Recently North Carolina based Bala builder James Holley and his wife Deb stopped off in Phoenix to see the La Bala prototype in person and to take a test drive.You’ve seen lot’s of photos of the Grabercars La Bala prototype #0001 but probably haven’t read much about how the car actually drives or how it might compare to other cars. I’ve been telling you that La Bala is a fast car with a firm but suprisingly supple ride and is a blast to drive, but as the designer and builder what else would you expect? Jim, ex-navy and a straight-shooter of a guy, posted a review of his experience with La Bala in the Grabercars forum.
Follow the link for his full review.
My wife Deb and I drove out to Phoenix a couple of weeks ago to pick up the blue body for NC La Bala. We arrived on Thursday evening and met Steve, his wife and kids. After talking cars for a couple of hours, Deb and I took the camper and trailer to a nearby Wal Mart parking lot to get some sleep. The next morning was the highlight of the trip for me. Steve took me for a 30 minute drive in the prototype. I was very impressed with with the little bullet. At the top of my list would have to be the cars simplicity and functionality. Strap yourself in, flip a switch, push the start button and go. The car has everything you need for a sunny day, and nothing else. Steve put the pedal to the metal a couple of times when we could find some clear road. The car pushed me back in the seat in first, second and third until Steve had to apply the binders as he was doing about 3 times the legal limit. When we returned to his casa he turned it over to Deb and I. First off let me explain that Deb is more into aesthetics and comfort than performance. She has liked the appearance of the car from the first time I showed her a photo and told her I wanted to build one. I think we both felt the car looks even better in real life than on paper or a computer screen. I have driven her around the Tampa area in a FFR, and a Shelby 427 CI CRX. She has also ridden in a friends Ferrari Testarosa. Deb liked the La Bala better than the Ferrari and the FFR, and thought it rode better than the big Cobra. I think one of the things that impressed us both was the lack of wind noise in the cockpit. Driver and passenger can hold a conversation at 50 mph without having to shout. Debs hair did not even get blown about. I don’t have that problem, with or without the hat.
When Steve turned it over he told me to drive it like it was mine, and take as long as we liked. I had already experienced the performance and concentrated on driveability and comfort. I’ll start with the only thing I found a bit uncomfortable. Steve is 6’4″, and I am 5’9″. He built the car so that when the seat is all the way back, his hand fell comfortability onto the shifter knob. When I slid the seat forward so I could reach the pedals, my elbow was behind my body when I shifted gears. On the La Bala I am building I have positioned the shifter a little farther forwad to make it more comfortable. I think each individual will have to decide what feels best for them. Driving this car really made me want to get home and get mine finished. It is FUN! I like the firm but not harsh ride, and the availability of all the power you could ask for in a street machine. The closest thing I could compare the ride and power to would be a slightly modified Subaru WRX STI. The Subaru is running twice the HP, twice the weight, and gets half the mpg. Not bad for a car built in a home garage. My car will be running about 70HP more than Steve’s, and should be scary fun to drive. I wish I had a chance to take the car up a winding mountain road. I think this is where it would really excel. From looking at the photos, reading the history of the build, and talking to Steve, I can see La Bala is still a work in progress. As Steve and future builders add modifications and tweaks to the Little Bullet, it is going to become the most kick ass homebuilt on the street or track.