Teen Spirit

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February 20

Cast your mind to the time when you were a seventeen year old. Apart from oogling at girls and roaming around aimlessly with friends, you would also have spent a couple of minutes imagining what car you’d be driving in a year or two. Akhil Vishnu, who recently turned eighteen knew he couldn’t turn up before his 12th grade friends in a boring shopping car and started looking for his perfect set of wheels, four months before he could legally drive. He knew he wanted a three door Zen and went round to see some, but none were up for sale. He even looked at the Zen Anuj drives now (featured elsewhere in the same issue), but then the owner wasn’t willing to part with it.

As luck would have it, he came to know of a pink coloured Zen steel in Chennai and decided to look at it. It was a father’s gift to his daughter and although the colour was a big let down, Akhil decided to buy it. After driving around in a pink Zen for a week, while addressing minor niggles on the car, he took it to a paint booth.

After much deliberation, panther black was chosen as the base colour and then it was time to attack the wheels. As a logical upgrade, he bought some 14 inch wheels off a mate’s car, only to realize that they were the wrong bolt pattern for the Zen. Akhil remembers how difficult it was to get wheel of 114.3 PCD but in the end he managed to source these Darwin Racing wheels that are a replica of the very popular Lenso Samurai SC05. The wheels were then refurbished and painted in a pearlescent Lambo Orange that contrast rather well with the grey body. To sync everything, bits of orange were added asymmetrically to the grill and rear bumper and a chequered pattern was pasted on the sides. Other things that complete the exterior are a pair of Hella Luminator 4000 lamps, eye lids and lip spoilers in carbon fibre finish, hood pins and some decals thrown in for good measure.

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The black and Orange theme continues inside too, with the seats and door pads but the orange has been tastefully limited to the highlights without being overdone. What impresses us most of all is the attention to detail, starting from the custom fog lamp covers to the Porsche 911 GT3 on the subwoofer box all taking cues from the colour palette on the outside. Speaking of other neat touches, Akhil has installed a deep-dish Momo steering, Momo atomic gear knob, Sparco floor mats, Sparco seatbelt covers, Sparco door sills and an Autometer sports comb2 tacho meter. Taking car of audio needs are one Rockford punch series amplifier, a Velocity 12 inch sub and a pair of JL audio coaxials for the front.

The car has been to Red Rooster racing for some basic performance mods too. The engine now breathes through a BMC conical filter and the exhaust now exits on the sides through a very neat header. It sounds pleasingly raucous as it exits near the ear. This one runs an Esteem camshaft and has rear suspension from the Gypsy and a strut brace to improve the road manners. Akhil says likes the combination and he has been looking forward to every drive since then. The Hankook Ventus Prime 195/45 R14 offer good grip but still, he thinks, the braking and suspension needs improving.

Akhil is toying around the idea of an engine transplant on his Zen. “Perhaps, a Honda VTEC”, he chuckles. But as of now, he is happy with the car – the way it gets him noticed, win praises from friends, attracts chicks and sounds good everytime he floors it. What more can an eighteen year old possibly ask for?

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