86DRIVE Challenge Round 8: Laguna Seca

Photos from Round 8 of the 86DRIVE Challenge, at Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca, on October 26, 2019.

Posted in 86CUP, 86DRIVE Challenge, BRZ/86, Photos, Racing, Trackday

Operation GraySteel: Introducing our MR2 project car

A rambling essay about speed, beauty, and imagination.

Those that know me personally probably remember that before the BRZ, I previously owned a pair of MR2s —  a 2000 MR2 Spyder and a 1992 MR2 Turbo.  I sold both of these cars a while ago, but I still remain friends with several members of the MR2 community that I met during my ownership.  So I never really left the MR2 community and I somewhat regretted selling the MR2s.  They represent to me, a time when Toyota was making some great sports cars like the Mk4 Supra, the Celica Alltrac GT4, and of course the MR2.  And then it came to an end.  For a while now, I think many enthusiasts have felt like Toyota had lost its way … when the car you think of first when someone says Toyota is ‘Prius’, you have a problem.  Don’t get me wrong, the Prius is a great vehicle but it’s not exactly exciting to drive and for an enthusiast like me, it felt like Toyota had lost ground to other Japanese makes who continued to make and sell sporty cars like Nissan, Honda/Acura, and Mazda.  Don’t give up hope on Toyota just yet though — the latest CEO, Akio Toyoda, has shown enthusiasts that he is serious about bringing passion back to the Toyota brand, with the recent return of Toyota sports cars in the form of the 86 and the Supra.  And there have even been rumors and speculation that they might be bringing back the idea of a mid-engine sports car for a future release…

Mid-engine, rear wheel drive, 2-seater.  These are the characteristics of many exotic supercars and hypercars.  These are the kinds of things a young man might dream about. I’d fantasize about driving a sleek, powerful, curvy machine along the coast, soaking up the rays of the sun, or maybe streaking through a windy mountain road at speeds that might make an insurance adjuster pale.  Maybe just pulling into the local burger or boba joint behind the wheel of a shiny and low-to-the-ground coupe, and feeling everyone’s eyes on you as you roll through the parking lot.  But then reality set in:  I don’t have the money for a Porsche or a Ferrari.  Even if I did have the cash to buy one, the maintenance costs of owning one would surely drive you into insolvency.  What to do?  This, my friends, is where the MR2 comes in.

Imagine the sexy lines of a Ferrari like the F355, the handling prowess of a Lotus Esprit … and the reliability of a Toyota Camry.  Oh baby, where have you been all my life.  The MR2 has frequently been referred to as the “Mister Two”.  But when my wife sees the MR2 in my garage, she knows what she sees and she calls it as she sees it:  this is The Mistress.  I think she knows me better than I know myself.

I’m sure you can figure out what happened, but let’s spell it out.  I’ve always known I would own an MR2 again.  I missed the ones I had, and the opportunity came to nab this one, and it was too good to pass up.  Low-mileage, original paint (in an alluring Steel Mist Gray that changes appearance in different lighting), a straight body and minimal modifications.  Despite being 28 years old, this 1991 MR2 Turbo has only 59,000 miles!  And nearly everything in it is original — it’s got a premium stereo head unit that includes a CD player and cassette deck.  The engine bay is still clean, the interior is pretty near immaculate, and it starts right up with a twist of the old fashioned metal key.



It’s not totally perfect.  I am sorry to say, the previous owner made some questionable choices with the few modifications that were done to the car.  The shift knob was a flimsy and cheap-feeling plastic knob that had no weight to it at all and made shifting the 5-speed manual transmission a challenge.  The original leather shift boot was torn to shreds.  But those are fairly easy to replace.  An apparently no-name GReddy-style muffler/exhaust system with giant dual grapefruit cannon tips was installed somewhere along the way.  It actually sounds pretty good though.

The SW20 MR2 comes standard with cloth seats that seem to invariably get badly worn out very quickly and so it’s a common thing to have to replace the seats or get them reupholstered.  The seller went all out and got these BRAUM seats that appear to have cost a pretty penny, but unfortunately he went for a flashy style that features double-red-stitching in a quilted-diamond-pattern perhaps best reserved for highly extroverted designs like a Pagani Huayra or a Bugatti Chiron.  It’s a little too much for a humble Toyota in my humble opinion.  And the seats sit so high that I almost brush my head against the T-tops shade … and I’m only 5’8″.  I’m trying hard to like these seats, but I might have to find better fitting ones.

