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Old 10-15-2009, 01:21 PM   #1
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Thumbs up GRM 2009 challenge winner build story

If you read any part read this. This is long but a fun read and story about the progression of a group of buddies car built for the Grassroots Motorsports Challenge over the last 3yrs. I played the part of one of the Chicago buddies who worked on the mechanics (turbo kit/suspension etc..).

I know it isn't a miata... but I think you guys will still appreciate it.


The Grassroots Motorsports Challenge requires entrants to spend a maximum of $2009 to produce a race car that will be tested in three categories. (1) Drag Race (2) Autocross (3) Appearance. This CRX took 7th place in the 2007 Challenge and 4th place in the 2008 Challenge. We finally took home the top spot overall in the 2009 Challenge last week.

The car (or shell)
The shell that we started with is a 1988 Honda CRX HF and was purchased in October of 2005 for $400. This car has been in our circle of friends for seven or eight years now. It has seen many different duties, as well as a variety of drivetrain combinations in its years. At the time of original purchase it was a mere shell. The car had no engine, no interior, stock suspension, and spare tires were used to make it a real “rolling” shell.

There were several reasons why this car could easily be turned into a Grassroot Motorsports Challenge race car. Most important is the lack of weight. A stock 1988 CRX HF weighs in at 1812 pounds. Take out the interior, the passenger seat, the spare tire, the heating system, and some loose change and we figure on right around 1700 pounds. This is where the car got its nickname of “Gutty”. In addition, the CRX is a very race proven chassis with millions of parts available, which means we could find used parts for cheap.

To make back some money in our budget, we sold the OBD0 to OBD1 conversion harness ($40) that came with the car.

Parts Car #1
The first parts car that we picked up was a 1990 Acura Integra for $250. The timing belt had snapped and the car had been sitting for over a year. After dragging the Integra for a block to get the rusty brakes loose, we flat towed the car to the garage. We took the ecu, battery, injector resistor box, throttle cable, intake arm, the rear disc brake setup, and most importantly the engine. We were hoping that a used B18 timing belt ($5) would show that the motor still had straight valves, but we would not know until the engine was in the new car and running.

To make back some money in our budget we sold the automatic transmission ($100), the axles and midshaft ($50), and the fenders and front bumper ($75), and the master cylinder ($25).

Parts Car #2
The second parts car proved to be a gold mine. It was a rusty 1989 CRX Si with a b16 swap. The engine had stopped running, so the owner had taken the head off to inspect. He decided to keep the VTEC for himself and sell the car with a missing head. Wanting badly to dump the project before moving out of state, he sold us the car for $600. Parts that would be used from this car were the close-ratio YS1 transmission, the b16 flywheel, the motor mounts, the axles and midshaft, the shift linkage, some Tokiko Illumina adjustable shocks that were missing the adjuster, and ITR rear LCAs.

To make back some money in our budget, we sold the b16 ECU ($111.36), the b16 shortblock ($150), and the shell ($410).

More parts
Finding used parts for cheap takes forever. Countless hours were wasted in pursuit of the deals. This is one of the major reasons the car took two years to complete. Parts were purchased from a variety of venues, including internet forums, the local junkyards, and local car dudes.

The websites Honda | Acura Research, Reviews, Performance Parts, Owners -, the ultimate technical resource for the 88, 89, 90, 91 Honda EF Civic and EF CRX., B20Vtec.Com. B series and beyond, eBay - New & used electronics, cars, apparel, collectibles, sporting goods & more at low prices and proved to be our most valuable resource for information and used parts. We bought the used turbo and oil lines ($300), the used Integra Type R LSD ($280) and ring gear ($75), the used intercooler ($75), the used clutch ($55), and Ebay strut/tie bars ($46.30) from these sites.

The local junkyard provided the DSM 450 injectors ($24.37), an 88 CRX seat bracket ($9.26), BMW wheels ($45) and a Hyundai slim fan ($18.65).

The “Design 2000” seat ($10), intercooler ($75), used wastegate ($25), used DSM blow off valve ($10), fuel pump ($35), ebay coilovers ($35), used BM FPR ($20), used B18 timing belt ($5), and the used tachometer and boost gauge ($40) were all purchased from local car guys.

The battery box came from Autozone ($12.88), the chalkboard spray paint ($21.10) from Menards, and the Rustoleum flat black ($17.12) came from Home depot. The XO wheel paint ($10), radius rod bushings ($8.47), fuel filter ($11.73), heater hose ($2.52), and miscellaneous hardware ($2.44) came from local auto parts stores.

