An hour after I wrote my "Old Car/New Car" blog entry, Lalai called me to pick her up at Gloria Jean's at The Fort.
As I headed downstairs, I was seized by a sudden bout of sentimentality ("poor car, it's been sitting in the open parking for a week now..") so instead of taking shiny red New Car, I decided to take Old Car.
Well.. it's not that much fun to drive. I've become accustomed to the auto tranny, so I lugged the engine on several occasions by letting off the clutch too abruptly. Yes, driving the 626 is very visceral. But that's only half because of the torque. The other half is because it's damn noisy! getting to 70 km/h in 4th gear is big business. Sure the Mazda3 takes way longer to get to that speed, but it does so in relative quiet.
And the suspension is noisier than I had remembered. I had always wanted to download some sound-level measurement software on my notebook. I had planned to record the sound of various cars going over rough pavement so I could pick the quietest one. But Lalai and I only ended up test-driving the Ford Focus and Mazda3, and the Focus is so elderly in styling that my noise considerations didn't even become relevant.
I don't feel like driving the 626 that much anymore, after that experience. It's just too.. unrefined, now, thanks to its busted suspension components.
I dropped an email to Speedlab inquiring about suspension components for the 626. Their reply floored me: 15,000 pesos for H&R springs, and a whopping 45,000 pesos for Bilstein shock absorbers.
Now the springs aren't that expensive, an OEM set would cost upward of 10,000 pesos anyway. But the Bilsteins cost three times as much as an OEM set. Of course, Bilsteins are reputed to last longer than the vehicle they're mounted on. And, both BMW and Mercedes Benz use Bilstein shocks. Quite an endorsement.
Then again, the H&R springs and Bilstein shocks combination would already cost half as much as the residual value of our old car. But for people who don't think twice about dropping 100,000 pesos ($2000) on alloy wheels, the springs and shocks would be cheap.