And perhaps the most egregious offense on this car… the wheels.  The car sits on monstrously large XXR 526 wheels, in an 18×9 fitment.  FRONT AND BACK.  For those of you who are not that familiar with MR cars, it’s typical to have staggered width wheels and the MR2 was no exception.  The 1991 MR2 came with 14×6 wheels in front, 14×7 in the back.  The 1993+ models came with slightly larger 15″ wheels.  But this guy, he just bought a full set of 18x9s and threw them on all 4 corners of the car.  They look ridiculously huge on a car this size.  And the fitment on the front is just horribly, horribly wrong.  An 18×9 sits too close to the OEM suspension and no correspondingly reasonable size tire would fit there.  So what did he do?  He threw on some 5mm spacers on already low offset wheels (+32mm) and stretched some cheap brand 215-35R18 tires across the 9″ wide rim.  The front wheels poke out about 1.5″ beyond the fenders.  It looks really bad, man, I don’t know what he was thinking.  I don’t even think these stretched tires are safe to drive on long-term.  I was worried that they were going to blow out on the drive back home.  So yeah, these wheels and tires have got to go.  ASAP.

One last comical note — the seller left a mix CD of Latino dance music in the CD player.  It actually felt pretty period correct for a 1991 car, so I happily blasted these techno-dance tunes on my cruise back up the I-5 to bring this car home.

Well, that’s about it for now.  I’m super excited to be owning one of my dream cars once again, and there’s going to be a bunch of little changes I want to make to this car.  But one of the first priorities is going to have to be taking care of some maintenance, you’ve got to keep in mind that this is a 28-year old car at this point and even if it has sat mostly unused for a good portion of its life, it’s going to need some attention and TLC to get back into prime condition.  I’m going to have to dial back my urges to do a bunch of aesthetic mods and performance mods, and use that saved money for important tune-up and preventative maintenance, with the 60K milestone coming up very soon.  Check back later for more updates!

One last thing… I’ve started a new Instagram account for the MR2 to keep things separate from the 86drive account, please give us a follow at @mr2_drive !



Posted in Feature Story, MR2, Photos, Project Car

MR2 & Friends End of Summer BBQ – Sat Sep 14

Time to celebrate the end of summer, and MR2s, and friends!

This is an MR2 meet but non-MR2s are welcome too!

It’s a potluck — Bring your goods and let’s cook it! There are BBQ grills at the park.

Don Castro Regional Park
22400 Woodroe Ave, Hayward, CA 94541-3480
Twilight picnic area.

Saturday Sep 14 – 10AM – 6PM
What will you bring to share?  Please see the FB link below to see up to date list of who’s bringing what.

Things to bring for yourself:
A lawn chair if your don’t want to sit on the benches

For more info about the event, questions, and to share what you’re bringing to the potluck, please visit the FB event page:

Posted in Announcement, Events

NorCal86 and 86DRIVE Present 86DAY Celebration at K1 Dublin on Aug 6

It comes only once a year, and we’ve kind of turned it into our own car enthusiasts’ holiday: August 6, aka 86DAY. A day for all 86 owners, drivers, and enthusiasts to come together and celebrate the heritage and community of these great little cars from Toyota and Subaru. This year it falls on a Tuesday, but we can’t let that get in the way of a good time. We hope you’ll join us at K1 Speed in Dublin, a great venue that has opened their doors (and parking lot) to us as a spot to gather and have some casual fun. Bring out your 86, FRS, or BRZ if you have one and come hang out, show off your latest mods (or your completely stock beauty), check out everyone else’s cool rides, meet other owners, see what our community is all about. Even if you don’t currently own one, if you’re interested in them or just a fan of cool sports cars in general, you’re welcome to drop by! Everyone is welcome at this event. And if you’re the competitive sort, we’ll definitely be jumping in the go karts at K1 Speed and finding out who really is the fastest driver. Please post up in the replies if you are interested in doing a race that night. We hope to see you there.

Tuesday, August 6, 2018
6PM – Close

6400 Sierra Ct, Ste B,
Dublin, CA 94568
(925) 230-9502

Raffle prizes and other activities/events to be announced later…

Remember, please keep it civil and show respect to the venue! No speeding, no revving, no burnouts, no drama please. All it takes is one bad apple to ruin the event for all of us, so please don’t be that guy. We all want to have a good time and not ruin our good image in the public eye.


For more details visit the FT86Club forum:  https://www.ft86club.com/forums/showthread.php?t=136096


Posted in Announcement, Events

Join us for Gizdich Ranch Pie Run 7 — Saturday August 17, 2019

Wow, I was starting to think about this year’s annual Gizdich Ranch Pie Run and it kind of startled me to realize that we’ve been doing this for 6 years straight now.  It has truly become a club tradition and I am very excited and proud to announce… Gizdich Ranch Pie Run 7 (2019)!

