Shanghai Grand

I’ve been in Shanghai since last week enjoying the city. My buddy Daniel opened a factory several years ago over here that does all sorts of metal working. His factory currently does work for some of the larger OEM vehicle manufacturers throughout the world and is ISO 9001 certified. So Daniel invited me to check it out to see if he could solicit some business from me. I figure that I talk all this crap about Chinamen companies so it was time to see for myself at a high end factory. Those of you who have been reading my blog know how I feel about manufacturers in China. To be honest though, I really went because it was an all expenses paid trip. Who in their right mind would pass that up? Despite the weak ass US Dollar, the $ still goes a long way in China so I knew I could act like a baller for a week or so.

I told Daniel before already that I didn’t think it would work out, but he was insistent on showing me anyway. It turns out that the factory isn’t capable of cranking out parts acceptable for high end/racing components. OEM quality is one thing. Top of the line, high end high performance and racing quality is another. Complex castings, billet machined aluminum with no surface imperfections, tube bending with zero tube crimping, etc. is actually far beyond OEM quality. Some believe OEM quality is top notch, but actually it isn’t. OEM tolerances are great, but OEM parts are designed to be easy to manufacture, do not need to perform 100%, and simply do not need to look perfect. Next time pop the hood on a stock car and you will see simple castings with tooling and die marks all over them, machined aluminum with no anodizing or surface treatments, bent tubing with small crimps and matte finishes, etc. It’s actually easier to manufacture OEM quality parts and much more difficult to manufacture a high end aftermarket part. Imagine if you opened the box of your $1000+ intake manifold and you saw a rough surface finish with tool and die marks all over it and core shift with ports that do not match. Wouldn’t you be pissed? Well that’s how your OEM part comes on your stock engine. Why do OEM intake manifolds need to be ported? Because the ports do not match. Why do people polish intake manifolds? Becuase they look like shit when stock with tool and die marks all over the place. Why do people replace OEM intercooler piping (even the hard tubes) because they look like shit and are too small. You probably catch my drift now: you expect your high dollar top of the line high performance or racing part to be bad ass out of the box. What does this mean? This means that the machines, procedures, and designs must be better than OEM. This also means that manufacturing top of the line high performance racing quality parts cannot be done in China for now. Although Daniel’s factory is top notch for China (it really is), the machines and procedures aren’t good enough for high end high performance and racing components. However, parts for second and third tier manufacturers can be made in China although these guys will not use a factory even as good as Daniel’s. The factories these guys use make lawn chairs, pothole covers, copied Cannondale bike frames, and then copied car parts. You already know the companies that I bag on so I’ll leave it at that. You can read earlier posts and make the connections yourself.

I could write a book on this subject alone. Basically companies like HKS, Cosworth, or Tial would have to open a factory in _________ (fill blank with third world country name) and set up machines, procedures, and staff to make the manufacturing of high end racing components happen properly. HKS has done this in Thailand and Garrett has done this in Mexico. Garrett intercooler cores still look like shit right out of the box by the way. I don’t think any other company in our market has done this yet so before you consider purchasing a new part, find out where it’s made. It really is important unless you are in the market for a low end part. See here for what I mean by low end and important.

Anyhow, Shanghai is great. Parts of it is up to par with large cities in the Western world. Parts of it seem stuck in the 1940’s pre-cultural revolution. You might be walking down the street in an older part of town and you swear it smells like you are walking through a sewer. Then about 15 feet away, there are people cutting and preparing meat right outside the front of a restaurant. I have a pretty buff stomach so it hasn’t affected me yet luckily, but I could see how a westerner would come here and suffer profusely from food poisoning. Shanghai is also a smoker’s paradise because I really think there are more people that smoke than don’t smoke. You can light up virtually anywhere and not have to give a shit.

$40/night 4 star hotels, $11 60 minute foot massages, $25 90 minute full body messages (legit, no happy endings at $25), and big $3 lunches can be had daily if you stay out of the tourist areas. The night life is pretty amazing too if you know where to go. This is especially true for men since this is a male dominant society (freakin awesome). Lucky for me I have guides to show me around. Just like Tokyo, you can have just about any kind of entertainment you want except it costs about 1/3 of Tokyo. I believe that Shanghai has more high rise buildings than New York City. Shanghai is definitely grand. There are some good looking chicks in the city areas, but I think the average rating will go up in 5 years time. The city is growing FAST and the size of the middle class is growing with it. This means the chick rating average will go up too. It’s a whole different story at night though. As Whodini said, “The freaks come out at night.” Good times…

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Food kicks ass here. Most of it is organically and locally grown.

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“Peeing shrimp” are good. This is the first time I’ve had them.

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You like fresh seafood? Pick it live and have it at your table in minutes.

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They have higher octane fuel than we do. 97 octane costs about US$2.75/gallon. Yes, we are getting jacked in the states at $4.10/gallon for 91 octane.

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Feel like taking a break? Exit the toll gates and pull over just like everybody else. The cops won’t stop you. Also, people drive crazy and pedestrians DO NOT have the right of way.

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This is the extent of tuning. There aren’t many tuned cars at all.

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Walking throughout the city, you see rabbits, mice, crickets, chickens, etc. for sale. The crazy part is that it’s all on the sidewalk. Walk around enough and you’ll find just about everything for sale on the sidewalks and small stores all over the city.

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Parts of the city are new, clean, and well kept. If you took away all the crap Chinese market cars and replaced them with Japanese cars and trucks and took away the silly red inflated columns, you wouldn’t think twice if I told you this was Tokyo.

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