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Some of this week's Letters to the Editor, discussion group posts and other feedback!

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Charade Turbos

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Loved the story on the Charades [ "Daihatsu Charade Turbo" ], just a few problems... the standard 3-cylinder non turbo engine is the CB23, not the CB60. CB60 is the leaded carby turbo, CB61 is the unleaded version. CB70 was fitted to 4 cars brought into Australia by Daihatsu, they were 5 door G100RS's, but I believe that Daihatsu fitted CB61's to them before selling them, although they still had CB70 stamped on the commission plate. The CB70 was available in Europe, Japan and New Zealand in the GTti, the 'second series' of which was called the GTxx which had a CB80 (same as CB70 but with a water cooled turbo) and also had most of the options as standard and consequently were heavier than GTti's.

Hope this is of some help/interest. - forum is very informative.

Adam Bills

Thanks for that.

This Week's Crazy Idea

That fuel cell ["The Fuel Cell - Ready?"] is weak. I have an idea that would blow that out of the "water". You never have fill it up and it goes forever.


We're sure DaimlerChrysler, BMW, Ford, Nissan, GM, et al, will be interested - perhaps you should call them.

Poor RaceLogic Story

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I was excited to see the article [ "Aftermarket Traction Control" ] about RACELogic's traction control system - but was then very disappointed by the article itself. It lacked your usual thoroughness and detail. I would very much like to see the results of installing the system on a FWD car, including some real measurements of how it performs, and perhaps some independent evaluation of the effect the system would have on the car's systems - cutting fuel on a per-cylinder basis makes pretty much everyone cringe due to fear of a lean condition.

Also, I was wondering if there had been any progress on your wideband O2 sensor project?

Andrew Brownsword

We did in fact address the issue of a lean condition occurring with a rotating fuel cut: "When the fuel cut operates, the cylinder does not fire at all - so a lean air/fuel ratio burn does not occur." Re the air/fuel ratio meter, we've have been severely slowed due to the company with whom we have been developing the project (Labtronics) being busy with other work. While things are now progressing, we're actually wondering whether to cease work on the project, now that some much more sophisticated sensors than traditional Lambda probes are now becoming available in both the aftermarket and in new cars. These sensors are likely to give more accurate results, but would require starting the electronics and calibration procedures from scratch.

Spraying in the Wrong Place?

Pity you didn't try a water spray into the inlet as well on the "Frozen Facts" ["Frozen Facts"] article. I am sure this would have given a much larger improvement.

Richard Tapps

Performance Measurer

I found this new accelerometer - It graphs torque as well as hp. Have you tried it before? I was comparing it to the Race Technology AP22. What do you guys think? Any help appreciated as I intend using one of these for the Horsepower Competition at the Toyota Nationals as I am the event co-ordinator.

Paul Holmes

We haven't tried the device. On screen it looks fine, but note that you may have a lot of arguments if people start to compare its results with traditional chassis dyno power measurements.

Pheolic Spacers x 1

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I just read in the 'Response' column ["Response" ] about the fellow looking for Phenolics. I acquired some of this just last week. I found out that the place that sold it called it 'tufnol'. They had no idea what Phenolics was! It looks a fair bit different to PVC. Hope this is some help.

Zac Campbell

Phenolic Spacers x 2

I have been looking into having some manufactured for my own vehicle, in the UK. Started phoning Plastics suppliers, as listed in Yellow Pages. Got a poor response, typically "never heard of Phenolic". One Receptionist said "have you got Web access? Try British Plastics & Rubber On-Line" I did, found some more local companies that looked hopeful, but still got the same response. After one retort, "not heard of that", I spelt out P H E N O L I C. OHH he says, you mean 'Phenolic'. At last.

I was saying Fen OL ick, stressing the OL more than the ick. He said Fen olick, with no real stress on the olick.