It’s time for our annual drive down to Gizdich Ranch in Watsonville, CA! One of our most popular destinations for some delicious apple pie or other fruit pies. You’ll want to eat a slice there and take a whole pie home with you.

Join us for an annual 86DRIVE tradition, where we get together and do a short backroads cruise before arriving at the Gizdich Ranch where delicious apple and other fruit pies await. A few years ago we had a later start time but we were disappointed by them running out of the crowd favorite Dutch Apple Pie by the time we got there after lunch, so we found that we get better results (more pie!) when we get there earlier in the day. We’ll roll out of the meeting point by 8:30AM and get there in the morning to ensure we can get the pies we want. Then we’ll be done early and you can still have the rest of the day to do whatever you want!


Saturday, August 17, 2019 @ 8 AM

Meet up point for the drive:
Chevy’s – 5305 Almaden Expy, San Jose, CA 95118

Address for the Gizdich Ranch:
55 Peckham Rd, Watsonville, CA 95076

We’ll see you there!

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Posted in Announcement, DRIVES, Events

NorCal86’s Private Tour at Canepa on July 20

Those of you who have been with us for a while probably recall the great summertime Cars & Coffee events that Canepa Motorsports has hosted at their museum and shop facility in Scotts Valley the last few years. Click here for some of the photos from one of our past visits. We were really sad to hear that they were no longer going to be hosting C&C events after last year. Well we have some great news, our friend Josh W. (Spike.86) has set up a private tour for our car club, and all NorCal86 and 86DRIVE members are welcome to join us. The private tour will be held on Saturday, July 20, 2019.

Some more details from Josh:

You may not really know of the Canepa facility and what exactly they do there. They offer a complete restoration facility for all kinds of cars, from classic vehicles that are decades’ old to rally Group B Porsche 959’s, and crazy cars like the V16T Cizeta Moroder, and a museum full of various cars and former race cars.

Canepa is graciously offering us the opportunity for a free, private group tour of their facility. For anyone who’s ever been to one of the old Canepa Cars and Coffee, you know how special this experience can be, and for those who never had a chance to go to any of those, this would be it as they are no longer holding C&C events.

The tour length is roughly 1.5 to 2 hours.

This is the first time we’ve done a group tour with them; it should be an awesome experience and hopefully this will open up the option of having more tours there in the future!

Please arrive around 9:30 AM!

For those who wish to caravan together to Canepa, Josh has set up an early morning pre-meet. We will cruise from Los Gatos at around 8:30AM.

If you would like to join us early for a pre-meet and caravan up highway 17 to Canepa here’s the info:

681 Blossom Hill Rd #102, Los Gatos, CA 95123

Meet-up time: 7:30-8:30AM

This is the Philz coffee in Los Gatos.  We will leave to Canepa around 8:30, but no later than 8:45AM.


Otherwise, please arrive at Canepa around 9:30AM on Saturday.


4900 Scotts Valley Dr, Scotts Valley, California 95066

Meet at 9:30AM, tour will begin shortly afterwards.


We hope to see you there!



Posted in DRIVES, Events

Let’s DRIVE! 4th of July Cruise from Alice’s to the Coast

This DRIVE was posted by fellow 86DRIVER Spike (Josh W.) on the FT86CLUB forum:

I know it’s a bit last minute but is anyone interested in a drive on July 4??

This would be to Pescadero followed by a potential cruise up HWY1.

The schedule would be to meet at Alice’s between 7:45 and 8AM on the 4th and leave Alice’s by 8:15AM. 30ish minute drive down to Pescadero followed by coffee/bread/other potential food items there (depending on what time/if the local store is open that day). Depending on group size and other factors we may continue the drive with a cruise up HWY1 to El Granada/Half Moon Bay with a potential lunch stop for fish and chips at one of the local eateries. From there we may split up, do the reverse trip, or whatever floats your boat!

7:45-8AM meet up at Alice’s (leave at 8:15AM sharp)
17288 Skyline Blvd, Woodside, CA 94062

Arrive at the town of Pescadero around 8:45 or 9ish AM.

Hang out 45 minutes to an hour there.

If enough interest, head to HWY1 and north to El Granada for some fish and chips and more hanging out.

Potential stop location address in El Granada:

2 Johnson Pier, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

There’s a parking lot across the street from this location that should be empty enough for a group to park in (usually is when I’ve been there anyway). Schedule will be flexible in case the 4th of July crowds make this difficult.


