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Some of this week's Letters to AutoSpeed!

19 October 2003

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Latest Holden LS1s Been Fixed?

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I was wondering if you could advise me on the GEN III V8 from GMH. I have heard stories of the engine having oil consumption problems, is this true? Has it been fixed or is it still not resolved? I am looking to buy a GEN III V8 but I am deeply concerned about this issue.


There have certainly been problems reported in the past. We cannot state whether these issues have been fixed in the latest models - do any of our readers have any experiences to offer?

Hook, Line and Sinker...

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First let me say Happy Birthday and congratulations on a great webzine. I was first introduced to AutoSpeed by a link to your intercooler water spray controller article ( "Intelligent Intercooler Water Spray - Part 1"). I was very impressed with your technical detail and ability to explain things so they are easily understood. I especially like your appreciation that not everybody wants to spend unnecessary amounts of cash on every upgrade. I subscribed to AutoSpeed a couple of weeks ago and just could not stop reading. A lot of the articles are particularly applicable to me, as I have a Japanese '93 WRX. I couldn't help myself, signing up and buying ALL the back issues. However - having received your first newsletter offering "every issue of AutoSpeed for just $55.55 " - I wish the magazine had not been quite such compelling reading. I might have held myself back to take advantage of the offer... Oh well, thanks for such a good product anyway. Keep it coming.

Alistair Green

Intense Laser

I have a standard 1981 Ford Laser and I want to purchase a more powerful engine to put in it. I was looking at maybe a turbo engine but I haven't got much idea what type. Could you please help me out with a few ideas? That would be great!

Garon Pearce

Those early KA/KB Lasers are waiting to receive an E5 single-cam or B6 twin-cam turbo engine. To get it all up and running you'd best start off with a half-cut so you can grab the engine, gearbox, ECU, loom and all sensors. A wrecked local KE TX3 might be a good way to get all that stuff. Alternatively, you can buy a bare engine and get it running with an aftermarket management system.

Bucket Loads of Boost!

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I know that you guys hate emails that ask "how do I fix my..." so feel free to tell me to bugger off. I won't get offended. However, I have a very simple question that I have asked several large turbo shops and none have been able to answer. Given your experience with experimenting on turbo cars I thought you might be able to answer it for me. My question is... should a turbo with the wastegate permanently held wide open produce any boost at all? The turbo shops I have asked told me it shouldn't but admitted they had never tried it.

Background: I have a standard factory TC06 turbo on a Starion Turbo that runs a custom front-mount intercooler, a very low restriction 3-inch exhaust and a Wolf 3D management system. The engine, manifolds, injectors, etc are all standard spec. But with the wastegate lock-wired wide open the car produces over 20 psi of boost!

We are preparing the car to tackle the NSW Dutton Rally in 3 weeks and cannot find the cause of this problem. We've changed exhaust and intake manifolds and we've even tried installing our backup engine but we just can't figure out why it's doing it. When we swapped to a small TC05 turbo it still produces about 15 psi of boost with the wastegate wired open. I took the car to my regular dyno shop and they didn't believe me until they saw it with their own eyes on the dyno. So far no one can give me an answer. Any suggestion you might have would be valued, as I don't want to tackle the Dutton with a crappy TC05 fitted.

Jamie Ericson

Wow - 20 psi with the wastegate valve fully open?! We imagine that a typical mass-produced turbocharger could be capable of producing boost in the top end of the rev and load range even with its wastegate valve fully opened. That's because it's unlikely that the small wastegate passage would effectively cope with the huge volume of exhaust gas flowing from the engine - a proportion of gas will be forced to drive the turbine and, therefore, produce boost pressure. But onto your problem... Perhaps the aforementioned lack of wastegate flow is responsible for your massive overboosting issues. If that's the case, an enlarged wastegate passage or an external wastegate should fix it.

Bonza BFMR

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Re the BFMR 323/TX3 article ("Buying Used - Mazda BFMR 323/Ford KE Laser 4WD Turbo"). I had one of these 323s and regret selling it - I current own Liberty Bilstien (nice car but needs more grunt!). BFMR mods are easy and cheap - usual exhaust and boost mods are effective but it's the other stuff that's fun...

You can build hybrid front calipers from the 1.8 BG-series to enjoy a larger front brake piston and pad area. You need to use the piston side of the BG calliper and 'bridge' side of BF calliper - this is necessary because the BF rotor is much thinner than BG rotor. You then fit BG pads (which are also bigger in area) and the improvement is quite noticeable.

The gearbox - they aren't as fragile as people make out. Mine was making around 130kW and I NEVER broke it. Perhaps I'm just a reasonable driver or at least mechanically sympathetic. Mods inside the gearbox are cheap as well. The standard 5th gear runs at around 3300 rpm @ 105 km/h, while a fifth gear cluster from the same era Mazda 626 can drop around 500 rpm from that. I never did this because I sold my car too early, but many overseas have done it.

The BFMR's air suspension is average at best. The front struts from a 323 FWD turbo and heavy-duty springs fix that. The rears are more difficult but, again, some parts from the contemporary 626 (and Telstar) are compatible.
The electronic centre diff lock is usually problematic - it won't lock when you want it to and it stays locked when you don't want it too... The rear diff is the same as a MX-5 (Miata) so the LSD from these go straight in.
The Ford Capri Turbo has much larger intercooler that pretty much bolts in with factory parts.

The 323 came better appointed than the TX3 - electric windows, tilt/slide sunroof and aircon were standard.

The best part about these cars is you can park them anywhere and people will just walk past them - they don't look too different from the standard car (not withstanding the gaping front 'bar).

Simon Brown

I Concur

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Re your Astra SRi Turbo test ("New Car Test - Holden Astra SRi Turbo"). As an owner of an Astra SRi I was interested to see what you had to say about the SRi Turbo. I was very impressed with your review of the car. I totally agree with the criticisms you had because they all apply to the normal SRi. The funny headlight beam pattern and slow steering are especially annoying in certain circumstances. It seems to me that only an extended test can unearth all the annoying points of a car that would affect the long-term owner.

Richard Fay

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