Turns out a common trade name is Tufnol. Yes, it is an electrical insulator, and comes in various grades. In sheet form, at 10 or 12mm thick, the lowest grade is expensive, the highest grade is a lot more expensive. Taking their advice, the lowest grade seems adequate. I was talking to a supplier rather than a fabricator. He would supply smaller amounts but even that would be expensive. He could put me in touch with a small outfit that would have various spare pieces in stock, and could do small runs (I needed six identical spacers, one per port). I faxed a dimensioned design (1 to 1 scale, taken from a gasket), and now have a quote, delivery time is 2/3 days, after he comes back from holiday.

Fabric or Paper pulp?

Tufnol appears to be a paper pulp product, and in the interest of smooth sealing faces, I think it is best. I cannot see a need for fibre reinforcement in this application.


The standard gaskets on my engine are paper with a thin bead of "silicone" sealant circling the duct hole on both sides of the paper. Both head and manifold are aluminium, current boost pressure is 16 psi, although this may rise :-) I am undecided whether to use standard gaskets either side of the spacer - the safe if "expensive" option - or a standard gasket between head and spacer, with "instant gasket" between spacer and manifold, effectively gluing them together. I would use the standard gasket between head and spacer as I consider this joint to have the greater stress, because the head is the source of heat.

Hope this interests, and is of help.

David Sparkes

Transplant Costs

I want to put an RB20 DET in my Skyline Silhouette. I was told it bolts straight in with no major mods. I was wondering if you knew a rough price of what this would cost (without the transmission replacements, replacement turbo, or any body work).

Matt Ellery

For this sort of job it could vary from $2000 to $7000, depending on what you actually buy (eg bare engine... all the way through to a half-cut), whether you do the work yourself or whether you employ a workshop, and other factors. The engine itself may be a bolt-in, but also needing to be considered are the installation of the intercooler and its plumbing, a new ECU, wiring loom, fuel supply and lots of other bits.

Butterfly Before Turbo

One of my acquaintances (Rob Ward, South Australia) is running a R31 Skyline Turbo. A few months ago he did a very unusual mod to his car. He installed a throttle body directly before the turbo intake which is controlled the same way as the accelerator. His theory behind this is that when lifting off the accelerator the butterfly closes and creates a vacuum between the turbo and the butterfly, therefore reducing the resistance on the impeller and causing better throttle response. He says it works quite well when you are going flat out but of course part throttle is hindered. The solution been thrown around is to use a solenoid to open and close the butterfly rather then an analogue system. Now, this sounds all good, but being a bit of a cynic, I believe that it must have been thought of before and discounted due to some factor, otherwise the Indycars and similar would be running them, but then again, there has to be someone who does it first! Have you ever heard of this system before and what are your thoughts on it?

Filip Kemp

We have heard of people taking this approach where the butterfly mounted before the turbo is actually working in parallel with a conventional one mounted after the turbo. We'd be interested in seeing some detailed back-to-back testing of this approach before drawing any conclusions. Apart from draw-through carburettor systems that have the throttle before the turbo, we haven't heard of any OE manufacturer or motorsport applications of this approach.

The Alfa 166 Reviewer is Being Treated for Manic Depression....

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I don't know if the guy who wrote the following article was in a bad mood, or if he was just paid by some Mercedes or BMW executive to write what he wrote, but oh man... This was the worst thing I ever read about the Alfa 166. I was a very happy owner of a 1995 Alfa 164 Super and I am looking forward to seeing the 166 here in USA. Too bad that if it depends on the guy who wrote this article in the AutoSpeed magazine, Aussies will never buy Alfas. "New Car Test - Alfa 166 Sportronic"


