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Some of this week's Letters to AutoSpeed!

13 April 2003

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Cheap Econo-Funabout?

First up, well done with the mag. The new set-up is good - especially "ownership" of the issues.

My question is if you have any ideas/suggestions off top of your head from your experience, constrained to a few basic criteria, for an econo-funabout. I have a few ideas I've been following, but want to keep your mind open...

Weight: under 1000kg
Trans/axle: 5-spd manual, rear wheel drive
Suspension: coil sprung
Body: prefer 3-door lift/hatchback (this is relaxed, beggars can't be choosers right?)

What I'd also like (dreaming)...
Engine: turbo diesel, petrol EFI+
Extras: aircon, power steering, electric moon/sunroof
Interior: tacho, electric windows, descriptive gauges

Budget? $2-5k, but if there's something out of my budget, I'd still like to hear it!

David Traianou

We're glad you like our new format.

Hmm, an "econo-funabout" that matches your criteria...

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The first vehicle that springs to mind is the Japanese import EP71 Toyota Starlet Turbo S that we recently tested; 3-door hatchback, 800kg, 5-speed, coil springs, intercooled turbo EFI, power windows, climate control, power steering and a sliding steel electric sunroof. The particular car we tested was stickered at around $6800, but we believe it is still for sale and we'd bet you could haggle the price down. It's not a rear-drive but it suits all of your other criteria perfectly!

If you really want RWD we'd suggest maybe a late '70s Mazda 323 hatch with a rotary engine dropped in; very cheap performance, although nowhere near as comfortable or nicely equipped as the Starlet Turbo S. Hope that helps!

Serious Sprayer!

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Great article on the early F1 turbos. Before they were banned F1 cars had some of the best water sprayers for intercoolers. When running qualifying boost of 5.3 bar (est 1300 hp) Brabham had a 20 jet unit spraying the intercooler - using 3 litres of water per lap!

Colin Grant
New Zealand

Illegal to Breath?

I was reading your article on fitting a cold air intake to a VL Turbo and I am wondering if the mod is legal? I have a VL Commodore and would be following the instructions on your site. I live in Melbourne - any feedback would be fantastic.

Other then that, I think the site is great - keep up the good work. Cheers.


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In terms of emissions and drive-by noise we doubt whether the cold air intake we put together would be illegal. There might, however, be some concerns with the large hole through the inner guard. We didn't see this as a problem, but - just to be sure - we'd advise first checking with your local authorities.

Freezing Problems?

I was reading the article on Frozen Facts - issue 149 - September 25, 2001. I was wondering if any problems can occur if you spray freeze spray an air-to-air intercooler? Thanks.

Chris Larsen

The freeze sprays that we've come across have all been of the non-flammable variety so there are no concerns in this area. And, as far as we are aware, there are no other problems that might arise - just so long as the engine is running safe mixtures and appropriate ignition timing.

Gullible Gen 3?

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I have read in various issues about the Holden Gen 3's ability to self-learn its way around modifications such that power increases disappear after a few hundred kilometres. If one places a switch to cut the 12-volt line to the engine control module, so that it can be reset at the end of the day, will this prevent the self-learning process? Or are the changes automatically flashed to the chip?

Mark Boremann

We guess it would be like resetting the ECU every day so it would have to learn everything anew each time. Although we have not heard anyone try it we GUESS it would work. Interesting idea.

Time for an R34?

Have you guys considered doing a review of the Skyline model R34 GTT? Or perhaps a comparison with something locally? As an owner of one of these cars it would be nice to see a technical review and find out more about the car [technically]. Cheers.


We'd love to review a R34 model but - as yet - we haven't had one available. Julian and I will be in Melbourne in the next two months, so maybe if you're interested....

Lumpy Ford

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I have a Ford 4.1 engine and am planing to fit a lumpy camshaft, but I was wondering if it was a must to also change lifters, pushrods and timing chain? Is it possible to use the standard? Also, because I want to shave the head and because I have an EFI engine, I was wondering if you would be able to direct me to someone who can recalibrate a chip to suit my engine needs? Thankyou.


You won't necessarily have to change the associated valvetrain hardware depending how wild the cam is and the kilometres and condition of the engine. We suggest talking to a traditional speedshop on the specifics of this.

A custom remap set-up on a chassis dyno will yield the best results - we'd suggest contacting ChipTorque in the Gold Coast or one of their distributors nearest your location.

Controller Come Out?

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In the article "Intelligent Intercooler Water Spray - Part 5" you guys hint that you were/are developing a dedicated water injection module. How is this progressing, or did the project get a low priority? I'm keen to see what you guys produce - the alternatives are far too expensive! Thanks.

Davin Gibb

We have presented a neat little water injection controller you can find at "Motor Speed Control Module - Part 3 - Water Injection"

By building this module you can automatically vary the flow of a water injection so that it rises with engine load.

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