FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
ABOUT ME / WABI~SABI
Q: Are you a professional shop?
A: No, “Recce’s Contrivances / RallySport” used to be an ambition I had of owning a rally / race shop but it is very unlikely to ever happen. I have no training, no prior experience, no diplomas. I am actually an owner/operator in trucking. In short, I’m just a guy that started to DIY because I could not afford to pay someone else to do it.
Q: Do you really do all of the work yourself?
A: Yes, I do everything in my home garage on a very limited budget. I only currently outsource ECU tuning. The only other things I did not do myself were the shortened driveshaft balancing and flywheel resurfacing as those tasks require specialized (and expensive) machines I do not possess.
Q: Do you compete with the car?
A: My low budget doesn’t allow for it at the moment. Anyhow, the car is still in prototype / testing phase. When all the work is done, I might use the yearly project budget to compete in a single yearly event. However, the car is not built with a specific class, event, or goal in mind. I just do what I feel inspired to do.
Q: Which cars did you own before Wabi~Sabi (2004 Subaru Impreza WRX STi)?
A: In order from oldest; 1990 Opel Kadett, 1988 Mazda 323 GTX, 1985 Audi Quattro Coupe, 1999 riced-out P.O.S. (I’m too ashamed to say what it was), 1990 Mitsubishi Mirage GT sedan, and a 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX. I do not own any of those cars any more. I then bought my STi brand new and took possession of it on June 9th 2003. In 2012, I was able to find a rare 1988 VW Scirocco 16V as a secondary project car. Then all got “fused” together.
Q: What was your original plans for Wabi~Sabi?
A: It was to be a daily driver for a few years until it was paid off then I would have the car professionally built for rallying. In early 2009, everything changed when I met my fiancée whom is struck with a degenerative disease that melted my wallet to almost nothing. Luckily, the car was already paid off at that point but it effectively scrapped the rest of my plans.
Q: Why was the car named “Wabi~Sabi”?
A: I had originally renamed the car the “Recce RS (RallySport)” or “RRS” for short, but a suggestion & vote by online peers made it officially “WaBi~SaBi” to honor the mantra of the same name that it actually reflects.
Q: How did the 2-door / short wheelbase part of the project came up?
A: Around 2007, I started to have weird dreams about a 22B-inspired 2-door GD STi but then I figured that going for a shorter wheelbase (ala Group B Audi Sport Quattro) would make it easier to get the overall shape and it would be a better car for my driving style.
Q: What does a short wheelbase do exactly?
A: Do you want the “short” answer? Haha! The upside is that it makes the car rotate faster. The downside is that it makes the car more unstable, especially at high speeds. There is a small weight reduction too. The car being smaller makes it able to drift around tighter spaces as well.
Q: Why did you chose to tackle such an involved project yourself?
A: Simply, it was because I couldn’t afford to have done professionally. Doing it myself was the only solution to try and make my dream a reality, no matter how futile it may look.
Q: Did you have any relevant experience before the project?
A: Not really. At the time, I only had some basic mechanic skills such as maintenance and minor repairs. I had no chassis or bodywork experience at all. I also was totally inept in school and got very low grades. My dexterity and imagination always were my strong-suits.
Q: Wouldn’t something as important as cutting a car in two be handled by a professional chassis shop?
A: Again, I couldn’t afford it. However, I did consult with a chassis guy and got very helpful tips on how to perform this myself. Everything else was semi-educated guesses. Since the original cut, I have performed two more without problems.
Q: How would it have cost to have it done by a professional shop?
A: For only the short wheelbase, widebody, and roll cage installation, estimates I got were around $30,000. I did it for about $1,000 in parts, materials, and tools. My time was “free”, obviously.
Q: How much length did you cut off the car?
A: The short wheelbase part was 6.1 inches. Later modifications saw me cut 8.1 inches from the rear overhang and 4.1 inches for the front overhang. Thus, a total of 18.3 inches were removed from the car.
Q: Why do you keep changing the setup and appearance of the car?
A: In a perfect world, each iteration (phase) would be a separate car that I would keep and treasure. However, due to my very low budget, I have no choice but to “cannibalize” the previous phase to continue on with my inspirations until my final vision is realized. It falls within the main aspect of the “wabi~sabi” mantra of impermanence and change. I also learn as I go and further experience makes me want to upgrade previous aspects which I now feel are obsolete.
Q: Why did you use a Subaru as a basis of your Group B inspiration when the make didn’t even compete in that class?
A: I already had the car and I could not afford another with the same performance potential and cheap aftermarket support. I was already too far in the project to turn back and redo. Furthermore, my project is not a replica attempt but rather a “tribute” to Group B by trying to marry the spirit to the car. Brand loyalty and period correctness mean little in the grand scheme of things.
Q: Is the car actually better than a stock GD STi?
A: It depends what your criteria is. In most cases, especially for a road car, I’d say not at all. However, to me this doesn’t matter since all I want to realize is my own vision. It is “caveman” engineering at its best – I only possess aptitudes that guide my choices. I often improvise and learn as I go along; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. After having basically re-engineered the car a few times over it still performs as it should. I think that is a feat in itself.
