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

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Ultimate Addition

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Hey guys, still enjoying your articles after 1 year's sub. Since Which Car died last year I was lamenting the loss of a voice who could call it as it is. Then I found your excellent site that surpasses the old Which Car. Especially enjoyed your expose of the Tickford factory. Thought you guys might like a laugh at the ultimate rice addition for your car!
Electronic NA Blow Off Sound Generator

Martin Weekes

Give it a Break!

I've been an avid reader of Julian Edgar's articles for several years now, from Fast Fours and Rotaries, to 21st Century Performance, and now AutoSpeed. Your technical articles are nothing less than superb.

I agree with 90% of the recent Tickford column, particularly the areas about poor workmanship. And lets face it, Holden's basic suspension design is out of the dark ages.... But wait a second, haven't I recently read an AutoSpeed article where the handling of the Holden has been extensively praised? And this was before the suspension gained its extra link! Surely this smacks of praising technology for technology's sake! Who cares if the basic architecture is old hat, if the end product works?

I think the local manufacturers do a pretty good job considering the small size of our market. Fair enough, criticise old technology if it doesn't work, but if it's doing an equivalent job, and at a price significantly cheaper the high tech alternative, give it a break!

Grant McAuliffe


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Just wondering, have you subscribed to some DaimlerChrysler propaganda newsletter? What is with all the advertorials from the German company?

Anthony Kellam

Contrary to popular belief, very few car companies and component suppliers choose to make available technically interesting material about their research and development. Even fewer make available to journalists any of their archival material. DaimlerChrysler is one company that takes great efforts to release genuinely interesting material on what the company has done and is doing, and while they continue to do that, we're delighted to run stories based on that material. On the rare occasions that other car companies do likewise, again we're happy to bring that material to you. Examples of the stories that we have run in a similar vein from other companies include the three stories on the development of the Holden Monaro, the background on the Mazda RX8, the T-Zero electric sportscar, Computational Fluid Dynamics, the Saab Variable Compression Engine, and others. Each has been very popular.

Airflow Meter Moving

I just have a question. I am currently installing a DIY turbo system on my 91 Escort GT. And my question for anyone who may know is: are there any reasons why I should not think about installing the mass airflow meter in the pressure side of the intake? ie between the intercooler and throttle body. I would imagine that the shorter the distance between the throttle body, and the mass airflow meter, the better the response? Any help on the subject would be great.

Jason Kilo
United States

We have never seen any factory turbo car place the airflow meter in this position, presumedly because of the temperature and pressure variations to which the airflow meter would then be subjected. While some people have apparently performed this modification to their car, we wouldn't see any tiny response time gain outweighing the potential negatives.

Black Radiators?

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I just read your article on optimising the cooling system in which you state that a black surface dissipates heat much better than plain aluminium, etc., so that the radiator should be kept as black as possible. Does this also apply to intercoolers? There is an ongoing debate at (late model Supras) as to whether this is beneficial. One concern is that any type of coating, especially paint, will act as an insulator and impair the heat rejecting properties of the aluminium. What do you think? Thanks.

Kenneth Steinbach
United States

It gets very complex when a scientific analysis is attempted - it depends on lots of factors. (If we were to write that article today we'd probably be less strong in the suggestion.) That said, Julian Edgar has experienced black and natural coloured intercoolers on the one car (same 'cooler, just stripped of paint) and he noticed that in real road conditions the intake air temp was slightly higher with the core natural in colour.

Magna Sports

I have recently purchased a '01 Magna Sports with the semi-auto box. I'm trying to track down info on some 'hot-up' goodies for it, such as extractors, intakes, headwork and possibly tricking up the gearbox. I've tried to contact Mr Chadwick at MMA re his race car but am not having much response for whatever reason. I'm a bit new to automatic gearboxes so I don't know what can be done to them to make them feel a bit more like a manual ie, on upshift using the tiptronic lever it still seems to 'slip' like a normal auto box. Is there something that can be done to reduce this? Also I'm trying to track down some 'off the shelf' extractors, not the custom made type. I guess I'm after good bang for your buck type mods. Any help or people to contact would be appreciated.

Darren Roles

We doubt that you will find anyone willing to modify the Mitsubishi auto box - and if you do find someone who wants to tackle it, you will be effectively paying for all their R&D costs.... With regard to the rest - we'd suggest that you measure the intake pressure drop prior to the throttle body (see our Negative Boost series), the intake manifold pressure drop at full power, and measure the exhaust backpressure. That will easily show you how good or bad these bits are. After that, modify accordingly. However, the Magna will be much more expensive to modify than a more common performance car, as little or nothing will be available off the shelf.

The Long Email of the Week Award

First of all I would like to congratulate you on a fantastic mag and a very well done website. I've been meaning to drop a mail for a while but never quite got around to it so you'll get four in a long one now (sorry).

