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Some of this week's Letters to the Editor!

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MX6 Power

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Wondering if you'd mind clearing up an argument that is occurring within the MX6 Australia Club at the moment. It was great to see an MX6 turbo featured in a magazine but there seems to be some incorrect info in the article. Can you verify the power figures as being correct in kW and not hp? With the level of modifications this car has, those figures in KW at the wheels are quite unbelievable. I myself have seen many MX6's dyno'd and not seen that power from those mods. If you could clarify this it would be great. And if possible also invite the owner to join the Aus MX6 Club. Details can be found at


Pieter DeGunst
MX6 Club Australia

Without having every car dyno'd in front of us it's impossible to verify the accuracy of the power figures quoted in our feature car articles. You've seen what he told us...

Keeping it Stiff...

I own a Supra TT with a targa roof. I notice the chassis is less rigid with the roof off. Would strut tower brace/s improve body stiffness? Would stiffer anti-roll bars help? Or just keep the roof on and done up tight! Your comments would be appreciated. By the way I'm thoroughly enjoying my new membership at Autospeed.

Peter Watson

The strut braces would need to be across the roof holes to make the car tight with the roof off...

LCD Temp Display

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With thanks to your article "LCD Temperature Display" ["LCD Temp Display!"] I have just installed the Jaycar unit into my car. I have adapted part of a Kmart drink holder so that the unit is mounted on the centre console air vents, with adjustable height. For night use, the LED off an old cassette deck has been attached and is triggered by a light up Jaycar switch mounted by the steering column. I am very happy with the result except for one thing.

I wish to adapt the LCD display to run off the car's 12V. Is this possible to do without destroying the unit? I thought maybe resistors could be used but am unsure of exactly how. Any help is appreciated.

P.S. I've finally become a member after bludging off the free articles for the past year. Congratulations on a fantastic publication.

Michael Laws

You could use a voltage regulator to feed the LCD display from the car battery. Alternatively, just use some normal dry batteries (eg AA alkalines) configured to provide the same voltage as the button cell. Feed this power to the button cell contacts. That way you shouldn't have to change the batteries in years.

Potential Performers #1

Was just looking at the article by Michael Knowling "Potential Performers" in the current issue. It says "Unlike the big Magna, however, the next phase of development is obvious; bolt in an import 155kW SR20DET. This isn't how we'd spend our money, though, but it can be done."

Us boys in the "Pulsar Group" of Oz have had a bit of a laugh about this. I recently spent only $3k putting a U12 SR20DET into my N14 Pulsar, and it's a killer. It should have been sold in Australia like this. I've run a flat 14 400m, and I compete in our autokhanas, hill climbs, etc. It's a real awesome machine, and with a full Whiteline suspension package, it's excellent to drive. There's a lot of people around that have done this conversion into their Pulsars, and it's all good.


James Mandy

We assume that your Pulsar is a road car - the story was not directed at weekend racecars. So, telling no porkies, add up the cost of the new engine, the transplant work, the ECU and tuning (if it's not factory), the intercooler, the exhaust, the radiator, the tyres and wheels (we assume that they're not standard), the new brakes, the Whiteline suspension kit, the engineer's report (it is legal, isn't it?!), the cost of insurance (you do tell your insurance company what you've done to the car, don't you?). Then add that to what you paid for the car in the first place. Hmmm - what other car could you have bought and insured with that much total money? A used Subaru RS Liberty? A Galant VR4? A Pulsar GtiR, even? And that's why we wouldn't take this modification route. But if you're happy, that's great.

Money Pit & Potential Performers

I re-read the "Money Pit" article after reading "Potential Performers", just to confirm that you had advised against "exotic" European vehicles - then turned around and recommended Saabs and Volvos. I've nothing against the former, though I wouldn't pick one as an outright performance vehicle, while my opinion of Volvos is best left unprinted.

What I would suggest is that some older Euro vehicles can be a much better proposition than the Geminis and Mazda rotaries you bagged (correctly I think). In some cases, the parts availability and pricing for the Euro cars is actually pretty reasonable - certainly when compared to many late model Japanese vehicles, while unlike the older Japanese cars, some of the Euros actually handled and stopped. Of course, I (like every other car nut) should be ignored - but bear in mind that this is coming from someone whose list of vehicles owned includes (in approx order), '77 Alfetta GTV, '82 VH Commodore V8 (easy to make very quick, harder to make handle), '93 Bluebird SSS, '81 Alfetta Autodelta Turbo.

Darryl Green

What we actually said about European cars in Money Pits: "Other vehicles that fit this [orphans] category include Jaguars, Mercedes, Seats, Audis, Citroens, Saabs, Volvos - the majority of the Euros. The problem is, not many people have the knowledge - or parts - to back these vehicles in modified form here in Australia." What we said in Potential Performers about the Saab 900 and 9000 turbos, and the Volvo 850T5, "Keep in mind - as we said in the cars to avoid article - that some of these cars will need digging in order to find parts and experts." No contradiction there - we actually even cited the previous article.

We believe the old cars that you mention are ones to avoid if you're after best overall bang for your buck. In relative terms, they have poor performance or handling, or in the case of the Alfetta AutoDelta turbo, is a car so rare that we've never even seen one in the flesh. The '93 SSS Bluebird is an interesting choice, though.

