Presented by Centric Parts and its StopTech performance and racing division

September 25, 2012

Space Shuttle Endeavor Flies Over Centric on its Final Mission

For those of you outside the Los Angeles area, you might not be aware that the recently mothballed space shuttle program has produced quite a stir locally. You see, the retired spacecraft that made up the program are being moved to permanent homes at various museums around the country, and one of them is finding a final home right here in Southern California. Space Shuttle Endeavour was ferried out to California last week and will take up permanent residence at the California Science Center (CSC) in Exposition Park.

The physical act of bringing a spacecraft that large to a museum in the heart of an urban area is pretty complex, as you might imagine. Early on Saturday (Sept. 22), the shuttle was hoisted by cranes off the modified Boeing 747 jumbo jet that flew it to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) the day before. The shuttle was escorted by a pair of military fighter jets as it passed directly over our Carson facility on Friday.

Most of us were fortunate enough to see Endeavour's fly-by and tens of thousands more enthusiastic Californians were at LAX to witness the touchdown. Millions were said to have witnessed the flyover tour of the state that preceded it, as the shuttle left Edwards Air Force Base and paid tribute to the various California facilities that contributed to the program over the years.

According to, to prepare Endeavour for its upcoming 12-mile parade through the city streets of Inglewood and Los Angeles next month, technicians will remove the aerodynamic tail cone that was added for its ferry flight from Florida, reposition the shuttle's replica main engines from their tucked-for-flight orientation and install nozzles on the orbiter's maneuvering system pods. They'll also enter Endeavour's crew cabin to configure it for the science center's curators and retrieve from inside thousands of embroidered patches that were flown on Endeavour for the ferry flight at the center's request.

On Oct. 12, Endeavour will leave its temporary home in an LAX hangar, and proceed through the streets of Inglewood, past Inglewood City Hall to the California Science Center at Exposition Park. Along the route, Endeavour will be the guest of honor at a moving party that will include a musical dance and aerial performance choreographed by famed actress Debbie Allen.

At the CSC, the shuttle will temporarily be exhibited atop the transporter in the Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion, a large hangar that was recently built beside the center's main building. Ultimately, the CSC plans to recreate Endeavor's launch pad, and position the craft as though it were ready for another mission, complete with twin boosters and external fuel tank. Be sure to check it out if you are ever in the Los Angeles area.

September 21, 2012

Another Story of Centric Customer Enthusiasm

One of our outside salespeople just shared another story of Centric customer enthusiasm we wanted to share with all of you as well. Cost Less Auto Parts is a Centric customer with two stores in Vancouver, Washington. They are probably one of - if not the - busiest retail auto parts stores in the Northwest. Customers must take a number when they walk in if they want to be waited on by one of the 15 or so countermen.

The business was originally established about 30 years ago by Dave Alderson. Pat Hortsch has been at the helm for the past ten years, growing the business and adding a second location a few years later.

The cool part is that these guys love Centric Parts. When they made a sign for their front display (top), they prominently featured Centric's PosiQuiet pads. Even better, when they added new graphics to their van, they once again used a huge image of PosiQuiet pads on the sides. We love that kind of enthusiasm for Centric! Thanks for the support!

September 10, 2012

Centric Helps Museum with Bond Car Brake Needs

Like the Bizzarrini we helped out in our last blog post, today's featured car is pretty unique. Its shape would likely be recognizable to enthusiasts of sports cars, classic Japanese cars or James Bond films, but more about that later. The parts you see above may look like radiator caps at first glance, but anyone who has worked on older brakes from the ‘50s and ‘60s will likely recognize these as early Dunlop hydraulic brake caliper components.

Before opposed piston calipers evolved into the one or two piece blocks we think of today, there were hydraulic calipers like those pictured at left, which used a central bridge along with "caliper pods" - like those pictured above - controlling the pistons on the inside and out. People sometimes refer to those pods as wheel or slave cylinders, and they existed before the term "caliper" was used to describe the part of the hydraulic brake system that gripped the brake disc.

This was originally a Dunlop design that was licensed for this particular application by Sumitomo. It's an interesting design that is making something of a comeback among certain vehicles, where the bridge is now made of iron and the cylinders and pistons are made of aluminum. 

Eventually these types of calipers morphed into hybrids where one side was formed together with the bridge and the other was still a separate piece like those seen at right. The final evolution saw both sides of the caliper body being cast as outer and inner halves on two-piece calipers, or as one single block in the case of monobloc calipers. Of course, StopTech went the extra step of adding a patented bolt-in stiffening bridge that made two-piece calipers as strong as some monoblocs, and developed titanium nosed pistons to deal with extreme heat encountered in racing, but back to our featured car.

It was considered by many to be the first Japanese supercar and made its big screen debut in the James Bond film, You Only Live Twice. Because star Sean Connery was too tall to fit comfortably inside the slinky coupe, the producers worked with the manufacturer and built a pair of convertibles. The "convertibles" actually had no top, just a fabric bundle at the rear to simulate one, and never saw production.

The car itself was something of a revolution, allowing people to see Japan as capable of building world-class sports cars for the first time. The chassis was copied from the great-handling Lotus Elan and the engine was a 2.0-liter straight-6 plucked from the company’s top-of-the-line sedan. It was transformed by Yamaha with new double overhead camshaft heads that helped turn it into a genuine 150-hp sports car engine. The car was capable of reaching 135 mph and could still get 31 mpg.

By now you may have guessed that we are talking about the Toyota 2000GT. Only 351 regular production 2000GTs were built between 1966 and 1970, all actually built by Yamaha for Toyota. About 60 cars reached America, mostly painted either red or white. In the U.S. the 2000GT sold for about $6,800, which was much more than contemporary Porsches and Jaguars. They were more concept cars, though, and served as a demonstration of ability for Toyota.

The 2000GT that Centric was asked to help with actually turned out to be three cars – one convertible and two coupes, one of which used to belong to the model/actress Twiggy (below left). All of these reside at the Toyota Museum in Torrance, California, just down the road from Centric.

Although the Lexus LFA is probably the closest current offering in the Toyota family in terms of supercar status, the Toyota 2000GT is actually closer to the new Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ in size and performance. Both are lightweight rear-drive coupes that are quick and handle well, although the newer models have a back seat and a definite performance advantage. Thankfully, Centric has the Toyota 2000GT covered for brakes, and StopTech has Sport Kits and Big Brake Kits that can more than handle the Scion and Subaru sportscars’ braking needs.

The Toyota 2000GT remains one of the most collectible Japanese cars of all time, one recently selling for a whopping $627,000 at the Gooding & Co. Pebble Beach auction in August. It's a fun piece of history that we are are proud to be associated with. Next time we'll take a look at a special Porsche that also needed some attention from Centric before hitting the track at Laguna Seca for the 2012 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion.