Wow this one was a bit of an adventure. This story actually starts a couple of weeks prior to the event with a text from Toyo Tires asking if I was planning on attending. At that point I wasn’t. I was still hoping for a combination of the 86 Drive event locally followed by the Slide your ride event. With the cancellation of the Slide Your Ride event and the offer to put the car in the Toyo booth, I decided to make the drive to Fontana. I mean what could go wrong?
The first step was getting the bumper in and out of the paint shop. While I was originally worried about this part, it ended up being the easiest part of the prep. Pulling the bumper is pretty straight forward and all I had to was drop it off and pick it up.
The harder part turned out to be installing the Toyos. August 1st I drop off my Work Equip 03’s (which are still on their first set of tires that still look new) to Wheel Techniques in Santa Clara. I tell them the tires are the same size but the wheels are staggered. I pick the wheels up after work with the Toyo’s installed. I bring them back to the shop and quickly realize that they gave me two 7″ lefts and two 8″ rights. WTF?
So I install two wheels and take the other two back the following Tuesday. Later that day I return to pick them up and notice a huge gouge in the back lip of one of the wheels. When I question it I get. “oh that’s where it slipped in the machine”. I knew that much I used to do tires for a living as one of my first jobs. The real question is how the fuck does a company that specializes in repairing wheels damage them installing tires? Their fix was to take a die grinder to the lip and smooth it out. I wasn’t at all satisfied, but this isn’t the first time I’ve owned a nice set of wheels, and sadly this isn’t even close to the first time a tire shop has screwed them up for me. Whatever. Then I get back to my shop and start cleaning them up. That’s when I notice a lot of small scratches in the lips. A couple of which go through the clear coat.
So Wednesday they all go back. To which I would have have expected an apology and a company willing to do anything to fix the situation instead I get an argument from their “tech” that my “wheels weren’t that clean to start with”. The manager did apologize but wasn’t willing to do much to fix the situation in any kind of a timely manner. Not what you need when you are two days away from leaving for Southern California for a show. I picked the wheels up to see what I could do, but bottom line the anodizing on the lip of the Work Wheels was just too big of a pain in the ass to deal with, and I wasn’t able to get it all stripped and polished in my off work hours.
The next step was to see if I could just find a new set of wheels. Nope. The AE86 isn’t a really common size today so nobody stocks shit for these. Lets try used. Nothing good from a reputable company so I find a few options on Craigslist (LA area) and one option for some Panasports C8R’s from a friend of a friend. I borrow a set of SSR’s from Vim (@red86Driver on Instagram) and reserve a trailer at U Haul to tow the car down so I don’t risk blowing a tire on the SSR’s since the tires have seen far better days.
Friday Morning the car is clean, the SSR’s are on and we go to pick up the trailer. U Haul says the guy didn’t return the car trailer and that “a reservation is not a guarantee”. Other than a quick flash back to a Seinfeld episode, this was not at all funny. I once again call on Vim and ask if its okay to pull his tires off and drive on his wheels to get to Fontana. Not what I like to do, but I did make a promise to bring the car. Vim agrees and we stop by Wheel Techniques and grab my old Yokohama tires.
We then head to Rennwerks in Campbell to have them mounted up. No way in hell I would risk his wheels at Wheel Techniques after what they did to mine! Rennwerks squeezes us in and gets us on the road. Well back to the shop to re-install the SSR’s anyway. We are on the road headed to Fontana by 2pm.
The drive down is surprisingly straight forward. By this point I was just watching for a meteor to fall from the sky and blow the car up, or something crazy. Other than a bit of heat it was actually a pleasant and maybe more importantly uneventful drive.
We arrive in Ontario around 8PM and meet guy by the name of Dennis to look at these Panasport C8R Race Wheels. I was initially a little disappointed by the condition since the pictured made them look new. Come to find out the pictures were from when they were new, or newer anyway. I decided I could live with a couple flaws after he assures me there is no major damage beyond a couple of minor chips. I PayPal him what he’s asking and we head off. Luckily I have a buddy that I met when I lived down south that has been a tech for years and still happens to have a tire machine and balancer in his garage from when he had his own shop. We removed Dennis’s tires and mounted of the Toyos. Everything was good until we went to balance the wheels, they didn’t want to balance and he said he thought the wheels were bent. By this point it was 12:30 AM and I decided to just install the wheels at the track the next day and worry about balancing them after the show.
After about 3 hours of sleep we get up and head to the car wash to give the car a quick rinse and start cleaning up my “new wheels”.
An hour later we are at the track and finishing the detail on the car. By 10 AM the car was clean, it was in the Toyo Tires booth, and it was finally wearing the Panasport wheels. We jumped in the 4Runner and headed back to the hotel to clean ourselves.