Saturday, April 13, 2019

[Event] De Anza college auto tech car show

[note: this post, like an air-cooled 911, is back-dated to when these events occurred]

On the 13th of April I drove over to Cupertino for the De Anza College automotive technology program's car show. As the name suggests, the college has a variety of courses, degrees, and certification programs for budding professionals and hobbyists alike. I checked out the show on a bit of a whim, and didn't roll in with any friends. I found a great variety of cars, imports to old muscle and everything in between.

I'd recently received, after many months of waiting, my personalized license plate. If you've been keeping up from the begin you might recognize the significance - it was in Hakone that I first drove the R34 GT-R and fell in love with the Skyline. I'm lucky I picked it up before the Toyota 86 Hakone edition was announced.

I was blown away to learn that the Skyline had won an award - Students Choice! I think that award really captures what the Skyline means to American car enthusiasts: something we all grew up admiring but couldn't get our hands on. A working-class hero of a car born from bubble-era Japan, when there was so much technological ambition and it was put to the test on racetracks all over the world. A car that lives up to the hype even 30 years later... also, how cool is that Mercedes?

Friday, April 12, 2019

[Event] The first-ever NorCal Skyline Matsuri

In September of 2018 I bought my GT-R and joined up with the NorCal Skyline owner's group. Shortly after, local owner Todd had us mark Saturday March 30th for a special gathering he was putting together - the first-ever NorCal Skyline Matsuri. (Google tells me that 'matsuri' translates to 'festival.') It looks silly in retrospect, but at the time I was quoted 4-6 months to receive my car and it was a toss-up whether I'd even be able to participate.

Obviously I have owned my car for a few months now - crisis averted - so my excitement grew as the date approached and event details emerged. I was impressed by the 10-car gathering the weekend before (see previous post), but it was eclipsed by the massive 25+ Skyline turnout for the Matsuri.

The day kicked off bright and early down in Fremont, where the south bay owners rallied. After a coffee we drove up the 680 to Martinez, the gathering point to start the official event.

There were so many people, Skylines, and cameras... I'd packed my camera gear, but decided to let everyone else do the shooting and focus on driving and enjoying the day. So, in this post I've sprinkled in some other folks' photos.

With the cars assembled, Todd gave us a short briefing of the plans for the day:

  • Gather in Martinez
  • Drive into SF via Bear Creek Road, Bay Bridge
  • Special photo op - fill up Lombard street with Skylines
  • Convene in the parking deck of SF Japantown, ramen lunch
  • Drive across the Golden Gate bridge to Fort Baker
  • Owner portraits and group photo

Photo credit: Todd Lapin 

Photo credit: Todd Lapin

Weather was beautiful and I enjoyed my first run down Bear Creek Road - I think there are a lot of nice roads up here in the east bay that I need to explore further. It was getting on towards noon by the time we rolled into downtown SF, so traffic was thick. Aside from my irritating clutch situation, the car ran beautifully. 

 Photo credit: Todd Lapin

The special surprise of the Matsuri was a Skyline procession down the famous hairpin block of Lombard street in Russian Hill. Todd had a friend fly a drone to capture some incredible images!

We crossed the city to Japantown for a Tokyo-style meet in the depths of the parking deck. This was a great opportunity to meet new folks and check out amazing cars. We had all three generations of the RB26 cars on hand - no small feat in the US. Ramen was delicious and somehow this was my first time in Japantown, despite having lived in the city for a year just on the other side of the hill...

We wrapped lunch and drove across the lovely Golden Gate bridge to Fort Baker. It was here that we did the Owner Portraits, in the spirit of the R's Meeting held in Japan. Every year they have an enormous gathering of GT-Rs, and GT-R magazine does yearbook-style photos of cars and their owners. They publish it all in an actual book! Owners bring their families, costumes, and props to bring flavor to their snapshots. I really like this concept, and Todd does too, so he made it a part of the Matsuri.

Portrait creation in progress. Photo credit: Dino Dalle Carbonare [link]

Queued up for my photo.

Perfect backdrop

Yours truly. Photo credit: Corkscrew'd

The NorCal crew. Photo credit: Corkscrew'd

I have to give a tremendous amount of credit to Todd for organizing and executing this incredible event. Making an event with so many (literally) moving parts go off so seamlessly requires a huge amount of preparation and behind-the-scenes scheming. I enjoyed meeting friendly and knowledgeable owners and I look forward to more Skyline activities with them soon! Thanks Todd!

More Matsuri coverage:
Write-up on Z Car Blog
Highlight reel on the YouTubes
Shared photo dump via Google Photos

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

[Skyline] Brake pedal switch bumper replacement

[note: this post, like an air-cooled 911, is back-dated to when these events occurred] 

One evening I parked the Skyline, turned everything off, and got out. To my surprise the brake lights were still lit. Odd... though something about this rang a bell. Yes, this seemed familiar... I checked back to the GTR USA Blog and confirmed the issue.

That blue component is the brake light indicator switch. The plunger with the black tip is supposed to be pressing against a bumper on the brake pedal arm. As soon as the brakes are applied, the pedal swings away, the plunger extends, and the sensor sends the signal to light up the brake lights. All two of them - no third brake light on these cars. Where was the bumper?

Ah. So one new bumper in a fetching OEM Nissan green and all was well again.

[Future me says: according to my notes I installed a new steering wheel around this time, but I have no photos so I guess I wasn't that excited about it. It's a nice three-spoke Nardi deal]

I went to a motorsport photography workshop at Laguna Seca and took the Skyline. Some photos from the paddock for your enjoyment...