What’s In Our Garage: Dustin’s Custom Projects

So you may not realize this, but most of us at CorkSport are actually car guys/girls. While I’m sure most of you are at least somewhat familiar with what we have here as far as company cars, I was thinking you may be curious what some of us are working on when we’re not “on the clock” so to speak. That being said, first I’ll give you a little bit of my background as it relates to cars.

When I first came to CS back in 2011, I was probably a bit of the odd man out when it comes to cars. While I’d owned and customized 40 to 50 (or more) cars, I’d never really been into the import scene. I was always more into lowriders, 4x4s, old school customs, minitrucks, and pretty much anything and everything that was not a tuner car. When I started, my daily driver was a fully airbagged 1976 Chevy stepside truck (see below), and I had two other old school projects at home: a 1955 Pontiac which was also bagged, and I was building a 1963 GMC big window shortbed.

This was my daily driver and that was more or less my normal ride height. Of course all of the tuner guys at CS thought it was pretty funny (which I get). A lot of people wonder “why would you build something to drag it down the street?” My answer is, “because I can and most people can’t.”

The Pontiac was a little bit classier and, while fully bagged, it didn’t “lay frame.” This car was more about the custom body work that you would never notice unless you know what a stock ’55 Pontiac is supposed to look like, specifically the rear end.


Those vehicles are long gone by now, so what have I been working on since then? Immediately after those, I bought an MS6, which you may have seen in the past. We used it at CS for product development and testing on various products, so I’m pretty sure some pics made it to the old interwebs at some point. That was my first taste of a tuner car and, while it was fun to drive, it just wasn’t my thing. So I sold it to another employee here.


Since then, I’ve played with a few 4×4 trucks, a diesel Silverado, and a ’97 F-150 which I still have and plan to build into a desert truck at some point (though that’s not yet in the project status). So what am I working on? I’m taking it back to the old school and building a minitruck — and yes, it is a Mazda but that’s just a coincidence.


A little backstory on this truck and how this project came to be: I’m probably older than most of you, but when I was a kid in the late ‘80s, minitrucks were the thing. 15” wheels were considered big wheels back then, and 195/50x15s were the standard low profile tires — quite a bit different than today. So when I was 12 in 1990, my mom went and bought this ’89 Mazda B2200 which was already lowered and had fancy red 15” wheels and a red tenneau cover. It was a pretty sweet truck by most peoples’ standards back then and IT WAS MY MOM’S! Seriously, whose mom drives a sweet minitruck?

I don’t really have many old pics of it, but this was when I borrowed it from her to haul a motor for my ’63 GMC project.


Even at 12, I loved cars. I would spend my time reading “Lowrider Magazine” or “Mini Truckin’” and drawing pictures of customized cars, so of course I was in love with the truck. I dreamt of my mom giving it to me when I turned 16 and got my license (which didn’t happen), and all of the cool stuff I would do to it. At some point when I was probably 14, the truck was stolen and wrecked which destroyed one of the wheels. You couldn’t get them anymore, so my mom put the ugly Moderns on it, which you can see in the pic above. Then later something happened to the tonneau (don’t remember what). Needless to say, time took its toll on the truck. It wasn’t the same truck anymore, but it didn’t change or take away all the time I spent daydreaming about all of the things I wanted to do to that truck as a teen.


So fast-forward 24 to 25 years. My mom was retiring and didn’t need the truck anymore. At this point, it was just a 25-year-old B2200, so it wasn’t worth much to anyone aside from me. She said if I wanted it, I could have it, so of course I jumped on it as I’d been thinking about this truck and what I would do to it for over half of my life. So what were my plans for it?


I wanted to mix keeping it how it was with doing some of the things I’d thought about over the years. So the first thing I had to do was put some red wheels on it again, as that’s how it was when I was young. However, I wanted to cross it with a bit of my preferred “old school” style, so I had to mix it up a bit. I picked up some 15” steelies with chrome center caps and had the wheels powder coated red. I also wanted wide white wall tires, but I couldn’t find the size I wanted, so I got other tires and added some Porta-walls for the wide white look. I then replaced all of the bushings and ball joints in the front end and added the new wheels and tires.