The used autocross tires were pulled out of the garbage at an autocross event in 2006 (Thanks Tom!!). The 92-95 Civic radiator with a giant hole was pulled out of the garbage. JB weld ($1) fixed up the hole real good (so far).

The tubed crossmember, homemade turbo manifold, intercooler piping, exhaust, and door panels were all constructed with scraps that were lying around the shop ($80). We also used $50 worth of welding materials to make all this stuff.

We used a few parts that we had sitting in the back of our garages. For these parts, we claim fair market value, including some abused drag racing slicks ($100), a used air filter ($10), several used couplers/clamps ($15), and a Xenocron chip ($19.50).

The Project

Step 1: Get motor in and running
After sourcing parts for almost a year, it was time to put it all together and see if our motor had any bent valves. Wiring prevented this process from being a quick one. The last motor setup that lived in Gutty made for some serious wiring nightmares. For the last motor, the CRX HF cabin wiring harness was used with a CRX Si engine harness (not the same as HF) all converted to OBD1 with lots of random wires everywhere. It took us several hours and lots of multimeter testing to get it all right. After finally sorting out all the wiring issues, the engine fired up and sounded healthy. A compression test revealed that the valves in our engine were still good and Gutty hit the streets.

Step 2: Boost!
Once we knew that the motor was good, it was time to boost it to the moon. In the interest of saving money, we decided to construct the turbo manifold using the top half of the stock Integra exhaust manifold. We decided to mount the turbo up top for the bling bling factor. The stock crossmember had to be chopped and tubed to make room for the manifold and the radiator. We also decided that the shorter the exhaust could be made, the quicker the spool and the cheaper the materials to construct it, so the exhaust is simply a three foot dump out the front bumper (LOUD!!!).

Step 3: Make it Pretty
Although the exterior looked nearly rust free, we found quite a bit of the Honda cancer when we got right down to the shell. The rockers on both sides had rusted away to almost nothing. The rear trailing arm on the driver’s side was actually falling off due to rust. Adam considered abandoning the whole project because the rust was so bad. John Decker convinced him otherwise, and they cut out the old rusty stuff and welded in some spare steel they had laying around the garage.

The exterior still had a decent chalkboard green spray paint job from the previous owner, but we were planning on really turning some heads. Hours and hours of sanding and bondo work, along with five cans of spray paint ($18) provided the perfect touch up for the car. The car is an actual working chalkboard where chalk marks can be created and erased as if it were right in a classroom.

While the engine and transmission were out for the limited slip differential install, the engine bay received a serious degreasing. The engine and transmission were also shined up using an air powered wheel. In addition, several hours were spent cleaning up the wiring mess that was created. The engine bay received a full tuck with fuse boxes, wiring harnesses, and relays all hidden behind fenders and up under the dash.

The interior needed some help as there were several holes that allowed you to see the ground beneath. Since we didn’t want this to be a Flintstone car, we welded in some new floor. The whole interior then received a thick coat of brush on Rustoleum flat black. Adam fabbed up some door panels out of tin and then painted them chalkboard green so we could have more surface area to write on with chalk.

Step 4: Test and Tune
For the new Integra B18 engine we used the old school OBD0 wiring and electronics. To account for additional fuel and timing needs of the turbocharger, we will be running a chipped stock ecu. Xenocron Tuning: Fuel Management and DIY Tuning Resource Center for Honda and Acura Performance - Hondata, eCtune, Neptune, Crome, TurboEdit, Uberdata provides the chip kit ($19.50) and PopFind (sm) supplied the free software. The turboedit software allows you to run bigger injectors and adjust fuel and timing maps according to boost levels. The free basemap was tweaked with a street tune using a wideband o2 sensor.

We also wanted the car to see some race duty before we hauled it all the way down to Florida. We found an autocross event at the Tire Rack in Indiana two weeks before the Grassroots Motorsports Challenge. ITA Tom from Kentwood was to be our driver in Florida and we wanted him to have a chance to get a feel for the car. The autocross event had 25-30 cars total and ITA Tom and Gutty took 2nd place for the day!!! We were only beat by a 5 time AutoX National champion driving a Porsche Cayman. The autocross proved to us that Gutty had a real chance of competing down in Florida.

Step 5: The Grassroots Motorsports Challenge 2007
We brought a large crew down to Florida to help support Team Gutty. Overall we were thrilled with the results.

AutoX: 5th place overall
Concours: 11th place overall
TOTAL: 7th place overall.