Just read the article, and while it's very tough it's probably actually pretty realistic. I'm sure the Alfa 166 is a great car to drive in Europe, but when you sell a car in different markets you often need to tweak the drivetrain/suspension and equipment levels to suit the local market. Alfa do not seem to have done this for Australia - and if the car is awful to drive on Australian roads and compares badly to cheaper products from other manufacturers, then you can't blame the reviewers for informing people of this. Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi have all gone to considerable lengths to adapt their respective large FWD V6 cars for local driving conditions - I can say from personal experience that the Maxima in particular is a great car to drive and around half the price of the 166. And FAR smoother at idle than my (well maintained) 164! I also think Alfa have made a very poor decision to only import the car in auto form - because it seems to be the way the auto delivers the power to the wheels that cops the most consistent criticism. The GTV V6, available here in 6-speed manual form, gets very favourable reviews by comparison. Alfa's auto-only 166 offering is in stark contrast to the folks at BMW Australia who have far more choice available, and can point to much better resale values. Yes I know we Alfisti are supposed to hate the Bavarian product with a passion, but I suspect I'd go for an 525i or 330i with manual transmission over an auto 166 any day.


The article says that the 166's handling is poor and sloppy. But I thought the reason the 166 was delayed at launch was because Fiat's boss wanted the 166's suspension redesigned to achieve superlative handling, and they were supposed to have succeeded, according to some magazine articles. Lots of people say the 166's handling is miles better than the 164. Can someone who has driven both cars proffer an opinion?


While I admit that I have never driven a 166, it seems that the platform is quite similar to the 164 in most respects. As we all know, there are people that simply do not appreciate Alfas. They are all a bit quirky but that lends to their charm. What I noticed is that the author of the article did not mention the stunning good looks of the 166. I saw several of them while I was in Spain this year and I must say that the pictures do not do them justice. They are truly magnificent. With all of the over-turboed Japanese cars emerging, I think we can all still be proud of the power and sound of the 3 litre normally aspirated engine. I for one know that my 164 has NEVER had a problem keeping up with traffic. While it does not have muscle-car acceleration, it does offer a very good balance. I can't believe that the 166 lost all of the benefits that the 164 is so known for.


I've not driven one, and this is the harshest article I've read on them. However, all of the Australian reviews I've seen have been somewhat critical. The 166 only comes in auto here, and nobody seems to like it. Even one of the dealers I went to when I was buying my 156 said a similar story - he said the car needed a V8 in it. Also most articles here have said the suspension was soggy. Anyway, I love my 156 - at least they are available in manual form here (except the V6 ones), and the handling is pure fun.

Mick Porter

Although I feel a four-speed automatic gearbox mated to the 24V engine will never be a really happy combo, I am very surprised to hear about the "lack of power", etc. And that only 104kW was present at the wheels is really a disappointment!! As the 164 and 166 are of similar weight, I believe that this particular 166 must have been poorly adjusted, as I surely don't feel a lack of torque at low rews, lack of urge, etc. The comments about the suspension have been voiced before, they seem to be a genuine complaint about the 166, but the engine (allegedly "lumpy at idle", "coarse", criticism of the engine design with the chrome intake runners??!!) has always been my favourite aspect of the 164! I will stick to my trusted 164...


When you read the article, scroll down and jump to page 2. Skip all the crap at the beginning.


That reviewer is currently being treated for manic depression. The local paper here carried out a road test on the manual 3-litre 166 and 2.5-litre 156 and in general although they preferred the 156, the 166 came out pretty good on handling and performance over mountain twisty roads and motorways. Personally, I've always thought the 166 looked a bit bland, especially the front and feared it was underpowered even in manual. But all is not lost, see post '164 - sequel', they have already redesigned many aspects of the body and some newer engine units are brewing. I think with the correct twitching, it could turn out to be the highest order of desire.


This can't possibly be taken seriously? Well I do know that the autobox 166 3.0 should be avoided, after all it's an old four speed design. Instead you should read EVO Magazine (UK), which has a long term test of the 166 3.0 6-speed manual box. They said - it will happily cruise at 150 mph plus at several hours. The suspension needs Bilstein shocks I've heard from a Swedish source.

Per Anton

All from Note that before we took the car, the salesman took us for a drive in it, proudly displaying how well it went. There was nothing wrong with the test example - other than its design.

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