Q: How much time have you invested in the project so far?
A: Currently, it stands around 1,600 hours. That includes planning/design, parts research, and working on the car itself. However, that figure does not represent the actual time required of building the car up to the latest iteration (which would be less time if I started over from scratch) but represents the total of every build/phase of the car put together.
Q: What kind of yearly project budget do you work with?
A: It all depends on how successful I am with my trucking company in a particular year plus how me and my fiancée’s health is fairing. The yearly project budget average since 2003 is about $1,200. It’s not that I wouldn’t want to invest more but I simply cannot.
Q: How much money have you invested in the project so far?
A: Currently, it stands around $13,500. That includes parts, materials, tools, ECU tuning, and cost of testing the car (track rentals, fuel, etc). However, that figure does not represent the actual cost of building the car up to the latest iteration (which would be less money if I started over from scratch) but represents the total of every build/phase of the car put together.
I will be addressing some of the main “lies”, assumptions, or criticism that have been spread on social media so far about the project or me;
- “IT’S ONLY A GC COUPE DISGUISED AS A GD!”
Well, I’ve owned this 2004 GD WRX STi since brand new. It is also quite noticeable to even a semi-trained eye that the car still sports the smaller sedan front doors. The GC coupe has much longer doors.
- “IT’S NOT REALLY SHORTER, HE ONLY USED CLEVER CAMERA ANGLES!”, & “IT’S PHOTOSHOP’D!”
I can’t think of a single good reason for me to fake this. There are easier ways to get attention.
- “HE ONLY DID IT TO BE DIFFERENT OR TO GAIN FAME!”
That comment couldn’t be further from the truth. I follow my dreams, not my ego. I build my car for my own enjoyment. Also, I have NO sponsors. I don’t even have a Facebook page and I don’t intend to. If fame was truly my goal I am doing a piss poor job about it. This website is but a project/life journal for me. Consider it a privilege that I’m sharing a bit of it online.
- “THEY […]”
There is no “they”. It’s just me; one guy, a car, a dream, and a home garage with some basic tools. “Recce RallySport” doesn’t exist for real: it’s just a far off ambition I once had of having my own rally team.
My car, my dream, my money, my time, my prerogative.
- “IT SUCKS!”, “IT LOOKS LIKE CRAP!”, “IT’S BADLY DONE!”, “I HATE IT!”, “HE DESTROYED A GOOD STI!”, ETC, ETC, ETC!
As far as you liking it or not, it is of no consequence to me, and you are quite free to voice your “disapproval” as much as you want. Trolls need food just like the rest, ‘eh? Just don’t tell lies about me or the car itself.
PS: Don’t forget to apply for the passcode if you truly wish to learn more about the car. Trainspotters, trolls, and detractors are strictly prohibited (don’t waste your time if you don’t like it). To apply, please follow these steps:
STEP #1: Make sure you have read this F.A.Q. page thoroughly (up to this point).
STEP #2: READ THIS DISCLAIMER! If you do not agree with these terms (especially section #1) then do not go further.
STEP #3: TAKE THIS “TEST” TO REGISTER
CAR HAULER TRAILER
Q: Would you be willing to share more details of the aluminum trailer that you built; dimensions, sizes of channels, etc?
A: On top of my head, I simply cut 20 feet long 3″x2″ channels into 3 equal pieces each to make the seven cross-members plus the two frame ends. That makes for 2 feet cross-member spacing. That will net you a platform (deck) that is 80.5 inch wide and 16 feet long when completed. However, that can vary depending on the length you decide that you want your deck to be. I used 1/4 inch thick aluminum as “overkill” just to be sure it’d be strong enough but I reckon you could use 3/16 inch thickness. If made out of steel, 1/8 inch thickness should be enough depending on the weight of your car / cargo. For more info on my frame design, CLICK HERE.
Q: Where did you source the axle mounts?
A: I was to fabricate my own axle mounts but the shop where I sourced the axles made me a price too good to pass up. I had them made out of stainless steel for strength and rust protection. They are not difficult to fabricate and, if you don’t feel up to it, any fab shop can make those for you. The spacing of the brackets will depend on the axles, suspension, and the desired ride height. Any trailer parts store will be able to figure that out for you if you correctly explain what you want.
Q: Where did you buy the tilting / swivel / moving fenders?
A: I simply used generic aluminum fenders for a tandem application. The tilting/swivel system is of my own design and fabrication. It’s not hard to do, just look at my pictures and you’ll figure it out: CLICK HERE. It was inspired by rental units I once used.
Q: Did you use a company or shop to help design your trailer?
A: Not at all. However, I did use various visual sources for inspiration. I custom fabricated it to fit my particular needs, such as available garage space, size of my rally car, and more importantly my budget. Being inspired by someone else’s design is fine but it should not be replicated down to the minute details. I would strongly suggest that if you are willing to take the time and effort to fabricate your own trailer that it should be what you want, what you need, and how you want it. If this is your first rodeo, I would recommend that you go and eyeball commercial units for sale. The internet, as always, is a quick and easy way to check out multiple designs too.