If anyone is coming from the South Bay, we can drive up to the Alice’s meetup point together.
Let’s say the Wells Fargo parking lot in Saratoga:

14428 Big Basin Way, Saratoga, CA 95070

Meet up around 7AM, leave by 7:15AM.

We’ll take hwy 9 to Skyline to Alice’s to meet up with whoever else.


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Posted in Announcement, DRIVES, Events

Cyber Monday sale on 86DRIVE gear!

86DRIVE Store screenshot

Click on the image to visit our store!

Hi guys! As the holiday season fast approaches, I just wanted to remind you all that we have some cool apparel and other merchandise available through our CafePress store, featuring the ever-popular 86DRIVE logos and other designs. Maybe you’re looking for some new threads for yourself and want to help represent the NorCal 86DRIVE community, or maybe you’re looking for something unique and stylish for the special someone in your life. Please check out what we have to offer. Remember the proceeds from our product sales benefits the club and allows us to continue having cool activities all year round. So thank you for your support, and we wish you happy holidays with your families and loved ones.

new 2016 shirt-front

Please visit our CafePress store to see what’s on offer.



We’ve reduced prices to what will probably be our lowest prices of the year.  Check out the store and grab some deals on some great looking 86DRIVE apparel and accessories!

The sale will run through Friday, November 30.

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Posted in Announcement, For Sale, Shopping

NorCal86 Dyno Day and Food Drive – Nov 10

This year we have decided to do a Canned food drive instead of a Toy drive. We will be holding a Dyno Day and Food Drive at Mann Engineering’s shop on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018.

Please bring sealed non-perishable food items to donate! These food items will be given to local food banks in Northern California for the coming holiday season.

There are a limited number of dyno sessions available that day – $80 for 3 pulls – Subaru cars only — please visit Mann Engineering’s website for the details and to book a spot.


We hope you can make it out to this event!  


Jonah “Finch” Salerno, Plato “PMok” Mok, and the NorCal86 Board


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Posted in Announcement, Events

SPOCOM SF 2018 — Our photo coverage

Wow, another summer is coming to a close already (I suppose it is debatable whether September is considered to be summer or fall — but I consider it the start of fall). And with it comes the end of the car show season. We spent this weekend enjoying the sights and sounds of modified autos by the Bay at SPOCOM SF. This year it was held at Golden Gate Fields, a gorgeously scenic horse racetrack right by the Bay in Berkeley (or is it considered Albany? Yet another subject for debate — who knew this could be so controversial?). Well the place sure saw its fair share of horsepower this weekend.

GGF is no stranger to automotive events though. Years ago, I recall coming to this place to run autocross events with the SCCA San Francisco Region. Back in the day, the SCCA still had events actually IN the Bay Area at places like Oakland Coliseum, Alameda Point, Candlestick Park, and GGF. For predictable reasons (noise, costs, etc.), these kinds of motorsports events have been largely chased out of the Bay Area proper and off into the boonies — areas like Marina, Crows Landing, Sacramento, and Stockton. Areas like Alameda Point and GGF remain available to event organizers with deep pockets: some auto manufacturers still throw “driver experience” types of events at these locations from time to time. SPOCOM, triumphant after holding successful automotive events all across the U.S., managed to secure Alameda Point for the last 2 years and now grabbed the GGF venue for 2018. We are glad to be able to return to these wonderfully scenic spots which make a great backdrop for the automotive spectacle that is SPOCOM.

The NorCal86 crew held it down with a small but strong contingent lined up near the main stage.

Internet and Youtube celebrity vlogger TJ Hunt was on hand to meet fans and brought his entourage and Pandem V3.5 kitted BRZ for everyone to check out. I don’t know that much about TJ as I don’t follow too many YT vloggers but it was eye-opening to see the long lines of fans waiting to meet and take a photo with him. The lines to TJ’s tent were longer than the lines to the model lounge area! 😮

I didn’t get too many shots of the models and didn’t stay all the way to the end for the awards ceremony, but here are some shots of the go go dancers who took to the stage to entertain the crowd along with music by local DJ Teddy Rockspin.

All in all I think the SPOCOM event was a big success with a great turnout and some really quality car builds on display to prove that the SF Bay area’s auto enthusiasts scene is alive and thriving. Standing by the gates in the late afternoon I overheard more than one attendee asking, “when is the next show like this?” Well SPOCOM has more events planned for this summer and fall, with San Diego and Hawaii next on the schedule. Check out their site for more info at http://spocomusa.com.

more event photos below in the full gallery:

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Posted in Events, Feature Story, Photos