We were bummed out that the drag race was rained out as we were confident that Gutty would have placed well. We learned a lot about the competition in our first year. We were amazed at the attention to detail on some of the cars at the event. We decided that our car needed a different “look” to help us in our concours judging for 2008.

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Old 10-15-2009, 01:22 PM   #2
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New Turbo Kit
Although the homemade turbo manifold was artistic and cheap, we felt a better flowing manifold would help us make some more power. We ditched the old manifold (took $50 out of the budget) and picked up a cheap Ebay cast manifold ($99). The intercooler piping was redone and the exhaust was rerouted out the bumper on the passenger side. We also purchased a Motorola 2.5 bar map sensor ($14.94) so that our ecu could see more boost. The car was now ready to boost to the moon.

New Look
Our biggest goal for the 2008 Challenge is a better concours judging. In order to get this, we knew that we had to pay close attention to all the details. First off, the car was going to need some new paint. We pulled the motor and brought the shell to the paint shop (well actually just a buddy’s garage). The exterior, interior, and engine bay were sprayed with a stock Honda Civic cream colored paint ($219.65). We added a red pinstripe on the mouldings ($3.99) and gave our BMW wheels a new look with some fresh spray paint ($9.98). We also sprayed the head lights, corner lights and bumper lights with yellow Krylon glass paint ($5.99). We are also hoping to have some vinyl on the inside door panels ($25), assuming the vinyl shows up in time.

Grassroots Motorsports Challenge 2008
The crew had a blast again at the challenge for 2008. Gutty performed well in the autocross and was able to squeak into the 11s in the drag strip. We improved slightly for the concours but were still blown away by the attention to details from the competition (especially Hong Norr)

AutoX: 3rd place overall
Drag 5th place overall
Concours: 9th place overall
TOTAL: 4th place overall.

The 20 hour drive home sparked some good conversation for the fate of Gutty for 2009. We decided that 2009 would be the last year for Gutty entering the GRM challenge because we didn’t want to wear out our welcome with the same car. We also decided that we were really going all out for Gutty’s last GRM competition.


Purchases and Sales in the offseason
We made some serious acquisitions in the offseaon. We found some fiberglass CRX doors ($150) on and made a deal with a guy from to trade our stock hood + $70 for a carbon fiber hood. We also found a giant sized T3 turbo ($59.99) at the local LKQ pick and pull junkyard on an old Ford Thunderbird. We picked up a used Volkswagon Scirroco radiator ($35) from ebay and a radiator cap ($25.99) to go with it from the local parts store. We picked up a used mini lawn mower battery ($10), and some bigger 550cc injectors ($75) from local guys who just wanted to get rid of the stuff. We also freshened up the brakes with some new front pads ($16.51), new rear rotors ($29.54), and a rear caliper rebuild ($22.80) from the parts store. We also acquired a FREE Mugen header that was seriously dented on the bottom and had been thrown away. This header would become the showcase piece in the engine bay.

We went with a new hospital scrubs green paint ($154.80) that was custom made by a local paint shop called Finishmasters. We also used cans of spray paint to clean up other parts on the build ($5.69, $2.94). One of the team members has his own vinyl cutter so we purchased $101.75 of vinyl to be put on the car. Another team member has a powder coating oven which we ended up using for our wheels and some engine bay accents ($10.15 for powder).

We also used some plexiglass ($3.50), a radiator fan mounting kit (3.99), vacuum hoses ($4.99), and some heater hose ($5.28). We claimed fair market value on used oil lines ($10), aluminum used for the intake manifold ($25), used rear drag springs ($20), used VX wheels ($20),and used boost controller ($10)

We removed several items from the car that would be replaced with different parts including the hood, the turbo ($300), the turbo manifold ($99), the steel for the exhaust ($30), battery box ($12.88), the DSM 450 injectors ($22.99), the used air filter ($10), the old radiator with JB Weld ($1), a heater hose line ($2.52) and all of the old paint, pinstriping, and vinyl ($219.65, $9.98, $5.99, $3.99, $25). We also traded our factory big brake setup for some puny sized brakes and $110.

New turbo kit
Splitime pulled a Mugen header out of a dumpster at King Motorsports several years ago. It had been seriously dented CRUSHED and the owner thought that it was not salvageable junked it. Adam began cutting and rerouting the piping on the header to try and turn it into a side mount turbo manifold. 22 hours later he had created what would be the masterpiece of the engine bay. Several other guys poured hours into polishing and grinding the masterpiece into its current state. The result is astonishing. Adam then created some bracing so that the entire turbo and manifold would move with the motor. The exhaust for the turbo kit was easy; a four inch pipe that went straight out of the hood.