Q: Why did you go with a flatbed / flatdeck design?
A: As per my experience in trucking with such units, although the size doesn’t compare, they make a versatile trailer for hauling almost everything that needs be hauled.
Q: Wouldn’t a dovetail design be better for car hauling? I.E.:
A: I had considered it but my driveway has a strong incline/grade. I once rented a similar trailer to haul small machinery and a rear corner of the dovetail would rub on the asphalt due to reduced ground clearance. Secondly, my 12 feet ramp system would not have worked with such a design. In brief, it had too much cons than pros, for my own usage that is. It doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t work for you though.
Q: Why did you choose aluminum instead of steel?
A: Wintertime is exactly why I chose aluminum for my trailer since I am in Canada. Salt will make a mess of a steel trailer in just a few years. It also makes for a lighter trailer, which in turn helps fuel economy as well, but admittedly it is a metal harder to fabricate with. That being said, try to isolate any steel parts from the aluminum frame. Using duct tape is the easiest way, or a thick coat of paint works as well. That avoids electrolysis between dissimilar metals which will make them rust sooner that normal. If that cannot be avoided, use galvanized or stainless steel parts/hardware.
Q: It’s looks like you used a 3 inch square tube for the tongue?
A: Yes, however, I would recommend that if you go for a long tongue like mine (4 feet protrusion from the deck) that you get the thickest gauge available. Mine was 1/4″ thick and I observed a lot of up and down flexing when someone was jumping on the deck. For long term safety, I hammered another 3/16″ thick aluminium tube tightly inside the tongue, making a total thickness of 7/16″. Furthermore, be certain that your tongue beam reaches at minimum the 2nd cross-member (mine reaches the 3rd for added strength), and safety guidelines require, in addition to welding, that you add a bolt to the tongue beam and your “anti-twist” V-shape beams directly to the frame. If your welds ever fail, those 3 bolts will most likely save your life (and your trailer / load).
Q: How did you determine where to put the axles?
A: Normally, it is suggested (on a car hauler) that you use a F60/R40% split, meaning that the centerline of your tandem is at 40% of the length of your deck from the rear (or at 60% from the front, same thing). Under normal conditions, that will prevent your trailer from titling on its rear due to load weight (if uncoupled from the tow vehicle). However, for my application, I went with the reverse weight bias of my rally car (F55/R45%). Meaning that, on my 16 feet deck, the centerline of my tandem is at 7.2 feet from the rear (or 8.8 feet from the front). That makes for a perfectly level trailer/pickup ride height. Remember, the closer you go to 50%, the easier that the trailer will be able to be moved by hand, but you risk titling it if more load weight is on the rear. I suggest that you do not go rearward past the recommended 60/40% split since that will balance the weight forward and can possibly overload your tongue weight rating.
Q: How did you align your trailer’s axles?
A: It is important that you use triangulation from the tongue’s tip when drilling the left and right side mounting holes for the axle brackets. This is the way that you do the alignment for a perfectly straight tracking of the trailer when going down the road. If you don’t do this, and simply drill the holes at the exact same measurement on both sides, your trailer may track a bit sideways behind the tow vehicle. It depends on how far off you were on perfectly squaring your trailer frame and tongue. It can also make for uneven tire wear and reduced fuel economy.
Q: How much did your trailer cost you to fabricate?
A: Without getting very specific since prices vary wildly by location and country, my aluminum car hauler has cost me, in materials and parts, just about the same price of a similar commercially available steel unit. However, like I said, it is tailored to my needs and I like to fabricate things on my own so it makes it even better. It’s also a bit flattering when people walk up to you and ask where you bought it… then you can proudly say that you fabricated it yourself!
Q: Do you have any other suggestions?
A: As I’ve said before, research multiple designs, and find out what works best for you based on; main usage, tow vehicle (towing specs, ground & hitch clearance, etc), season(s) of use, type of cargo, expected length / width / height / weight, load ratings, possible accessory need (chest, winch, extra storage, spare tire, etc), attachment / anchor points location, available work / garage / yard space, availability of tools / materials / parts, legislation (i.e: DOT rules, local long term trailer storage rules, etc), and last but not least your budget.
Q: Why did you later add a sliding tarp system to your trailer?
A: Upon my first few trips to the track with Wabi~Sabi on the trailer, I noticed that many people were driving erratically around me on the highway to get a better glimpse of the car and/or take pictures. This could potentially lead to very dangerous situations and cause a wreck. Furthermore, the nasty winter road elements (salt, etc) were starting to make the car rust at a few places. I needed to find a cheap way, yet ergonomic (for my bad back), to fix both of these issues. The sliding tarp system was the better solution. For more about my thought process, CLICK HERE!
Q: Do you have any future modification plans for your trailer?
A: Now that the sliding tarp system is done, there is not much else to do but improve upon any weakness that I might find. Improving the frontal aerodynamics comes to mind…
Do you have more questions for me? Then simply use the CONTACT ME form and I’ll add it on here!