The Cars of Kyrgyzstan

This is the second submission from long time reader Oliver Klose, a.k.a. Sjalabais. This summer he vacationed in , which I think is the Bora Bora of central Asia. He submitted two articles, this first one of driving in Kyrgyzstan and this second one on the cars that he saw there. Enjoy. -KK

Central Asia has an interesting history. Often referred to as , the saying goes that big powers – mostly Britain, Russia and China – have for centuries tried to influence these beautiful countries with varying degrees of success (Afghanistan, anyone?). That is reflected by an incredibly diverse carscape still solidly shaped by politics.

As a country that came into being by the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Kyrgyzstan obviously has a great choice of Russian machinery still visible in traffic. The Moskovich above is a typical candidate, still very prominent in the countryside. But also the staple of Russian-sphere roads, the Lada, is everywhere in all possible iterations.

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A Guide to Driving in Kyrgyzstan

Today we have a submission from long time reader Oliver Klose, a.k.a. Sjalabais. This summer he vacationed in , which I think is the Hawaii of central Asia. He submitted two articles, this first one of driving in Kyrgyzstan and an another on the cars that he saw there. Enjoy. -KK

Kyrgyzstan is a small, mountainous country wedged between Kazakhstan and China that is most definitely worth a visit for its stunning landscape, hospitable people and weird food. When preparing for a trip to Kyrgyzstan (and countries like it), you will encounter a lot of advice about driving yourself that only leaves one conclusion: Get a car with a driver, or face extinction at the hands of traffic chaos. But if you like to drive, you may choose not to listen to that advice, and here’s why.

Kyrgyzstan has some of the most amazing roads in the world. There are newly paved, silk smooth interstates as well as high standard mountain roads courtesy of a deal with China involving prison labour. You’ll find well maintained gravel roads as well as gravel roads that will shake your car’s interior to pieces and simultaneously greatly enhance your digestion. You can also find roads that will lead you to an elevation of 4000m (13,123 feet), making it possible to stretch a summerly 40C (104F) to fresh snow within one drive.

Driving in Kyrgyzstan can be a real joy if you manage to be attentive and adapt to the local driving style. But be aware that an ageing car park and a spirited approach of getting from A to B make driving in Central Asian countries roughly twice as dangerous as in the US or Europe, considering accident and traffic fatality statistics. Here are some observations from our week spent driving in the country and how to make it enjoyable rather than a knife’s edge experience.

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Team O’Neil Explains Rally Car Prep

Kamil Kaluski August 30, 2017 All Things Hoon

Wyatt Knox from Team O’Neil Rally School takes us on a tour of what makes a car, a rally car. From suspension, to brakes, engine work, and the cage, he goes over everything in detail. But there is more; more stuff that you typically can’t just see, the kind of stuff that is not in rules books, the kind of stuff that can only come from experience. 

Wyatt explains the purpose of a foam pad on a skid plate, for instance. Or why a catalytic converter is mounted in the rear of the car, or what a wheel scraper is. He goes into details of how a rally car differs from a track car. Details such as long protected brake lines, what rotors to use and not use and why, engine mounts, modular cooling system, and underbody protection. He goes into details of having two spare tires, an impact gun, and a jack and their mounting points. 

Watch the video, it tells you the kind of things that you can only learn from doing. Many of them can be applicable to your daily driver, too. 

Spy Shots! 2019 Ford Transit Connect

Kamil Kaluski August 28, 2017 All Things Hoon

You know what is a very underrated vehicle? The Ford Transit Connect. Most people forget that this minivan/car hybrid thing even exists. That’s too bad because it is one of the most functional vehicles around.

It may seem small but it makes the best use of its interior space. The long wheel base version seats up to seven and has more interior volume than the Honda Pilot. It’s big side doors and hatch allow that space to be very easily accessible. 

Above and below are spy shots of the 2019 Ford Transit Connect. It’s shape is instantly recognizable which means that changes will be limited to front and rear fascias, powertrain, and interior. 

