Project Rally Beater Return to Glory

Return to Glroy…
or to rallying an old piece of crap, at least.

By Dave Coleman
Photography by E. John Thawley III and Yujiro Otsuki

It only took one turn for all my doubts to disappear. It had been four and a half years since the Rally beater last turned a wheel in anger and I was, only moments earlier, quite skeptical that it could still do it. After a few rough, but glory-filled years of dirt and hammers, the 510 had been sitting idle in my various driveways as my attention was distracted by a newer rally car and the unimportant details of life (everything that isn't rally).

When I finally dropped the hammer at the start of stage 1, I still had no idea if the car would handle right. A week of commuting in a rally car will tell you if your radiator leaks, but nothing you can do on the pavement tells you if your old box still handles well in the dirt or if you still remember how to drive it. As the SR20 wailed and the gravel flew, the beater's normally rough, clattery ride smoothed out into a gloriously fluid set of arcs, slides, and various maneuvers named after old Scandinavians. I had almost enough time to start giggling with boyish glee before the engine turned off.

There was no sputtering, no abnormally bad noise, just the unmuffled wail of Japanese junkyard technology one second and utter silence the next. I frantically started flipping switches and pushing buttons in the vain hope that somehow the position of my high-beam switch might be connected to the sudden cessation of internal combustion. As the clock ticked and the inevitable high-speed arrival of a functional rally car became imminent, Amar leapt from the co-driver's seat so he could flail his arms and wave little plastic triangles in an effort to prevent our untimely demise.

Still confused, and quickly becoming angry, I headed for the engine bay, stopping only momentarily to clothesline myself with the intercom cord I'd failed to remove. A minty-fresh tidal wave of calm washed over me as I lifted the hood and simultaneously realized not only why my car wasn't running, but why I had spent a nearly consecutive 54 hours rewiring the entire car from scratch a few weeks earlier. When I undertook this daunting task, I mistakenly thought I was doing so to prevent my car from dying on the side of a stage road. In reality, I had done it to simplify my diagnostic procedure when it died anyway. Instead of spending countless hours hunting lost electrons, I simply opened the hood and looked down at the mass airflow meter that had fallen off the intake pipe and come to rest uselessly in the bottom of the engine bay. Somebody give me a screwdriver!


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Miles (San Antonio)
Miles (San Antonio)link
Tuesday, July 21, 2009 5:56 AM
Nice. I haven't seen this smirking beast in a while. I always thought of it as that ugly kid from Peanuts. You know, the one who was always dirty and constantly accompanied by his signature dirt dust cloud. Yeah, this car is that guy. Although dirty and not much to look at, it's still a Peanut dammit.

Just kidding. I remember all the R&D that went into that project and it's humble beginnings. Glad to see it didn't fall by the waist side. Thumbs up, Dave.
Thursday, July 23, 2009 3:09 AM
I'll take note of that. Always bring extra fuses. Should that fail, a couple of heavy gauge wires and a large fire extinguisher.
Monday, July 27, 2009 5:19 PM
Glad to see you back out in the beater 510. Everyone needs a beater, no one wants to hammer on pretty cars anymore.

PS, more rally stuff please!
Louis LaPrad
Louis LaPradlink
Thursday, July 30, 2009 4:49 AM
Keep up the Rally content! This is a great article Dave, and it really helps us Rally wannabes deal.
Saturday, August 01, 2009 12:41 PM
Screw the fuses, keep some 22 cartridges around.... no...maybe not. But think about carrying some jumper wires. Alligator clips on each end. They can always be useful.
Dave Coleman
Dave Colemanlink
Saturday, August 01, 2009 2:17 PM
Dude, how did you get your picture to show up instead of some crazy stop-sign face guy thing?
Jeff Naeyaert
Jeff Naeyaertlink
Saturday, August 01, 2009 2:22 PM
Those images are pulled from Gravatar, just go to gravatar.com and set up a profile using the same email address you use to log into motoiq. The avatar you upload there will be used on this site, as well as any other site that supports gravatars (most wordpress sites) and is associated with the same email address.
Saturday, August 01, 2009 4:09 PM
I was going to say it is magic,and I am a magician. However Jeff ruined it for me.

So how long ago was this rally ?
Jeff Naeyaert
Jeff Naeyaertlink
Saturday, August 01, 2009 4:23 PM
ha! OK I'm sure it'll come up on the next article you comment on so that one is all yours!
Dave Coleman
Dave Colemanlink
Saturday, August 01, 2009 9:16 PM
Yikes, guys, I think I liked it better when everybody was a little blue square face. Yous guys are funny lookin!
Thursday, August 06, 2009 5:58 PM
Awesome to still hear about this thing. Is this the article from SCC a few years back? Do you still have this car or was it sold off?
New Edge Performance
New Edge Performancelink
Friday, October 23, 2009 11:23 AM
Dave, Always a pleasure to read about your exploits and the 510. It is almost like being reunited with old friends. Keep up the good work!

Tony D
New Edge Performance
Monday, November 09, 2009 9:53 AM
this article made my day! i missed reading about that old beater! it gave me alot of hope when i was young...
and extra fuses i can relate.. lets just say my old van needed more bright lights, (10 is better than 2, right?) and fuses that don't blow straight away can in fact get hot and melt, before blowing. problem solved now, but i kepts the box of extra fuses lol
Tuesday, November 17, 2009 6:04 PM
Man I remember reading about this car years ago. Memories.
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