One man on the freeway even went as far as trying to buy the car off of him as they drove side by side. 

Dustin has the Dime’s future all mapped out. In addition to different wheels, he is also going to invest in a big brake kit, as well as eventually repainting it. There are other plans in the works, but we have to keep a little mystery. Over the course of his life with this car, I have seen him smile harder than anyone, and at the same time, curse it to no end. That’s the nature of building a car, though. What matters is whether or not it truly makes you happy at the end of the day. If it does, then you’re on the right track.  



Words and photos by: Courtney Cutchen

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

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

Love Story: Bob's 1967 Mercedes Benz 250S

What draws an enthusiast to a certain model or body style? Usually the answer to that question is fairly simple: personal preference. It’s more of a selfish desire, for lack of a better description. It’s the mind saying, “I like this or that.” When an enthusiast acquires a car, it’s because they like it. 


This, however, was not the case for Bob. When he set out in search for that special vehicle, he was not thinking only of himself. As a matter of fact, he was thinking about his girlfriend. He wanted to find the perfect car, which he could use as an accessory to propose to his other half. “I started looking for something old and classy when I proposed to my lady,” he explained. His first lead, a rough around the edges, 1972 Mercedes Benz barnyard find, was close to what he was looking for, but not exactly the image of regality that he had in mind. Regardless of the fact that the car was a bust, he knew from that moment that he had to find another of that exact body style. Luckily, not long after, he spotted another one parked in the driveway of a nearby house. With determination, he approached the owner, and before he knew it, the 1967 250S was his to own. 


It’s easy to see why Bob had fallen in love with the W108 body. His personal favorite features were “the huge grill and the double stacked headlights.” In my opinion, classic Mercedes cars seem more appealing than new age ones, but that may be because I am a sucker for the iconic “governor” style vehicle. In addition, the fact that such an official looking car has been given a twist of stance earns it an A+ mark. I have only been to one or two meets with this car present, but the most popular question I hear about it is, “That’s on bags, right?” 


No, folks. Bob’s Merc is static, which seems to baffle some people. He basically has the best of both worlds, because as low as it is, he still claims that it floats like a Cadillac. Outside of the suspension adjustment, nothing incredibly major has been done to the car. However, all of the work was done here at CAtuned. A full tune up, new motor mounts and tires, as well as a completely redone exhaust and full body detail account for most of this 108’s records. However, Bob does have some ideas for its future. “The next step for this car has always been to transplant a new drivetrain,” he said. “Once that’s underway, airride suspension will be a must.” 


So, there you have it. What started as a proposal accessory will carry on as part of the now married couple’s journey together, and will eventually have some major changes for its image. Bob’s Benz ultimately served its purpose. After all, she did say yes!  



Words and photos by: Courtney Cutchen