Tribute to Silvia

We are half an hour out from heading to the airport, but this morning what I miss the most is my car…

Bye Silvia! You served me well…

In a world of white Toyotas…

I have to admit, Mitsuoka makes some real works of art; they stand out from everything else on the street. Take a look at their lineup.
My favorite, of course is the Le-Seyde, which is built on the body of a 180SX (the sister model of my beloved Silvia S-13). I used to see these driving around once a year or so (they were always white), but I haven’t seen one for quite a while.
In some cities in Japan, they use the TX-II or the viewt as actual taxi cabs – and riding around in one is a welcome break from the ubiquitous old Crown cabs.

Radar Detector

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My trusty cheap-ass radar detector. I go through one of these every couple years which is how long it takes for the solar panels/battery to run down. I need to run it solar because my Silvia’s cigarette lighter is broken. Come to think of it, that’s a problem I’ve seen on many Silvias, as well as the 240/180sx. Design flaw, methinks.

Shakoshomei

Even though I’ve lived here on Awaji Island for nearly five years, I was registered at my friend’s house in Nara until last month. Basically, there was no reason to change my address officially until this year, when the immigration laws got stricter, plus I fucking hate having to tell the government where I live just on principle…
Just one of the many pains in the ass involves re-registering my car out here (in Kobe, actually), and in order to do that, I need a shakoshomei, which is proof that you have an approved place to park. If you live in a house, this might be your driveway or garage, but if you rent an apartment, like I do, you have to provide proof that you are renting a space somewhere.
This is an incredibly irritating process that takes a trip down to the local police station at least twice, once to apply and once to pick up the actual document, which is issued after an inspector goes to visit the parking space you have specified in the application (you actually have to provide two maps, one of the parking space in relation to your home, and another, more detailed map of the parking area with dimensions, etc. Most people hand-draw this stuff, but I, uber-nerd, did the work in Illustrator – may post it later so you can come egg my Silvia).
Anyway, after this long, drawn out process had gotten to its final stage, I was ready to pick up the document late last week. Before work, I went to the police station (cue: oh happy day) with my trusty hanko (personal seal used in place of signature) only to be told that the guy in charge wasn’t in. The fact that just speaking to the police in Japan – about just about anything, really – always puts me in the foulest of moods, only compounded my irritation at being brushed off because the designated desk jockey (and public fucking servant I might add) decided to make a run for the bento shop during normal operating hours. Whatever. I decided to jump through all the hoops when I decided to make the move out here official, so I sucked it up and went to work.
I didn’t have time to go again until yesterday. I walked into the police station all pimped out in my spiffy work uniform (complete with nametag; this is a Japanese white-collar job, thankyouverymuch) and requested service at the desk. This time, the balding desk sergeant in charge was there (oh joy), fat ass parked firmly in a seat with a bead cushion draped over it. He looks over my approval forms, sees they’re all in order, then announces to no one in general, “the window for processing shakoshomei is from 3 to 5 PM, please come back then.”
Me: “fuck, as in what the?”
Cop: “3 to 5”
Me: “But there ain’t nobody else here now! C’mon! ”
Cop: “Morning hours are reserved for driver’s license-related issues only – COME BACK BETWEEN 3 AND 5!”
Me: “THERE AIN’T NOBODY ELSE HERE – c’mon, cut me a break already. Pleeeeeease. Pretty please with azuki on the top.”
Cop: “Ungh.” (loosely translated: “wutevaaaa”)
Grrrrr. So I had to take off work early and got back to the police station just before 5. As I approach the desk sergeant, who I swear has not moved a single fucking inch since I last saw him several hours before and is now half-heartedly playing with pencils and rubber bands, looks up at me, then glances at the clock, gathers the approval papers again and says, “hehheh, you made it just in time.”
Motherfucker!
And as he stamps my hanko in the logbook and gives me the magic papers, he replies “I wouldn’t have minded if you came in a little later. I’m here until 7:00 anyway.”
I bit down on my lower lip, hard, and concentrated on quietly exiting the building.
As a good friend once put it, “why are cops such fucking cunts?”
UPDATE:
shakoshomei.gif

205-60-R15

Went for a roadtrip with Nam (GF) and Merin (little sis) to Shikoku over the weekend, kitten in tow. I will post some photos later, after I get a chance to edit. The point of this post is to tell you that there may be a god. In return for saving Yoda the kitten, god may have allowed us to live and not become road butter.
Basically, I drove for the whole trip the way I usually do – fast. Life is too short for Japanese speed limits (Sometimes 80 KPH max. on the highway, but usually 60. 1 mile = approximately 1.6 kilometers, but only in the northern hemisphere, after which it rotates clockwise or something. You do the math.). Anyway. Driving down a curvy mountain road parallel to the Yoshino River, past Oboke gorge, I notice a funny sound from the left side of the car. And on the next curve, I almost slide into the guardrail with my heavier-than-usual load in the car. Oh. That doesn’t feel right.
I pull over on the opposite side of the road where there is a wide space and get out to find that the left rear tire is flatter than hell, and hot to the touch. Damn. It’s the hottest day of the year so far, so in the twenty minutes it takes to get the spare out of the overloaded trunk and switch it with the flat, I am soaked in sweat. Beads of it run down my face and into the corners of my mouth. And I take a closer look at the flat tire and I break out in a different kind of sweat.
You see, my car (Nissan Silvia) is getting very old by Japanese standards. It is a favorite among drifters who race mountain roads because of its superb chain-driven engine, highly customizable configuration, and rear wheel drive. It kicks ass and takes names of more expensive cars all day. However, it is old (I continue to drive it because a good friend gave it to me before he died of cancer a few years back. Also, I would never bend to the Japanese tradition of junking a car just because it’s old. My veteran Silvia will take your new bimbobox’s lunch money and make it cry all day, every day). The car has settled in such a way that the wheels developed a negative camber. Don’t ask me to elaborate on the technical details, cause I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about and I’ll make shit up. Practically, his means that the tires wear out faster on the inside edge tha they do on the outside edge. Meaning, unless you specifically inspect the inside edges, they look perfectly fine. I hadn’t inspected the inside edges for a year, and was just thinking about getting new tires (I like the shine of new tires anyway). When I saw the inside edge of the tire after I took it off, I broke out in a cold sweat. There was much steel beltage showing through. Thinking of all the 180s on asphalt, donuts in parking lots, and high-speed driving I’ve done in the past year (a lot less than I used to , but still…), I realized that a harmless flat that caused zero damage was one of the best possible ends to this scenario.
I drove slowly to the nearest Autobacs on the spare. It was 60 kilos away. Replaced the worn tires with the new Diazza series from Dunlop as they were out of the cheapie Autobacs brand. It was Dunlops or Yokohamas, but I find low- to mid-end Yokos to be overrated, and the Diazzas just came out last year. If I wanted to put serious money into the car, I’d go for Toyos, but I’m not into all that. If I get serious about it, I’ll jinx my good luck with Silvia, and it would break my heart to see this daily reminder of my good friend on a junk heap.
Could someone good at math proof this formula for me, please:
Kindness to kitten/N =/> Good car mojo(x+20r)

Sony Obelisk

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This is a wired remote controller for my Sony head unit installed in one of Silvia’s 2-DIN slots. I specifically bought this toy because it had been around for at least 10 years and I thought it would be dropped in favor of a new model. Bingo! I was right and the new ones are wireless, though less 80’s-looking and hence worthless in my opinion. I think I may be one of three people in the universe who can change the settings for the subwoofer output’s high pass filter one-handed in the dark without looking at the display. Now somebody give me A GODDAMN COOKIE.