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Audi S1 on tracks on a beach looks fun

Kamil Kaluski August 17, 2017 All Things Hoon

The 231-hp Audi S1, an all-wheel-drive hot-hatch, is one of those vehicles that Audi doesn’t think Americans would buy. Perhaps justifiably so, as it is based on the small VW Polo chassis and costs as much as the Golf R. And the Golf R seems better in every measurable way, lacking only the cachet of the four-ring badge, if such thing even exists. 

Some loony hoon, somewhere, decided that it would be a good idea to remove the wheels off his S1 and replace them with tracks. Then he went to the beach with it. The result is something that looks incredibly fun. 

Project Car SOTU: The Integra GS-R

In October 2015 the Integra looked and ran perfectly. It was freshly detailed, which included wet-sanding and headlight clearing. The engine was serviced; new plugs, fuel filter, valve adjustment,  cold-air intake with a new filter. It ran strong and it ran well.

Then I parked it temporarily in my friend’s huge garage. And I haven’t driven it since. I didn’t mean for that to happen. The access to it wasn’t always easy. I didn’t always have the time. And the time just flew by. But last week I did spend some time with it…

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Project Car SOTU: 4Runner Project keeps running

My 2010 Toyota 4Runner SR5 has been getting somewhat regular updates on Redusernab. In recent times I installed Rigid Industries off-road lights, eBay LED interior lights, and provided a four-season update on my BFGoodrich KO2 tires.

Other than routine maintenance and one annoying intermittent issue there’s not much to report. It currently has less than 50,000 miles so I don’t expect major issues for a while. I do have some new parts laying around and some plans but time is lacking…

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Sampling the Yakima FullSwing hitch-mounted bicycle rack

Transporting bicycles isn’t easy. If your vehicle is big and functional enough, it’s possible throw a bike or two inside, with the front wheels removed. The roof is a good place but placing bicycles on a larger vehicle may be challenging for some. Also, once on the roof bikes cause significant drag, make a lot of noise, and kill the fuel economy. 

Transporting bikes on a rack mounted behind the vehicle seems like it makes the most sense. Here, the bikes are easier to load and don’t create drag. Still, it’s not a perfect solution as the rack extends the length of your vehicle, may block visibility, and now your trunk is inaccessible. Unlike a roof rack, for full vehicle functionality the rear racks need to be removed when the bikes are off. 

With the , Yakima tries to make living with a hitch-mounted rack easier. This is a large unit designed to accommodate four bicycles and also swing out of the way even with bikes on it. Now you’re allowed access to the hatch or the tailgate of the vehicle.

Can this be the perfect solution for bike transport?

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Redusernab Asks: What’s a good replacement for an FJ Cruiser?

When Toyota introduced the 2007 FJ Cruiser it immediately created a cult following. It looked different, a retro design pulled off well. It was built on a fourth generation 4Runner frame, known for its capability and strength. Add to it the element of Toyota reliability and it’s no wonder that Toyota sold a ton of them. Out of production for over a year now, ridiculously high prices of used ones further reinforce the love that this vehicle has from its owners. 

A friend messaged me the other asking what is a good replacement vehicle for his 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser. I asked him what is wrong with his FJ? Does he need space? More towing ability? More functionality? 

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Toyota takes the 86 into Pirelli World Challenge

Kamil Kaluski August 3, 2017 Motorsports

Last time I reviewed the Subaru BRZ I said that I would want nothing more than it, or its Toyota 86 sibling, with a gutted interior and a roll cage for my track weekends. Toyota must have read that review and said “Kamil is right, we should race the 86! 86 buyers do a ton of autocross and track events with their cars and so should we!”

This is why, in my mind, Toyota entered the 86 Cup Car into the Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) racing series. The 86 will be running in the TCA class and will be driven by Craig Stanton. Craig is a former GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT and Continental Tire GS class champion, which is similar to my own experience of racing 24 Hours of Lemons for four years.

The car will be fielded by the Dan Gardner Spec (DG-Spec) Racing team. DG-Spec previously won the Pirelli World Challenge TC class championship with the Scion tC in 2010, and has also competed in GRAND-AM.

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