Anybody that knows me and my taste for vehicles would know that I wasn’t done at this point, so I continued to collect components for the next step. Full air ride was on its way. I got everything needed to bag it, including a complete 4-link kit for the rear. (Sorry for the blurry pic; it’s what I got.)

I then kind of lost motivation, so the truck largely just sat in my garage for the last couple of years. But a couple of months ago, I started working on it again. I started with notching the frame in the rear so when the suspension is aired out, the frame will sit on the ground (lay frame). I then welded in the 4-link rear suspension as seen below. I used the factory front leaf spring perch for the lower bars. (They’re there; you just can’t see them.)

Then I turned my attention to the front end. If you know anything about these trucks, you know they have a torsion bar front suspension. And if you know anything about bagging stuff, you know that isn’t the easiest starting point for airbags. Preferably you’d start with coil springs, because then you just have to remove the stock coil and put an airbag in its place (more or less). Since these are torsion bars, you have to remove most of the existing suspension and build everything you need in the front yourself. I recently finished putting the bags in the front, which is the hardest part of this project, and am now at the point where I can start making mounts and installing all of the hardware in the rear (a.k.a. the fun part).

The frame is, in fact, sitting on the ground in this pic.


If you’re curious what my end goal is with this truck, I’ll fill you in: I don’t want to go full custom show truck. I plan to leave the body, faded paint and all, just as it is. I’ll also leave the big ugly mirrors and stock rear bumper, which is the first thing most minitruckers remove. Really my plan was/is to leave everything outside stock, aside from the wheels/tires, and fully bagged. Then I’ll do a custom interior with a nice sound system. The point is not a show truck; I want the stock look of the truck my mom drove for years with the ability to drag the frame down the street and throw sparks. I also plan to see if I can get another red soft tonneau cover made, so it will be a bit closer to the truck I remember as a kid — just better.


Other things I’ve considered are an NA 20b swap with a turbo 2 trans, cuz why not? Or maybe a boosted 302 swap, although that may be a bit overkill for such a small truck. It does have an automatic trans, so I don’t love that, but it works fine for low and slow. Anyhow, thanks for reading, and I hope you’ve enjoyed getting a little look at what I play with when I’m not at CS. Maybe you’ll see some updates in the future, maybe not, or maybe you’ll get a look at some of the other guys’ projects around here. Let us know what you’d like to see and we’ll see if we can accommodate.


After seeing several forum posts and receiving many emails asking about performance intakes and sucking in water I decided to write this bog, because I wanted to get this cleared up for everyone with questions.

Water is everywhere, as our planet is covered in it. There is water in the air. When you are driving your car down the road you are sucking in water. It may be water vapor but it is still water and harmless to your engine.

Open element filters in either short ram intakes or cold air intakes have water come in contact with them by splashing puddles or rain. With air passing through the filter the water gets vaporized (evaporates) and gets consumed by the engine during the combustion process. This process is like the hand dryers in a washroom that blow air across your hands to dry them. The water enters your intake as vapor which is safe for your engine.

There are several companies that sell water injection systems for combustion engines. The water cools the fuel air mixture resulting in less chance for engine detonation. This is helpful for forced induction engines running higher boost levels to control detonation and get more power.

The only time you will experience water damage/engine destruction is when the intake in your car creates a seal with a water source, as in complete submersion. The engine creates suction from the air pumping movement thus pulling more water into the intake towards the engine. This becomes a problem when the water gets to the cylinders and the crankshaft tries to move the piston up. Water does not compress like air and causes the piston to stop and catastrophe occurs. This is called hydro-lock, which is when the cylinder is too full of water and the piston moves against it effectively preventing, or “locking” the engine from further movement. The result of hydro-lock is bent connecting rods, broken pistons, etc. It is not pretty.

Hydrolock Damage

Cold air intakes normally get the bad rap for sucking up water and hydro-locking engines. You would have to move your vehicle into large water mass, like a very deep puddle and submerge your air filter for this to occur. If you live in a climate that has lots of standing water or floods on a regular basis a cold air intake is probably not the best choice. Short ram intakes normally have the filter situated up higher in the engine bay near the throttle body. The chances of water being deep enough to cause a seal and suck in water are pretty low. You would need the water to be higher that the filter location in the engine bay. This also applies to the stock intake airbox. If you see water cresting over the top of your hood you have more problems than water getting into your engine.

