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The View from the East End (29)

By Inspector Hopkins

January 1, 2006
 

An Overhaul for My Hansom

Those of you who have been following my little escapades over the past year know that I’ve been traveling a good bit up and down the East End in search of Sherlockian adventure. And you may recall that I consider traveling itself to be one of those Facets of Sherlockiana that I’m always rambling about.

Of course, the connection, or the tool, that I use to do this is my faithful hansom!

But alas, the miles have piled up on this faithful machine, and now, at the end of the year as I reflect back on my travels, I decided to get it all fixed up in anticipation of my future Sherlockian travel. Some of you have seen my trusty steed, or asked about it, so I thought I’d write up this article to tell you a bit more about it, and to show you another side of myself as well.  Not too many Sherlockians that I’ve met so far are also car enthusiasts as I am, but that shouldn’t be taken mean that these interests are mutually exclusive.

My “hansom” started life as a plain old 1998 Ford Mustang coupe, but I have slowly been adding to it, enhancing it, and making little improvements over the years. Now that it’s reaching the 100,000 mile mark, I thought that more serious modifications would be appropriate. To that end, I contracted with one of the largest Mustang performance centers on the End End: Springfield Motorsport in Lorton, Virginia.  These guys are located just south and west of Wash DC, and I had to fight my way through the heavy traffic just to get there! My previous Sherlockian traveling experiences in this part of the country did help to prepare me somewhat for that, however.

Just as in building a house, the most important thing is to start with a good strong foundation, so two entire days alone were spent in tearing off the old suspension and replacing it with all new parts. Eibach pro-kit springs and Koni’s “special” red shock and strut package lowered the car about an inch and a half for better appearance and lower center of gravity. All the stock rubber suspension bushings were upgraded to urethane ones for increased stiffness. Kenny Brown’s “super sub doublecross” sub-frame connectors were next welded in place to stiffen the frame and improve handling, and the stock strut towers were upgraded to the Kenny Brown camber/caster plates so that a more precise wheel alignment could be made with the shorter springs. A rear sway bar was added, and the front sway bar upgraded to the thicker Cobra version to reduce body roll and lean when going around curves. Finally, all four rotors were turned and the stock brake pads upgraded to ceramics.

Next, we turned our attention to the drivetrain, and replaced the stock steel driveshaft with an aluminum one to reduce rotating mass.  I had a choice of which rear axle gears to use, and since I drive so much on the interstates, I decided to go with the 3.27’s rather than the more popular 3.55’s or 3.73’s.  This will allow me to get a bit more acceleration over the stock gears, yet still keep most of my fuel economy.  Although I only have the V6 engine, it too was upgraded with a BBK cold air intake. The stock exhaust manifolds were upgraded to JBA silver-coated ceramic shorty headers, then coupled to my existing Magnaflow dual exhaust. This combination moves hot exhaust gases more efficiently while helping to keep down the temperature in the engine bay, and results in improved power and fuel economy. An ASP 25% underdrive pulley and SCT performance chip tuning is planned for next spring. This should noticeably increase horsepower and actually even add another mile or two per gallon!  The real power-adder will come next winter though, when we swap out the UDP for a Vortech SQ-2 supercharger. That baby will put another 75 prancing ponies under my hood . . .

So what does all this mean?

When all this is finished, my hansom will still get me to Sherlockian events alright, but the ride on the interstates will be even smoother (as long as I don’t hit any potholes), and I’ll be able to beat everybody else out of the toll booths. I’ll be able to take the exit ramps much faster on the way to the next set of toll booths, too.  Best of all, the significant increase in my car’s “cool” factor will be impossible to ignore.

Why am I doing all this?

Missus Hopkins thinks I’m going through my second childhood, but it’s really my mid-life crisis!  Now, if all this sounds like too much work and expense to improve a car, you’re probably right. It just might be simpler to go out and buy a sports car outright. I have to admit that I like the iconoclastic American muscle car best, but there are many others out there from which to choose. In fact, Toyota makes a light performance car that sounds like it might be just perfect for us Sherlockians.

It’s called the “Scion”.

 

Until next time, and wishing you all a very Happy New Year, I am indeed,

 

Yours faithfully,
STANLEY HOPKINS