Adam’s brother Jeremy went to work on the intake manifold. He chopped off the plenum on the stock intake manifold. He then used scrap aluminum pieces from the shop to fabricate a custom intake manifold that moved the throttle body to the opposite side! This was done to simplify the routing of the intercooler piping for the turbo kit. The turbo charge piping comes off the turbo, directly into the intercooler, and then directly into the custom intake manifold.

Make it light
The car began at only 1812 pounds in completely stock form. It was completely gutted before the 2007 Challenge and the name “Gutty” was born. It was likely hovering around 1750 pound mark for the 2007 Challenge. We decided to try and take it to the next level for 2009. Some lucky deals in the off season allowed us to shed some serious weight. The fiberglass doors were found in a deal on They utilized the stock hinges and door handles and feel ultra light compared to the stock steel. A bathroom scale revealed the stock doors weighing in at 64 pounds each and the fiberglass doors weighing in at 18 pounds each. This works out to a total weight savings around 90 pounds. The carbon fiber hood dropped us another 16 pounds. A used motorcycle battery dropped us 22 pounds from the stock monster battery. We also removed the stock glass from the rear quarters and the rear hatch. The rear hatch was replaced with some old storm door windows that Adam removed from a house. The rear quarter windows were replaced with plexiglass from the local hardware store. The window weight savings is around 9 pounds. We also removed the parking brake assembly, several brackets, some wiring, and several miscellaneous items for a weight savings of 17 pounds. We also traded in our Civic EX front knuckles, brakes and 10.2 inch rotors for a smaller CIVIC DX 9.1 inch brake setup that saved us 8 pounds. To be ultra ridiculous, we shaved down the heads of our transmission bolts and drilled holes through the center of all them to save an additional 1.2 pounds. Overall, we saved somewhere around 170 pounds. The corner weight scales confirmed our predications with a final weight of 1698 pounds.

Make it pretty
Hong Norr taught us something the past two years. To compete at the top level, you need to spend an obscene number of hours in making the car look pretty. So we did just that. The car got properly prepared for paint. Everything came off the car and was hand sanded for hours and hours in preparation for the paint. We built a makeshift paint booth in our garage, complete with a box fan ventilation system. The paint turned out brilliantly.

Next, we went to work on the vinyl. The engine bay got completely covered in Honda logos. We covered the firewall, the front and rear crossmember, the intercooler and piping, and even the axles. We also covered a significant portion of the interior. Honda logos cover the headliner and the beauty panel that we created to cover all the brake lines. In total, there are 2009 Honda logos covering the car.

The old school BMW wheels were cleaned up and powdercoated a matte black. TallKyle did the powdercoating with his Harbor Freight stove in his garage and they turned out great. He also powdercoated some engine accents in show-car purple.

Even a pit bike to match:

A tribute to the 075
Taken from an internet post from Chris in 2003:

“The 075 is a group of good friends from the West Michigan Grand Rapids area. We are not a group or a club. We are just a bunch of guys that happen to like cars and hang out together. The name 075 came from the old townhouse where we all used to hang out, which had the address 4075. We dropped the 4 and left the 075 and there you go.”

Luke gave his view of the group on the internet in August of 2009:

“The 075 is an ever changing group of buddies, each with their own collection of talents and abilities, who collectively form something awesome. The awesomeness may be a BBQ, a camping trip, or even a car. Gutty is a serious representation of this idea. 075 dudes have collectively spent thousands of hours on this car. Although I currently own the title to this car, I really believe that the car belongs to a group of 30-40 dudes.”

We wanted Gutty to be the automotive equivalent of a quilt….to tell the stories of the 075.

First we had to choose a color for the exterior of the car. Hospital scrubs green was the easy choice. In 2004, the group had a vote to decide which color they should do all of the engine valve colors. Hospital scrubs green came out the winner and 13 valve covers were done in that color. We had a local paint shop custom match the color and they mixed up a gallon of it for us to use to paint Gutty.

Once the car was fully painted with the scrubs green, we started working on a vinyl design that would be put on the exterior of the car. We wanted to tell the stories of the 075 through some illustrations. Chris, being a talented graphic designer, just needed some ideas. We turned to our local message forum and asked the group to recall some historic events that have happened in the 075 over the past ten years.
Chris took some of the most classic stories and turned them into illustrations and integrated them into the vinyl design of the car. The result is the automotive equivalent of a quilt. This car is the ongoing representation of an amazing group of buddies and what can be accomplished by a dedicated team of dudes.