Sure fire defense against water in your intake

If you want an aftermarket intake and you are paranoid about hydro-locking your engine there is a solution. The sure fire way to avoid water getting into your engine is an intake snorkel. Most have the air pickup at the highest point on the vehicle to give you the best chance when fording a river.

Mazda BT-50 crossing a small creek

The best advice I can give is to steer clear of deep standing water if you have a performance intake installed in your Mazda. If you are not sure how deep the puddle or standing water is go around it.


It’s Good to Have Options

I have the luxury of owning several nice cars to choose from when I want to drive somewhere. I’ve acquired them over the last 10 or so years. A 1988 RX-7 Convertible, a 2004 RX-8, a 2004 Mazda3, and a 1991 B2600i 4×4.

The RX-7, is a project car in the purest sense of the phrase. It rarely gets on the road, mostly for lack of time to get it just how I want it. Its got a highly upgraded turbo 13B transplant and a host of other suspension/body mods. I’ve been working on it off and on for about 10 years! Just when it feels like I’m getting close to putting her back on the road, I add 10 more things to the ‘To Do’ list.

The latest addition to my family is a 2004 Mazda3, my great ‘family car’. It’s sporty enough to have some fun but doesn’t bust the bank when I stop for gas. Aside from a prototype CS intake, some 18’s donated by a RX8 (not the one below), and tinted windows, I’ve not had the chance to modify it yet. Next mod, CS exhaust with catalyst.

The RX-8 has been a blast. It’s my garage queen. Here in the northwest it seems like it’s always raining so I’ll go weeks at a time without driving it. A shame, I know. Of all the cars I’ve owned it’s the best fit for me. I think of it as a practical sports car. If Mazda could figure out a way to add 50 WHP without dropping the gas mileage to 6 mpg I think they’d sell a lot more of these. It handles better than just about any sporty car under 30 grand, and most Mazdas except for maybe the MX-5. For power, that’s what a 350hp RX-7 is for. This is a refined machine that is more than capable of getting up-to-speed.

Oddly, with much better cars to choose from, I usually pick the B-Series pickup. I searched long and hard for this one. A rebadged Ford would not do (1994-200X) and Mazda didn’t sell a lot of the Cab Plus 4×4 in the USA from 198X-199X. I drive it because I don’t have to worry about door dings and rock chips as much and it’s very handy for errands. But alas, I’m getting tired of spending my days with 80’s vintage technology so I’m looking to upgrade. Word around the campfire is that Mazda is going to reintroduce their truck here soon. I’m crossing my fingers.

Being a Mazda loyalist as long as I’ve been able to drive, and personally owning over 20 of them in my life, I can say I’m addicted. I can’t wait to check out the new pickups and the Mazda2. The latter was at the Portland Auto Show Jan 28 to 30 and I checked it out, very exciting stuff!

– Rich

Mazda Trucks Are Back!

There was a recent “spy shot” of the new Ford Ranger truck seen driving around. The good news it is a Ford Ranger in name alone. The new Ranger chassis will be based on the Mazda BT-50 truck which is sold everywhere on the planet except North America.

Photo Courtesy of Mazda Australia

They are listing the new Mazda Ranger to be available in 2011 with a 1.6 DI gas engine. If Ford has some sense and sells the 3.0 16 valve 4 cylinder Turbodiesel with the 150 hp and 280 torque which is found overseas currently, they already have 1 buyer. With the Mazda chassis we will get double wishbone front suspension with torsion bars instead of the twin I-beam carry over from the 1960s. Ford had been using this suspension in light duty trucks in the last 30 years of Rangers.

If the engine and power train controls carry over from the BT-50 diesels there are plug in tuners available as well. Plug it in, turn up the boost and pick up an extra 50 torque!

You can tell I really want a new Mazda truck can’t you?

Who knows, CorkSport may even offer performance parts for the trucks.