Money Pits

What has Michael Knowling been taking??? How can he say that most of the icons and classics of the last 30 years are money pits ["Money Pits"], when the cars he has recommended to buy before modification are over the price of a completed project car??

Having been involved in and also completing one of these so-called Pits (a Datsun 1600 with an FJ20DET) I can say with certainty that it is the other way around with most of the cars he has recommended. Firstly lets take a look at the old modified car and its cost:

Basic car $500

Half cut $2000

Wiring and fuel pumps tanks etc $500

Wheels and tyres $1500

Suspension $2000

Rear brakes and diff $600

Paint and panel $3000

Seats and belts $400

Intercooler and exhaust $1500

Total $11,500

Any of the Nissan/Datsun/ Toyota/Mazda range would be running in the 12-13 sec range for this much money, they wouldn't be as nice to drive as a new car but as far as handling, braking and speed is concerned they would be far better.

Let's look at the other side:

Mitsubishi Lancer GSR $18,000 - whoops blown the budget

Galant VR4 $12,000

[The Galant is] closer, but have you seen the price on parts and it would be dead stinking stock. Around any circuit or strip the VR4 would be left for dead wallowing in its luxo suspension and heavy under braked pity.

I remember a mag that tested a Datsun versus the then new 200SX on a circuit and guess which cost under half and was faster??

Please note that there are other considerations such as comfort and AC etc but that isn't the point of the article. Also have you stopped to consider the fact that when you try to insure this modified late model car it will be over $3k a year and may be uninsurable, whereas the old cars have been catered for by classic and modified car insurers like Shannons ($839 a year agreed value $12000 for my Datsun).

Then there is the concept of resale value, a car that like the one mentioned above for $11,500 would sell for at least $8,000 if built properly and there is a market for people who want this type of car, but when you go and buy a Saab and then modify it, your $25,000 car goes waaaaay down in value and the market for purchase often dries up to nil.

Having never actually built a car like the ones you have suggested (or publicised so) as being pits I feel it is beyond you to comment, whereas I have been actively involved in projects like the ones you have slammed as well as late model mods.

This mag is continually promoting the differing ideas and ingenuity involved in the modification of cars and it can be seen to its fullest in the backyards and garages of the many who still do up old cars. For example the fitting of an R32/Silvia front suspension and adjustable struts and spring platforms to the front of a C210 Skyline along with the RB20DET that came in the half cut. Or perhaps a full engine transplant of a CA18DET into a 1200 sedan with full Skyline brakes and diff, sounds like a pit?? Try $6,500 on the road and has run 13.14 at 104 mph on road tyres, sure its not pretty or even safe but it is effective and there is a lot of change left over to improve the handling.

Having worked on both sides of this issue I feel that your comments are unjustified, poorly researched and waaay out of line. Besides it is much easier to make a sub-tonne car stop, handle and go, that is simple physics.

Ben Austin

You would certainly need to spend many hundreds of hours of work (and have the skills) to get the outcomes for the costs that you have cited - and even then we think that you have left out lots of expenses.

To look even half good, these days a car as old as a Datsun 1600 needs a full restoration - tail-light surrounds, tail-light lenses, bumpers, dash, door linings, headlights, badges, new glass, rear seat upholstery, etc, etc. Then take into the account that the package that you have nominated will have an AM-only radio, no inertia reel seatbelts in the back, a speedo that reads out in units not used for decades, a plasticky narrow rim steering wheel, no airconditioing... In fact, if you want to address these equipment issues and also have a car that looks to be in as good a condition as, say, a 10-year-old car, we'd suggest that you'd need to spend around double your figures.

And then, having done all of those hours of work and having spent all of that money, you would still end up with a fast, good handling, good braking, loud, poorly equipped, poorly riding car which in an accident has the (lack of) safety of a 33-year-old Japanese design. Sorry, but these days we think more and more that taking such an approach isn't one that we would recommend. Spending $6500 to put a CA18DET into a Datsun 1200? Exactly what we were talking about not doing....

Your resale figures are a moot point: old project cars are one area where we see people typically getting back for their car about 25-50 per cent of the amount spent on it - and that's when the car has just been finished, not 3-4 years down the track.

If we were discussing the cheapest competition car that can be built, the story would have been very different - but we weren't. Which car is faster down a dragstrip or around a circuit is quite irrelevant - go buy a motorcycle if you want to be really fast while spending as little as possible.

We still love looking at old cars with extensive and ingenious mods - though we have been featuring them less and less in AutoSpeed. Why? Because taking that route does not give the best road car package for the money.

Lexus Choice

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RE: your LS400 acquisition article ["The Road to Change - Part 4" ].

I commend your choice of the LS400, I have always liked the car, although I really like a manual transmission and all the complexity scares me a bit on an older model... Reading your feelings on the 540i, I must mention the 540i sport model. I have driven a 1998 model 540i Sport with the 6 speed manual transmission. This car has 17-inch wheels, Dunlop sport 8000 tyres, and uprated suspension. I have not driven the non-Sport model, but the Sport model is an excellent drive. I'm also not sure about the availability of the Sport model in Oz, I am in the US.

Thanks so much for all your great articles, I have learned a lot on the site.

Andrew Skalet
United States

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