Concourse (appearance): 2nd

Autocross: 3rd

Drag: 3rd with a time of 11.84 @ 120 mph

OVERALL: 1st place with the largest margin of victory in Challenge history

Thank yous

There were many people that helped make this project a reality. Countless hours of labor went into the parts search and construction of this vehicle. These names appear on the top of the car in appreciation of their work and friendship.

Kevin Bomers
Chris Stewart
Paul Bomers
Jeremy Jabaay
Rob Stewart
Matt Johnston
Joe Wilcox
Peter McDaniel
Nick Ergang
Brian Goudy
Lance Weersma
Dave Ott
Brad Bradeen
Tom Lamb
Tim Paas
Dan Devries
Allison Jabaay
Mike Decker
John Decker
Dave Boender
Kyle Beinaruskis
Terry Henderson
Brent Gitchel
Patrick Lane
Jason Olmstead
Shawn Olmstead
James Mead
Tim Kienutske
Adam Kazmierski
Brian D. Willoughby
Brian R. Willoughby
Fitz Languedoc
Pat Maguire
Nick Solanick
Mike Buteyn
Andy McBrian
Scott Overly
Wayne Shih-wei Hsieh

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Old 10-15-2009, 01:34 PM   #3
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Awesome story dude! Congrats on being a part of the winning team!

The 2009 honda logos was a cool touch, I liked that
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Old 10-15-2009, 01:39 PM   #4
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awesome car.
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Old 10-15-2009, 01:44 PM   #5
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Very cool, man!
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Old 10-15-2009, 01:57 PM   #6
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The Honda logo stickers remind me of a Gucci handbag or something like that.

Chalkboard paint FTW. Love that. Just chalk numbers on the car, flames, 'you suck' on the rear bumper, let the kids go crazy, whatever. When it gets old, wash it off, reapply. If I ever paint a track car, I am going to shamelessly copy that idea.

A programmable ECU for the cost of a $20 chip and some freeware...
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Old 10-15-2009, 02:12 PM   #7
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Gotta love stories like that. Stuff like this and the Lemons Race make sure that you are truely an enthusiast at heart. Spending so much of your time and energy to find new and creative weays to do things. That's the stuff that forms you as a person. That's the stuff that makes great memories.
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Old 10-15-2009, 02:29 PM   #8
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This is a badass thread.
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Old 10-15-2009, 02:40 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by ZX-Tex View Post

The Honda logo stickers remind me of a Gucci handbag or something like that.
They also reek of darn near OCD attention to detail!
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Old 10-15-2009, 02:44 PM   #10
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Thats a damn good story. I've wanted to do the GRM challenge for awhile but haven't had the time to get started lol.

The zamboni is a local East Tenn. team. They actually run it at quite a few regional autox's. Pretty quick machine, mostly mustang parts too lol.

Hope $2010 GRM challenge will be just as interesting.
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Old 10-15-2009, 03:05 PM   #11
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that's ****'in awesome.
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Old 10-15-2009, 03:10 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by flier129 View Post
Hope $2010 GRM challenge will be just as interesting.
Oh it will be. Of that I have no doubt.

If all goes well over the winter. I'll be bringing my own personal build to it.
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Old 10-15-2009, 03:29 PM   #13
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Love it, that Mugen long tube exhaust mani looks gorgeous. :P
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Old 10-15-2009, 03:50 PM   #14
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Fantastic build.

Absolutely amazing the work and effort you guys put into that car.
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Old 10-15-2009, 04:12 PM   #15
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That's great everything was so well documented as well. I understand that's an important part of the GRM challenge but I underestimated the detail. I'm very impressed that so many different people put effort into that car but I better understand what it takes to make a successful car for that competition. My first entry would be no where near as epic but it's great to read success stories like this one.
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Old 10-16-2009, 01:40 AM   #16
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Very very well done. Excellent job, and congratulations--you've earned it.
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Old 10-16-2009, 03:43 AM   #17
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Old 10-16-2009, 07:16 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by x8mrxjohn8x View Post
11.84@121 in 105deg heat index.

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Old 10-16-2009, 08:38 AM   #19
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I love GRM, great read.
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Old 10-16-2009, 08:39 AM   #20
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I love the idea of a "quilt" car. Its brilliant mate not only is it mates having a laugh but won as well. Might I suggest the 2009 victory gets its own vinyl above the driver door.
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