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Project Sipster
Project Sipster Part 2 - The Road to Regina

 

by Dave Coleman 

I finally found the second installment of Project Sipster. My only copy was a rough, half-finished early draft, so I had to re-type half of it from some old screen grabs of the original publication. This version is slightly different from the one that was published originally, most notably in its grammatical correctness. My high school English teachers would be so proud...

If none of what you just read makes any sense, go back and read part 1 here.
 
The whole process of building and documenting Project Sipster was somewhat bizarre. Jared Holstein was living in New York at the time, where TopGear.com America was based. I was in Long Beach, California and had no idea what was happening with the project on a day-to-day basis. Somehow, though, we had to make a new story appear every week on a very strict deadline.
 
So Jared would spend the week frantically doing something counterproductive to the car, and a day or two before the story was due, his intern, Chris Gifford, would send me some cryptic e-mail describing what was going on. Based on that, I had to crap out something entertaining, reasonably accurate, and simple enough that people who didn't own any wrenches could understand it. The original version was so dumbed down, I had to explain what a Dynojet was. I took this re-edit opportunity to scrub a few of those details out.
 
Meanwhile, of course, I was working a full-time job with an hour-each-way commute. I learned to love my local coffee shops, and figured out that a peanut butter, banana and oatmeal smoothie was a reasonable substitute for dinner. All of which is nothing compared to what Jared was going through, of course, as you can tell by reading the story:

 

 
Project Sipster
 
"Smoke!"
 
That exclamation is pretty much the last thing you want to hear after finally drifting to sleep against the rattling passenger's window of a Diesel Rabbit running flat-out across some desolate, forgotten corner of Minnesota at 2 AM. Flat-out, foot buried against the firewall, it should be noted, had been good for anything from 50 to 70 mph, depending on prevailing winds, incline, and how well you exploit the wake of passing trucks. It had been good for that speed right up until this moment...
 
"We're losing power!"
 
Project SipsterThe panic-tinged exclamations are from the mouth of TopGear.com America Executive Producer Jared Holstein to the still semi-conscious ears of Chris Gifford, his trusty, diligent, hard-working, extremely gullible intern. This whole 70-mpg, 7-second, $7,000 project was Jared's idea. Buying a $1,700, 28-year-old Rabbit that couldn't outrun a Vespa and driving it, the very next day, 2,000 miles non-stop to Regina, Saskatchewan in the dead of winter was his idea. Jared made his bed, and now, apparently, he is doomed to lie in it. As consciousness slowly permeates his brain, numbed as it is from the triple-threat of cold, vibration, and heroic sleeplessness, Chris is just starting to recognize that he'll soon be lying in it with him.
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Comments
JJ
JJlink
Monday, November 08, 2010 8:00 PM
"Hey guys great news! Project sipster already gets 400mpg!"

"Whaaa...??"

"....of oil..."
Steve
Stevelink
Monday, November 08, 2010 8:14 PM
Weird that the '79 Dasher Diesel I drove never seemed that slow, so far as I know basically the same motor. I was driving it in NEW condition, which helps, but my gas-burning, Rabbit-driving friends used to remark on how the car wasn't nearly as slow as they expected after having been in the Rabbit Diesel. I guess I will never know...thanks for resurrecting the Sipster article!
Dave Coleman
Dave Colemanlink
Monday, November 08, 2010 8:34 PM
How many potatoes were in your Dasher's fuel filter?
538
538link
Monday, November 08, 2010 11:13 PM
This is getting quite interesting, can't wait till the next installment!
Mrad
Mradlink
Tuesday, November 09, 2010 4:32 AM
Really like seeing the article posted up again Dave, never was able to get through all of it before (that whole work thing). I remember the frozen north, worked outside in it as a B-52 aircraft maintainer in N.D.--thanks again for posting this back up.
rsmotors
rsmotorslink
Tuesday, November 09, 2010 4:33 AM
Now thats just plain harsh lol .. What a cliff hanger cant wait to see what happens next!
8695Beaters
8695Beaterslink
Tuesday, November 09, 2010 4:51 AM
Writing like this and Top Gear America fell apart? Jesus God, what's wrong with our society?!? Jersey Shore makes a second season, and this doesn't? Pardon me while I go throw up.
rsmotors
rsmotorslink
Tuesday, November 09, 2010 7:16 AM
@8695Beaters
Maybe Coleman should have his own show lol I know I'd tune in just to see the sheer awesomeness of it...
yo vanilla
yo vanillalink
Tuesday, November 09, 2010 7:30 AM
perhaps steve, but then again any 8v gas- burner probably isn't the best measuring stick as far as speed goes (former 16v owner here :) )

on the grease burning front, a friend once owned a pizza place and a converted diesel rabbit for the delivery car. used his own fry oil to fuel it. an employee blew the head gasket on a night of delivery runs and it sat for years until even after he sold his share of the restaurant. wonder where it is now...
pcruz
pcruzlink
Tuesday, November 09, 2010 6:27 PM
im loving this series... whens #3 coming out :P

Ive always had a thing for Mk1 and swaps..
Mazda Phil
Mazda Phillink
Tuesday, November 09, 2010 8:13 PM
Can't lay claim to having a VW bend, or being a big diesel fan, but I've seen Cam and CWS's work in SCC magazine several times, and he always manages to put together cars that seam like anyone could put them together except for the fact that they work. I remember thinking after I saw his Fastiva(Ford Festiva with a Mazda 323 GTX motor swap) 'why didn't I think of that.' His work is clean and well screwed together. I'm sure Project Sipster is in good hands.
Chris Gifford
Chris Giffordlink
Wednesday, November 10, 2010 6:20 AM
Dave, I love the new intro.
I remember writing stream-of-conscious, totally verbose recaps at 1 AM. I just reread one of them -- cryptic is a compliment, but you still wrote some great pieces. I'm glad to see it back live online somewhere! This project was, in retrospect, awesome fun.
Steve
Stevelink
Monday, November 29, 2010 3:50 AM
@Dave - Good point, that car was a) purchased new, and b) rigorously maintained by ex-fighter then commercial pilot who probably used a checklist to get dressed in the AM. Nothing went wanting for maintenance, and while I don't exactly understand the potato in the fuel filter concept, I am sure the answer is Zero.

Reading the last installment I think that you hit the speed issue on the head, the torque gives you a sensation of speed but the numbers don't lie. That car with its original motor took 19.4s 0-60, until you were really moving the tall gearing really worked against you accelerating quickly. Once up to speed the torque and response made it feel faster than I'm sure it ever really was.
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