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Alton

So after the Golf I decided I still wanted something fun to drive, but cheap. Scouring Trademe I came across Alton, high KM but has a mechanical warranty, and was for sale by its only NZ owner since import. I went and took a look and what I saw, I enjoyed.

It’s a 2006 Suzuki Swift Sport, in Champion Yellow. Its manual, has the M16A 1.6L engine, Recaro interior, and HID headlights. Pretty high spec for a Jap import, and compared to the NZ new ones its fully sik racekar (NZ new ones didn’t get HID, and most didn’t get Recaro seats or proximity key).

It also had some mods, aftermarket 17″ wheels, it was lowered and had an intake and exhaust. What I later found was the suspension, intake and exhaust were all Suzuki Sport Racing gear (Big money new), and the wheels are Direzza RSC. Pretty top end stuff for a Swift.

It makes some really addictive noises from the intake and exhaust, and loves to rev. The little M16A engine is a heck of an upgrade over the standard ones, with high compression, high lift cams and variable valve timing. Cheap on gas, and fun to rev. The gearbox is a mixed bag, great feel, solid but easy shifts and from 2nd onwards its close ratio…. the weird thing is that first is too long, and the gap from 1st to 2nd is too big so the engine falls out of its power band and bogs down even when changed at redline. It also doesn’t have any sort of LSD, so can be a bit messy in the wet. Loves double clutch rev matching though.

Since getting the car i’ve replaced all the tyres as they were shitty at best, cheap, old worn out Nankangs that wouldn’t grip in the wet, or dry. Fitted some Falkens and it grips very well in the dry and manageable in the wet.

The first issue I had to change straight away was the fuel being used. Previous owner had been using 91 Octane, which under heavy load was causing the engine to detonate. I noticed this on the test drive, but took the risk anyway. Filled it with 98 Octane, reset the ECU by disconnecting the battery and away I went. No more detonation and it drove like a new car. Far more power and refinement.

Another thing that bothered me straight away was that the intake was sitting at the back of the engine, out of airflow and sucking hot air. A quick tweak of the hose clamps and it spun around to where it was designed to sit.

The park lights also didn’t go. It was weird that neither worked, but i had some spare T10 LEDs, so popped them in and sure enough, both were just blown. The LEDs work well with the color of the HID bulbs too.

I noted when I purchased the car that there was a significant amount of oil around the engine, coming from the valve cover gasket. This was a bargaining point for me, but not a serious job to do. New genuine gasket was ordered, along with a new PCV valve gasket as it was leaking from there too.

Pulled the cover off

Fit the new gasket, and refit. No more leaks. Yay!

I’ve also completely machine polished the exterior, as it was terrible. It had a lot of metal fallout stuck in the paint on all the top surfaces, which took a couple of rounds of Carpro TRIX (fallout remover) and a claybar, before I could even machine it. Since that though, the paint is crazy bright and glossy, with great beading in the wet.

TRIX is a real pain to work (not to mention stinks of a cross between death, and rotten eggs) with when the paint has been neglected. It will happily stain oxidized paint, so take care with it. I didn’t know this and ended up with some ugly staining. The “bleeding” running down the paint is the metal and tar dissolving.

When I saw the staining I was very disheartened. I pretty much gave up on the paint for a bit and ignored the car.

About 3 weeks later though, i gave it another shot. I used more TRIX and claybarred the shit out of it. I used a small amount of instant detailer, and a water to lube the clay. Not really recommended, but it worked really well. I wasn’t worried about marring the paint as I was about to machine polish it anyway. Lots more “bleeding” but i could finally see the paint start to clean up. Once I was done the paint was smooth to the touch.

Just the TRIX and claybar wasn’t enough though, it needed to be machine polished to get rid of the layer of dull oxidation on the paint. It was similar to what happened to the Integra, but far, far less work to correct.

It came up really well, much more shine and so bright.

This is what I was dealing with. Staining from the TRIX and dullness from oxidation

A couple of days worth of work and it was a much nicer car to look at though

Got some new floor mats from the local dealer. Huge upgrade over the ugly worn and half missing mats in the car.

As fun as the car was and as much as I enjoyed driving it, it has just been sold. I decided that my next car MUST be of a certain type, so I saved my pennies and now i’m currently working on acquiring the next one. Just a waiting game, and I miss Alton 🙁

It made good noises.

 

Fuelly

 

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