Captain Slow’s Gran Turismo Rotary Challenge.

I finally beat Top Gear Intermediate with Gold.  I felt listless.  Empty.  Like if Melville had Ahab catch the whale half way in the book.  


Then a man in a white labcoat showed up and offered me a challenge in an envelope.  We got sued quickly by the BBC, sacked those responsible and got on with it.


The reality of it was that I hadn't been making a lot of ASpec progress.  I'm still struggling through the amateur races.  Specifically, the FR challenge.  My tuned and tricked out Miata isn't doing the job.  So I've got to find a new FR machine to take into the fray.  


I make no secret of it.  The RX-7 FC3S is my all time favorite car.  The look, the Wankel engine, even the wheel package…  Everything about it is what was right with the Eighties.  A time when Toto wasn't afraid to put out a single that didn't make sense, and when we believed that yes, maybe, yes, someday Jamaica can have a world championship bobsleigh team or maybe Judge Reinhold CAN get action before leaving Ridgemont High.  Ah, the Eighties.  Aside from Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and the Electric Slide, it was a perfect time.  Or it was to me.  I was born in '82.  So, I hold a lot of nostalgia to that era. 


But there was a problem.  For a paltry 13 thousand more, I could pick up the superior FD3S.  My heart broke.  Then broke some more, looking at the horsepower difference.  202 for the FC3S, and 251 for the FD3S.  49 Horsepower.  Yes, the Spirit R package is 40 grand, but, let's ignore the Spirit R for a moment.  I'm left with the question, "Can you tune an FC3S RX-7 to be as good as an FD3S in the difference of in-game cost(discounting the Spirit R trim)?"  


Can passion overcome engineering?  Let's find out.  


First we had to make a hard choice, what color am I buying the damn thing in?  Red like Char Aznable or go weeaboo and embrace Japan's traditional racing color, which was white?  Seeing as how I'm trying to do my weeaboo heritage proud, I went white(Who the hell am I kidding?  I loved Initial D; go RedSuns…err Project D.  Whatever.).


Now, I need a benchmark FD3S(Yes, Yellow.  Keisuke Takahashi's car from Initial D.  Shut up.  Don't judge me).  This is going to be important.  I did 5 laps on the Top Gear Test Track, pick the fastest lap and see if a trip to the tuning shop can overcome this disparity of technology.   More notes on the testing protocol.  I set the driving line on and all other driving aids to default.  We're talking about FR here, so, we can include laps that would otherwise be "disqualified."  My best topped out at 1:27.622.  Let's ignore the fact that I went off course, the FR Amateur race will. 


We have a target, but now we're presented with all sorts of problems.  The difference between the FD and FC weren't just the 49 missing horses between the two generations of the 13B twin rotary engine.  Suspension, transmission, even the rear wing are completely different, and judging by the cost, operating on an entirely different level.  However, I'm pretty confident that this won't be the problem i suspect it will be, given the budget and given Gran Turismo's economics.


First off, take care the oil; then a benchmark run.  1:32.874.  Items purchased:

  • Engine Tuning level 1: 2,500 Credits
  • ECU upgrade: 1,000 Credits.  
  • Sports Manifold: 2,500 Credits  
  • Racing Air Filter: 450 credits
  • Sports Exhaust: 1,500 Sports
  • Catalytic Converter: 500 Credits
  • Single Plate Clutch: 1,500 Credits
  • Sports Flywheel: 650 Credits
  • Fixed Sports Suspension Kit: 3,000 Credits

Total: 13,600(Not counting the customary oil change; it was done on the FD3S at the same price) Credits.

Remainder: 40 Credits(Just enough for an ECU swap on a '68 Fiat 500 R).

Total HP: 262.  11 HP gained over the FD3S.

Now, we test.

First Lap: 1:28.788.  Clearly I'm on to something.  I took 3 clean seconds off the time and I can push further if I take the next lap cleanly.

Second Lap: 1:29.368.  And even worse, the last two laps I went off track on.  Even though FR Amateur won't care, it's a clear sign that I'm getting uncontrollable and messy.  I think I'm putting down too much power.

Third Lap: 1:33.204 now finally, a clean lap.  But I'm doing worse than stock FC benchmark.  

Fourth Lap: 1:29.268.  Another dirty lap, but, I'm starting to notice, the dirtier I race, the faster my laptimes are.  I think it's time to give it  the full go.

Fifth Lap: 1:34.906.  And I pushed it dirty.  And I pushed myselff off track.  It's not happening.  Even if I went for better tires or changed some other aspect of the tuning, it just wasn't going to work.  The budget and the economics of the situation wasn't going to change this any bit.  Even if tried this in Forza or any other console sim, there are some hard realities to face.  The car wasn't designed to handle that kind of horsepower.  This leads us to a sad reality about passion, and history and the grand struggle of it all.  It all falls to technological progress.  I am now perplexed by the whole tuning culture.  Who in their right minds would throw big bucks at a mid to late 90's Honda Civic when they could've taken that money and bought a decent base car instead?  But I digress.  I do consider this a major defeat because my lap times were a complete mess, and my benchmark FD3S simply weren't.  The only piece I really don't feel comfortable with is my choice to not upgrade my tires, but, racing tires were 8,000 credits a set, throwing off the economics of the whole shebang.


I know this whole ordeal was catalogued by the Top Gear boys when trying the same trick on with a Renault Avantime trying to tune it to the same level of performance as a Lancer Evo, but, while the average gear head couldn't feasibly recreate their experiment, this whole ordeal can be.  I'm suspecting anyone trying this will experience the same results.  Granted, qwe can't recreate the one piece of the experiment that Jezza and the gang had, which was having a good, experienced third party driver do the driving, but I don't think that matters, at all.  The reality is, time, marches on.  This experiment even had some things going for it, unlike the Top Gear episode.  The disparities between an FC3S and an FD3S aren't as bad as those between the Avantime and an Evo.  For example, the engine and drivetrain layout were the same(a 13B rotary engine hooked straight into the rear wheels), and the tuning options in Gran Turismo aren't as close to the tuning options you'd get in real life, so, I was expecting to beat this and prove that old dogs can learn new tricks in a modern, virtualized world.   But it isn't that way.  Time marches on.  Nostalgia only holds us back.  Look at the Mustang, or the Camaro.  Substandard products that live entirely to sell nostalgia to an ever aging audience trying to recapture a time in their lives that they'll never live through again.  Now that Toyota and Subaru are looking to cash in on the nostalgia from the AE86 with the FT86, I find myself drooling over it.  in light of these truths, I don't know if I can live with that.  


I have to give up my nostalgia for the 80's, but, one major comfort in this whole mess.  I may have failed, but, I do have a bitchin' FC3S now, and I can live with that. 


(Note to self.  Fill in pictures later.)

Comments are closed.