I originally found your website in a rather interesting way I was working as a network engineer at a WA ISP and noticed an abnormal amount of traffic wandering around our network from a domain called I've been a avid reader ever since (and more than happy to pay the subscription fee due to the high quality of the presentation and content).

You recently had an article regarding phantom or unexplained acceleration. I have recently experienced this phenomena (with a safe outcome fortunately) in my '96 Fairmont Ghia. I had the throttle spring shear and become tangled in the throttle mechanism whilst travelling down a hill approaching a T intersection. Fortunately after reading your article I instantly realised what was happening and calmly jiggled the accelerator (freeing the bound throttle) before attempting an emergency brake and was greeted with safe landing.

I really enjoy the width and breadth in your stories and while it's clear that turbo motors and mods are the heart of the modern high po scene, it would be interesting to see some stories on modifying naturally aspirated engines, and what kinds of things people can do to increase the area under the power curve. (1)

Perhaps a story on some non-mechanical issues of modified cars, like transport dep't approval, engineering certificates, insurance and other legal issues. What mods do and don't require special permission? (2)

Also on my story wish list maybe the fitting of a turbo or super charger to a NA vehicle and nitrous oxide, fact vs. fiction. (3) Please Santa I've been a very good boy this year... not one point lost!

Oh and maybe some driving tips - approach and path through corners, braking, timing (race track only of course). (4)

You have previously mentioned that you don't wish to be in the position of recommending or suggesting any workshops or suppliers. This is fair enough too, however what might be nice is some kind of reverse directory for suppliers and workshops that you list at the end of your stories, so that I might be able to take a look at workshops in my state and take a look at cars that they have worked on it may be a good way to see who's hot and who's not. (5)

A wise man once said ask a silly question and be thought a fool, don't ask a silly question and remain a fool.

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A lot of people seem to go to rather long lengths to ensure that they have very large free-flowing exhausts and inlets, and while at first it seems obvious after a little thought I'm inclined to ask why this is so. Starting from the exhaust turbine, I have always assumed that it was preferable to have larger diameters after the turbo to increase the pressure delta across the turbine and allow it to produce more boost on the inlet side. Sounds fine so far. And on the inlet side, people will put very large and short 'free flowing' headers on again to reduce any negative boost or 'constriction' and get more air into those ravenous cylinders. Again sounds still sounds good.

However something that has always puzzled me is that a lot of people talk about winding up or increasing the boost that their turbo produces and given the prevalent use of boost controllers, no one ever speaks of running without a wastegate! So you could conclude that in most cases turbos are capable of producing far in excess of the boost that they are actually regularly used for.

So why do people go to such extreme efforts to put oversized plumbing in a relatively low power turbo applications (less than 1 Bar)? Why can't you keep the smaller sized pipe work accept the few psi you might lose and just increase the boost by that amount? Might then be gains to be had in low-end torque by having a tuned inlet and a little bit of backpressure? Are there overall efficiency losses and temperature problems with doing this? Or have I made a fundamental error in one of my assumptions and turbo units are regularly run at or very near their maximum boost? Or is it all about turbo lag - will the turbines spin up much faster and lower in the rpm range with larger pipe work? (6)

Another concept that I have always liked is that of artificially increasing the oxygen content of the air travelling into the inlet say by 30% (simply by squirting the right amount of oxygen in) this would then surely be equivalent to running a turbo at 0.3 bar with the benefits of a substantially lower inlet temperature and I would imagine you could run the motor with a higher compression and a little more advance. Added to that, oxygen is an awful lot cheaper than nitrous oxide and is safely carried around every day by thousands of tradesmen with oxy acetylene rigs strapped to the back of utes. There may even be emission benefits. (7)

So what am I missing? Is there any reason why people are not doing this regularly? And am I likely to be arrested/killed trying? (8)

So there you have it guys - once again great mag, keep up the good work.

Bryden Quirk

1. We see very few effective (note: effective) power upgrades being done on modern naturally aspirated engines. Where we see it happening, we cover it.

2. Given our worldwide audience, such a story would be largely useless. Even state-to-state in Australia the story varies.

3. Nitrous is on our list of stories to cover at some stage.

4. We have done quite a lot on driving techniques - make a site search.

5. An interesting idea - in fact we have a 'performance directory' on the drawing board.

6. If you can make an improvement without losing anything, then people will be inclined to do that. Fitting a bigger exhaust on a turbo car not only improves power but also brings up boost faster - win/win. Turning up the boost alone often doesn't do a whole lot, because there are restrictions elsewhere and the extra boost just results in hotter air at a greater pressure along with higher exhaust backpressure. Running without a wastegate is sometimes done when there are enough other restrictions (or the turbo size is such that) the turbo won't overspeed to destruction.

7. We wrote about oxygen injection in a Response a few weeks ago.

8. Yes, unless you are extremely careful.

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